Tag Archives: James

Early Wundt on Emotion

Wilhelm WundtThe April 2009 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences includes an article by Claudia Wassmann (U. Paris I) entitled “Physiological Optics, Cognition and Emotion: A Novel Look at the Early Work of Wilhelm Wundt.” Although most historical attention has focused on Wundt’s 1874 textbook (Principles of Physiological Psychology) and his later work at Leipzig, Wassman shines a light on his earlier (still untranslated)* book, Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology, written when he was still an assistant in the Heidelberg physiological laboratory of Helmholtz and Du Bois Reymond. There, he discussed a theory of emotion that, Wassman argues, grounded the debate that led up to William James’ famous 1884 theory of emotion. The abstract of the article is below. Continue reading Early Wundt on Emotion

Video: Origins of American Psychology

Chris Green, president of Division 26 of the American Psychological Association (and AHP collaborator), has produced a second short teaser on the history of American functionalist psychology. 

He describes this video as follows:

A short history of the origins of American Functionalist Psychology, from Chauncey Wright, through William James and John Dewey, to James Rowland Angell (~1870 to ~1910).

It is the much abridged version of A School of their Own (part 2), below. Continue reading Video: Origins of American Psychology

SHP Program at the APA Convention

Boston skyline at sunsetThe program of the Society for the History of Psychology (Div 26) at the APA convention, held this past weekend in Boston, featured talks by famed developmentalist Jerome Kagan and Harvard historian of science Anne Harrington.

Kagan, who is listed #22 in Hagbloom’s list of most influential psychologists of the 20th century, spoke about psychology’s traditional dependence on physics as the model of science to be followed, and argued that perhaps biology is a more relevant example. He also hinted at an extension of C. P. Snow’s famous “Two Cultures” lecture, suggesting that the social sciences Continue reading SHP Program at the APA Convention

Sorry, Wrong James

William JamesHave a look at this webpage (of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations). Check out the entry for the date 03/07/2007. It announces the winner of the biennial Wilhelm Wundt-William James award, jointly administered by the EFPA and the American Psychological Foundation.

Notice something amiss? Look closely at the photo (not here, but on the EFPA page). Yes, the person on the left hand side is Wilhelm Wundt. But the person the right hand side is decidedly not William James. It is, instead, Henry James Sr., Continue reading Sorry, Wrong James

“The Dysfunctional Jameses” (review)

House of WitsA new biography of the James family — House of Wits (2008) — paints an intimate portrait of (the other) William and Harry, along with their brothers and sister (and father and grandfather). Hermione Lee, Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature at Oxford, recently reviewed it for the New York Times:

The story has often been told, either as a family narrative or in individual biographies. What does Paul Fisher, a professor of English at Wellesley, bring to this crowded territory? His argument is that no single member of the family, however remarkable his or her achievement, can be understood separately from the others, and that there has as yet been no view of the family that takes into account late-20th-century work on same-sex love, gender, repression, illness, depression and alcoholism.

The treatment is not without its problems, though.

The book’s historical aim — a confused one — is to persuade us that the Jameses were typical Victorians yet also exceptions to every Victorian rule: “strange and florid paradoxes of passionate unconventionality and Victorian restraint.” Every condescending historical cliché about Victorianism is duly trotted out. We hear repeatedly of “the monumentally repressed 19th century,” the treatment by Victorian men of women as “second-class citizens,” the eroticism of Victorian sickbeds, Victorian starchiness, double standards, conventions, self-hatred and “ingrown … convolutions.” These stereotypes rush past entirely unexamined.

But, in many respects, Lee thinks it succeeds where others have failed. Continue reading “The Dysfunctional Jameses” (review)

Anniversary of James McKeen Cattell’s PhD

James McKeen CattellIt was on this day in 1886 James McKeen Cattell passed his doctoral examinations at the University of Leipzig. Cattell was the first American to graduate under Wilhelm Wundt’s supervision. G. Stanley Hall, however, had earlier spent time learning and working in the famed experimental psychology research laboratory — the first of its kind in the world — after earning a PhD at Harvard under William James. Ironically, Cattell had begun his graduate work under Hall’s supervision at Johns Hopkins, but left Baltimore for Leipzig after a dispute with Hall over his fellowship, which had been withdrawn and given to another Johns Hopkins student, John Dewey. Continue reading Anniversary of James McKeen Cattell’s PhD

Pragmatism in History

Sami PihlströmIn the Spring 2008 issue of Perspectives on Science, 16(1), Finish philosopher Sami Pihlström raises an interesting question: How many disagreements result solely from a different perspective of what counts as real? He uses the history of pragmatism as a case to make his point.

Pragmatism, originating with Charles Peirce’s writings on the pragmatic maxim in the 1870s, is a background both for scientific realism and, via the views of William James and John Dewey, for the relativist and/or constructivist forms of neopragmatism that have often been seen as challenging the very ideas of scientific rationality and objectivity. The paper shows how the issue of realism arises in pragmatist philosophy of science and how some pragmatists, classical and modern, have attempted to deal with it…. It is argued that the pragmatist tradition cannot avoid these tensions but is largely constituted by them.

This presents not only an interesting perspective on an aspect of what is typically included in our discipline’s history, but it also suggests some interesting ways to think about how we do history: Continue reading Pragmatism in History