Wilhelm Wundt The Founder of Modern Psychology
Wilhelm Wundt is considered by many to be the founder of modern psychology. Wundt is known for his groundbreaking work in the areas of structuralism, introspection, and laboratory methods, as well as his contributions to the philosophy of mind. Wundt founded the first experimental laboratory of psychology in Leipzig, Germany in 1879, the primary aim of which was to establish psychology as an independent empirical science. Among the many eminent psychologists to study under the supervision of Wilhelm Wundt were, Edward B. Titchener, G. Stanley Hall, Hugo Münsterberg, James McKeen Cattell and Lightner Witmer. This article will explore Wundt's life and work, and drawing on the words of those who knew him best, examine the ways in which his ideas came to shape our understanding of the mind and behavior.
Wundt is often credited with being the founder of structuralism, an early school of psychology that focused on breaking down mental processes into their component parts. Wundt believed that by analyzing the basic elements of consciousness, he could build a comprehensive understanding of the mind. He was among the first to use laboratory methods to study psychological phenomena, and his work laid the foundation for much of the research that would follow in the field of psychology.
One of Wundt's most influential methods was his use of introspection, which involved having participants describe their mental states while performing various tasks. Wundt believed that by studying the subjective experiences of individuals, he could gain insight into the underlying processes of the mind. However, this method was met with controversy and criticism, particularly the claim that introspection was unreliable and subjective. Despite this, Wundt's work on introspection laid the foundation for the development of experimental psychology.
Wundt's contributions to the philosophy of mind were also significant. He developed theories of mental states that influenced our understanding of the mind. Wundt believed that consciousness was a complex and dynamic process, and that mental states could be broken down into their component parts. His work in this area laid the foundation for the development of cognitive psychology.
At a meeting of the University of Iowa Philosophical Club held October 19, 1920, a symposium on the philosophical and psychological contributions of Professor Wundt furnished the program. Reports on Wundt's philosophical and ethical studies were given by Professor G. T. W. Patrick, a former student, and Professor Edwin Starbuck. Dean C. E. Seashore, who also knew Wundt personally, discussed his psychology, Dr. Lorle I. Stecher outlined his publications, and the writer, who is president of the club, supplemented his own reminiscences of the psychology work at Leipzig in 1906 with a series of letters from a number of Wundt's distinguished students in psychology.
At the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Chicago, December 1920, a commemorative exercise in honor of Wilhelm Wundt followed the president's address on the evening of the 29th. Reminiscences of Wundt were given by Professors J. McKeen Cattell, C. H. Judd, W. D. Scott, and R. Pintner.
The following includes the letters read at the Iowa meeting, together with the more extended contributions of Cattell and Judd read at Chicago, and reminiscences from other students of Wundt furnished at the suggestion of the Psychological Review.
A great teacher is known best by the type of trained students who leave his laboratories and carry further his principles to finer determinations and more subtle and more useful applications. No teacher in psychology has had more distinguished students from many countries than Professor Wundt; and in America, where experimental psychology has made greatest advances during the last three decades, many of the great leaders were students at Leipzig for short or long periods during Wundt's creative directorship.
The first two young men to work at Leipzig and later to found psychological laboratories in this country were President G. Stanley Hall and Professor J. McKeen Cattell, the former being a student in 1879-80 and the latter in 1880-82 and 1883-86. Dr. Hall founded the laboratory at Johns Hopkins in 1883 and Professor Cattell the laboratory at Pennsylvania in 1887. Many of Wundt's other American students either founded laboratories on their return from Germany or played a leading part in the development of the experimental laboratories in America.
The following contributions are arranged chronologically according to the date at which the writers were connected with the Leipzig laboratory. The key-note of the symposium is Wundt's personality. No attempt is made to appraise the value of his scientific work; that remains for the future to determine. In the foreground we see Wilhelm Wundt, the man and the teacher, reverenced by his pupils and inspiring them with zeal for exact and honest scientific research.
G. STANLEY HALL
I think I was the first American student to work in Wundt's laboratory. It was in its early days-I think about 1878 or 1879-and I only served as subject, for I gave all my time during the two years I was there to work in Physiology with Ludwig. There was then an impression that Wundt was not very scientific, and there were rumors that Helmholtz had found him too inexact as his assistant. One group, I remember, thought Horwicz should have been elected to Wundt's chair. Wundt was very rarely seen in his laboratory, and impressed me as rather inept in the use of his hands. Most of his time was spent in preparing his amazingly clear and popular lectures, which were always crowded. I attended his seminary, the method of which in my time was to have every member read and carefully epitomize books, articles, etc., assigned by Wundt, he himself, as I remember, taking notes incessantly. I felt that our business as members of the seminary was chiefly to read for him, and I think this contributed much to the impression of the great erudition which characterizes his works.
Save his doctrine of apperception, it does not seem to me that he made any epoch-making contributions to psychology although he will always fill a large place as the first to establish this science on an experimental basis. He was a wonderful compiler and digester, and I have always felt that his Völkerpsychologie was really quite as important and involved quite as much commendable labor on his part as did the Physiologische Psychologie.
He was a very able and effective controversialist, but it always seemed to me that he was short-sighted and partisan in antagonizing the new introspective movement started by his own pupils, as Freud has been in antagonizing Adler and the Zurich school. Both tried to devour their own children. This antagonism seemed to me an illustration in the scholastic field of the spirit of the old German feudal overlord. I have always felt, too, that if Wundt had been half as much of a biologist as he was a physiologist, he would have given our science a broader basis, and also that he was too prone to ignore the contributions of psychiatry.
Nevertheless, he did a remarkable and epoch-making work, and I for one feel no less debt of gratitude to him as a psychologist even though he bitterly denounced the Allies in a narrow and almost bigoted way and was one of the ninety-odd signers of the notorious Manifesto.
J. MCKEEN CATTELL
Forty years ago I studied in Gottingen and in Leipzig, hearing the lectures given by Lotze and by Wundt. It seems odd, as I look back on it, that I made no effort to become acquainted with either of these great men. They seemed elevated far above the twenty-year-old student, who at their lectures wrote 'als dictirt euch der Heilig Geist.'
My first personal meeting with Wilhelm Wundt was in his conversation room in the autumn of 1883. A notice had been posted appointing a conference with those who wished to join his seminar for research, and there appeared six or seven of us, representing almost as many nationalities. Stanley Hall had been there a year or two before, but worked mainly with Ludwig and served only as Versuchstier in the newly established laboratory of psychology. We were followed by other Americans in large numbers; eighteen of the fifty psychologists selected in my study of 1905 had worked at Leipzig and there were many more; now our students and our students' students, even to the third and fourth generations, trace their descent from the Leipzig laboratory.
