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Wilhelm Wundt: The man who pioneered Psychology & Experimental Introspection

Updated on January 9, 2014

What were Wilhelm's Scientific Specialties?

  • Pathological Anatomy
  • Human Physiology
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Psychopathology
  • Founder of Introspection
  • Did you know, following his death, his students named his specialized science, "Holistic Psychology" due to misrepresentations.

Who was Wilhelm Wundt?

Wilhelm Wundt, born on the 16th of August, 1832, was a man who became the forefront in the field of early Psychology, but he himself declared himself a pioneer or "Father of Experimental Psychology". In his early years, after growing as a young teenager, growing as an educated adult around the year of 1851-56 through the University's of Berlin, Heidelberg, and Tubingen. This was all done in his pursuance and an educated drive to become the best in the field of pathological anatomy, although he is best known now for the field of psychology. In 1862, his smaller book, "Contributions to the Theory of Sense Perception", was published along with another in 1865 on Human Physiology. Wilhelm's educational and specialized drive to pursue all aspects of the human body, from psychology to anatomy, helped land him jobs from an assistant to professor at many different educational institutions. All of these educational positions were ultimately geared towards the experimental, biological and psychological sciences.


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What was his view on Experimental Introspection? Was there other Ancient historical views on the same Process?

Experimental Introspection, or the deeper inspection of one's feelings or deeper yet conscious thoughts, or being of an inverted nature to figure out one's own true meanings and thoughts. Introspection, as a whole, is to be observed with a state of consciousness but through one's own mind. This is a more direct way of stating this, and had his students do the same, using the experimental method. That is to not be influenced by outside sources and therefore making each introspection technique on the individual, it makes a unique experience possible.

This is spanned by various uninterrupted inner sensory processes such as:

  • Cognitive
  • Physical Bodily touch (Sensory)
  • Emotional
  • Visual Processes
  • Etc.

Although Wilhelm was the first to come about this Introspection theory in the field of psychology, there were ancient philosophers with similar views on the perspective. Plato, a Greek Philosopher with ties to his famed teacher and friend, Socrates, perceived with the question that, "...should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?". This is to say it is a human question that has been asked throughout history, that although there can be kindness and goodhearted individuals; others can be of a malicious nature. We as a species go on to ask how we can solve these issues and more openly know ourselves, and that could most certainly be considered an Experimental Introspection.

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Do you really know Wilhelm Wundt?

What was Wilhelm Wundt known for specifically?

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So what kind of books and publications did he come out with?

To put it briefly, as to put more emphasis on displaying his work of truly priceless work in so many various fields; Wilhelm Wundt was truly a literary prodigy in his own true regard. Below is a rather large list of just some of his publications:

  • Principles of Physiological Psychology (1873-1874 Two Volume Book)

This particular publication dealt mainly in the relations of Physiology and Psychology, displaying in a more clear the methods of using a form of Natural Science and relating it into psychological behaviors.

  • Outline of Psychology (1896)

The book above was less faceted on the Principles of his previous theories behind his last publication, but stressed a new form of scientific feelings and their reasoning.

  • Introduction to Psychology (1911)

The formal distribution of this book and it's material to the various universities gave a more detailed view of the way Psychology was taught in his transforming field, allowing for a presentation like way of drawing the new students into the field.

  • Folk Psychology (1912)

The reasoning behind this publication was to closely draw the line between culture and psychological reasoning and behavior. It used principles and examples found in such topic areas as the nature of man and his ability to speak language, perform arts of all kinds, religion, mythologies, and of course law and its it's foundations.


Did he really invent and create the first Psychology Lab?

Well, he did, and in a way that shocked the world, the German Psychological and Physiological Sciences peaking in a way that he saw an opportunity. In 1879, Wilhelm developed and created the first Experimental Psychology Lab in the Leipzig University based out of Germany. The subjects of Biology, or Physiological Anatomy and Psychology were merged into a new pioneering science that intrigued students from all over Europe. It is important to note that William James, an American based Psychologist, created his very own Psychology Lab at Harvard University, but because Wilhelm based his off research and experiments while William was a demonstration type facility, Wilhelm is credited with the first. In Conclusion, it is safe to say that Wilhelm Wundt was truly a revolutionary individual in the field of all sciences in and around the human body, both Psychological and Physiological.

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