Wilhelm Wundt

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Portrait photography by Wilhelm Wundt published in the world tour of Reclam's universe in 1902

Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (born August 16, 1832 in Neckarau , † August 31, 1920 in Großbothen near Leipzig ) was a German physiologist , psychologist and philosopher . In 1879 he founded the first institute for experimental psychology with a systematic research program at the University of Leipzig . Wundt is considered the founder of psychology as an independent science and a co-founder of ethnic psychology ( cultural psychology ).

In his research program, Wundt developed a comprehensive scientific conception of psychology, which ranged from the psychophysics of sensory perceptions, attention and consciousness , psychophysiology of emotions , and an extensive neuropsychology to language psychology , religious psychology and other topics of cultural psychology (ethnic psychology). His empirical psychology and methodology are closely linked to his epistemology and scientific theory of psychology. With his later developed ethics and his metaphysical voluntarism , a uniformly conceived system emerged.


Wilhelm Max Wundt comes as the youngest child of a Palatine Protestant family of pastors and academics: His parents were Maximilian Wundt (1787–1846), pastor in Neckarau, from 1832 in Leutershausen and since summer 1836 in Heidelsheim , and Marie Frederike Wundt, née. Arnold (1797-1868). Wundt's grandfather was Friedrich Peter Wundt (1742–1805), professor of regional studies and pastor in Wieblingen. In his genealogical analysis , the Wroclaw doctor Gottfried Roesler was able to show the origin of the Wundt family from Styria .

Wilhelm Wundt and Sophie Mau (1844–1912) met near Heidelberg in 1867. She was the eldest daughter of the theology professor Heinrich August Mau from Kiel and his wife Luise Mau, née von Rumohr , and a sister of the archaeologist August Mau . The marriage took place on August 14, 1872 in Kiel . The couple had three children: Eleonore (1876–1957), Louise, called Lilli (1880–1884) and Max Wundt (1879–1963), philosopher.

Wundt died on August 31, 1920 in Großbothen. In the mourning statement of his former student Bernhard Rost, it says: “On September 4th, 1920 he was cremated in Leipzig's southern cemetery. I also attended the uplifting funeral service. Participation was low. A disgrace for the German people not to pay homage to one of their greatest spirits. ”In his will, Wundt had decreed that“ the content of my wife's grave inscription on our common tombstone should remain unchanged ”.


Studies and university career

After graduating from high school in Heidelberg, Wundt studied medicine, natural sciences and philosophy at the Universities of Heidelberg and Tübingen from 1851 to 1856, including with his maternal uncle, the anatomist and physiologist Friedrich Arnold . In Heidelberg he heard physics lectures from Robert Bunsen and Philipp von Jolly . In 1855, Wundt obtained his state medical examination in Karlsruhe. With his doctoral thesis on the behavior of nerves in inflamed and degenerated organs , he was promoted to Dr. med. PhD .

After completing his doctorate, Wundt worked as an assistant to Karl Ewald Hasse in Heidelberg and in the same year went to Berlin for a research semester with Johannes Müller . Here, Wundt researched nerve centers in lower invertebrates , especially pond clams . He also worked at the Müller Institute for Emil Du Bois-Reymond on phenomena of muscle contraction .

Tomb of Wilhelm Wundt, his wife Sophie and his daughter Eleonore in the Leipzig south cemetery , 2nd department

Wundt completed his habilitation in physiology in a simplified form in 1857, as he received his doctorate summa cum laude from the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University, where he took up a private lectureship in the same year and gave lectures on the whole of physiology and medical physics. An acute illness, a hemorrhage that he barely survived, is described in autobiographical records as a drastic experience. During his convalescence, Wilhelm Wundt applied for an assistant position at Hermann von Helmholtz . During his subsequent assistantship at Helmholtz from 1858 to 1863, in addition to his experimental research, Wundt taught internship to medical students, gave lectures on physiology and other topics and published five essays on the theory of sensory perception in 1862 as his first experimental psychological paper under the title Contributions to the theory of sensory perception .

In 1864 he was appointed associate professor for anthropology and medical psychology at the medical faculty of Heidelberg University . After working as a military doctor in 1870 and a substitute for Helmholtz, who was appointed to Berlin in 1871, he became an associate professor of medicine with salary; his teaching activities included "anthropology" and "medical psychology".

After being appointed full professor for inductive philosophy at the University of Zurich in 1874, Wilhelm Wundt switched to a full professorship for philosophy at the University of Leipzig a year later. There he founded an experimental psychological research institute in 1879 - initially as a private institution - as the world's first institute for psychology. In 1883 it was officially recognized by the university and from 1884 onwards, elevated to the status of the "Institute for Experimental Psychology", equipped with rooms and an annual budget. From 1889 to 1890, Wundt was rector of the University of Leipzig . In 1913 he founded a Department of Ethnology at the Institute. In 1917 he gave up his teaching post. During the last years of his life, Wundt lived in his house in Großbothen near Leipzig. Since 2014 there has been an initiative to preserve the decaying house, to put it under monument protection and to use it as a location for a new and in-depth phase of Wundt research.

Academic environment

In Leipzig there was a stimulating scientific environment with the possibility of many interdisciplinary contacts. Wundt's environment included the physiologists Carl Ludwig and Johann Nepomuk Czermak , the anatomist and physiologist Ernst Heinrich Weber , the physiologist Ewald Hering , the botanist Pfeffer , the lawyer Rudolph Sohm , the polymath Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801–1887) and the philosopher and physician Hermann Lotze (1817–1881). Also to be mentioned are the legal scholar Oskar von Bülow , his friend , the philologists Gottlob Reinhold Sievers and Karl Brugmann . Wundt was in professional exchange with some of them, and he was friends with others. The historian Karl Lamprecht , the geographer Friedrich Ratzel and the chemist Wilhelm Ostwald were among his “discussion groups” . Technical controversies arose in Leipzig with the mathematician and philosopher Moritz Wilhelm Drobisch , with the physicist and astronomer Karl Friedrich Zöllner about spiritualism and the philosopher and epistemologist Eduard Zeller about psychological measurements.


Wilhelm Wundt photography around 1890

In Leipzig, Wundt has held lectures with a broad spectrum since 1875: logic and methodology, psychology of language , anthropology (natural history and prehistory of man), psychology, general results of brain and nerve physiology with regard to psychology, history of modern cosmology , historical and Modern philosophy , internships in experimental psychology. Wundt kept his lectures, which were described as very impressive by the audience at the time.

Wundt founded two magazines to publicize the work of the Leipzig Institute: Philosophical Studies (from 1881 to 1902) and Psychological Studies (from 1905 to 1917).

Assistants, staff and students

The first assistant was the American James McKeen Cattell . Numerous employees followed, many of whom became known as pioneers of certain directions in psychology: Fritz Giese , Otto Klemm , Felix Krueger , Oswald Külpe , Ludwig Lange , Alfred Georg Ludvig Lehmann , Gottlob Friedrich Lipps , Karl Marbe , Paul Mentz , Ernst Meumann , Willy Möbius , Walther Moede , Hugo Münsterberg , Friedrich Sander , Charles Spearman , Gustav Wilhelm Störring , Edward Bradford Titchener , Lightner Witmer and Wilhelm Wirth as well as the psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin .

Wladimir Michailowitsch Bechterew , Franz Boas , Émile Durkheim , Edmund Husserl , Ludwig Lange , Karl Julius Lohnert , Bronisław Malinowski , George Herbert Mead , Constantin Rădulescu-Motru , Edward Sapir , William Isaac studied at Wundt in Leipzig for shorter or longer periods of time Thomas and Ferdinand Tönnies .

Between 1875 and 1919, Wundt wrote the first report in 184 doctoral procedures (70 foreigners, 18 of them from the USA). He enjoyed great esteem u. a. also for students from Eastern European countries like Bulgaria. The experimental investigations (85 dissertations) focused on Fechner's psychophysics and apperception research with reaction time measurements and other methods; In addition to many philosophical topics, there were also some ethnic psychological topics.


Wundt was a co-founder of the Association of German Workers' Associations . He was a member of the Baden Progressive Party and, as representative of Heidelberg, was a member of the Second Chamber of the Baden Estates Assembly from 1866 to 1869. Wundt's areas of activity were: legal status of students; School reform; Commission report on the draft law concerning the legal relationships of students at the two state universities. He resigned the mandate in 1869, whereby political attacks and workload played a role. Wundt, more of a liberal during his time in Heidelberg and in his Leipzig rectorate speech in 1889, signed the declaration of the university professors of the German Reich to justify the German position in warfare at the beginning of the First World War . He wrote several political, patriotic essays and speeches, which are shaped by the belief in the superiority of German science and culture, and this attitude seems to have developed into an increasingly conservative national stance, also under the influence of the revolutionary events of the post-war period to have.


Plaque on Wundt's house in Großbothen

Wundt was awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Leipzig (Dr. phil. Hc, 1876) and Göttingen (Dr. jur. Hc, 1887). He was a foreign or corresponding member of 13 academies as well as an honorary member in 12 scientific societies in Germany and abroad. In 1888 he was appointed "Royal Saxon Privy Councilor". In 1912 he was elected a member of the Pour le Mérite Order for Sciences and Arts . In 1909, Wundt was elected to the National Academy of Sciences .



Wundt illusion (the red lines are parallel)

In the Heidelberg period since 1853, Wundt published numerous essays on physiology (especially on experimental neurophysiology and muscle physiology , eye movements, nerve conduction, curare ), a textbook on human physiology (1865, 4th edition 1878) and a handbook of medical physics (1867) . He wrote about 70 reviews of current publications in the fields of neurophysiology and neurology , physiology, anatomy , histology . Wundt's textbook, Basic Principles of Physiological Psychology, contains about a third of the total volume of descriptions of the anatomy and physiology of the central nervous system . The later three-volume editions are also characterized by unusually detailed chapters on the status of functional neuroanatomy and the physiology of the CNS. This includes a critical discussion of contemporary localization theories and general functional principles. Wundt advocates aligning neuroanatomical and neurophysiological issues with concise psychological concepts. This conception of an interdisciplinary neuroscience is common knowledge today, but Wundt's contribution to this development is hardly remembered. Sherrington cites Wundt's research on the physiology of reflexes several times in his textbook , but not Wundt's neuropsychological conception (Fahrenberg, 2015).

A second area of ​​work was sensory physiology , u. a. for spatial perception , for visual perception and for optical illusions . The Wundt deception , which is a variant of the Hering deception , became known. In his research on sensory physiology, Wundt came across facts that, in his opinion, required psychological explanations in the theory of sensory perception. In addition, Wundt wrote numerous essays for a wider audience.


Starting position

Due to his training and as assistant to Hermann von Helmholtz, Wundt knew the standards of experimental research, but also speculative psychology in the mid-19th century. Wundt's claim to scientific research and necessary methodological criticism becomes clear when he writes about the language of ordinary people who refer only to their personal life experience , or when he mentions the influence of uncritical vulgar psychology on psychological interpretations .

In Fechner Wundt sees the father of psychophysics and the hopeful beginning of experimental psychology. In his mathematically formulated laws, according to which there is a logarithmic relationship between the just noticeable change in a sensation and the increase in intensity of the sensory stimuli , Wundt believes he sees evidence that the inner experience of man can be experimentally investigated. In Johann Friedrich Herbart's psychology, he criticizes the metaphysically anchored derivations and the lack of empirical studies. In principle, Wundt contradicts Herbart's general approach, which is based primarily on a theory of ideas and interprets volitional processes as their effects. Wundt cannot follow the “mechanics of ideas” in this “intellectualistic” and speculative-mathematical psychology and emphasizes the close psychological connections between ideas , feelings and volitional activity. For Wundt, volitional processes are not only of equal importance in empirical psychology, they even form the central functions. According to the analogy of the volitional process, all mental processes are to be understood as a continually changing process in time; however, he does not postulate that willing, in the sense of Schopenhauer's metaphysical conception , is the only really existing form of psychic happening. Rather, Wundt is known for his elemental psychology and consequently also for his consciousness psychology .

Major works

The contributions to the theory of sensory perception (1862) show the turn of the physiologist Wundt to the experimental psychologist. “Why doesn't psychology follow the example of the natural sciences? It is a doctrine that the history of the natural sciences impresses on us on every page, that the progress of every science is closely tied to the progress of research methods. ”With this statement, however, he does not want to define psychology as a pure natural science learn the advances in scientific methods, but: “There are two sciences that must come to the aid of general psychology in this respect: the history of development of the soul and comparative psychology. The former has to follow the gradual development of the soul's life in man; the latter has to show the differences between the animal series and the races of the human race. ”“ So, from whatever side we may attempt a psychological investigation, we will always come back to it the point from which we started, to the improvement of the methodology. ”On the title page of the articles , Wundt quotes Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz , whose philosophical psychology and theory of principles exerted an increasing influence on Wundt's psychology and philosophy:

"Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu, nisi intellectus ipse" - Nothing is in the understanding that has not been in the senses: except for the understanding itself (Leibniz, Nouveaux essais, 1765, Livre II, Des Idées, Chapitre 1 , § 6).

In his experiments on the physiology of the senses, Wundt came to the conclusion that simple physiological explanations are not sufficient for certain phenomena, for example in spatial perception, but that psychological terms are necessary. - The main features of physiological psychology conclude in 1874 with the sentence “The human soul is not as simple being, but as an ordered unit of many elements, what LEIBNIZ called it: a mirror of the world” (1874, p. 863).

Wundt's research program and his theoretically comprehensive horizon can be seen in the lectures published in two volumes on the human and animal soul (1863). This popular work already contains all of Wundt's areas of psychological interest:

The program of the 30-year-old Wundt (1862, 1863) is developed into a research program lasting almost six decades. Thirty years later, Wundt (1892) published a second, abridged and revised edition of these lectures with a self-critical foreword. The chapters on peoples psychology recognized as being too provisional are excluded and later worked out into a ten-volume peoples psychology.

