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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/230

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By Professor R M. WENLEY



NOW that Herbert Spencer and Eduard von Hartmann have passed away, Wundt stands almost alone among living thinkers. The importance of his philosophical contribution ranks second only to his epoch-making career in psychology. Time forbids more than this reference to it; but I may add that, very likely, his philosophical attitude possesses a future. For he heads a rising school which holds that a main business of philosophy in present circumstances is to unify and systematize the manifold results garnered piecemeal by the positive sciences.

Born in 1832, Wundt began his academic career as a medical student at Heidelberg in 1851, and continued the same studies later at Tübingen and Berlin, where he resided at the close of Johannes Müller's professorship. In 1856 he worked for a year in the physiological laboratory at Heidelberg under Helmholtz. On the scientific side he came under the influence of Müller, Fr. Arnold (in anatomy), Hasse (in pathology), E. H. and W. Weber, Helmholtz, Lotze, Bain and Fechner. Early in life he also made acquaintance with the philosophical work of Leibniz, Kant, Herbart and Lotze. As stated above,[1] he records that, in psychology, he owes the largest debt to Kant and Herbart; this explains not a few of his later positions, especially those to which younger men, of purely experimental training, have taken exception, without over-much appreciation sometimes, I fear, of what exactly they opposed. His life-work as a teacher and investigator has lain at Zürich, and Leipzig, whither he was called in 1876, and where, in 1879, he set up the first purely psychological laboratory,[2] an example followed since by many of the great universities in all civilized lands. Unlike his predecessors, especially Weber, Helmholtz, Lotze and Fechner, he has not concentrated his attention upon this or that restricted group of psycho-physiological phenomena, but has ranged over the entire field, with the result that psychology owes to him at once that ever enters high school.

  1. Article I.
  2. I am not forgetting James's laboratory at Harvard in 1875, which was physiological.