In one of his recently published letters, William James wrote to Karl Stumpf of Wundt: "Was there ever since Christian Wolf's time such a model of the German professor?" This more formal and official side was shown in our first conference, for he had in his hand a memorandum containing a list of subjects for research and taking us in the order in which we stood-there was no question of our being seated-assigned the topics and hours to us by a one-to-one correspondence. As a large part of the work of the laboratory was then on reaction-time experiments, it is not surprising that such a subject fell to my lot, and it was fortunate, for I had already in America begun experimental work on the time of sensori- motor processes. Wundt, however, was mainly interested in experiment for the aid it gave to introspection, and the subject assigned to me was to react as soon as I saw a light and in a second series to react as soon as I recognized its color, with a view to analyzing the factors of apperception. This I could not do, and in my second interview with Wundt I presented an outline of the work I wanted to undertake, which was the objective measurement of the time of reactions with special reference to individual differences. Wundt said that it was "ganz Amerikanisch"; that only psychologists could be the subjects in psychological experiments. I later bought and made the apparatus needed and did the work in my own room, without, however, any interruption in relations that were then becoming friendly.
My last interview as a student with Wundt was at my doctorate examination when the sympathy and kindness that great men usually have, but are often too shy to show, were much in evidence. In accordance with the pernicious method copied into our universities, the candidate was examined in three subjects, psychology being then only a part of philosophy. I had some knowledge of mathematics, physics, physiology and zoology as related to my own work, but not much besides. I began to attend Klein's lectures on mathematics, but found them hopeless. Finally I selected physics and zoology, and Wundt was most anxious that I should get through. He explained that Hankel was mainly interested in the refraction of light by crystals, and Leuckhart in parasites, and that I should read their papers on these subjects and lead up to them if I could. In the examination before the faculty, Wundt asked me things that I was sure to know and then to make it plausible a couple of questions that no one but a German professor of philosophy could possibly know. During the rest of the examination he was even more nervous than the candidate.
Personal reminiscences are wanted, so I may relate two or three incidents that are more or less characteristic. Wundt was asked for an introduction to Stumpf, next to him the leading German psychologist, then at Halle only twenty miles from Leipzig. He said that he was sorry that he could not give it; he was not personally acquainted with Stumpf; it was better so, for there might be scientific subjects on which they would differ and then each could speak more freely. This did happen later, and each did tell the truth as he saw it without violating the courtesy that personal acquaintance might from their point of view have required. In like manner with characteristic kindness, perhaps to me as well as to her, he admitted an unusually intelligent American girl to his lectures on psychology at a time when this was a rare privilege in a German university. There were two or three hundred German students in attendance, probably the most stupid ones in the university, for they were mostly theologues, for whom the course was compulsory. Wundt a little later said: " I am sorry that I admitted Miss X to the lectures; it quite troubles me; I feel always that I ought to speak in a way that a woman can understand." This I submit, while reminiscent of the Kaiser's three K's, betrayed true knightliness in the old style.
In one respect Wundt was modern and American. He had injured his eyesight by experiments on vision and was much interested in a typewriter that I took with me to Germany when such a thing was almost unknown there. So I got one for him, and thereafter he did all his composition on it. I am told that Avenarius said it was an evil gift, for with it Wundt wrote twice as many books as would otherwise have been possible. Apart from the typewriter, Wundt lived remote from the rough ways of democracy. The idea of visiting the United States, when I urged it, or even of going to England, rather frightened him. But, while there was a certain narrowness in the life of the German university professor of fifty years ago, the provincialism was that of a true intellectual and social aristocracy. With them the family life is nearly always simple and fine; it was surely so in the apartment at Leipzig, to which it was my privilege to be admitted, formally at first, and then more intimately, as on leisurely walks on Sunday afternoons and at Christmas Eve ceremonies, when only Mrs. Wundt, a woman of rare charm, and the two little children were there.
Wundt was somewhat disturbed that I became acquainted at Leipzig with Wilhelm Liebknecht, the leader of German socialism, but with characteristic consideration he wrote to me some years later that I should be interested to hear that in the gymnasium his son Max and Liebknecht's son Karl were inseparable friends. Max Wundt has become professor of classical archeology; Karl Liebknecht, almost alone in the Reichstag, opposed war in 1914, as his father did in 1870; then at the hour of mingled defeat and victory he laid his life on the altar of the God whom he served.
Wilhelm Wundt too is dead. The London Times and other journals have impertinently remarked that he would have been more honored if he had died before signing the manifesto of the ninety-three German professors-that rather absurd, but truly pathetic and noble appeal to the good-will of the world. The civilization for which those men stood ranks in its fine distinction with the best periods of Greece, Italy, France and England. It is now submerged in blood and ashes, sunk under the weight of its virtues and its sins, of the specious idealism and crude materialism of its overlords, its allies and its enemies. Let us hope that the brute arbitrament of force may once more yield to the generous rivalry of science and of diverse civilizations, and not hope only, but do our part to repay the debt that we owe to the dead. These remarks are by order limited to personal reminiscences and to ten minutes. Wundt's leadership in laying the foundations of psychology, his vast contributions to nearly the whole range of the philosophical disciplines, are not here under consideration. The fact that his work for psychology was begun sixty years ago proclaims its fundamental character and accounts for its limitations. We advance over the temporary bridges built by men such as he, and they are more nearly works of genius than are the rubble and cement with which we may later replace them. Wundt was before all a scholar, absorbed in his scholarship; with that complete detachment from the here and now and the narrower self that often characterizes the hereditary noble and the true scholar.
This is our master, famous, calm and dead… Leave him-still loftier than the world suspects, Living and dying.
EDWARD. A. PACE
It was in the autumn of 1889, that I entered the University of Leipzig and became acquainted with Professor Wundt. My knowledge of German was meagre; and I had serious misgivings as to my first interview with the Herr Geheimrath. He reassured me at once, however, by saying that though he spoke no English, he understood it and would be glad to have me use my own language.
On learning that I had been a student in Rome, he remarked: "Why then, you are familiar with the philosophy of St. Thomas"; and in the course of the conversation he showed that he was thoroughly informed in regard to the neo-Scholastic movement inaugurated by Pope Leo XIII. At this meeting also, noticing that I had a copy of the Verzeichniss der Vorlesungen, he suggested that the list of courses was attractive and that, like other students, I would probably be tempted to register for a large number of subjects. "Do not attempt too much," he said; "this is the best advice I can give you."
Wundt impressed me as a man who sought earnestly for the truth. With a wide range of knowledge he combined an accuracy, even a severity, of thought, the result of his scientific training. While he adopted the latest methods of research and in one field at least did the work of a pioneer, he appreciated the achievements of the past and gave full credit to his contemporaries who so often took a different point of view.
His lecture hall, with sittings for some three hundred students, was always well filled. It was a cosmopolitan audience which reminded me, in some respects, of the Urban College in Rome. Punctuality was one of the professor's virtues and it had the desired effect upon his auditors. Whatever the subject-and he covered the whole ground of the philosophical and psychological sciences-his hearers were sure of an interesting lecture. It was delivered with earnestness and fluency. Wundt always laid upon the rostrum a notebook; and then forgot that it was there. Some of the students knew that his vision was defective; and for that reason they formed a higher estimate of the man's energy and erudition.
The psychological laboratory, in that day, was primitive enough. It occupied a half dozen rooms in the old building which has since disappeared. There was no great show of apparatus; but such as it was, it was nearly all in daily use. Additions to it were, for the most part, of Wundt's own devising. Of the men who worked there, at least two-thirds were Americans. Some have become leaders in psychology and have made known the principles and methods of the Leipzig school to students in various universities of our country.