General Psychology

The Basics of Physiological Psychology through General Psychology is Wundt's best known textbook. He wants to bring two sciences together. “Physiology provides information about the phenomena of life that can be perceived by our external senses. In psychology, man looks at himself from within, as it were, and seeks to explain the connection between those processes which this inner observation offers him. "

"With sufficient certainty the sentence can be regarded as justified that nothing happens in our consciousness that does not find its physical basis in certain physiological processes." Wundt assigns the task of physiological psychology: "First of all, to research those life processes which, Standing in the middle between external and internal experience, necessitate the simultaneous application of both methods of observation, external and internal, and secondly, to illuminate the totality of life processes from the points of view obtained in the investigation of this area, and in such a way, where possible, one To convey the total understanding of the human being. "" The attribute 'physiological' does not mean that it ... [physiological psychology] ... wants to reduce psychology to physiology - which I consider to be an impossibility - but that it is linked to physiological, d. H. experimental aids and, of course, more than is usually done in other psychology, takes into account the relationship between psychological and physical processes. ”“ If one wants to place the main emphasis on the peculiarity of the method, then our science as experimental psychology leaves from The basic principles (1874), after long chapters on the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, contain five sections: the psychic elements, the psychic structures, the connection between the psychic structures, the psychological developments, the principles and laws of psychic causality.

Apperception theory

A central term for Wundt's psychology is apperception : the entry of a content of consciousness into the field of attention. Using the example of attention and attention control, the willful attention, the accompanying sensations and feelings of activity are to be described psychologically as well as gradual differences in terms of clarity and scope, intensity of consciousness and forms of connection between the individual functions. Apperception is an activity that is added to passive association and that is both arbitrary and selective as well as representing and comparative. In this process, sensations and ideas are apperceptively connected with typical feeling tones, selected, analyzed, associated and combined in various ways, also linked with motor and vegetative functions, not just "processed" but also "creatively synthesized".

Wundt describes these apperceptive processes in a psychologically very differentiated way and relies in many respects on the methods and results of his experimental research. One example is the extensive series of experiments on mental chronometry of complex reaction times . In feeling research, certain affects are provoked and, at the same time, pulse and breathing are registered with a kymograph . The observed differences should help to experimentally support Wundt's classification (Wundt's three-dimensional feeling theory): pleasure - displeasure, excitement - calming, tension - solution.

Wundt and colleagues around 1910

Wundt dealt intensively theoretically and methodologically with the differentiation of the apperception process in emergent psychological processes and the possibilities for its experimental research. Wundt sees the integrative process of consciousness activity as an elementary activity of the subject, i.e. the act of will to bring a content carefully into consciousness. Insofar as this activity is typical for all psychological processes, it is possible to describe his view as voluntaristic .

With his demand to break down psychological processes into their elements, Wundt does not want to create a pure elemental psychology, because the elements should at the same time remain related to one another. He describes the sensual perceptions with the simple sensory feelings, ideas and volitional acts linked to them, and he explains dependencies and repercussions, some of which sound similar to today's concepts of cognitive theories of feeling ( emotions , theories of emotions). Wundt rejected the widespread association theory, according to which psychological connections ( learning , association psychology ) mainly come about due to the frequency and intensity of certain processes. His term apperception psychology means that he considers the organizational self-activity and the creative achievements of the psychic life (consciousness activity) to be more important than the elementary conditions.

Ethnic Psychology (Cultural Psychology)

Another major work by Wundt is ten-volume peoples psychology. An investigation into the laws of development of language, myth and custom (1900 to 1920). In contrast to individual psychology, peoples psychology is supposed to show the general psychological laws of development of higher spiritual processes: the development of thinking , language , artistic imagination , myth , religion , custom , the relationship of the individual to the community , the spiritual environment and the origin of the spiritual Works of the community.

“Psychology in the ordinary and general meaning of this word seeks to investigate the facts of immediate experience, as they are offered by subjective consciousness, in their origin and in their mutual context. In this sense it is individual psychology. She consistently refrains from analyzing those phenomena that arise from the spiritual interaction of a variety of individuals. Precisely for this reason, however, it requires a supplementary consideration, which we assign to the psychology of nations. Accordingly, the task of this branch of psychology consists in the investigation of those psychic processes that underlie the general development of human communities and the emergence of common intellectual products of universally valid values ​​”.

“Even general psychology cannot completely ignore the fact that the consciousness of the individual is under the influence of his spiritual environment. Traditional ideas, language and the forms of thinking it contains, and finally the profound effects of upbringing and education, they are preconditions for every subjective experience. These conditions mean that numerous facts of individual psychology are only accessible from our full understanding of the psychology of the people. "" As the psychology of the people leads people in all relationships that extend beyond the boundaries of individual existence and lead back to the spiritual interaction as its general condition, takes as its object, but that name only incompletely describes its content. The individual is not just a member of a national community. The next circle includes the family; Because of the place that his birth and life's fate instruct him to be, he stands in the midst of other manifold criss-crossing associations, each of which depends on the particular cultural level reached with its thousand-year-old achievements and inheritance. "

The program of cultural psychology

To understand the program, the lectures on the human and animal soul (1863) should first be mentioned. "Where the deliberate experiment ends, history has experimented for the psychologist" (Wundt, 1863, p. IX). - The peoples psychology is therefore not a “late work”, as is occasionally shown, but it is included programmatically from the beginning and it makes up the largest part of his total work. Three of Wundt's works have “Völkerpsychologie” in their title: the ten-volume main work Völkerpsychologie. A study of the laws of development of language, myth and custom (1900–1920), a collection of essays Problems of Völkerpsychologie (1911) and the elements of Völkerpsychologie. Basic lines of a psychological development history of mankind (1912) which, in contrast to the thematically structured main work , attempt to differentiate between cultural stages of development . Two essays (Wundt, 1888, 1916) deal with the delimitation of ethnic psychology and its definition as part of a general developmental psychology. The methodology of national psychology is presented later: in logic. An examination of the principles of knowledge and methods of scientific research. Volume III. Logic of the Humanities (1921).

Inspired by precursors from the history of ideas such as Herder , Herbart , Hegel and Wilhelm von Humboldt (with his comparative linguistic considerations), the psychologist Moritz Lazarus (1851) and the linguist Heymann Steinthal, the founders of the “Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft” in 1860, gave this area its name . Wundt (1863, 1888) also mainly refers to her program. a. to Theodor Waitz (1821–1864), who from 1859 published a number of works on the anthropology of primitive peoples and on the peoples of the South Seas. This created a basis that Lazarus and Steinthal lacked in this way. Wundt takes a critical look at the - in his opinion - still disordered intentions of Lazarus and Steinthal and narrows the questions in his essay "On Goals and Ways of Völkerpsychologie" (1888) by proposing a psychologically structured structure. Wundt had given lectures in this broad field since 1859. Was retrospect "folk psychology" an unhappy chosen title because he has often been called ethnography ( ethnology misunderstood). Wundt had also considered (social) anthropology , social psychology, and community psychology. Even today there are still several competing terms for this area. The term cultural psychology would be more appropriate, but the psychological development theory of the mind expresses Wundt's intentions even better (Fahrenberg, 2016).

As areas in which “the historical can be paralleled by a psychological investigation”, Wundt mentions: “Language contains the general form of ideas living in the spirit of the people and the laws of their connection. The myth conceals the original content of these ideas in its conditioning by feelings and drives. Finally, custom includes the general directions of will which have arisen from these ideas and instincts. We therefore understand myth and custom here in the broader sense in which the former contains the whole primitive world-view as it arose under the influence of the general disposition of human nature before the beginning of scientific thought, while the custom at the same time contains all those beginnings of the The legal order includes which precedes the systematic legal formation, which is a singular historical process ”- The cultural psychology of language, myth, custom is based on general psychology: imagining and thinking, feelings and instincts, volitional activity. The diverse psychological connections and laws are to be examined from the perspective of cultural development.

The ten volumes contain: Language (Volume 1 and 2), Art (Volume 3), Myth and Religion (Volume 4 to 6), Society (Volume 7 and 8), Law (Volume 9), Culture and History ( Volume 10). An immense material is worked out by Wundt, psychologically linked and structured, from agriculture, trade, craft and property to gods, myths and Christianity, marriage and family, people and nation to (self) education and self-confidence, science, world and Humanity. Throughout, Wundt refers to the general psychology he conceived . He thus links the descriptive representation with psychological concepts: attention and thinking, with his theory of feelings and affects, volitional and instinctual activity, consciousness and fantasy, expressive movements and actions. The fact that Wundt's psychology is a process theory (in the sense of his principle of actuality) is shown by the frequency of those explanatory terms for the psychological connections between sensations, ideas, feelings and volitional activity; In many lines of development, the change of meaning and the change of motive are examined and there are detailed interpretations based on the emergence principle (creative synthesis), the principle of unintended side effects (heterogony of purposes) and the principle of contrast. Basic explanations and some sections on psychological analysis, including comments on the method of interpretation, are spread over several volumes. In Volume 10, Wundt summarizes his viewpoints on a psychology of culture, and this last volume remains interesting also with topics such as the development and future of culture.

Motives, values ​​and purposes of development

A system of motives, values ​​and purposes is not attempted for the multitude of topics of economic, technical-scientific, legal and political forms. About twenty terms are dealt with more frequently in the ten volumes, without terminological standardization or a "system" as in the catalogs of needs, motives and convictions of the later theories of motivation . Frequently mentioned motives are: division of labor, inspiration, redemption motive, need for happiness, production and imitation motive, boy care, artistic instinct, life care, magical motif, rescue and redemption motif, jewelry motif, guilt, punishment, atonement, self-education motive, play instinct, retaliation motif Other values ​​and motives emerge in the representation of freedom-justice, war and peace, legal forms, state order and forms of government; also with regard to the development towards a world view of culture, religion, state, traffic, global political and social community. In the overall impression, however, it is not these topics that dominate, nor is the abstract discussion of intellectualism and voluntarism of the cultural-psychological interpretation that started several times , but the connections with religion . Wundt very often turns his interpretive approaches in this direction by making connections not only to art , fantasy , dance and ecstasy , but also to family and rule forms, with belief in the soul, immortality , belief in demons and belief in God, myths and world religions , cult acts, sacrificial rites , Sorcery , animism and totemism . This frequent presence of religious convictions in all volumes (apart from the psychology of language) suggests that Wundt sees this as an essential link of values ​​and motives.

Wundt sees examples of human self-education in an upright gait, in which physical dispositions and “a culture that is partly forced by external conditions and partly freely desired work together” (Volume 10, p. 189). He describes the accidental emergence and the then arbitrary control of the fire as an analogous interaction between two occasions. In the interaction of human activity with the activity of nature preceding or accompanying it, he recognizes the creative principle of culture from the very beginning; a second nature in tools as cultural products. Thereby the spiritual guidance appears, which is not a power opposed to nature, but rather, according to its original disposition, itself lies in nature. This guidance comes from the laws of one's own thinking, which reveals a coherent system of causes and effects, a system of purposes and thus of values ​​(and in relation to the norms of one's own actions) (p. 195). “The value stands in the sign of freedom, the causality in that of necessity. Both are therefore united in the concept of value-creating causality, which in this union is the final concept of culture ”(p. 202). Wundt calls development and value the key terms in cultural psychology. Value is “the overriding principle, without the concept of culture and especially that of cultural development losing its meaning at all. The concept of value can only be used empirically in a relative sense ”(p. 216). He differentiates between the causal historical and the psychological conditions, which always go back to psychological motives. “By combining the two, the main task of national psychology, viewed as a whole, is therefore a history of the development of the spirit, and the psychology of culture in particular has for its task to prove the origin of the spiritual values ​​from which culture is gradually built up in its various forms "(P. 218).

The "Elements of Völkerpsychologie" (1912) give the basic lines of a psychological history of human development. Wundt intends to consider the main stages of cultural development one after the other, whereby the delimitation of individual periods is difficult because of the transitions and not possible without some arbitrariness. The sequence of the four development phases is only to be understood as a simplifying interpretation approach: The primitive man. The totemic age. The age of heroes and gods. The development of humanity. - Anyone who has only taken note of the elements (only this book has been translated into English) can certainly not have gained adequate access to Wundt's cultural psychology.

In parallel to Wundt's work on ethnic psychology, he wrote his much-read Ethics (1886), the introduction of which emphasizes the importance of the concept of development in order to capture religion, customs and morality. On the one hand, ethics is norm science; on the other hand, these “rules of will” are changing, as can be seen from the empirical study of culture-related morality.


Apperception center

Wundt contributed in three ways to the neuropsychology that was emerging at the time : through his criticism of the localization theory that was widespread in neurology at the time , through his demand for neurologically and psychologically founded research hypotheses, and through his neuropsychological conception of an apperception center in the frontal cortex. Using the example of intelligence, Wundt justified why he considers the widespread view of localizing “intelligence” in the frontal lobe to be wrong. Instead of examining such phenomena grouped under an indefinite collective name, he recommends breaking them down "as far as possible into elementary processes with which a clear and simple psychological term can be linked, which may possibly make the relationship to a correspondingly simple physiological correlate term possible" such an elementary concept is the state of attention, for which an alternation of excitation and inhibition processes can be assumed. Wundt argues that the attempts to localize the higher central nervous functions are based on concise and psychologically founded research hypotheses, because the questions cannot be sufficiently specified on the anatomical and physiological level alone. For Wundt, attention and attention control constitute an outstanding example of the desirable combination of experimental psychological and physiological research.

Wundt supported his central theory of apperception with a neuropsychological modeling (from the 3rd edition of the basics on). Accordingly, the hypothetical apperception center in the frontal cerebral cortex, described in a differentiated way, could provide the connection between sensory, motor, vegetative, cognitive, emotional and motivational process components (Ziche 1999; Fahrenberg, 2015). Wundt thus gave the central idea of ​​a primarily psychologically oriented research program on the highest integrative processes. Current research on cognitive executive functions in the prefrontal cerebral cortex, on corresponding "emotional executive functions" and on hypothetical "multimodal zones of convergence" in the network of functions of the cortex and limbic system have very similar objectives .

