Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (1832-1920)

Wilhelm Wundt was a German physician, physiologist, philosopher and professor. His father was a Lutheran minister. He studied in the University of Tubingen, University of Berlin and the University of Heidelberg. Wilhelm graduated from the University of Heidelberg with a doctorate in medicine, and then proceeded to join the university’s staff as an assistant to Helmholtz (a physicist and physiologist). It was while working as an assistant that he wrote his work “Contributions to the theory of sense perception”. Later on, he wrote again and this time published a text book on human physiology. In 1867, his endless efforts saw him become a professor in acquainting medical students with the exact physical needs for medical investigation, and then 1874 elevated him to being a professor of Inductive Philosophy in Zurich.

While working at the University of Heidelberg, Wundt came up with the first course ever taught in scientific psychology, a breakthrough that makes history document him as one of the founding fathers of psychology. He goes down in history as the first person to ever call himself a psychologist.  His lectures on psychology titled “Lectures on the mind of human and animals” got published between 1863 and 1864. Wundt, referred to as the father of experimental psychology, wrote the “principles of physiological psychology” (1874), a work that became one of the most important in the history of psychology.

He postulated that psychology is a science and went ahead to found the first ever formal laboratory for psychological research in the University of Leipzig (1879), which explored the nature of religious beliefs, identified mental disorders and abnormal behaviors, and sought for damaged parts of the brain. Through the works in the laboratory, he was able to establish psychology as a separate science from other topics. Wundt received a universal acclaim when he was ranked the 93rd most cited psychologist of the 20th century, alongside John Dewey, Edwin Boring and Amos Tversky.

The Philosophische studien (1881), a journal done by him, climbed its way up to being the first academic journal for psychological research. Wundt focused on three areas of mental functioning- thoughts, perception and feelings. The three form the rudiments studied today in cognitive psychology.

 The distinguishing characteristics of mind are of a subjective sort; we know them only from the contents of our own consciousness ~ Wilhem Wundt

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