Usually, the Professor met the research students in the laboratory after his lecture. Those were moments of free and easy intercourse. They gave an opportunity to get advice concerning problems under investigation, to discuss new publications or to secure an expression regarding the statements which came from various quarters with reference to the findings of the Leipzig laboratory.
For the acrimonious, Wundt had little use. He could take part in a discussion quite vigorously; but he preferred to conduct it on a high level. If, in his lectures, he adverted to those who differed from him, there was no trace of narrowness in his criticism. On the contrary, I recall that he deprecated the temper of an ardent writer who, in coming to the defense of the Leipzig Institute, had been rather severe upon the author of the attack.
There was a certain intensity about Professor Wundt, due no doubt to the fact that he saw continually wider and wider horizons opening before him. It seemed at one time as though his absorption in speculative problems had drawn him too far from scientific interests. Probably he thought that the 'System der Philosophic' was the necessary culmination of his scientific labors. In point of fact, his enthusiasm for psychology had not cooled, as is evident from his later publications.
Wundt's habits were of the simpler sort. There was no ostentation about him. I think that he was gratified to have students from all parts of the world coming to his lectures, and still more to see his disciples filling chairs both in Germany and beyond its borders. But his success did not make him less approachable. He went on his accustomed way, patient and laborious, and always ready to help others out of the fullness of his own knowledge.
To see him, half an hour before his lecture, passing along the Promenade, no one would have suspected that he was among the foremost thinkers of his day. Few, even of the students, recognized him. He was not followed by a ' Shadow of Providence'; and yet, as he went along, one thought, quite naturally, of a street in Konigsberg.
E. B. TITCHENER
The paragraphs printed below are from a letter written in 1890 immediately after my first hearing of a lecture by Wundt. The impression of triangularity to which I refer is excellently brought out in the portrait by Dora Arnd-Raschid (published by the Berlin Photographische Gesellschaft); it is less obvious in the Perscheid photograph of 1904. "The famulus swung the door open, and Wundt came in. All in black, of course, from boots to necktie; a spare, narrow-shouldered figure, stooping a little from the hips; he gave the impression of height, though I doubt if in fact he stands more than 5"9'.
"He clattered-there is no other word for it-up the side-aisle and up the steps of the platform: slam bang, slam bang, as if his soles were made of wood. There was something positively undignified to me about this stamping clatter, but nobody seemed to notice it.
"He came to the platform, and I could get a good view of him. Hair iron-grey, and a fair amount of it, except on the top of the head, - which was carefully covered by long wisps drawn up from the side. Forehead not high, but very broad and swelling at the temples. Eyes dark behind rather small-glassed spectacles, very good: honest, friendly, alert; but there is something sadly wrong with the muscles of the right. Nose, as the passports say, ordinary; depressed at the bridge, but rising below to a serviceably sized organ. Mouth covered by a heavy drooping moustache, and chin by a shortish square-cut beard, iron-grey like the hair. The general impression, in spite of the bluntish beard, was of an inverted triangle: the head must be tremendously broad at the temples, for there is no hint of any weak pointing of the chin.
"The platform has a long desk, I suppose for demonstrations, and on that an adjustable book-rest. Wundt made a couple of mannered movements, - snatched his forefinger across his forehead, arranged his chalk, - and then faced his audience with both elbows set on this rest. A curious attitude, which favours the impression of height. He began his lecture in a high-pitched, weak, almost apologetic voice; but after a sentence or two, during which the room settled down to silence, his full lecturing voice came out, and was maintained to the end of the hour. It is an easy and abundant bass, somewhat toneless, at times a little barking; but it carries well, and there is a certain persuasiveness, a sort of fervour, in the delivery that holds your interest and prevents any feeling of monotony. A good sort of voice, I should think, for a lecturer whom one has to listen to month in and month out. The lecture was given without reference to notes; Wundt, so far as I could tell, never looked down once at the book-rest, though he had some little shuffle of papers there between his elbows.
"I told you that the attitude struck me as curious. So was the play of hands and forearms all through the lecture. Wundt did not keep his arms lying on the rest: the elbows were fixed, but the arms and hands were perpetually coming up, pointing and waving. You might think that this movement would be embarrassing, even distressing, to watch; but it wasn't; I had the fanciful impression that Wundt was using his hands where the ordinary lecturer turns his head and eyes; the movements were subdued, and seemed in some mysterious way to be illustrative. Very characteristic, anyhow, the rigid body and the almost as rigid head, and these hands playing back and forth between the voice and the audience.
"He stopped punctually at the stroke of the clock, and clattered out, stooping a little, as he had clattered in. If it wasn't for this absurd clatter I should have nothing but admiration for the whole proceeding."
I had come back to Leipzig in the fall of '91 and got my first glimpse of Wundt as he was going up the stairs to his lecture room in the new university building. And the sight was anything but reassuring to one who had been moved to return to his 'alma norverca' through a feeling of academic piety focused mainly around the person of the "chief". Wundt was toiling feebly and slowly up the ascent, to all appearance hardly able to cope with the weight of a huge overcoat which hung loosely around him, and it was with the misgiving that I was destined to hear merely fragments of a lecture delivered by a broken old man that I entered the lecture room.
But all misgivings vanished when I 'apperceived' the hall: it was the largest lecture-room in the university and crowded to the limit of its capacity. During the lecture my neighbor volunteered the information that there was no lecture-room in the university large enough to hold the audience that 'subscribed' to the lectures on psychology. Assuredly the setting betokened no lack of power in the lectures and assuredly there was no trace of senility in the lecturer. It was the old Wundt of 1890-the clear enunciation, the well-rounded sentences, the dignified utterance, the occasional gesture with the loosely clenched hand- hardly a fist-the respectful reference to his charts-it only needed the bi-syllabic pronunciation of 'Jon' Locke's surname to make one feel that no change had taken place in the Wundt of a former decade.
I cannot say that the social side of one's intercourse with Wundt, as expressed in the bounteous dinners which he gave from time to time to the 'Fortgeschrittene' and laboratory assistants, very much furthered a 'man to man' acquaintanceship between teacher and students, and this perhaps less through Wundt's attitude than through that of the German contingent among the guests. For their attitude seemed to be that of men questioning an oracle, and when the oracular answer came, questioning or discussion ceased. It must be said also that in this situation the oracle was rarely dumb or ambiguous. Nevertheless, when some untamed transatlantic neophyte blurted out an objection to an oracular response or applied some hardy paradox to it, I had the impression that Wundt actually welcomed what the pious considered an interruption-manifesting the welcomeness by a smile which had in it nothing superior or condescending.