Guiding principles

In Wundt's work, overarching central ideas emerge:

  1. Developmental Psychology of the Human Mind : The fundamental task is to work out a comprehensive development theory of the mind from animal psychology to the highest cultural achievements in language, religion and ethics. In contrast to other thinkers of his time, Wundt had no difficulty in combining the ideas of development in the humanities in the sense of Hegel and Herder with the theory of biological descent by Charles Darwin .
  2. Apperception : Apperception is Wundt's central theoretical concept. He borrows from Leibniz and Kant 's philosophical view of understanding consciousness in general as a synthesis , then develops psychological concepts, applies experimental psychological methods and designs neuropsychological modeling in fronto-cortical structures of the nervous system - in line with today's ideas. Here, apperception denotes a series of theoretical assumptions about the integrative process of conscious activity, i.e. H. selective control of attention , active cognitive, emotional and volitional integration achievements , and the initiation of action tendencies (see volitional psychology , will ).
  3. Psychological anthropology : In his introduction to philosophy, Wundt writes that anthropology is “the doctrine of the psycho-physical nature of man, where it presupposes physiology and psychology and thereby forms a transition link to spiritual philosophy”.
  4. Critical realism : Wundt states that "psychology is an empirical science coordinated with the natural sciences, and that the two ways of looking at things complement each other in the sense that together they exhaust the empirical knowledge that is possible for us." His view is free of metaphysics , but is certain obligatory epistemological preliminary concepts, u. a. the distinction between subject and object in perception and the principle of causal connection, d. H. the psychological causal principle as well as natural causality. With his concept of critical realism , Wundt (1896–1898) distinguishes himself from other philosophical positions.


The psychic is a changeable process of consciousness without an enduring, transcendent soul principle. The soul (spiritual) is not to be determined structurally or even substantially, but only as actuality, as "immediate reality of what happens in the psychological experience". Soul is an expression for the inner experience in constant flux. Wundt's postulate of topicality should be mentioned first for an understanding of his psychology. It has far-reaching theoretical implications for the definition of psychology because the connections of consciousness, i. H. the actively organizing processes are no longer explained by an underlying carrier.

Category theory

In his Logic, Wundt writes extensively on the traditional philosophical doctrine of the categories ; H. also about actuality and substance , about causality and finality as two aspects of the principle of sufficient reason . He sees the subject reference , the determination of values , the setting of purposes and the volitional activity as special categories that are fundamental to psychology . He often uses the phrase “the human being as a willing and thinking subject” to denote the commonality with the humanities and the categorical difference to the natural sciences .

Psychophysical parallelism : natural causality versus psychological causality

Wundt states: “... wherever there are regular relationships between psychological and physical phenomena, the two are neither identical nor mutually transformable, because they are in themselves incomparable; but they are assigned to one another in such a way that certain psychological certain physical processes regularly correspond or, as one expresses figuratively, go 'parallel to one another'. ”But instead of remaining in this position like others, Wundt examines the consequences. The inner experience has its basis in the functions of the brain, but there are no physical causes of psychological changes. If psychological states arise only from psychological states, then a psychological causality must be postulated. The psychic and the physical causality, however, are not opposed to one another in the dualistic-metaphysical sense, but depend on the point of view of consideration. Causal explanations in psychology have to be satisfied with looking for the previous causes of the effects without being able to derive precise predictions. Using the example of volitional acts, Wundt describes in detail the possible reversal of the consideration of cause and effect, means and end, and explains how causal and teleological explanations can complement each other to form a coordinated view (on a “causal-final axis”, so to speak).

Definition of psychology

Wundt takes on the task of redefining the broad field of psychology between philosophy and physiology , between the humanities and the natural sciences. In place of the metaphysical definition as the doctrine of the soul , the epistemological definition of psychology as psychology of consciousness with its own categories and principles of knowledge takes place. Psychology deals with “the entire experience in its immediate subjective reality.” Wundt defines psychology as an empirical discipline. The task of psychology is to analyze the processes of consciousness exactly, to measure the elementary sensations, to dissect the composite processes of consciousness and complex interactions , and to find the laws of those relationships. Four basic theses can be recognized:

  1. Psychology is not a science of the individual " soul ". Life is a uniform, psychological and physical process that can be viewed in different ways in order to recognize general laws, in particular the psychological-historical and biological development laws. Wundt vigorously contradicts the tradition, which has been in power since Johann Friedrich Herbart , of thinking above all in terms of a one-sided intellectual, cognitive and mathematical psychology. Wundt demands that the emotional and voluntary functions, in addition to the cognitive functions, be understood as equally important aspects of a unified and psychophysical process. According to Wundt, it is not the individual elements but the relational connections in the apperceptive performance and in the voluntary alignment of the consciousness process that form the main theme of psychology: in general psychology as well as in cultural development.
  2. Psychology cannot be reduced to physiology. The aids of physiology remain fundamentally inadequate for the task of psychology. Such a beginning is pointless, "because it would be without understanding the connection between the psychological processes, even if the connection between the brain processes were as clear to us as the mechanism of a pocket watch."
  3. Psychology is mind psychology. Wundt justifies this thesis epistemologically and methodologically. Wundt repeatedly refuses to make unconscious psychological processes the subject of scientific psychology. In his day, before Sigmund Freud , there were influential authors such as the philosopher Eduard von Hartmann (1901), who postulated a metaphysics of "the unconscious ". Wundt has two fundamental objections. He rejects any primarily metaphysically based psychology, and he sees no reliable methodological approach. He also soon revised his initial assumptions about “unconscious inferences” (Araujo, 2012, 2016). From today's perspective, this term, also used by Helmholtz , is very misleading when it comes to the unnoticed, automatic-inferential processing of, for example, phenomena of spatial perception and constancy of size . If Wundt rejects the assumption of "the unconscious ", his skepticism regarding Fechner's teaching about the unconscious also appears here , and Wundt is perhaps even more influenced by the flood of writings on hypnotism and spiritualism at the time (Wundt, 1879, 1892). While Freud often quoted from Wundt's ethnological psychology and, for example, adopted Wundt's conceptualization of compression and displacement in his dream psychology, Wundt remained skeptical of all hypotheses that operate with the unconscious.
    For Wundt it would also have been a misunderstanding to define psychology as a behavioral science in the sense of the later, strict behaviorism . A large number of behavioral and physiological variables have already been observed or measured in the Leipzig laboratory. Wundt emphasized that physiological registrations, for example the vegetative side effects of feelings, are only auxiliary methods in psychology, as are the physical measurements of stimulus intensities in psychophysics . One-sidedly further developing this methodological approach would ultimately have led to behavioral physiology , i.e. scientific reductionism , and not to general psychology and cultural psychology .
  4. Psychology is an empirical human science . Wundt is convinced of the threefold position of psychology:
    • As the science of direct experience, it stands in opposition to the natural sciences, which relate to indirect experience and abstract from the subject;
    • as a science “of the generally valid forms of direct human experience and their regular connection, it is the basis of the humanities”;
    • Of all empirical sciences, it is "the one whose results come first in the investigation of the general problems of epistemology and ethics, the two fundamental areas of philosophy."

Methodology and strategies

“Because of its position between the natural sciences and the humanities, psychology does indeed have a great wealth of methodological aids. While on the one hand the experimental method is available to her, on the other hand numerous objects of a comparative psychological analysis are offered to her in the objective intellectual products "

Methods of Experimental Psychology

Experimental psychology in Leipzig was mainly based on four types of methods: The impression methods with the various methods of measuring the intensity of perception in sensory psychophysics , i. H. to trained self-observation under experimental control; the reaction methods to chronometry in the psychology of attention and apperception ; the methods of reproduction in research on memory , the methods of expression with observation and physiological measurements in research on feeling (Wundt, 1902–1903; Wontorra, 2009). He sees the most fruitful way of an adequate psychological research in the methodology of his linguistic psychological investigations (Volumes 1 and 2 of the Völkerpsychologie). Wundt is fundamentally interested in the interrelationships within the community or between the individual and the community (Graumann, 2006), but there is still a lack of direct research methods.

Comparative psychological analysis and interpretation

The principles of the ethnic psychological methodology were only worked out later. It is about the analytical and comparative observation of objectively available material, i. H. Historical, language, works, art, reports and observations of human behavior in earlier cultures, less often direct ethnological source material. According to this, psychology, like natural science, has two exact methods: the first, the experimental method, is used to analyze the simpler psychological processes; the second, the observation of the generally valid intellectual products, serves to examine the higher psychological processes and developments. ”Wundt distinguishes two objectives of the comparative methodology: the individual comparison collects all the important features of the overall picture of an object of observation, and the general comparison forms a picture on this basis of the variations, d. H. Individual consideration and the theory of variations. Wundt did not develop his method of critical interpretation of intellectual works until the 3rd and 4th edition of his logic . It is the first doctrine of interpretation written by a psychologist.

Wundt writes about the methodology of the interpretation : "We therefore generally designate the epitome of the methods that are supposed to give us an understanding of spiritual processes and spiritual creations." Wundt refers to the tradition of hermeneutics in the humanities , but states that the The interpretation process in its typical back and forth movement, in addition to the logical steps and subject-specific elements, also basically follows psychological principles. Interpretation only becomes the characteristic process of the humanities through criticism. It is a process, contrary to interpretation, of dismantling the established connection through psychological analysis. It investigates external or internal contradictions, it is supposed to evaluate the authenticity of intellectual products and is also a critique of values ​​and opinions. The typical errors of the intellectualistic, individualistic and unhistorical interpretation of spiritual processes have "all their source in the vulgar psychology that usually underlies subjective judgment."

Method pluralism

The broad spectrum of the method used by Wundt represents a pluralism in three areas: (1) experimental teaching with trained and controlled introspection; (2) the supplementary measurements of temporal processes, performance and physiological accompanying processes; (3) the comparative analysis and interpretation of the diverse material of cultural psychology. Wundt calls for perspectivity and pluralism of methods, but does not advocate a dogmatic methodological dualism with a decision between experimental-statistical methods and interpretive methods. So contain z. For example, the chapters on language development or on the activity of fantasy in cultural psychology also include experimental, statistical and physiological research findings (Meischner-Metge, 2006). His plea for a multi-method psychology with a high level of aspiration stands out from the controversies that were widespread even at the time, because Wundt reached a new level by declaring experiment, observation, comparison and interpretation to be fundamental and indispensable methods of scientific psychology. He is very familiar with these methods and has followed these research paths in extensive projects. This has been achieved without a precedent and since then - for various reasons - by a single researcher.

Methodical level of sophistication

Psychology is an empirical science and must strive for a systematic approach, verification of results and methodological criticism. Self-observation should be trained thoroughly and it is only reliable under strict conditions. Wundt (1907, 1921) gave a standard definition of the psychological experiment . The discussion with Immanuel Kant (Wundt, 1874) had a significant influence . Kant acceptance had measurability of conscious processes rejected and given a sound, are very concise criticism of methods of self-observation: in terms of methods related reactivity , the observation deceptions, the falsifying habits of the subjects and the dubious involvement independent-minded people Wundt, however, optimistic commented that methodological Improvements can help. He later admitted that measurement and mathematics can only be applied to very elementary processes of consciousness. Also statistical methods , would have very limited value, for example in psychophysics and in the evaluation of population statistics . Only in surveys does he see a benefit in the questionnaire method that was created at the time , which he rejects in other areas. Wundt often emphasized the task of recognizing the laws of consciousness processes and cultural development, but later preferred the term legality, because there are singular events and creative processes.


Individual sciences and philosophy

In his first epistemological treatise entitled The Physical Axioms and Their Relation to the Causal Principle. A chapter from a philosophy of natural sciences (1866) deals with the versions and definitional variants of six physical axioms of mechanics . This shows Wundt's style of philosophizing. He goes into the history of the development of the individual axioms and, in addition to the point of view of physics, also takes the point of view of psychology, in that, especially in the case of the causal principle , he goes into the immediate perception of the experiencer.

Both of Wundt's inaugural lectures deal with the connection of the individual sciences with philosophy: On the task of philosophy in the present , in Zurich 1874, and On the influence of philosophy on the individual sciences , in Leipzig 1875. These questions were due to the advance of the natural sciences and the breakdown of the faculties - also for the classification of the new psychology. Wundt spoke of a state of fermentation in philosophy: on the one hand, philosophy has played its role and must give way to the empirical sciences; on the other hand, there are ardent advocates of speculative systems of philosophy as a real science. In contrast, a philosophical movement emerged in the individual sciences, which “is perhaps more meaningful than anything that is currently happening in the field of actual specialist philosophy.” Philosophical questions are raised everywhere in the specialist sciences . "From the physiology of the sensory tools, the new science of experimental psychology has gradually developed through the transfer of scientific observation and experimental methods to inner experience, the whole essence of which seems to be the mediator between the natural sciences and the humanities." Philosophy has to examine the general results of the sciences and develop the scientific methods and principles “... as the science of sciences

Wundt's philosophical orientation

In 1874, in the preface to his Principles of Physiological Psychology, Wundt named Kant and Herbart as the most important philosophers for the formation of his own views. Those who follow these hints will find that Wundt takes a critical look at both thinkers. He distances himself from Herbart's theory of the soul and, in particular, from his “conceptual mechanics” and pseudo-mathematical speculations (Fundamentals, Chapter 19). - Wundt acknowledges Kant's critical work and the rejection of a “rational” psychology deduced from metaphysics, but he contradicts in his work What should Kant not be to us? (1892) Kant's epistemology with regard to forms of perception and a priori, as well as the theory of categories and Kant's position with regard to the dispute over causal and teleological modes of explanation.

In contrast, Leibniz has a far greater and constructive influence on Wundt's psychology, philosophy, epistemology and ethics. This connection can be taken from Wundt's Leibniz paper (1917) and from his central concepts and principles. Leibniz obviously also shaped Wundt's perspective thinking. Wundt “secularized” such guiding principles and formulated important philosophical positions of Leibniz on this side of belief in God and belief in an immortal soul. The fundamental influence of Leibniz has not yet been systematically investigated, although Wundt's psychology in terms of the history of ideas can hardly be understood without Leibniz's influence. Wundt received essential suggestions and implemented them in an original way in the principles and methodology of empirical psychology: principle of actuality, psychophysical parallelism, combination of causal and teleological analysis, apperception theory, psychology of the will and voluntaristic tendency, the doctrine of principles and the perspective of thinking.

