Wilhelm Wundt

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  • Topic: Wilhelm Wundt, Hermann von Helmholtz, Psychology
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  • Published : December 3, 2008
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Wilhelm Wundt

Wilhelm Wundt is best described as “ a seminal figure in the emergence of psychology as a modern science” (Bringmann and Tweney, 1980). Wundt’s collected works vary over a wide range of topics including philosophy, physics, physiology and psychology. Wundt was born August 16th, 1832 in Neckarau, Germany, to a local minister and his wife. Wundt was very well educated and attended boarding school before studying medicine at Tübingen, then Heidelberg. Shortly after graduating in 1856, Wundt had the opportunity to study under J. Müller and DuBois-Reymond in Berlin. He also began his career as a lecturer in physiology. The job proved to be a failure, however Wundt would later spend the rest of his life as a teacher. In 1858, Hermann von Helmholtz was appointed the director of the Institute of Physiology in Heidelberg and Wundt was selected as his assistant. A few years later in 1862 Wundt would begin his own lectures on psychology, some of the first purely psychological courses ever offered. However, although Wundt was making progress on his psychological ideas, after failing to receive Helmholtz’s position when he retired, Wundt left Heidelberg and joined the army as a doctor. Thankfully, in 1975 Wilhelm was called to Leipzig to be a professor, where he was able to found the Institute of Psychology. Wundt was determined to establish psychology as an accepted science separate from philosophy. He aimed to create experimental research methods, modeled after those used in physiology. Wundt was able to build a lab where he developed experiments to measure mental states and processes in an experimental and scientific way, a topic previously limited to philosophy. In 1874, Wundt published one of his most important works, Principles of Physiological Psychology. Principles used a form of psychology that examined the immediate experiences of consciousness, involving ideas, volitions and emotions, through the use of introspection. Wundt’s version of...
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