To the much bandied reproach of Wundt's intolerance of views that did not agree with his own, my three years' experience in the Leipzig Institute gives not the slightest support, though this does not say that it was easy to convince him of defects in some course of laboratory practice fathered by him but which, in the ordeal of a new investigation, had been found wanting. In my "Arbeit" I had run counter to some of the Wundtian doctrines and in particular had girded against his law of relativity as explanatory of Weber's Law. To this he made no demurrer nor discussed the point, but simply asked me what was my main objection to the 'Gesetz der Relativität' and then passed on to a new topic. Parenthetically it may be said that when I started in to discuss my Arbeit with Wundt I felt that I knew more about the limited domain which I had been exploring than anyone, including Wundt-a state of mind probably not infrequent with burgeoning doctors-but before the interview was over I felt that Wundt knew more about the subject both in itself and in its relations than was either right or proper for any one person to know. The interview was of the nature of a revelation to me. The popular belief that a great philosophic mind is more at home when dealing with abstractions than with ideas of concrete objects finds documentary support from one of the tables in an early edition of the 'Physiologische Psychologie', where one may see that while it took Wundt appreciably longer to react logically to words denoting concrete objects than was the case with his co-workers, when it came to reactions to far- reaching abstractions his record was almost absurdly short. But Wundt's immersion in the depths of philosophic thought had not washed out of him a capacity either for warm emotions or for deep emotions. Misuse of laboratory apparatus was sure to arouse in him indignation which was not slow to find vent in winged words, and I have seen him white and trembling with anger when some of his 'Zuhörer,' bent on hearing a Wagnerian overture, slipped out of a lecture on philosophy shortly before its close. But a far deeper and more complex emotion than anger overcame him when the 'Festschrift' closing the series of the Philosophische Studien was presented to him on his seventieth birthday.
We had journeyed up to the little village in the Thuringian Forest where Wundt, as was his wont, was passing a part of the summer holidays - Külpe, Kraepelin, Meumann, Lange, Kirschmann-I do not recall the names of all-and when Wundt was brought in before this little gathering of men who had been his laboratory assistants, some of whom he had not seen for a decade and some not since the earliest days of the Studien, he broke down completely and for some minutes the ready speaker and accomplished orator was unable to utter a word. And when the 'Festschrift' was handed to him by Külpe who spoke with great sweetness and with reverential dignity, again the old man was hardly able to speak. That was the last time I saw Wundt and I felt then as I felt in my student days that I had come into the presence of a great man. For depth and range of learning, for capacity for generalization, for power of scientific imagination, he was the ablest man I ever met.
HOWARD C. WARREN
The foremost service of Wilhelm Wundt to psychology was the foundation of laboratory investigation. Before his time experimental research in psychology had been mainly individual. Weber and Fechner had experimented privately -apart from their university work. Wundt secured the recognition of his laboratory as a university institution, with rooms in one of the university buildings. He gathered around him an enthusiastic group of students and assistants, whom he trained in the methods of exact experimentation, and he selected their research problems in such a way as to cover every part of the field.
The tremendous interest in experimental psychology which suddenly developed-the spread of research in Europe and America during the '90's - is due in large part to the example of the Leipzig laboratory and the efforts of Wundt's pupils. As soon as the Leipzig laboratory was fairly launched, in 1883, Wundt started a magazine, the Philosophische Studien, which was devoted to the publication of research papers. The earlier volumes contain many notable articles by men whose names have since become well known in the psychological world. Cattell, founder of the laboratories at Pennsylvania and Columbia; Scripture, who started the laboratory at Yale, were among Wundt's earlier pupils. Stanley Hall, who opened laboratories at Hopkins and Clark, was an observer of Wundt's work during his stay at Leipzig. These men belong to the '80's. In the early '90's Frank Angell, Pace, Titchener, and Witmer were my fellow-students there. These, and others who have since fallen by the wayside, are responsible for the scores of laboratories which suddenly sprang into being in America and soon outstripped the German laboratories in productivity.
At the period I speak of there were students from Russia, Norway, and Rumania working under Wundt, who spread the movement in their own countries. Of the Germans, Kiesow was called to Italy, Meumann to Switzerland, Kirschmann to Canada. Külpe and others carried the spirit of Wundt's laboratory to other German universities - I speak only of my own time. The same influence continued until the outbreak of the war.
I would not in the least undervalue the personal contributions of other German investigators-of men like G. E. Miller, Ebbinghaus, Münsterberg, and Stumpf. As individuals these perhaps obtained more important original results. But Wundt, working through his pupils and directing their lines of research, far outstripped them all. An examination of his 'Grundzüge,' that great compendium of psychological results, is sufficient to prove this.
Apart from specific additions to our psychological knowledge, the Leipzig laboratory was largely instrumental in imbuing psychological investigators with the spirit of exactness and thoroughness in research. And it was responsible for many of the standard pieces of apparatus with which our laboratories are equipped. All these are part of the same general development-the research laboratory for human psychology. Wundt's first claim to the homage of psychologists is that he is the father of laboratory psychology. The value of Wundt's contributions to psychological principles may be challenged. Some of his most notable theories have already been discarded. His doctrines of innervations, feelings, of apperception, of chromatic and achromatic vision, of tonal relations have been superseded. But his conception of psychological experimentation prevails today as strongly as ever, and seems likely to govern future work for many years to come.
Speaking of Wundt as a man, what impressed me most was his vast, encyclopedic knowledge. His lectures covered the entire field of psychology and philosophy. Animal psychology and folk psychology were among the courses which he offered, as well as logic, ethics, and history of philosophy. His 'Völkerpsychologie' contains a wealth of material; one marvels at his being able to carry this work through to completion at the age of 70.
One of my pleasantest memories of Leipzig days is a lecture on English philosophy in which Wundt frequently referred to 'Schon Locker.' It was some time before I identified this personage as John Locke.
In appearance Wundt was impressive. He was tall, rather slender, and dignified in his movements and conversation. He invariably wore a black frock coat. On the street his majestic bearing was somewhat marred by a most disreputable soft hat which he always wore. It was apparently a relic of his student days. I can only conjecture that it was retained in virtue of some solemn vow or sentiment. In conversation he was affable, though somewhat formal.
One felt that he was the master. No one of his students would have ventured a joke or an off-hand remark in his presence. He dealt with his flock somewhat autocratically, and prescribed the lines and methods of research rather too minutely. It was characteristic that he never attended congresses or meetings in which he would have met his colleagues on a footing of equality. Yet I never thought of him as objectionably dogmatic, like many other German professors. He was conscious of his leadership. That was all.
I worked in Wundt's laboratory in 1891-92. Fifteen years later, in 1907, I was passing through Leipzig and called on him at the fine laboratory which had supplanted the dingy rooms in the old 'Convict-gebäude.' The janitor took my card and Wundt received me immediately. To my surprise he recalled without hesitation the year I had worked under him and mentioned by name the other Americans who were there at the same time. Remember that every year he had a large number of students, that I had done no special research in his laboratory, that he was over 75 at the time. Is it to be wondered that I was dumfounded at this remarkable exhibition of memory?
In closing let me bear personal testimony to Wundt's influence on the scientific attitude of his students. The exact methods which he insisted upon could not fail to impress those who worked under him and mold their own conception of research. Coming to him as I did from an atmosphere of philosophical speculation, the spirit of his laboratory was a God-send. I owe much to Wilhelm Wundt for the change he wrought in my life ideals. I am glad of this opportunity to pay tribute to him as teacher and example.
JAMES R. ANGELL
I fear I can make no significant contribution to your memorial meeting for Wundt, of whose death I had not heard. I suppose, in common with all others who know the facts, I have considered him, while not the founder, as nevertheless by far the most important prophet of experimental psychology. Not only in the establishment of the Institute, but in his own continued productivity and in the stimulation of others he has no serious rival.
This is not the time to attempt a critical estimate of his work. Suffice it to say that I place a very different estimate upon its different portions, and regard the work in experimental psychology as altogether the most significant, and as likely to have by far the most lasting value.