Leibniz wrote: “The souls act according to the laws of the end causes through strivings, ends and means. The bodies act according to the laws of causes or movements. And the two realms, that of the effective causes and that of the purposeful causes, are in harmony with one another ”(Monadology, paragraph 79.

Wundt's conception of “psychological causality”, which is mostly received very skeptically or negatively in contemporary psychology and is hardly mentioned today, is a direct transfer from Leibniz's doctrine of principles. For Wundt, psychophysical parallelism is therefore not a “just metaphysical” conception of the “mind-body problem”, but this position has consequences for empirical psychology. There are two fundamentally different ways of looking at the postulated psychophysical unity, not just two views in the sense of Fechner's theory of identity. The psychological and the physiological statements are in two categorically different reference systems ; the main categories are to be highlighted in order to avoid category errors. Wundt's position differs from contemporary authors who also advocate parallelism. Instead of being content with the postulate of synchronism, he developed his theory of principles of psychological causality versus the natural causality of neurophysiology and an associated methodology. Here, Wundt drafted the first genuine scientific theory and methodology of empirical psychology (the term scientific theory did not exist at that time).

This deep influence of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on Wundt's psychology and philosophy has so far hardly been investigated . Wundt had given up the plan of a Leibniz biography, but paid tribute to Leibniz's thinking on the bicentenary of his death in 1916. He contradicts Leibniz's monadology and the theses on the mathematization of the world by excluding the area of ​​mental life. The attraction this universal thinker had for Wundt can be seen in those guiding principles that were influenced by Leibniz, but continued and methodically transferred to empirical psychology. Leibniz developed a new concept of the soul through his discussion of substance and topicality , of dynamic changes in the soul and of the parallel relationship between body and soul ( parallelism ). From Leibniz's distinction between causality and teleology (“theorem of sufficient reason”), Wundt derives the coordinated consideration of natural and psychological causality. Wundt developed the concept of apperception , coined by Leibniz, into an experimental psychologically based apperception psychology including neuropsychological modeling. If Leibniz distinguishes between two basic functions, imagining and striving, then this approach can be recognized in Wundt's psychology of will. The guiding principle of “unity in diversity” (unitas in multitudine) also comes from Leibniz, who shaped today's understanding of perspectives and point of view dependence.

Wundt characterized his style of thinking in a way that also applies to himself: "... the principle of equality of mutually complementary standpoints" plays an important role in his thinking, standpoints that "complement one another, but at the same time can also appear as opposites cancel each other out when looking at things more closely. "

In contrast to the vast majority of contemporary and today's authors of psychology, Wundt has precisely presented the philosophical and methodological positions of his work. - Wundt is against a foundation of empirical psychology by a (metaphysical or structural) soul principle as in the Christian belief in an immortal soul or in a "substance-ontologically" argumentative philosophy . Wundt was the son of a Protestant pastor and had married the daughter of a theology professor, but according to many statements and references he was outside of Christian belief in God and in revelation. Wundt's position was decidedly rejected by several Christian-oriented psychologists and philosophers as "psychology without a soul", although he did not use this formulation by Friedrich Albert Lange (1866), who was his predecessor at the Zurich chair from 1870 to 1872. Wundt's main idea was the development theory of the mind . Wundt's ethics also led to polemical reviews due to the lack of a final justification in God or in another absolute (cf. the reception analysis Fahrenberg, 2011, 2015a). - Wundt's successor, Felix Krueger (1934) called for the return of psychology to the "theory of the soul" and thus corresponded to an apparently very widespread and sustainable trend (pronounced, for example, in Wellek , 1962), but left it open as to whether this would not exactly hit his predecessor Wundt wanted to.

To understand the educational history of Wundt and the contemporary currents and intellectual controversies in the second half of the 19th century, Wundt's autobiography and his inaugural lectures in Zurich and Leipzig, and his commemorative speeches for Gustav Theodor Fechner and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz are instructive. Apart from the classics Plato and Aristotle  , Wundt refers primarily to Leibniz and Kant , more indirectly to Fichte , Hegel and Schelling , John Locke and John Stuart Mill , also Francis Bacon , Charles Darwin and Charles Spencer , and in psychology to Johann Friedrich Herbart , Gustav Theodor Fechner and Hermann Lotze . However, he rarely took on certain philosophical positions. It is typical that he presents and weighs points of view, sees complementary perspectives, i.e. relativizes them and rejects extreme views in favor of a middle position.

Major works


Wundt distances himself from the metaphysical concept of the soul and from postulates about its structure and capabilities, as can be found in Herbart , Lotze and Fechner . Wundt follows Kant and warns against a primarily metaphysically based, philosophically deductive psychology: “Wherever the author's metaphysical point of view is noted in the treatment of each individual problem, it is no longer an empirical science without presuppositions, but a metaphysical theory to exemplify it the experience should serve. "

However, he is convinced that in every single science there are general presuppositions of a philosophical nature. “Everywhere the psychological investigation leads to metaphysical problems. But for its solution the connection of empirical facts and laws to which it arrives forms only part of the preconditions. The rest must be added by natural philosophy and criticism of knowledge. Because the concepts of inner experience are co-determined by those of the outer and together with these require the examination of their origin and their justification. ” Epistemology should help the sciences to find, clarify or supplement their metaphysical parts and to free themselves from them as far as possible. Psychology and the other sciences are here always dependent on the help of philosophy and especially on logic and epistemology, otherwise only an immanent philosophy would emerge in the individual sciences , i.e. H. develop metaphysical assumptions of unsystematic character.

“Philosophy has its content in common with the totality of the sciences, but it adopts a different standpoint of consideration in that it takes into account the connection between facts and concepts; it is therefore divided into two main parts: the theory of knowledge and the theory of principles (or metaphysics). The doctrine of principles has a negative and a positive task: the criticism of the metaphysical presuppositions contained in every science as well as the correction and completion of the metaphysical hypotheses. "The indispensability of metaphysics is certain for Wundt:" If you succeed yourself in assuming it from philosophy banish, it would probably not disappear from the individual sciences ”( System der Philosophie , 1897, p. 33).

System of philosophy

Wundt claims that philosophy, as a general science, has the task of “uniting the general knowledge imparted by the individual sciences into a system free of contradictions.” Human reasoning strives for a unified, ie. H. Consistent explanation principle for being and consciousness , after a final justification of ethics and after a philosophical world ground. "Metaphysics is the attempt on the basis of the entire scientific consciousness of an age or particularly prominent contents of the same to gain a worldview that connects the components of the individual knowledge." According to Wundt, empirical psychology also contributes fundamental to the conception beyond the narrower scientific field of man, anthropology and ethics. In this way, psychology can try to empirically determine which psychological functions carry the connection between consciousness and, beyond that, the most general connection between culture and the spiritual development of people. Starting from the active and creative-synthetic apperception processes of consciousness, Wundt sees the unifying function in the processes of will and conscious setting of purposes and actions. On the basis of his empirical psychology, he developed a psychological voluntarism and later expanded it to a metaphysical voluntarism.

In our inner experience we would assign the activity, the doing, to the ego more directly than the suffering. We call this activity considered for itself our ego: “This ego, thought in isolation from the objects that inhibit its activity, is our will. There is absolutely nothing in him except the human being that he could call fully his own, with the exception of his will. ”Wundt interprets the spiritual and cultural development and biological evolution as a general process of development, although he does not consider the abstract Ideas of entelechy , vitalism , animism , and in no way wants to follow Schopenhauer's metaphysics of will. He sees the origin of the developmental dynamics in the psychologically describable, most elementary expressions of life, in reflex and instinctual behavior, and constructs a continuum from attention and apperception processes, acts of will or choice, to collective performance and ethical decisions. At the end of this idea of ​​reason he recognizes a practical ideal: the idea of ​​humanity is the highest guideline for our actions and the overall course of human history can be understood in terms of the ideal of humanity .

Wundt demands that empirical-psychological and derived metaphysical voluntarism should be kept apart, and maintains that his empirical psychology arose independently of the various doctrines of metaphysics. “Since I started out from the natural sciences and then came to philosophy by studying empirical psychology, it would seem impossible to me to philosophize differently than by a method that corresponds to this sequence of problems. But I understand quite well that things may behave differently for those who start with philosophy and then undertake occasional excursions to scientific or psychological fields from there, or perhaps also for those who work in a special field of application, such as psychology, looks for reference in any of the existing metaphysical systems. "

Wilhelm Wundt portrait bust by Max Klinger 1908

In the foreword to his work on ethics, Wundt explains his own way of approaching this sub-discipline: “The following work undertakes to examine the problems of ethics in direct reference to the consideration of the facts of moral life. The author's first intention was to guide the reader on the path on which he himself came to ethical questions; but he is also of the opinion that this path is the one on which an empirical justification of ethics must be sought. There has been no shortage of speculative or psychological endeavors in this area, and I am ready to grant both their justification. But as far as metaphysics is concerned, I think that it is ethics that have to contribute the most important cornerstones to the foundations of a general worldview, and that is precisely why it is not beneficial to turn the situation around and base moral philosophy itself on metaphysics. Psychology has been such an important preschool for me and such an indispensable tool for ethical investigations that I cannot understand how one can do without it. "Wundt sees two ways: the way of the anthropological investigation of facts of moral life (in the sense of Ethnic Psychology) and the scientific reflection on the moral concepts. The derived principles are to be examined in different areas: family , society , state , pedagogy , etc. Wundt's ethics can, put simply, be interpreted as an attempt to mediate between Kant's apriorism and empiricism . The moral commandments are regular results of the universal spiritual development, but neither rigidly fixed nor simple consequences of the changing living conditions. Individualism and utilitarianism are strictly rejected. From his point of view, only the universal spiritual life can count as an end in itself.

“The idea of ​​humanity, at one time more instinctively practiced than clearly grasped in the design of personal benevolence, only created its real object in the awareness of a total life of mankind, which henceforth solves moral tasks in history so that new ones are posed to it. That idea has thus found a content that can never be exhausted, from which a sense of duty of the peoples develops, which gives direction and goal to the moral life tasks of the individual. ” Wundt (1889/2009) also commented on human rights and human obligations as well as the humanity idea of ethics in his speech as rector of the University of Leipzig in the century year of the French Revolution in 1889.

For Wundt, the questions of ethics are closely linked to the empirical psychology of volitional actions ( Grundzüge, 1902–1903, Volume 3). In his discussion of free will (as an attempt to mediate between determinism and indeterminism ) he categorically differentiates between two perspectives: there is the natural causality of the brain processes, but the processes of consciousness are not determined by an intelligible , but by the empirical character of the human being - the volitional actions are subject to the principles of psychological causality . From a psychological point of view, actions taken would be determined from the previous development of will. Wundt sees the empirical character as the effect of a sum of causal conditions, whereby every volitional act leaves a disposition to similar directions of will, but self- education can also be effective. Freedom is the ability to be determined by self-confident motives in one's actions and not by coercion. "To be aware of oneself means, in this case: to be aware of one's own personality determined by the previous development of the will, and to act confidently means: to act with the awareness of the meaning that the motives and purposes have for the character of the will." The human being acts freely in the ethical sense if he only follows the inner causality, which is partly determined by his original disposition and partly by the development of his character. "

Logic and science

Wilhelm Wundt divided his three-volume work into the parts general logic and epistemology , logic of the exact sciences and logic of the humanities . Logic, the theory of categories , the laws of thought and other principles are presented by Wundt on the one hand in a traditional way, on the other hand also viewed from the point of view of the development theory of the human mind, i.e. H. Discussed psychologically and application-related. Through the subsequent presentation of the special principles of the natural sciences and the humanities, Wundt created a comprehensive new scientific theory. The thoughts that have remained topical include the epistemological and methodological statements on psychology: tasks and directions of psychology, the method of interpretation and comparison, the psychological experiment.

Philosophy of Science of Psychology

In many passages of his oeuvre, Wundt goes into the general requirements of empirical psychology; However, he has not written a comprehensive epistemology and methodology of psychology .

Principles of Mental Causality

With these principles are meant “simple, not further deducible requirements for the connection of psychic facts”. The doctrine of principles has several versions, which have been revised again and again, with corresponding developmental laws for cultural psychology (Wundt, 1874, 1894, 1897, 1902–1903, 1920, 1921). Wundt distinguishes between four principles and explains them using examples that come from sensory psychology, apperception research, the theory of emotions and will, as well as from cultural psychology and ethics.

  1. The principle of the creative synthesis or the creative resultants (emergence principle) .
    “Every perception can be broken down into elementary sensations. But it is never just the sum of these sensations; rather, from the combination of these, something new arises with peculiar characteristics which were not contained in the sensations. So we put together the idea of ​​a spatial shape from a lot of light impressions. This principle proves itself in all psychic causal connections, it accompanies the mental development from its first to the most perfect stages. ”Wundt formulated this creative synthesis, which today in systems theory would also be called the principle of emergence , as a cognitive principle of empirical psychology - long before the concept of oversummativity in gestalt psychology
  2. The principle of relational analysis or relations (context principle) .
    This principle says that "every individual psychic content receives its meaning through the relationships in which it stands to other psychic contents."
  3. The principle of psychological contrasts or reinforcement of the opposites or the development in opposites . Typical contrast effects can be seen in the sensations, in the course of emotions and volitional processes. In general there is a tendency to order the subjective world according to opposites. Individual, historical, economic and social processes also show contrasting courses.
  4. The principle of heterogony of purposes .
    The consequences of action go beyond the originally set purpose and evoke new motives with new effects. The intended purpose always brings about side effects and consequential effects, which in turn become purposes, i.e. H. an increasingly growing organization through self-creation .

In addition to these four principles, Wundt explained the concept of spiritual community and the interaction between people as well as other categories and principles that are essential for psychology. The emergence principle , the contrast principle, the principle of interaction and self-development relate to the psychological connections between individual consciousness and the spiritual world. From the point of view of logic, it is not a question of category n in the narrower sense, but of general relational concepts, i.e. H. Terms of order that link two or more statements with one another ( explication ). In contrast to the simple conjunction of propositional functions (A and B), Wundt means the more complex psychological relationships, for example the dependence of every psychological process on the current situation . These relational terms have an important role in establishing relationships and knowledge.

