History of Psychology

History of Psychology

Academics have always been interested in
how the mind works and indeed psychology has existed in one form or another
for many years, but other subjects, especially philosophy, have often overshadowed
it. Often it was seen as not scientific and philosophical in the sense
that there seemed to be no concrete answers within the subject. Now it
is one of the most popular subjects to study and has a firm place within
the sciences. It is interesting to consider how this formulation of psychology
as a science arose and how this new psychology and the old psychology have
been merged together. The aim of this essay is to consider Wundt and James's
involvement in this transitional process between philosophy and psychology.

The evidence presented should show that Wundt and James were extremely
instructive and influential figures in the history of psychology.

Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt, the son of an

Evangelical pastor, was born near Manheim, Germany, on 16 August 1832.

He was from an academic family with members who were scientists, professors,
government officials and physicians. He was often inattentive in his own
schooling and was a habitual daydreamer. He failed his first year of high
school and was sent to Heidelberg to live with an aunt. Here he improved
academically and graduated at age 19. He decided to embark on a career
in medicine and indeed excelled in this area. His achievements lead him
into the field of physiology and he decided to proceed into the academic
side of this subject by becoming a lecturer.

As a lecturer at Heidelberg Wundt earned
a very low salary so he began to teach courses privately. His first course
in experimental physiology he taught in his own home and attracted only
four students. Wundt wished to further his career by both private teaching
and private studies. His studies at this time were connected with earlier
work in the fields of physiology and astronomy however these studies also
carried implications for a future science of psychology. It was in these
scientific experiments that Wundt developed his ideas for a hybrid of philosophy
and physiology, which would eventually become psychology.

He formulated two branches of psychology.

The branch he is most famous for is experimental psychology. In this he
took his experiences as a philosopher studying the mind and experiences
in physiology studying the body and created a new area of science. He believed
the mind could be studied in relation to the body and by controlled experimental
conditions new hypotheses could be formulated and either supported or not
in this new field. He did not believe however, that the experimental method
would prove enough to provide a balanced view of the science of psychology.

He also devised what he termed Volkerpsychologie (ethnic or folk psychology).

This embraced especially the study of language, myth and custom.

Once he had devised these two new branches
he began to actively pursue them. In the summer of 1862 Wundt offered a
new course of lectures on the experimental side entitled "Psychology from
the standpoint of Natural Science". He also wrote "Lectures on the Human
and Animal Mind" (published in1863 and 1864) which was the start of Wundt's
investigation into Volkerpsychology. Wundt resigned from his post and became
even more dependent on and involved in his private studies.

In 1867 Wundt was invited to write
for a journal entitled "Recent Advances in the field of Physiological Psychology".

His article aroused more attention than anything else he had written and
convinced many that a new scientific psychology was truly on the horizon
(Fancher, 1996, page155). In this way Wundt began to become an extremely
influential man. He had defined this new science and succeeded in making
it an independent subject. He had written the first widely read articles
on this new area and he had begun to devise explicit rules for his experimental
method in psychology.

As his ideas grew so did his influence
and this was apparent in 1874 when he produced his book Principles of Physiological

Psychology. As well as clarifying his ideas and this new area it was also
heralded as the first genuine textbook for Psychology.

In 1875 he accepted a full professorship
at Leipzig and it is here that Wundt cemented his place as one of the great
innovators of psychology. He installed the first fully-fledged programme
in experimental psychology and as he became more established his area grew
dramatically. By 1879 he had the first working research laboratory explicitly
devoted to experimental psychology and students flocked to study this new
science with him. In his new official "institute" of psychology graduate
students could study for PhDs in experimental psychology. He was