GEORGE M. STRATTON
Wundt's greatest contribution to Psychology will, in my judgment, be not some particular doctrine or experimental discovery, but the impetus which he gave to the entire experimental activity in our field. It is largely due to him that Psychology is taking its place among the important sciences.
But in saying this, one may well appreciate the stimulus which has come from particular doctrines of his, such as his teaching that feelings change in three aspects or dimensions, even though the doctrine itself hardly seems destined to be regarded as true in itself. And one can see that his influence has counted strongly and with great benefit to correct the disproportionate attention given to sensory and cognitive processes, by elevating into importance those processes directly involved in emotion and in volition. Much weight, I feel, should be given to his doctrine in regard to Psychic Causality.
Anyone who worked in his laboratory will remember the interest he took in his students, and the intellectual and scientific stimulus which came from the man. His daily round of the laboratory was looked forward to by his experimenters, and I know of those who were careful that their daily programme should be so arranged that they should always have the benefit of this visit of his. His geniality at his home, and particularly the conversations after his Sunday dinners, are among the most valued of my recollections of him.
G. T. W. PATRICK
I studied with Wundt during the spring and summer semester of the year 1894, taking lectures and doing some work in the laboratory. Wundt's quarters were then in the old buildings on the Grimmaische Steinweg, if I remember rightly. Külpe was there then and I worked with Kiesow in the laboratory. Wundt was giving a general systematic course in psychology, which I attended.
When this symposium was proposed I was interested in resuscitating my old note-book with its flexible, black cover and its little blue-margined label saying, 'Wundt-Psychology.' My notes contain diagrams of apparatus and figures which have since become so familiar-the rotating discs for mixing colors, the tuning forks and resonators, tachistoscope, etc. This and lots of other apparatus Wundt had on a long table on the platform in the lecture room and illustrated his lecture with it. This, of course, was his great innovation. He was a very clear and interesting speaker, easy to understand and easy to follow, even for a foreigner not too well acquainted with the German. I seem to remember that he was very fond of the word 'wahrscheinlich,' which he drew out in a peculiar manner, and the phrase 'psychische Vorgänge,' is suggested to me when I visualize Wundt on the lecture platform. He was always talking of Vorgänge, Ereignisse, Prozessen and Geschehen, as applied to mental life, which of course indicates his point of view, new then but now familiar. "Vorstellungen sind Vorgänge und nicht Gegenstande. Sie sind Ereignisse," as it says in my notes.
An idea, he said, can never come again; it is a new one, just as a Bewegung can never come twice. So as elements Vorstellungen will not serve. These old errors I suppose were what he had in mind when he said in an early lecture as reported in my notes, 'Man muss vergessen alles was er weiss wenn man ein Psycholog werden will." Socially Wundt was very kind and friendly. My sister was then studying in Leipzig, and Wundt invited us to dinner at his home and after the dinner we returned to the drawing room and stood around in a circle and said "Mahlzeit" and shook hands. I returned to Leipzig in 1897 and heard one lecture by Wundt in his fine lecture room in the new building. There was the usual large and attentive and respectful audience.
In later years my interest has been more in Wundt as a philosopher than as a psychologist. Whether he devoted himself to psychology, philosophy, logic, ethics, social psychology, the psychology of language, or even the philosophy of nature, the same masterly hand was shown. This was the wonder of the man. Whether it was the power of his memory or his patient application that wrought all this body of learning I do not know, but his many books display a wonderful encyclopedic knowledge.
That Wundt never said anything foolish or brilliant must have been somebody's witticism based on an ignorance of his work, for he made many brilliant contributions to science and philosophy. To mention only a few, his theories of the increase of psychical energy and of creative synthesis and his emphasis upon the value concept in general have had a development in recent years which must have given him great joy. In this idea of creative synthesis the twentieth century seems to be attaining a complete emancipation from the mechanical evolutionary philosophy of the nineteenth century. Even Wundt would perhaps have been amazed at the extent to which this notion has been carried in the realm of biology, psychology, philosophy, and ethics by writers for instance like Professor Spaulding in his 'New Rationalism' and his daring discovery of 'freedom' at each successive level. This is surely 'the new freedom.'
By creative synthesis Höffding says he meant the capacity of producing a qualitatively new content through a composition of given elements. The modern development of this principle to the position of 'freedom' or that "the limit is not a member of the series of which it is a limit," might have seemed rather mystical to Wundt.
In the history of psychology and philosophy Wundt's name will certainly retain a most prominent place. His physiological psychology, his doctrine of elements, his theory of apperception, his voluntarism, his psycho-physical parallelism, as well as his creative synthesis and his definition of philosophy as a general science whose function is to unite the results of the special sciences into a system satisfying to our sentimental needs and our intellectual impulses-all these and many other original or semi-original contributions assure his standing in the history of philosophy.
Significant also is his long term of service as professor at Leipzig from 1874-1920, forty-six years, and interesting too is the immense body of his writings, embracing according to Hall's estimate about 16,000 pages not including the Studien. Even Herbert Spencer wrote less than 12,000 pages and Kant 4,400.
CHARLES H. JUDD
Wundt was a tall, sparely built man with a slight stoop, a large head and a pleasant face. His features were strong and clear-cut. He wore thick, dark glasses which were the outward evidences of the conditions that made it possible for him to contribute to the literature of retinal pathology from his own introspective experience. He could use only part of one retina during the last half of his life. With this partial visual equipment, he did a prodigious amount of work, both of reading and composition.
He worked with systematic regularity. His mornings were spent at home, where he was protected from disturbances; there he divided his hours between reading, writing, and editorial tasks. He used an American typewriter in the days when I was a student in the middle '90's and was very appreciative of its cooperation, and well he might be.
The first semester I was in Leipzig I waited with great impatience, as all newly arrived Americans do, for notices to be posted by individual lecturers giving the dates when they were to begin. In October Wundt's notice appeared. I could not make out from the handwritten confusion the date for which I had been waiting. I was trying to decipher the document when a native arrived. With hat in hand, in my politest German, I asked his help. I stood near and listened intently so as to make sure that my uncertain command of the language did not leave me in the lurch. It was with mixed satisfaction that I heard his guttural ejaculation, "Mein Gott, das ist nicht zu lesen."
Every morning with his American typewriter Wundt wrote some of the voluminous body of material which remains as his monument. Later, when his eye-sight grew worse, his daughter did much of his writing for him and shared too in his collecting of material.
No one who worked in the laboratory under Wundt can fail to remember the painstaking care with which he went over theses. A part of his morning was given regularly to this kind of work. He edited the Studien with personal attention to details and at the same stroke made himself minutely acquainted with the writings of his students. In the afternoon he took a walk, attended examinations and came to the laboratory. On his arrival at the Institut he went directly to his private room, where he held conferences. Once in a great while he would make a tour of the working rooms. He held his lectures usually at four o'clock -well after dark in the winter months of that northern latitude.