Reference systems, perspectives and complementarity

From an epistemological perspective, three reference systems complement one another in Wundt's psychology:

  1. the reference system of neurophysiology ;
  2. the reference system of consciousness psychology ( general psychology ) for the individual consciousness processes;
  3. the reference system of cultural psychology (of peoples psychology) for the spiritual objectivations and the social processes of the community.

The processes to be described in reference systems (1) and (2) are parallel and non-interactive; they require categorically different, complementary descriptions. The processes to be described in reference systems (2) and (3) interact and the descriptions are categorically similar. Wundt combines a methodological-categorical dualism with a method pluralism and a monism : a life process from different perspectives.

In today's terminology, an attempt can be made to describe the categorically different, but indispensable and complementary approaches as complementary with reference to Bohr's principle of complementarity . However, on the basis of a more detailed logical-methodological investigation of the concepts, it seems appropriate to speak better of mutually complementary perspectives and categorically fundamentally different reference systems (Fahrenberg, 2013; Walach, 2013).

Necessary connection of psychology with epistemology and philosophy

Wundt is decidedly against the separation from philosophy. He fears that psychologists will carry their personal metaphysical convictions into psychology and no longer expose these preliminary decisions to epistemological criticism. “Nobody would therefore suffer from such a separation more than psychologists and through them psychology.” In psychology, “degeneration promoted to a craft by nothing more than separation from philosophy. "

Complete works

The catalog raisonné of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science shows a total of 589 items with German and foreign language editions for the period from 1853 to 1950. (Some of his books have been translated into several languages.) The American psychologist Edwin Boring counted 494 publications by Wundt (without pure reprints, but with revised editions), which were on average 110 pages long and comprised a total of 53,735 pages. In 68 years, Wundt published an average of seven papers a year and wrote or revised an average of 2.2 pages a day. Aside from more or less suitable scans or digital copies of individual works, there has so far been neither an annotated edition of individual writings nor a complete edition of Wundt's works.

There is also a directory of Wundt's own library, which after his death was largely sold to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, about 60 percent of nearly 16,000 books and articles. However, a list reproduced in the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science has only 575 entries.

Wundt's written estate, which includes 5,576 documents, mainly letters, was digitized by the Leipzig University Library. The directory is accessible in the Kalliope network .

The last Wundt biography, which, following König (1901) , attempted to portray Wundt's psychology and philosophy, comes from Eisler (1902). An introduction to his thinking can also be found in Wundt's autobiography Experienced and Recognized (1920). Later biographies from Nef (1923) and Petersen (1925) to Arnold (1980) were limited primarily to psychology or philosophy. A short biography comes from his daughter Eleonore Wundts (1928).

Wundt's sophisticated, sometimes cumbersome and relativizing, then again very concise style can be difficult for today's German readers. There are only English translations of some of Wundt's works; the ten volumes of Völkerpsychologie , all the books on philosophy and the three-volume logic and science are missing , as well as the extended later editions of the basics and important essays on the philosophy of science. This fact explains, in addition to the very few and problematic translations, the fundamental deficits and persistent misunderstandings in Wundt's Anglo-American reception. In addition , the one-sided representations and evaluations of Wundt's first books written by Granville Stanley Hall and Eward Boring, without knowing his neuropsychology, philosophy of science and philosophy, were also taken over uncritically by some German authors .

The inner connection of Wundt's work from 1862 to 1920, between the main works and within the revised editions, was repeatedly discussed and in some cases assessed differently (Araujo, 2016; Eckardt, 1997; Fahrenberg, 2011, 2015, 2016; Friedrich, 2009; Graumann, 1980; Jüttemann 2006). A deep break in the scientific conception of psychology with a fundamental revision of guiding ideas and central postulates cannot be asserted, but a step-by-step development and a change in the focus of interests. If the entire work is considered, the thesis of a break between Wundt's work in Heidelberg and his time in Leipzig is hardly defensible, because he outlined his conception of a new psychology in his lectures as early as 1863 . Neither from a self-critical remark in the foreword of the 2nd edition in 1898 that the draft of his “Völkerpsychologie” contained in some chapters is still insufficient, nor from an early controversy with Drobisch, a follower of Herbart, can one infer a fundamental revision of the program.

The greatest divergence could be Wundt's gradual approach to Kant's position that processes of consciousness based on self-observation cannot be measured and formulated mathematically. However, Wundt never claimed that psychology could be advanced through experiment and measurement alone, but emphasized as early as 1862 that the history of the development of the soul and comparative psychology should come to the rescue (see also his theory of interpretation).

Opening up or limiting psychology

Wundt tried to redefine and organize the field of psychology and philosophy as a whole. "Experimental psychology in the narrower sense and child psychology make up individual psychology, while national and animal psychology make up the two parts of a general and comparative psychology" (1902, p. 6). Then there are the topics of neuropsychology, the term of which was not yet coined at the time. None of his Leipzig assistants and hardly any textbook author of the following two generations have adopted this broad theoretical and empirical horizon. Already Külpe rules out ethnic psychology and animal psychology.


Contemporary reception

The psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin describes the spirit of optimism in the new Leipzig institute: “We felt as pioneers in uncharted territory, as the creators of a science with unimagined prospects. Wundt spent several afternoons a week in his modest professor's room next door, came to us, advised us and often took part in the experiments himself; he was also available to us at any time. "

The philosopher Rudolf Eisler judged Wundt's approach: “It is a main advantage of Wundt's philosophy that it neither consciously nor unconsciously puts metaphysics at the beginning, but strictly separates empirical-scientific and epistemological-metaphysical points of view and each point of view for itself carries out only in its relative justification in order to then finally establish a unified worldview. Wundt always separates the physical-physiological from the purely psychological, this again from the philosophical standpoint. This creates apparent 'contradictions' for those who do not look more closely and who constantly forgets that the differences in the results are only those of the point of view, not the laws of reality ... "

Traugott Oesterreich's contribution to the history of philosophy (Wundt's work biography)

Austria (1923/1951) wrote an unusually detailed account of Wundt's work in the outline of the history of philosophy . The knowledgeable presentation goes into the main topics, intentions and scientific achievements of Wundt, although the concepts and methods of empirical psychology are hardly explained. Austria also characterizes Wundt's philosophical positions, but without entering into a more detailed discussion; neither Leibniz nor Kant or Herbart are mentioned.

While the main features of physiological psychology found worldwide resonance, Wundt's ethnic psychology seems to have had less of a broad impact (Eckardt, 1997; Graumann, 2006). But there is evidence that both George Herbert Mead and the eminent cultural anthropologist Franz Boas were influenced. Even Sigmund Freud quoted in Totem and Taboo often Wundt social psychology. Wundt's Ethics has garnered more reviews than almost any other major work. Main objections are directed against his renunciation of a final transcendent justification of ethics (God, absolute), on the other hand against evolutionism , i.e. H. the ethical norms would change culturally in the course of human intellectual development. Since Wundt did not present any concrete ethical conflicts using examples and no social ethics, this ethics seems too abstract with the general guiding principle of humanism .

The founding meeting of the Society for Experimental Psychology , founded in 1904, of which Wundt was not a member, decided, at the request of Oswald Külpe, to “send a welcome telegram” to the Nestor of Experimental Psychology; afterwards there was no more talk of Wundt at the congress. Wundt was already involved in his older work, Kulturpsychologie (ethnic psychology), and had almost universally expanded his theoretical and methodological horizons, so that he had to regard the closely scientifically experimental psychology as inadequate.

Wundt's estate contains a letter from Georg Elias Müller with congratulations on his 80th birthday in 1912 and his condolence - also in the name of the "Society for Experimental Psychology" - to his son, Max Wundt, with acknowledgment of Wilhelm Wundt as the "main founder of psychology ".

The XXII. International Congress for Psychology Leipzig 1980, d. H. To mark the centenary of the institute's first founding in 1879, a number of publications on Wundt, also in the USA, inspired. Since then, very little further research has been carried out. In the century retrospect on the founding of the professional society in 1904/2004, Wundt is occasionally mentioned, but not with the main ideas of his psychology and philosophy of science.

Reception research

Leipzig had been a world-famous address for the new psychology since the 1880s. Why Wundt's influence quickly declined after the turn of the century, i.e. during his lifetime, and why Wundt almost became an outsider from his founding father, has been interpreted differently. In a systematic reception analysis, more than 200 contemporary and later sources were examined: reviews of his publications (since 1858), representations in textbooks on psychology and the history of psychology (from 1883 to 2010), biographies, congress reports, appraisals on milestone birthdays, obituaries and other texts.

Reasons for distancing himself from Wundt and for partially forgetting his conception can be seen in the scientific work, in the philosophical orientation, in the didactics or in the person of Wundt (Fahrenberg, 2011).

  • Perhaps the most important reason for Wundt's relatively small aftereffect could be the high level of demand of his epistemologically sound conception of psychology, his philosophy of science and the level of difficulty of his varied methodology.
  • Most psychologists in the next generation seem to have preferred a much simpler, philosophically less demanding point of view instead of engaging in multiple frames of reference, which would consequently also require a multi-methodical approach. So a seemingly straight forward approach was preferred; H. either a scientific or a humanities oriented research.
  • Wundt's assistants and staff, many of whom were also personally close to him, did not take on the role of students and not even the role of interpreters. Oswald Külpe, Ernst Meumann, Hugo Münsterberg or Felix Krueger either did not want to or could not adequately report Wundt's comprehensive scientific conception of psychology in their books, for example they almost completely excluded Wundt's theory of categories and principles and the examination of Kant's in-depth methodological criticism, Wundt's neuropsychology and interpretation. Nobody from this group developed a creative continuation of Wundt's conception. Despite some positive comments, Krueger's inner distance to the conception of science and to the overall works of his predecessor cannot be overlooked.
  • By defining the psychic or consciousness as a process, Wundt gave up the metaphysical, essentially thought-out soul principle; his psychology without a soul has been sharply criticized by several contemporary and later psychologists.
  • Wundt offered points of attack with his theoretically and experimentally differentiated apperception psychology and with his comprehensive research program of a development theory of the human mind , which can now be understood as interdisciplinary .

Research on reception gives a very contradicting picture. On the one hand, the pioneer of experimental psychology and founder of modern psychology is recognized as a discipline, on the other hand, his work is inadequately developed and seems to have only a minor impact. In systematic reception research, numerous one-sidednesses and misunderstandings can be found up to the present day; some are still passed on today in some psychology-historical accounts and textbooks,

In the more recent Wundt reception, Wundt's oeuvre is examined more closely in its context, and Wundt's theory of science and philosophy are included (Araujo, 2016, Fahrenberg, 2011, 2015, 2016; Jüttemann, 2006, 2007).

Misunderstandings of central terms and principles

Reception research shows that, from today's perspective, Wundt contributed to ambiguity through several unfortunate terms or changing names, for example in his doctrine of principles.

Physiological psychology

Wundt encountered a misunderstanding that can still be found today, which he wanted to avoid by using the lower case of the adjective. He does not mean a natural scientific physiological psychology , but the use of physiological auxiliary methods in experimental general psychology (consciousness psychology). The terms category error and reductionism did not yet exist, but Wundt's epistemological criticism of an unreflected physiological and scientific psychology meant such transgressions. Wundt demanded to maintain a close connection to philosophy in order to promote the common critique of knowledge.

natural Science

Wundt did not claim that psychology is a natural science. Wundt saw in experimental doctrine - with reference to Francis Bacon - general, i.e. H. Rules of empirical sciences that go far beyond the natural sciences, not necessarily a statistically evaluated laboratory experiment. For Wundt, a psychological experiment primarily serves to control the trained self- observation. To overlook these definitions is not atypical for the reception of Wundt's methodology.

Ethnic Psychology (Cultural Psychology)

Many persistent misunderstandings of Wundt's folk psychology as a psychologically oriented ethnology (ethnology) would hardly have occurred if he had chosen one of the other titles that were also considered or for cultural psychology . In the reception of his oeuvre, Wundt's cultural psychology and philosophy of science, his “other legacy”, were largely lost.

Individual psychology

From today's point of view, Wundt's designation of general psychology as experimental psychology (or individual psychology, since only individual people could be examined here) is also unfortunate in order to distinguish it from his national psychology. The individual-community aspect is merged with the generality aspect (valid for every individual) and the reference to the main methodology.

Element psychology

Wundt's term element usually means the smallest distinguishable functional unit in a whole, the breakdown depending on the general level of observation, i.e. H. From a psychophysical point of view, the brain is also referred to as the "central element".

Method dualism

Wundt did not demand a fundamental decision between experimental methods and interpretive methods. Thus, chapters of his peoples psychology, z. B. via language or via fantasy activity, also experimental, statistical and possibly psychophysiological examination results. In the more recent reception it has repeatedly been claimed that Wundt had created a dichotomy in psychology and carried it out methodically. A “dual principle”, a “duality”, a “dual principle”, a “bifurcation”, a “dichotomy” or two “thinking styles” were assumed. But the central theoretical and epistemological concepts of Wundt, i. H. the apperception theory and the doctrine of principles apply uniformly to his entire psychology. The epistemological fundamental, categorically justified distinction, however, relates to (consciousness) psychology versus neurophysiology.

Scientific controversy

Like other important psychologists and philosophers, Wundt was exposed to ideological criticism, for example by authors of Christian psychology, from the point of view of the materialistic and positivistic conception of science or the Marxist-Leninist philosophy and social theory as in Leipzig up to 1990 Renunciation of a substantially thought soul principle with the resulting polemics against his "psychology without soul"; with his theoretically demanding apperception psychology; through his comprehensive research program of a development theory of the human mind, which can be understood today as an interdisciplinary research program. Wundt's scientific commitment meant that he continued or, in turn, sparked a number of scientific controversies . The Wundt-Zeller controversy about the measurability of consciousness processes or the controversy about psychologism are more important than the often, if mostly only superficially, quoted Wundt-Bühler controversy about the "questioning experiments" of the Würzburg thought psychologists.

Measurability of consciousness processes

Herbart, Drobisch, Fechner, Zeller, Wundt and Helmholtz took part in the discussion about the measurability of psychological processes (psychometry), which Kant declared to be impossible; this theoretical psychology controversy is not over.


