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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/143

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PHYSIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY

history. Commonly, they begin as special inquiries, somewhat off the traditional lines, in the science which bears close or closest affinity to the future discipline. Such movements continue lonely for a time, systematization being difficult or unattainable till many facts have been collected. To the point reached now we see this stage predominating in physiological psychology. Physics and anatomy, physiology and philosophy present special departures toward psychology, but a unification of the last still lacks. The final step must be associated always with the names of Gustav Theodor Fechner and Wilhelm Wundt (the latter more emphatically), who, building on the accumulations of their predecessors, at length brought the new science into formal shape.

Fechner (1801-87), like Lotze, studied medicine at Leipzig, where he became professor of physics in 1834. Like Lotze, too, he was an expert in philosophy. Both were "masters in the use of exact methods, yet at the same time with their whole souls devoted to the highest questions, and superior to their contemporaries in breadth of view as in the importance and range of their leading ideas—Fechner a dreamer and sober investigator by turns, Lotze with a gentle hand reconciling the antitheses in life and science."[1] In a fashion Fechner's psychology is more intimately connected with his philosophy than Lotze's, and his philosophico-psychological perspective offers points of strong contrast to Wundt's. Indeed, his definition of psychophysics—a term original with him—hints as much. "I understand by psychophysics an exact theory of the relations of soul and body, and, in a general way, of the physical world and the psychical world." Undoubtedly, the psychology may be disengaged from metaphysical entanglements, as Wundt said in his address on the occasion of the Fechner centenary.[2] But, after all, Fechner's panpsychism forms a motive force of his psychophysics, because, intellectually, he was a double personality.[3] His philosophical theory teaches a universal parallelism between the physical and the psychical. Or, as Nageli, the botanist, has it:

Sensation is clearly connected with the reflex actions of higher animals. We are obliged to concede it to the other animals also, and we have no grounds for denying it to plants and inorganic bodies. The sensation arouses in us a condition of comfort and discomfort. In general, the feeling of pleasure arises when the natural impulses are satisfied, the feeling of pain, when they are not satisfied. Since all material processes are composed of movements of molecules and elementary atoms, pleasure and pain must have its seat in these particles. Sensation is a property of the albuminous molecules; and if it belongs to these, we are obliged to concede it to the other substances also. If the molecules possess anything even remotely akin to sensation, they must have a feeling of comfort when they can obey the law of attraction or repulsion, the law of their own inclination or aversion; a feeling of discomfort, however, when they are
  1. "History of Modern Philosophy," Falckenberg, pp. 601-2 (Eng. trans.).
  2. Cf. "Gustav Theodor Fechner," K. Lasswitz, p. 91.
  3. Cf. ibid., p. 154.