Anyone who ever heard him lecture will remember the ringing clearness of his enunciation and the sweep of his masterly summaries. He was always vivid and intense. I never ceased to wonder at the enthusiasm which he showed for the details of a demonstration. He would introduce the demonstration apparatus for a reaction experiment and give the steps of the experiment, exhibiting perfect familiarity with the steps of all of its technical complications. Here he was the true experimentalist. Later he would give a review of the history of scientific work in the reaction field, leaving his hearers with a broad, general view which only a master can venture. In some other course he could carry us through the intricacies of logic or ethics or over the successive periods of philosophical thought.
He always spoke with deliberation and emphasis. I remember his telling with great good humor of the permission he once gave to an American girl who wanted to come to his lectures solely because, as she frankly told him, he pronounced his words so clearly. He used a few notes, but spoke freely and always with that symmetry and completeness of style that characterize his writings.
In the old Institut lecture room, where he lectured in my day, he had many auditors, but later the number increased. In the new Augusteum he filled the great Aula. I heard him in 1913 when his strong, clear tones were still readily heard in every corner of the greatest auditorium that the new university possessed, though he was in his eighty-third year. Not an empty seat was to be had. His famulus at his direction secured a seat for me as a special honor to an old student by dispossessing a regular zuhörer.
In personal ways Wundt was simple, even to the point of impressive modesty. He used sometimes to ask those of us who worked in the laboratory to Sunday dinner. His wife was a stately matron, tall and slender like himself. I always thought of her as of the New England type. At these dinners he would reminisce about his American students and plan trips to America which he felt sure he would never take because of the long ocean voyage. He often went in the summer to Switzerland and in the spring to Italy. He thought someday it might be interesting to go to America-but after all it was too far.
I suppose I should never forget my examination, whatever happened, but I look back on it with more than memory for an important day in my personal career. I had done the proper thing of course and appeared at two p.m. in a dress suit and white gloves. The gloves ripped just as I went into the examination-I suppose as a result of their excitement.
I doubt whether I should ever have come through if there had not been some very good psychology exhibited on the part of my first examiner. He asked me as his first question what part of the United States I came from. Fortunately I knew the answer to this question. He asked me what I had read of the English School of Psychology. Thanks to Armstrong's training, I had read Berkeley's 'Essay Toward a New Theory of Vision,' and we were off- gloves or no gloves. I remember two things about that examination, - his praise of Berkeley for using empirical material as the basis of his conclusions and, second, his general management of the occasion so as to let me show absolutely everything I knew. I went away from that table with a view of an examination that had never been so vivid before. I saw it as an opportunity for a candidate to show his best side, not as a dangerous pitfall prepared by a crafty enemy.
Long years after my student days he took me to his home for dinner. His wife was dead and his daughter presided in her place. It was a simple home, in spite of the fact that he was honored as one of the world's great men. Mrs. Judd and I were hospitably placed on the sofa and we talked of many things, of old friends in America, of the progress of psychology, of my work, in which he showed a keen interest, and now and then, when I came back to the topic, of what he had done.
It used to be the tradition in the laboratory that no one should speak to Wundt about any of his forthcoming books. When I heard it whispered about that the 'Grundriss' was about to be published I went to Meumann and told him I wanted to get permission to translate it. He discouraged me, saying that Wundt's disastrous experience with the French translation of the 'Physiological Psychology' made him unalterably adverse to translations. The difficulty was that the French translation was not revised and so, while the German editions had twice been worked over, French writers were quoting from the original form as it had been embalmed in the French. But I persisted and went to the publisher with the request which I was told not to venture with Wundt. The permission came in the form of a proposal that the translation should be made under Wundt's personal observation and should be printed in Leipzig. In this way I had half an hour every Thursday with Wundt during the spring of 1896. He read all of my proof and commented on it. He found I was off the track a number of times and he made me defend my terminology in a good many cases. I remember a long discussion on my translation of apperception and perception. I persuaded him that the English word perception was not what we wanted. That discussion was in his mind seventeen years later when I dined with him at his own home.
I remember bringing him an American review of the 'Grundriss' while we were consulting on the translation. It was by one of his former students. He looked it over, laid it down and said, "Some people read superficially, do they not; it would be difficult to misrepresent a book more completely in an equal number of words." The review did not irritate him in a personal way, so far as I could see, but he was justly drastic in his criticism of its superficiality.
I always found Wundt absolutely objective. I have read the controversial writings in which he took part and I know of his dislike for our great James's views. I know it is said that he felt keenly the dropping away from him of some of his most notable students. I have read his comments on the war and I have great difficulty in placing them in my thinking of him. I am disposed, for my part, to attribute all his scientific quarrels to his sensitiveness and modesty, and his devotion to truth as he saw it. I do not think that in scientific disputes he was partisan for personal reasons. He was absorbed in fact and wholly committed to what he believed to be the correct interpretation. The Wundt I knew never was anything but strictly empirical and objective. One example, and I think a typical one, of his complete devotion to empirical science came to me in connection with my thesis. Wundt was going over the document in a conference with me, surprising me beyond degree with his familiarity with its details. He pointed to one paragraph and asked for the evidence justifying my conclusion. I did not have any very impressive body of observation to which I could appeal, so I stoutly asserted that it seemed to me 'a priori wahrscheinlich.' He turned on me with the final and demolishing remark, "A priori ist gar nichts wahrscheinlich." Of his writings and his contributions to science this is not the time nor context in which to attempt to speak. I have tried to read everything he ever wrote. To me his stimulating thinking has been a source of constant inspiration. I have no trivial comment and no adequate praise with which to express my personal indebtedness to the great movements in psychology which originated directly in his works.
WILBUR M. URBAN
It is with regret-and chagrin-that I realize that any little contribution to the Wundt memorial meeting that I might have hoped to make is now too late. I can offer as my apology only the fact that press of affairs in connection with taking up my new work at Dartmouth and getting settled in my new home put the matter temporarily out of my mind.
Though perhaps not in a position to judge adequately Wundt's contributions to psychology, I should have had some personal reminiscences which it would have been a pleasure to send, my admiration for the grand old man being very great indeed. But the opportunity being past, I can only express the hope that your celebration has been successful in every way and congratulate you on your contribution towards the restoration of the bonds of international science.
G. A. TAWNEY
One recalls Wundt well after twenty-five years, his strangely awkward movements, his rugged, farmer-like, fatherly presence, his keen but genial glance, and his head turned slightly to one side to bring one squarely into the focus of his one good eye. He gave the impression of being fairly tall, slightly stooped and thin, like an ascetic, but he was vivid, eager and human as ascetics never are. He usually wore a dark grey suit, his thin full beard was slightly grey beneath his prominent cheek-bones, and above his spectacles (with one of the lenses semi-opaque) he wore a soft black broad-brimmed hat. His rather quick angular movements were somehow redolent with a fine, almost solemn dignity; and yet he was always quick to see a joke and often smiled as he conversed. Indeed his heart seemed younger than my own; it was the heart of a sensitive, happy boy. Geniality and fatherliness were the most obvious characters of his attitude toward us.
His handwriting was almost unbelievably difficult and awkward, but not unpleasant to read. His hair was thin above his forehead. His voice was deep, but somewhat husky and nervous, as though it were a bit difficult for him to summon and control it; and yet he always seemed the soul of gentleness and good humor when he spoke to one and he was fond of genial conversation. With possibly one exception, I believe all his special students were fond of him, as I was. He was quick to excuse the shortcomings of others. Of a colleague who was cutting his classes, he said, "He is much worried concerning his son," and went on to explain the nature of the boy's illness as though Wundt himself had been the physician in charge of the lad.