Because of the broad validity of his psychology, Wundt had to deal with the reproach of psychologism , which implied that he allegedly also argued psychologically in areas where psychology was out of place. Wundt protested against this reproach, which also came from Edmund Husserl , and firmly rejected this psychologism, which seeks to replace the logical analysis of thinking with a psychological one. Wundt treated formal logic in a traditional and normative way. But in addition, he discussed psychologically what consistent thinking means from the point of view of subjective experience, general validity and evidence as well as the development of thinking. Here the empirical-psychological investigation of the laws of thought has its task. It remains to be seen to what extent Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and other critics actually understood Wundt's characteristic both / and. In his ethics, too, Wundt combines normative sentences with psychological arguments based on empirical-cultural-psychological findings.

Questioning experiments

Surveys based on untrained (naive) introspection, on mere self- reports (as “ thinking aloud ”) and self-assessments, for example in Karl Bühler's investigations on the process of thinking, Wundt (1907, 1908) sharply rejects as questioning experiments . In this discussion, Wundt formulated the defining features (standard definition) of a psychological experiment, which are still valid. In the past, the Wundt-Bühler controversy was often portrayed as a victory of Bühler's “modern” thought psychology over Wundt. This overlooks the fact that other authors from the Würzburg Institute expressed themselves much more critically of the method before Bühler, so Wundt had to recognize a relapse into a speculative phase. From today's perspective, Wundt's methodological criticism of Bühler's studies is largely justified. - In contrast to the “Würzburg School”, Wundt sees the methods of his linguistic psychology as an adequate way of researching psychological thinking.

Some of Wundt's reactions and reviews seem instructive and corrective today. If this impression applies to Külpe or Meumann, for example, then Wundt's criticism relates primarily to the scientific side, not to the lasting personal and friendly attitude. The descriptions of Wundt's personal style by several of his co-workers and students, u. a. von Kraepelin, Krueger, Sander, Baldwin, as well as important in the appreciations and obituaries.

Criticism of Wundt

There is criticism of Wundt's psychology in many ways, in a general way of his apperception psychology, of his will psychology with the "voluntaristic tendency" (see voluntarism ), of his version of psychophysical parallelism or of his critical realism . A recurring criticism is that Wundt largely excluded some areas of psychology that were less interesting to him, such as differential psychology , child psychology and educational psychology, or, like the question of personality , mainly discussed them from other points of view in his ethics . In particular, the lack of a systematic social psychology is criticized.

Social psychology

In his cultural psychology, Wundt was fundamentally interested in the interrelationships within the community. In this regard, Graumann (2006) writes that Wundt is extremely topical. In contrast, Wundt did not deal with the social psychology of dyads and small social groups . Around 1900 there was still a lack of suitable research methods. Eckardt writes that Wundt "blocked the access of national psychology to a methodologically viable social-psychological investigation itself" because he only examined the development of (intellectual) objectivations of psychic activity over the course of history (language, myth, custom), but not the interpersonal one Interaction itself and the underlying psychological regulatory mechanisms.

Applied Psychology

Wundt considered practical applications of psychology to be justified only when the scientific basis has been adequately researched (cf. the controversy with Meumann, Wundt, 1909b). On the other hand, Wundt promoted Kraepelin's novel psychopharmacological investigations in Leipzig with the development of everyday work experiments (calculation curve). Wundt's basically positive attitude towards applied psychology can be proven by various references, including from the correspondence.

Some outstanding doctoral students, assistants or employees of Wundt were in differential psychology with intelligence diagnostics ( James McKeen Cattell , Charles Spearman ), in social psychology of group processes and work psychology ( Fritz Giese , Walther Moede ), in ethnic psychology ( Willy Hellpach ), in applied science Psychology ( Ernst Meumann , Hugo Münsterberg ), in psychopathology, psychopharmacology and clinical diagnostics ( Emil Kraepelin ).

The alleged psychologism, like the misunderstanding that it wanted to establish a scientific psychology, created an element psychology and rejected applied psychology, is one of the enduring stereotypes about Wundt's work.

Wundt estate

Wilhelm Wundt memorial plaque 2016, inner courtyard of Leipzig University

In addition to his library and a large part of his correspondence, the unusually extensive estate also includes many excerpts, manuscripts, some lecture notes and other materials (Fahrenberg, 2016; Ungerer, 2016).

One third of Wundt's library remained with his children Eleonore and Max Wundt; the majority was sold to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan in the times of need after the First World War . Their holdings include 6,762 western-language volumes (including bound journals) as well as 9,098 offprints and brochures from the original Wundt library.

Eleonore Wundt kept a Wundt archive in Großbothen, which was donated to the University of Leipzig and the Institute for Psychology in December 1947. Here, a research group on the history of psychology (W. Meischner), especially in the preparatory phase of the International Congress for Psychology in Leipzig in 1980 , dealt with the order and initial evaluation.

More recently, parts of the correspondence have been evaluated and digitized copies of some of Wundt's publications have been produced. At the end of 2015, the Leipzig University Archives completed an excellent documentation and digitization of the estate (Meyer, 2015) so that the holdings of around 5,700 documents are directly accessible in the Kalliope network.

There is also a larger, non-digitized inventory in the Tübingen University Archives, copies of 613 letters, Wundt's will, directories of the original Wundt library as well as other materials and "Wundtiana".

In the German Historical Museum Berlin, a shellac record is preserved in the object database (sound carrier collection) on which, in 1918, Wundt repeated the closing remarks of his inaugural lecture given in Zurich on October 31, 1874: “On the task of philosophy in the present” (recording duration 2 minutes).

Wundt societies and exhibitions

1925 Wilhelm Wundt Foundation and Association of Friends of the Psychological Institute of Leipzig University, founded by Wundt's former assistants and friends (dissolved after the end of the war).

1979 Wilhelm Wundt Society V. in Heidelberg, "a scientific association with a limited number of members, which has set itself the goal of promoting basic psychological research and further developing it through its work."

2016 Friends of the Wilhelm-Wundt-Haus in Großbothen. The purpose of the association is “the preservation and restoration of the wound house in accordance with the listed building standards, as well as its use as a listed building”.

In 2016, the Institute for Psychology at the University of Leipzig, together with the custody, dedicated the exhibition Psychology in Leipzig - Birth of a Science to Wundt's work with original exhibits from the time the institute was founded.

Wundt's topicality

Wilhelm Wundt
Southwest University Chongqing, China

Wundt developed the first independent and uniform philosophy of science in psychology. In this comprehensive conception, which is determined by his neurophysiological, psychological and philosophical work, the epistemological and methodological special position of psychology is postulated. The human being as a thinking and willing subject cannot be grasped in the terms of the natural sciences. Psychology requires special categories and independent principles of knowledge. On the one hand, it is empirical humanities, but on the other hand it should not ignore its physiological foundations. Therefore a versatile, multi-methodical approach is necessary.

Wundt demands the ability and the willingness to differentiate perspectives and reference systems and to understand the necessary addition of these reference systems in the change of perspective. Wundt defined the field of psychology very broadly and in an interdisciplinary manner and demonstrated how indispensable the epistemological-philosophical criticism of psychological theories and their philosophical presuppositions are. Psychology should remain in connection with philosophy in order to promote this critique of knowledge of the metaphysical presuppositions widespread among psychologists.

Wundt's conception arose during almost 60 years of research that led him from neurophysiology to psychology and philosophy. He tries to combine the fundamental controversies of the research directions epistemologically and methodologically through a coordinated conception - in a sovereign handling of the categorically fundamentally different ways of looking at what belongs together. In the early stages of university psychology, he argued that meta-scientific reflection had a high standard - and this potential for stimulation is by no means exhausted.

The conceptual connection within the theoretically wide-ranging work, which has been created over decades and continuously revised, has hardly been systematically investigated. The most important theoretical basis is the empirical-psychological theory of apperception, corresponding to Leibniz's philosophical position, which Wundt underpinned on the one hand experimentally psychologically and through his neuropsychological modeling, and on the other hand advanced to a development theory of culture. The thorough reconstruction of Wundt's guiding ideas is a task that can no longer be performed by an individual today because of the complexity of the overall work.

The controversies over ontological postulates and epistemological beliefs have by no means been resolved, they have only been pushed aside. However, individual perceptions will influence many decisions: from the selection of research topics and fields of practice, from the methodology claimed to be "adequate" to the images of man and their consequences - at least in some areas. But these philosophical prerequisites, the ontological, epistemological and anthropological positions, today often only form a private background and are only rarely a topic of studies, scientific research within psychology, empirical attitude research or the evaluation of projects and fields of practice.

Wundt's work has remained attractive because of the uniformity of the scientific conception he strives for, because the controversies about the goals and methods of psychology, about currents and about actual splits, continue and demand a continuous discourse on theoretical psychology and its controversies.


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  • Investigations into the behavior of nerves in inflamed and degenerated organs. Dissertation. Georg Mohr, Heidelberg 1856.
  • The study of muscle movement. Vieweg, Braunschweig 1858.
  • The speed of thought . In: The Gazebo . Issue 17, 1862, pp. 263 ( full text [ Wikisource ]).
  • Contributions to the theory of sensory perception. Winter, Leipzig 1862.
  • Lectures on the human and animal soul . Second volume. Verlag Leopold Voss, Leipzig 1864 (part 1–2), Text Archive - Internet Archive .
  • Textbook of human physiology . Third, completely revised edition. Verlag Ferdinand Enke, Erlangen 1865, Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
  • The physical axioms and their relation to the causal principle. Enke, Erlangen 1866.
  • Handbook of medical physics. Enke, Erlangen 1867. ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )
  • Recent achievements in the field of physiological psychology. In: Quarterly for psychology, psychiatry and judicial medicine. 1867, Volume 1, pp. 23-56.
  • About the emergence of spatial perception of the face. In: Philosophical monthly books. 1869, Vol. 3, pp. 225-247.
  • Investigations into the mechanics of nerves and nerve centers. Enke, Erlangen 1871.
  • Physiology. In: Karl Bruhns (Ed.): Alexander von Humboldt. A scientific biography . Third volume, FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1872, Archive.org .
  • Basics of Physiological Psychology . Verlag Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig 1874, Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
  • On the task of philosophy in the present. Speech given on the beginning of the public teaching post for philosophy at the University of Zurich on October 31, 1874. In: Philosophische Monatshefte. 1874, vol. 11, pp. 65-68.
  • About the influence of philosophy on empirical science. Academic inaugural address given in Leipzig on November 20, 1875. Engelmann, Leipzig 1876.
  • Spiritism - a so-called scientific question. Engelmann: Leipzig 1879.
  • Logic. An examination of the principles of knowledge and the methods of scientific research. First volume: Epistemology. Second volume. Methodology. Enke, Stuttgart 1880 a. 1883.
  • About the measurement of psychological processes. In: Philosophical Studies. 1883, Vol. 1, pp. 251-260, pp. 463-471.
  • About psychological methods. In: Philosophical Studies. 1883, Volume 1, pp. 1-38.
  • Essays. Engelmann, Leipzig 1885.
  • Ethics. An examination of the facts and laws of moral life. Enke, Stuttgart 1886.
  • About the goals and ways of national psychology . In: Philosophical Studies. 1888, Vol. 4, pp. 1-27.
  • In memory of Gustav Theodor Fechner. Words spoken at his coffin on November 21, 1887. In: Philosophical Studies. 1888, Volume 4, pp. 471-478.
  • System of philosophy. Engelmann, Leipzig 1889.
  • About the connection between philosophy and contemporary history. A centenary consideration. Speech by the incoming Rector Dr. phil., jur. et med. Wilhelm Wundt. In: F. Häuser (Ed.): The Leipzig Rectorate Speeches 1871–1933. Volume I: The Years 1871–1905 (pp. 479–498). Berlin: de Gruyter (1889/2009).
  • Hypnotism and suggestion. Engelmann: Leipzig 1892.
  • On psychic causality and the principle of psychophysical parallelism. In: Philosophical Studies. 1894, Volume 10, pp. 1-124.
  • Outline of Psychology. Engelmann, Leipzig 1896. digitized
  • On the definition of psychology. In: Philosophical Studies. 1896, Vol. 12, pp. 9-66.
  • About naive and critical realism I – III. In: Philosophical Studies. 1896-1898, Vol. 12, pp. 307-408; Volume 13, pp. 1-105, pp. 323-433. Part One Part Two Part Three
  • System of philosophy. 2nd Edition. Engelmann, Leipzig 1897.
  • Ethnic Psychology. An investigation into the laws of development of language, myth and custom. 10 volumes. Engelmann; Leipzig 1900–1920.
  • Gustav Theodor Fechner. Speech to celebrate his centenary birthday. Engelmann, Leipzig 1901.
  • Basics of Physiological Psychology. 5th edition. Volume 1-3. Engelmann, Leipzig 1902–1903.
  • About empirical and metaphysical psychology. In: Archives for the whole of psychology. 1904, Vol. 2, pp. 333-361.
  • About questioning experiments and about the methods of the psychology of thinking. In: Psychological Studies. 1907, Volume 3, pp. 301-360.
  • Critical gleanings on the questioning method. In: Archives for the whole of psychology. 1908, Volume 11, pp. 445-459.
  • Basics of Physiological Psychology. 6th ed. Volume 1–3. Engelman: Leipzig 1908-1911.
  • Introduction to philosophy. 5th edition. Engelmann, Leipzig 1909.
  • About pure and applied psychology. In: Psychological Studies. 1909, Volume 5, pp. 1-47.
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  • Small fonts. Volume 1-2. Engelmann, Leipzig 1910–1911.
  • Introduction to Psychology. Dürr, Leipzig 1911.
  • Problems of Ethnic Psychology. Wiegandt, Leipzig 1911.
  • Elements of Ethnic Psychology. Basic lines of a psychological development history of mankind. Kröner, Leipzig 1912.
  • Psychology in the struggle for existence. Kröner, Leipzig 1913.
  • Speeches and essays. Kröner, Leipzig 1913.
  • Sensual and supersensible world. Kröner, Leipzig 1914.
  • About the real war. Speech given in the Alberthalle in Leipzig on September 10, 1914. Kröner, Leipzig 1914. archive.org
  • The nations and their philosophy. Kröner, Leipzig 1915.
  • Ethnic and developmental psychology. In: Psychological Studies. 1916, 10, 189-238.
  • Leibniz. On the bicentenary of his death. November 14, 1916. Alfred Kröner Verlag, Leipzig 1917.
  • Logic. An examination of the principles of knowledge and methods of scientific research. Volume 1. General Logic and Epistemology. 4th edition. Ferdinand Enke, Stuttgart 1919.
  • System of philosophy. 4th edition. Kröner, Leipzig 1919.
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  • Outline of Psychology. 14th edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1920.
  • Small fonts. Volume 3. Kröner, Stuttgart 1921.
  • Logic. An examination of the principles of knowledge and methods of scientific research. Volume 3. Logic of the Humanities. 4th edition. Enke, Stuttgart 1921.



  • Alfred Arnold: Wilhelm Wundt - His philosophical system. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1980.
  • Edwin G. Boring: A history of experimental psychology. 2nd Edition. The Century Company, New York 1950.
  • Rudolf Eisler: W. Wundts Philosophy and Psychology. Shown in their basic teachings. Barth, Leipzig 1902.
  • Granville Stanley Hall : Wilhelm Wundt. The founder of modern psychology. Foreword by Max Brahn. Meiner, Leipzig 1914.
  • Edmund König : Wilhelm Wundt as a psychologist and as a philosopher. Fromman, Stuttgart 1901.
  • Georg Lamberti: Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (1832–1920). Life, work and personality in pictures and texts. Deutscher Psychologen Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-925559-83-3 .
  • Wolfram Meischner, Erhard Eschler: Wilhelm Wundt. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1979, ISBN 3-7609-0457-2 .
  • Willi Nef: The Philosophy of Wilhelm Wundts. Meiner, Leipzig 1923.
  • Traugott K. Austria: Outline of the history of philosophy. IV. The German Philosophy of the Nineteenth Century and the Present (15th ed., 1951, unchanged reprint of the completely revised 12th ed.). Mittler & Sohn, Tübingen 1923, pp. 343-360, 483-485.
  • Peter Petersen: Wilhelm Wundt and his time. Frommanns Verlag, Stuttgart 1925.
  • Lothar Sprung: Wilhelm Wundt - something worth considering and worrying from his life's work . In: Georg Eckardt (Ed.): To the history of psychology. Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1979, pp. 73–82.
  • Eleonore Wundt: Wilhelm Wundt . In: German Biographical Yearbook (edited by the Association of German Academies). Transition Volume II, 1917–1920. Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Berlin 1928, pp. 626–636, archive.org .

Older literature

  • Eduard von Hartmann : The modern psychology. A Critical History of German Psychology in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century. Haacke, Leipzig 1901.
  • Arthur Hoffmann-Erfurt (Ed.): Wilhelm Wundt. An appreciation . (1st edition 1922) 2nd probable edition. Stenger, Erfurt 1924.
  • Edmund König: W. Wundt. His philosophy and psychology. Verlag F. Frommann, Stuttgart 1901, Text Archive - Internet Archive .
  • Krastjo K. Krastev : Lotze's metaphysical concept of the soul. Inaugural dissertation to obtain a Philosophical Doctorate at the University of Leipzig . Ehrhardt Karras publishing house, Halle ad Saale 1890.
  • Festschrift. Wilhelm Wundt on his seventieth birthday. Presented by his students. 1st part. (= Philosophical studies. 19th volume), Verlag Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig 1902, Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
  • Festschrift. Wilhelm Wundt on his seventieth birthday. Presented by his students. 2nd part. (= Philosophical Studies. Volume 20), Verlag Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig 1902, Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
  • Ivan D. Šišmanov: Studies on the sensitivity of the interval sense . Inaugural dissertation to obtain a doctorate at the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Leipzig. Presented by Ivan Schischmanov . Verlag Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig, 1889. (Separate print from Wilhelm Wundt, Philosophical Studies . V., Booklet 4)
  • Ludwig Sütterlin : The essence of linguistic structures. Critical remarks on Wilhelm Wundt's psychology of language. Verlag Carl Winter, Heidelberg 1902, Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
  • Otto Klemm: On the history of the Leipzig Psychological Institute. In: A. Hoffmann-Erfurt (Ed.): Wilhelm Wundt. An appreciation. 2nd Edition. Stenger, Erfurt 1924, pp. 93-101.
  • Felix Krueger: Opening of the XIII. Congress. The situation of the science of the soul in the German present. In: Otto Klemm (Ed.): Report on the XIII. Congress of the German Society for Psychology in Leipzig from 16. – 19. October 1933. Fischer, Jena 1934, pp. 6–36.
  • Eleonore Wundt: Wilhelm Wundts works. A directory of all of his writings. Beck, Munich, 1927.

Newer literature

  • Saulo de F. Araujo: Why did Wundt abandon his early theory of the unconscious? Towards a new interpretation of Wundts psychological project. In: History of Psychology, 2012, Volume 15, pp. 33-49.
  • Saulo de F. Araujo: Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of Psychology. A reappraisal. Springer, New York 2016, ISBN 978-3-319-26634-3 .
  • Wolfgang G. Bringmann , Eckart Scheerer: Wundt centennial issue. In: Psychological Research, 1980, Volume 42, pp. 1-189.
  • Wolfgang G. Bringmann, Ryan D. Tweney: Wundt studies. Hogrefe, Toronto 1980, ISBN 0-88937-001-X .
  • Wolfgang G. Bringmann, NJ Bringmann, GA Ungerer: The establishment of Wundt's laboratory: An archival and documentary study. In: Wolfgang Bringmann, Ryan D. Tweney (Eds.): Wundt Studies. Hogrefe, Toronto 1980, ISBN 0-88937-001-X , pp. 123-157.
  • Peter Burg: Krăstjo Krăstev's dissertation in Leipzig. Philosophical-historical remarks on Krăstev's dissertation on Lotze's metaphysical concept of the soul. In: German-Bulgarian cultural relations 1878–1918 , ed. Wolfgang Gesemann, Georgi Markov, Kliment Ochridski University Press, Sofia 1993, pp. 236–243.
  • Kurt Danziger: Wilhelm Wundt and the emergence of experimental psychology. In: RC Olby (Ed.): Companion to the history of modern science. New York 1990, pp. 396-409.
  • Kurt Danziger: Wundt and the temptations of psychology . In: RW Rieber, David K. Robinson (Eds.). Wilhelm Wundt in history: The making of a scientific psychology. Kluwer-Academic, New York 2001, pp. 69-94.
  • Georg Eckardt (ed.): Völkerpsychologie - Attempt at a new discovery. Psychologie Verlags Union, Weinheim 1997.
  • Georg Eckardt: "Selected texts on the origin of psychology as a science. In memoriam Wilhelm Wundt." Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2019.
  • Jochen Fahrenberg : Wilhelm Wundt's theory of interpretation. In: Forum Qualitative Social Research / Forum: Qualitative Social Research. 2008, Volume 9 (3), Art. 29.
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundt - pioneer of psychology and outsider? Guiding principles of the science concept and its reception history. e-book, 2011 (PDF; 8.4 MB).
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundts theory of science. An attempt at reconstruction . In: Psychologische Rundschau , Volume 63 (4), 2012, pp. 228–238.
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: On the theory of categories in psychology. Complementarity principle. Perspectives and change of perspective. Pabst Science Publishers, Lengerich 2013, ISBN 978-3-89967-891-8 (PDF; 5.5 MB).
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundts Neuropsychology. In: David Emmans, Arto Laihinen (Ed.): Comparative Neuro-psychology and Brain Imaging: Festschrift in honor of Prof. Dr. Ulrike collar. LIT-Verlag, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-643-90653-3 , pp. 348–373.
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Theoretical Psychology - A System of Controversies. Pabst Science Publishers, Lengerich 2015, ISBN 978-3-95853-077-5 (PDF; 7.4 MB).
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Leibniz 'influence on Wundt's psychology, philosophy and ethics. PsyDok document server for psychology, hdl: 20.500.11780 / 3675 (PDF; 2.3 MB)
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundts Kulturpsychologie (Völkerpsychologie): A psychological development theory of the mind . PsyDok document server for psychology, hdl: 20.500.11780 / 3674 (PDF; 652 kB)
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Wundt estate: an overview of important archives, directories, digital copies, correspondence and scripts, biographical information. Four Wilhelm Wundt Societies. The house in Großbothen. Excursus on Wilhelm Ostwald . PsyDok document server for psychology. hdl: 20.500.11780 / 3676 (PDF; 2.2 MB).
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920). Complete works: Introduction, quotations, reception, comments, attempts at reconstruction . Pabst Science Publishers, Lengerich 2018, ISBN 978-3-95853-435-3 , hdl: 20.500.11780 / 3782 (PDF; 5.9 MB). 2018.
  • Jochen Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920). Introduction, Quotations, Reception, Commentaries, Attempts at Reconstruction . Pabst Science Publishers, Lengerich 2020, ISBN 978-3-95853-574-9 . PsyDok document server for psychology, hdl: 20.500.11780 / 3783 (PDF; 3.3 MB). 2019.
  • Walter Friedrich: The first psychology institute in the world. The Leipzig University Psychology 1879–1980. Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Saxony V., Leipzig 2009.
  • Carl F. Graumann : Experiment, Statistics, History. Wundt's first Heidelberg program in psychology. In: Psychologische Rundschau, 1980, Volume 31, pp. 73-83.
  • Carl F. Graumann: The connection and interaction of individuals in community life. In: Gerd Jüttemann (ed.): Wilhelm Wundts other legacy. A misunderstanding resolves. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, pp. 52–68.
  • Jürgen Jahnke: Wilhelm Wundt's academic psychology 1886/87. The lecture transcripts from Albert Thumb Freiburg. In: Jürgen Jahnke, Jochen Fahrenberg, Reiner Stegie, Eberhard Bauer (eds.): History of psychology - relationships with philosophy and border areas. Profil, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-89019-461-3 , pp. 151-168.
  • Gerd Jüttemann (Ed.): Wilhelm Wundt's other legacy. A misunderstanding resolves. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 2006, ISBN 3-525-49087-9 .
  • Gerd Jüttemann: Wundt's psychology concept is not the cause, but the solution to the problem. In: Psychologische Rundschau, 2007, Volume 58 (4), pp. 267–269.
  • Alan Kim: Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt. In: Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Summer 2006 Edition).
  • Jürgen Klüpfel, CFGraumann: An institute is born - On the history of the institutionalization of psychology at Heidelberg University. 1986
  • Friedrich A. Lange: History of materialism and criticism of its significance in the present. (8th extended edition 1908, edited and edited by Hermann Cohen). Baedeker , Iserlohn 1866.
  • Wolfram Meischner, Annerose Metge: Wilhelm Wundt - progressive legacy, scientific development and the present. Minutes of the international symposium. Karl Marx University, Leipzig 1979 / Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1980.
  • Annerose Meischner-Metge: Wilhelm Wundt and his students. In: Horst-Peter Brauns (Ed.): Zentenar Considerations. Historical developments in modern psychology up to the end of the 20th century. Peter Lang, Frankfurt a. M. 2003, pp. 156-166.
  • Annerose Meischner-Metge: The method of research. In: G. Jüttemann (Ed.): Wilhelm Wundts other heritage. A misunderstanding resolves. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, pp. 131–143.
  • Till Meyer: The DFG project "Development and digitization of Wilhelm Wundt's estate" at the Leipzig University Library. In: Leipziger Jahrbuch für Buchgeschichte, 2015, Volume 23, 347–357.
  • Robert W. Rieber, David K. Robinson (Eds.): Wilhelm Wundt in history: The making of a scientific psychology. 2nd Edition. Kluwer-Academic, New York 2001.
  • Helen E. Ross, Klaus Bischof: Wundt's views on sensations of innervation: a reevaluation . In: Perception , 1981, Volume 10, pages 319–329.
  • Christina M. Schneider: Wilhelm Wundts Völkerpsychologie. Origin and development of a forgotten subject area relevant to the history of science. Bouvier, Bonn 1990.
  • Wolfgang F. Schwarz: Ivan Šišmanov's Leipzig doctoral thesis [with Wilhelm Wundt]. Methodological, historical and sociological remarks [On a Doctoral Dissertation (19th cent. Experimental psychology), advisor Wilhelm Wundt; text and abstract in German]. In: German-Bulgarian cultural relations 1878–1918 , ed. Wolfgang Gesemann, Georgi Markov, Kliment Ochridski University Press, Sofia 1993, pp. 244–252. doi: 10.13140 / RG.2.1.1685.3608 / 1 
  • M. Takasuma: The Wundt Collection in Japan . In: RW Rieber, DK Robinson (Ed.): Wilhelm Wundt in history: The making of a scientific psychology. Kluwer-Academic, New York 2001, pp. 251-258.
  • Gustav A. Ungerer: Wilhelm Wundt as a psychologist and politician. In: Psychologische Rundschau, Volume 31, 1980, pp. 99-110.
  • Gustav A. Ungerer: Research on the biography of Wilhelm Wundts and on regional history. Collected articles 1978–1997. A logbook. (approx. 100 fig.). Regional culture publishing house, Ubstadt-Weiher 2016. ISBN 978-3-89735-851-5
  • Nicholas J. Wade , Kenzo Sakurai, Jiro Gyoba: Guest editorial essay. Whither Wundt? In: Perception, 2007, Volume 36, pp. 163–166.
  • Harald Walach: Psychology. Theory of Science, Philosophical Foundations and History Kohlhammer, Stuttgart (3rd edition) 2013.
  • Albert Wellek: Psychology. Franke, Munich 1962.
  • Wan-chi Wong: Retracing the footsteps of Wilhelm Wundt: Explorations in the Disciplinary Frontiers of Psychology and in Völkerpsychologie. In: History of Psychology, 2010, Volume 12, (4), pp. 229-265.
  • Maximilian Wontorra, Annerose Meischner-Metge, Erich Schröger (eds.): Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) and the beginnings of experimental psychology. Leipzig 2004.
  • Maximilian Wontorra: Early Apparative Psychology. The Other Publishing House, Leipzig 2009.
  • Maximilian Wontorra, Ingrid Kästner, Erich Schröger (eds.): Wilhelm Wundts correspondence. Leipzig 2011.
  • Paul Ziche: Neuroscience in its context. Neuroscience and psychology in the work of Wilhelm Wundt. In: Physis rivista internazionale di storia della scienza, 1999, Volume 36 (2), 407-429.