Hence, I was thoroughly surprised and mystified by his answer to my question, "Do you think France and Germany will ever again be at war?" It was after a Sunday dinner in his home. His voice was almost raucous with mirth as he replied, "Oh, ja!" as if the prospect, or certainty, were pleasant to contemplate! It seemed utterly at variance with my impression of him, as does today his utterance in October, 1914.
It was rumored in his laboratory that he could be very hard toward anyone who joined issue with him concerning any of his published doctrines. When Külpe's Einleitung appeared, Wundt promptly published in the Philosophische Studien his article on Der psychophysische Materialismus, the name which he labeled Külpe's doctrine of mind and body, and Külpe had been until recently Wundt's first assistant. I had heard him say that it would probably be a good thing if Germany passed a law excluding all foreign students from her universities, on the ground that they acquire only a smattering of German, "not enough to enable them to read understandingly, for example, the Philosophische Studien."
He had a horror of being misunderstood and misrepresented, as who has not? But he no doubt lived in his intellectual activities to a rare degree; he probably identified himself with the children of his intellect as few men do: certainly he had a rare capacity for intellectual drudgery.
A Serbian who was Wundt's famulus was once discussing with me what I claimed to be a characteristic of American young men, namely, the effort to live up to a self-chosen standard of personal morality whether the customs of the community required it or not, when Wundt came into the room and Herr Arrer explained to him my thesis. 'Der americanische Idealismus,' commented Wundt, and laughed gently at my expense. He distinguished between Sittlichkeit and Sittsamkeit and applied the latter name to the attitude in question. This would seem to be in accord with his own Kantian doctrine of the formal character of duty, the content of duty being determined by customs and circumstances.
No doubt it is true that Wundt's personality was not profoundly ethical: his gentleness was paternalistic, not fraternal. He was thoroughly partisan in most of his public interests, and perhaps that is why he seemed to live in every structure of his body and mind as few men succeed in doing. Concerning the great philanthropies of American capitalists, he once remarked that German men of great wealth would not as a rule give so lavishly. "Das wäre ein Reichtum!" Even in his thinking he seemed to strive to be logically consistent with his own intellectual past. Yet, in his partisan way, he revered facts. I once took him the results of some experiments on the two-point illusion (Vexirfehler) in tactual perception. After glancing over my tables his comment was, 'unmöglich!' I made bold to ask the privilege of experimenting on him, and to my surprise he readily allowed me fifteen minutes out of his daily Sprechstunde in the laboratory. At the end of three weeks he asked, "Nun, Herr Tawney, was haben Sie gefunden"? I explained that, for the most part, I had been touching his arm, not with compass points as he supposed, but with cards of various lengths, and he thereupon asked me to write up the experiment, the results of which he had pronounced impossible.
In his lectures he spoke slowly from brief notes. There was a serene work-shop atmosphere in his hall, and although he spoke slowly and with a slight suggestion of weariness in his voice and manner he was never at a loss for words. All his classifications and definitions were perfectly articulated: indeed I believe a greater genius for classification never lectured on psychology. His mastery of his materials was complete, - too complete. The impression I retain of him is that of a master of the art of academic exposition. However, beyond setting for us a pattern to be copied, he did not stimulate thinking. He thought for us: there were no problems left over for us to try our teeth on. Lotze must have produced a very different effect upon the minds of his hearers. Nevertheless, Wundt was the most popular lecturer in Leipzig in my time, and the range of his lectures was extraordinary, including jurisprudence and the history of philosophy along with his systematic courses in logic and other philosophical and psychological disciplines. In fact, the wide range of his intellectual mastery was and is amazing, and there is in it a rebuke for the tendency of so many of the newer American colleges and universities to departmentalize and so specialize the work of academic instructors.
His memory seems to suggest that it is not at all impossible that a single individual should master the greater part of the scientific tradition of his time. And yet, a favorite maxim of his was, "Beschränkung macht den Meister!"
EDWARD M. WEYER
The invitation to take part in your memorial meeting, received on my return from France and Italy, contained a note of deep regret for me, since it was the first word to reach me of the death of my old teacher and friend, Professor Wundt.
It sent my memory back a score of years to his study where he lived and worked. Thirteen tables and desks of all shapes and sizes I believe there were in that sanctum-high, narrow, bookkeeper's desks and low, squat ones, and a big, round center table and a new, very American stand with a typewriter on it.
The scene presented a perfect orderliness, but I happen to know there was an adjoining lumber-room where reigned a perfect chaos of dusty books and pamphlets, that always suggested to me the vasty reaches that lie, in the Kantian transcendentalism, beyond the limits of human experience. The last time I ever saw Professor Wundt was in this room, where he demonstrated to me his newly acquired proficiency on the typewriter, a one- finger exercise to be sure, but not without great gain over his laborious process of writing with an inch-long pencil under the permanent handicap of writer's cramp.
How he maintained such titanic productivity in his literary work was a mystery to us all in those days, but the wonder of it has constantly grown through the years. How with that muscular defect and his pathetically poor eyesight behind dark glasses, he ever carried on unaided the mass of his writing is truly beyond my comprehension, as a mere feat of quantitative production, apart from the quality of the output. When you ask me what I consider to be one of Wundt's greatest contributions to psychology, a great many of his achievements spring to mind. Of course, historians of psychology will emphasize his service in putting the science on an experimental basis and of establishing the first psychological laboratory. With all modesty and no claim to greatness, we psychologists in America, his followers, might say he contributed us and our psychological laboratories.
Apart from these, however, if you want a personal opinion, I must say that the greatest single contribution of Professor Wundt's intellect to me consists in his work and his methods and conclusions in regard to the Human Feelings. More definitely than any of his predecessors, I think, he grasped the difficulties, logical and experimental, that one must meet in the investigation of the problems of the feelings. He recognized their position on the extreme borderline of possible scientific treatment.
Our Intellect, being our only instrument whereby scientific knowledge can be extended, appears ill-adapted to achieve a mastery of these phenomena. Wundt recognized the dangers in analyzing and classifying the feelings according to any of the familiar standards of scientific method, also he gave full credit to the feelings for their almost infinite variety, while he deplored the poverty of our language over against the necessity in the science of feeling of meeting the general scientific requirement as to accurate and full recording of results. Nor was he unmindful of the extreme difficulties to be overcome if really trustworthy experimentation is attempted in the region of the feelings and emotions.
But with full recognition of the difficulties and dangers, knowing well that the intellect is very apt, when the feelings are presented to it as subject-matter, to distort them, to convert feelings into ideas, which most assuredly the feelings are not, nevertheless he succeeded in advancing the problem more than any other single investigator and laid out a workable plan for guidance of future investigators in that province. His work was mainly in the analysis of the feelings, the objects which in all the world are probably the most refractory to logical analysis. He did much to establish Feeling in its proper relations to Intellect and Volition; and he did still more by his treatment of the Emotions. This appears to me to be the spear-point of all the Wundtian theory in the sphere of psychology, and that which is most likely in the future to advance our knowledge of the Life of the Spirit.
WALTER DILL SCOTT
My conception of Wilhelm Wundt is that of an inspiring teacher, a man of remarkable ability, and untiring industry and complete devotion to his work. Wundt was a man of very great width of vision, and made contributions in more fields than any other psychologist, I believe. When he began his work psychology was thought of as a branch of philosophy. His work changed it into an experimental science. This last service may well be regarded as his chief one.
BIRD T. BALDWIN
During the year 1906 the writer spent a summer session in Leipzig and attended Wundt's large lecture class, consisting of probably 200 students, who filled every available space in the room, several finding it necessary to stand throughout the lecture. No roll was called, no questions asked, no attendance taken and no grades given aside from the signing of the report book at the end of the summer term, as was the usual method of procedure in German universities. In accordance with the German custom, all students assembled before the lecturer arrived and when he entered there was a pronounced shuffling of the feet on the part of the students and a courteous recognition on the part of the professor. The class always considered Wundt a dignified, autocratic type of professor who valued formalities, and frequently spoke of him as Herr Geheimrat Professor Doctor Wilhelm Wundt. Professor Münsterberg held a similar opinion, and perhaps the writer was prejudiced in advance of the visit to Leipzig. Wundt was much less formal in his own home and kindly signed the photograph of himself which accompanies this article.
At this time (1906) Wundt was very much stooped, with poor eyesight, being 75 years of age; he lectured with a whispering voice which was difficult to follow in the large lecture room. The writer was much impressed with the careful, detailed analysis that Wundt always made and the fact that he always illustrated his lecture by means of experimental demonstrations whenever possible. Our laboratory experimentation at this time was in charge of Professor Wirth. Wundt was a great philosophical psychologist who had made the approach through the sciences of physiology and physics. Wirth was a careful, technical, laboratory type of psychologist.
In regard to accrediting Wundt with establishing the first psychological laboratory in 1879, as so many authorities do, it should, of course, be recognized that Weber, Fechner, Helmholtz and Wundt, in earlier experiments in psychophysics, anticipated this date. In America James, who had never studied with Wundt, was giving in 1875 a course in psychology with experiments, in Lawrence Hall at Harvard. James also used experimental demonstrations in his lectures on the physiology of the senses at Johns Hopkins, 1877-78, where Hall and Royce were his students, Hall later attending Wundt's course in Leipzig in 1879-80.
GEORGE F. ARPS
Wundt was well above seventy years of age when the last group of Americans, of which I was one, received their assignments to places in the laboratory in which a long list of distinguished psychologists had received their inspiration and training. Although this was fourteen years before his death, I remember the general feeling of uneasiness which pervaded the laboratory group, a feeling of apprehension, that the aged philosopher would not survive our period of residence at the university.
The cosmopolitan character of Wundt's degree students is a fair indication of the extent to which the reputation of the old laboratory had traveled.
In 1906, at the age of seventy-four, he assigned personally twenty-three subjects of research to as many candidates for the degree. The candidates were assembled in one of the rooms of the laboratory and, after a few introductory remarks the subject of investigation for each candidate was announced, together with a brief exposition of the thesis. The clearness of Wundt's mind at the advanced age of seventy-four, his general vigor and direct attitude in the assignment of each of the doctorate dissertations, lingers in my memory as a classical illustration of the fallacy of age retirement.
Wundt not only assigned the various theses but personally directed their development and finally approved or disapproved them. In approval and disapproval Wundt exhibited the well-known German trait of guarding zealously the fundamental principles of his standpoint. About one third of my thesis failed to support the Wundtian doctrine of assimilation, and promptly received elimination. Whatever may be the merits of German scientific dogmatism, it is no myth and flourished in undisguised fashion in the laboratory at Leipzig.
The reputation of Wundt secured for him a peculiar kind of reverence, a species of deferential treatment, which the German and certain of the foreign students easily created but which the American student could hot readily understand. It was altogether common to observe a small group of the 'intelligentia' often from remote corners of the earth, waiting for His Excellency to pass from the laboratory down the corridor to his lecture room. Disappointed ones were directed to take position at a certain place on Thomas Ring which he was known to pass daily with clock-like regularity. His signature was eagerly sought and was already merchantable in the hands of the professional collectors.
Wundt, in common with the rest of the German intellectuals, regarded with skepticism the English and American forms of social organization. His attitude and action during, and before, the World War are consistent with his belief in German Kultur. I prefer to pass this over and retain my picture of him as the modern Aristotle with respect to versatility if not with respect to originality. The wide sweep of his pen will endure in the records. His charming personality and kindliness of manner in surveying the progress of researches by foreigners, struggling with scientific German, must always remain an essential part of the memory of Wilhelm Wundt by those who were privileged to meet him in conference or share his hospitality.
I was a student at Leipzig for two years, 1909-n, and during this time I took much work under Wundt. I regard Wundt's systematization of the field of psychology as his most important work. For the first time Wundt gave us a system of psychology, and even although many of us may not agree with the system at the present time, I feel that it has been a great contribution to psychology.
In addition to this I feel that Wundt is to be credited with the encouragement of experimental work in psychology. It is to his influence that we can trace back most of the experimental work of the last thirty or forty years.
Wundt's decided interest in philosophy and the philosophical applications of psychology seem to me to have diverted him from the growing field of applied psychology and he was always more or less indifferent to this field. He cannot have been said to be antagonistic but he certainly was not enthusiastic about it. This even applies to the field of experimental education and I remember in Leipzig a warm discussion upon that point. Wundt eventually came out in support of the new Pedagogical Laboratory, and there was great joy among the teachers when he did so.
When I was at Leipzig, Wundt was of course advanced in years and he himself was not doing very much, if any, actual experimental work. His lectures were always crowded and the cosmopolitan make-up of his audiences was striking. Indeed, it seemed to me that there were more foreigners than Germans in his classes. This certainly was true in the laboratory, during the two years that I was there. What struck an English student was the great respect
and deference shown by students, professors and assistants to Wundt. To some of us this seemed to go to a ridiculous extent, but he himself took it all very much as a matter of course. As contrasted with this, was the fact that when we needed a laboratory key we had to see the 'Herr Geheimrat' himself and pay him our deposit of a mark or so. I mean it seemed so foolish for a dignified individual, such as he was, to trouble himself about such minor details. What impressed most of us was the ease with which he lectured and the clearness of his exposition in the class room, which was such a great contrast to the involved manner of his books. He always held the attention and interest of his classes and seemed himself to come to his class well prepared and deeply interested. Wundt always struck me as very unemotional and as such he probably lacks the enthusiastic friendships of other great teachers. No student seemed to get very close to him. His cold intellectuality seemed to make them stand back. I translated his short 'Introduction to Psychology,' but even in the necessary correspondence for that work I did not seem to approach any nearer to the man himself.
I was not at all surprised at the outbreak of the war to find Wundt lining up with the Pan- Germans. Although never expressed openly, it seemed to me in line with his attitude as to the greatness and excellence of German scholarship and, therefore, everything else German. I understand that this German attitude of his existed to the end. This narrowness of mind in a man who obtained distinction as a philosopher was a distinct blow to many of his students, and I am sure it led to a diminution of enthusiasm for the man himself, even although it could not diminish their respect for the psychologist.
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