See also

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Wundt  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Wilhelm Wundt  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ University of Heidelberg (Ed.): A Heidelberg dynasty over 200 years. Alumni families have taught at Ruperto Carola for several generations ; on the Heidelberg dynasty Wund / Wundt p. 49, in: HAIlife, Heidelberg Alumni International , Magazin 2016, p. 48/49. Online: Eine Heidelberg Dynasty , accessed on December 29, 2016.
  2. a b c d Georg Lamberti: Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt 1832–1920. Life, work and personality in pictures and texts . Deutscher Psychologen Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-925559-83-3 .
  3. Bernhard Rost: To the memory of my dear teacher Sr. Exz. Dr. med., phil. et jur. Dedicated to Wilhelm Wundt . histbest.ub.uni-leipzig.de. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  4. hdl: 20.500.11780 / 3676
  5. Wolfram Meischner, Erhard Eschler: Wilhelm Wundt , 1979, p. 27.
  6. a b c Wolfram Meischner, Erhard Eschler: Wilhelm Wundt , 1979, p. 108.
  7. ^ Exhibition 2016: Psychology in Leipzig - Birth of a Science .
  8. ^ Holger Steinberg: Psychiatry at the University of Leipzig: A two hundred year tradition. In: Würzburger medical history reports 23, 2004, pp. 270–312; here: p. 282 f.
  9. ^ A b Lothar Sprung: Wilhelm Wundt - Thoughtful and dubious things from his life's work. In: Georg Eckardt (ed.): On the history of psychology , VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1979, pp. 73–82.
  10. ^ A b Gustav A. Ungerer: Research on the biography of Wilhelm Wundt and on regional history. Collected articles 1978–1997. A logbook (approx. 100 images). Regional culture publishing house, Ubstadt-Weiher 2016.
  11. Maximilian Wontorra: Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (1832-1920)
  12. ^ History of psychology at the University of Leipzig
  13. ^ Initiative Wundt House Großbothen
  14. Overview of Wilhelm Wundt's courses at the University of Leipzig (winter semester 1875 to summer semester 1914)
  15. Annerose Meischner-Metge: Wilhelm Wundt and his students , 2003, pp. 156–166.
  16. ^ University of Leipzig: Wilhelm Wundt and the beginnings of experimental psychology.
  17. a b Wundt: Experienced and recognized. Stuttgart 1920.
  18. Mark Michalski: The course of German thinking . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2010. pp. 164–182.
  19. Wundt's correspondence from 1914–1920.
  20. Wundtstrasse. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  21. ^ Charles S. Sherrington: The integrative Action of the Nervous System . Henry Frowde, London 1911.
  22. Wundt: Logic , 1920, Volume 2, p. 404 ff
  23. Wundt: Völkerpsychologie, 1900, Volume 1, p. 15.
  24. Wundt: Logic. 1921, Volume 3, p. 297.
  25. Wundt: Grundzüge , 1902-1903, Volume 3, p. 515.
  26. Wundt: Contributions to the theory of sensory perception: 1862, p. XI.
  27. ^ Wundt: Contributions , 1862, p. XIV.
  28. ^ Wundt: Contributions , 1862, p. XVI.
  29. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1714/1720). The principles of philosophy and monadology (Les principles de la philosophie ou la monadologie ). In: Thomas Leinkauf (ed.). Leibniz. Eugen Diederichs Verlag, Munich 1996 pp. 406-424.
  30. Georgi Schischkoff (Ed.): Philosophical dictionary . 22nd edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1991, Lemma Völkerpsychologie.
  31. Wundt: Grundzüge , 1874, p. 1.
  32. a b Wundt: Grundzüge , 1874, p. 858.
  33. Wundt: Grundzüge , 1874, pp. 2-3.
  34. Ethnic Psychology . 3. Edition. 1911, volume 1, p. 1
  35. Wundt: Völkerpsychologie . 1900, volume 1, p. 1.
  36. Wundt: Völkerpsychologie , 1900, Volume 1, P. 2 f.
  37. Moritz Lazarus: About the concept and possibilities of a people psychology. In: K. Köhnke (ed.). Moritz Lazarus. Basics of ethnic psychology and cultural studies. Meiner, Hamburg pp. 112-126.
  38. Wundt: About goals and ways of national psychology. 1888, Vol. 4, pp. 1-27.
  39. 3rd edition in 2 volumes, 1903
  40. Wundt: Basic features . 5th edition. 1902, Volume 1, p. 324
  41. Wundt: Basic features . 5th edition. 1908, p. 381
  42. Wundt: Introduction to Philosophy , 1909, p. 83
  43. Wundt: On Naive and Critical Realism I – III, 1896–1898, Volume 12, pp. 307–408; Volume 13, pp. 1-105, pp. 323-433.
  44. Wundt: On the definition of psychology , 1896, p. 21.
  45. Wundt: On empirical and metaphysical psychology , 1904, p. 336.
  46. Wundt: Outline of Psychology . 14th edition. 1920, p. 393.
  47. Wundt: About psychic causality and the principle of psycho-physical parallelism , 1894
  48. Wundt: Logic. 1921, Volume 3, pp. 15-19.
  49. Fahrenberg: On the theory of categories in psychology, 2013, pp. 86–131.
  50. Wundt: Grundzüge , 1902-1903, Volume 3, p. 769.
  51. Wundt, 1894; 1897; 1902-1903, Volume 3
  52. Wundt: Outline of Psychology . 14th edition. 1920, p. 14.
  53. Wundt: Grundzüge, 1902-1903, Volume 3, p. 777.
  54. ^ Wolfgang G. Bringmann, NJ Bringmann, Eberhard Bauer: Fechner and parapsychology . In: Journal for Parapsychology and Frontier Areas of Psychology , 1990, Volume 32, 19–43.
  55. Christfried Tögel: Freud and Wundt. From hypnosis to ethnic psychology . In: B. Nitzschke (Ed.). Freud and Academic Psychology . Urban & Schwarzenberg: Munich: 1989, pp. 97-105.
  56. Fahrenberg: Theoretische Psychologie , 2015, pp. 310–314.
  57. Wundt: Outline of Psychology . 14th edition. 1920, p. 18 f
  58. Wundt: Logic . 4th edition. 1921, volume 3, p. 51.
  59. Eckart Scheerer: Wilhelm Wundt's psychology of memory . In: Psychological Research , 1980, Volume 42, 135-155.
  60. Wundt: Outline of Psychology . 14th edition. 1920, 1920, p. 30.
  61. Fahrenberg 2008
  62. Wundt: Logic. 4th edition. 1921, Volume 3, p. 78.
  63. Wundt: Logic. 4th edition. 1921, Volume 3, p. 297.
  64. Immanuel Kant: Anthropology in a pragmatic way. Writings on anthropology, philosophy of history, politics and education. (Immanuel Kant work edition. Volume 6). ed. by Wilhelm Weischedel. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1798/1983, pp. 395–690.
  65. Jochen Fahrenberg: Theoretische Psychologie , 2016, pp. 147–171
  66. ^ Wundt: Inaugural Lecture in Zurich, 1874, p. 4 f.
  67. ^ Wundt: Inaugural Lecture in Zurich, 1874, p. 8f.
  68. Wundt: Inaugural Lecture in Zurich, 1874, p. 20 f.
  69. GW Leibniz: The principles of philosophy and monadology (Les principles de la philosophie ou la monadologie. 1714/1720). In: Thomas Leinkauf (Ed.): Leibniz . Eugen Diederichs Verlag, Munich 1996, pp. 406-424).
  70. Fahrenberg: Zur Categorieslehre , 2013, pp. 288–296.
  71. Wundt: Leibniz , 1917, p. 117.
  72. ^ Wundt: Gustav Theodor Fechner. Speech to celebrate his centenary , 1901.
  73. Wundt: Leibniz on the bicentenary of his death , 1917.
  74. Wundt: Grundriss der Psychologie , 1896, p. 22.
  75. Wundt: System der Philosophie , 1919, Volume 1, p. 17.
  76. Wundt: System der Philosophie , 1897, p. 377.
  77. Wundt: System der Philosophie , 1919, Volume 1, P. IX f
  78. Wundt: Ethik , 1886, foreword p. III.
  79. Wundt: Ethik , 1886, p. 577.
  80. Wundt: Grundzüge , 1902-1903, Volume 3, p. 398.
  81. Wundt: Ethik , 1886, p. 410.
  82. Wundt: Logic. An Examination of the Principles of Knowledge and Methods of Scientific Research , Vol. 1–3, 1919–1921.
  83. Wundt: About psychic causality , 1894, p. 112 f.
  84. Wundt: Lectures on human and animal souls , 1863, Volume 1, p. 435 f.
  85. Wundt: Erlebtes und Eranntes , 1920, p. 183.
  86. Wundt: Grundriss der Psychologie , 1920, p. 401.
  87. Wundt: Grundzüge , 1902-1903, Volume 3, p. 785.
  88. Wundt: Grundzüge , 1902-1903, Volume 3, p. 789.
  89. Fahrenberg: On the theory of categories in psychology , 2013, pp. 249–297.
  90. Wundt: The psychology in the struggle for existence. 1913, p. 24.
  91. Wundt: The psychology in the struggle for existence. 1913, p. 37.
  92. Catalog raisonné Wilhelm Wundt. MPI for the History of Science
  93. ^ Boring: A history of experimental psychology . 2nd ed. 1950, p. 345.
  94. M. Takasuma: The Wundt Collection in Japan , 2001, pp. 251-258
  95. ^ NJ Wade, K. Sakurai, J. Jiro Gyoba: Guest editorial essay. Whither Wundt? , 2007, 163-166.
  96. ^ Till Meyer: The DFG project indexing and digitization of Wilhelm Wundt's estate at the Leipzig University Library , 2015.
  97. ^ Arthur L. Blumenthal: Wilhelm Wundt - Problems of interpretation . In: WG Bringmann, ED Tweney (ed.). Wundt Studies. A Centennial Collection . Hogrefe: Toronto 1980, pp. 435-445.
  98. Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundt , 2011, pp. 14-16
  99. ^ Paul Ziche: Science landscapes around 1900: Philosophy, the sciences and non-reductive scientism . Chronos: Zurich 2008.
  100. 1893, p. 7 f.
  101. ^ Emil Kraepelin: Obituary Wilhelm Wundt . In: Journal for the whole of neurology and psychiatry , 1920, Volume 61, 351–362.
  102. ^ Rudolf Eisler: W. Wundts Philosophy and Psychology . 1902, p. 13.
  103. Friedrich Schumann (Ed.): Report on the first congress for experimental psychology in Giessen from April 18 to 21, 1904 . Reprint of the first edition in Leipzig 1904 on behalf of the German Society for Psychology. Hogrefe: Göttingen 2004.
  104. Leipzig University Archives; Wilhelm Wundt's estate ; Signature: NA Wundt / III / 1701–1723 / 1714/187 / 581–584.
  105. Thomas Rammsayer, Stefan Troche (ed.): Reflections of Psychology. 100 years of the German Society for Psychology. Report on the 44th Congress of the German Society for Psychology in Göttingen 2004. Hogrefe: Göttingen 2005.
  106. ^ Annerose Meischner-Metge: Wilhelm Wundt and his students. 2003, pp. 156-166.
  107. ^ Felix Krueger: Wilhelm Wundt as a German thinker . In: Arthur Hoffmann-Erfurt (Ed.): Wilhelm Wundt. An appreciation . (1st edition 1922) 2nd probable edition. Stenger, Erfurt 1924, pp. 1-39
  108. ^ Felix Krueger: Opening of the XIII. Congress. The situation of the science of the soul in the German present. 1934, pp. 6-36.
  109. Helmut E. Lück: History of psychology: currents, schools, developments . 4th edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2009.
  110. 1907, p. 301 f.
  111. Jüttemann, 2006
  112. Fahrenberg: Theoretical Psychology. 2015, pp. 104-107.
  113. Edmund Husserl: Logical investigations: Part 1, Prolegomena for pure logic. Niemeyer, Halle a. Hall 1900.
  114. Wundt: Psychologism and Logicism. 1910.
  115. Wundt: Logic. Volume 1, 1919, p. VIII.
  116. Martin Heidegger: The theory of judgment in psychologism: a critical-positive contribution to logic. Barth, Leipzig 1914.
  117. Paul Ziche (ed.): Introspection. Texts on the self-perception of the self. Springer, Vienna 1999.
  118. Cristina Massen, Jürgen Bredenkamp: The Wundt-Bühler controversy from the point of view of today's cognitive psychology. In: Journal of Psychology. 2005, vol. 213, 109-114.
  119. Fahrenberg: Wilhelm Wundt. 2011, pp. 146 f, 163 f.
  120. Eckardt, 1997, p. 98 f.
  121. Fahrenberg: Theoretical Psychology. 2015, pp. 246–249.
  122. ^ Library.tohoku.ac.jp
  123. Regina Gröteke: materials to Wilhelm Wundt in the archives of Karl Marx University and some processing problems. In: W. Meischner (Ed.). Interdisciplinary colloquium of the Wundt Research Working Group at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig. KMU Leipzig, Leipzig 1977. Volume 2, pp. 94-102.
  124. Problems and results of Wundt research II . In: Scientific journal of KMU Leipzig , issue 2/1980. (Eight contributions, including: Wolfram Meischner: Wilhelm Wundt - Life and Work , pp. 117–128. W. Thiermann: On the history of the Leipzig Psychological Institute , pp. 129–136. Wolfram Meischner, Anneros Metge: The role of Wilhelm Wundts the development of experimental psychology, pp. 151–160. Doctoral students Wilhelm Wundts (1875–1919) ).
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  127. ub.uni-tuebingen.de
  128. Provenance holdings UAT 228 with inventories UAT 228/16 to 228/24
  129. dhm.de
  130. ^ Entry in the Leipzig University Archives
  131. website