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Dictionary of the History of Ideas

Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas

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The term “psychology” (from psyche, soul; logos,
science), invented only in the sixteenth century by
an obscure Marburg professor, Goclenius, was rarely
used until the eighteenth century. Furthermore, this
etymological definition, “science of the soul,” hardly
approaches the present meaning of the term psychol-
ogy, since the word “science” here meant an a priori
theory which was indifferent to the experimentation
maintained by scientific psychology around 1860; and
also, the word “soul” is a term which psychology has
generally rejected because of the metaphysical and
religious overtones it arouses.

The idea of the soul, on the other hand, has a much
longer history which undoubtedly originated in such
universal phenomena as: birth and death, sleep, faint-
ing-fits, dreams, deliriums, etc. In primitive thought,
the soul appeared to have a magic correlation—which
varied in different societies—with forces of life. Soul
was attributed to animals as well as to man since
animals also breathe and bleed. For the visible sign
of death is to breathe one's last breath or to bleed to
death. Also in Genesis it is said that the Eternal God,
when He created man out of the dust of the Earth,
“breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and man
became a living creature.” What becomes of this mys-
terious soul which inhabits the body when the body
becomes nothing more than a cadaver? The primitive
mind answered this question with all sorts of imaginary
pictures: a kingdom of spirits, migration of souls, ghosts
of the departed, etc.


In the West, Greece was the cradle of scientific
knowledge insofar as certain minds, as early as the sixth
century B.C., showed the necessity for a rational ex-
planation of man and of the world, though, in the
beginning aspects of both were still not clearly distin-
guished. The “Sophists” (Protagoras, Gorgias, et al.)
were to be the first to unveil what is today called
“human subjectivity,” by bringing to light a problem
inherent in every human being as such, that is to say,
as a subject who has feelings and desires, who is capable
of asking himself questions about himself and about
the world, and whose very existence conditions at the
same time the questions and the answers. Their great
antagonist, Socrates, was to provide moral significance
for this interrogation of man by himself. Socrates'
dialectical irony (maieutic) inspired by the inscription
on the Delphic Temple: “Know thyself” (Gnothi
) brought to introspective analysis a method
that lent itself to generalization. This method actually
laid the foundation for introspective psychology which
was to undergo, in future centuries, countless varia-
tions, all of them inscribed on the royal road opened
up by the Athenian philosopher. The limits of Socratic
inquiry are the very same ones of clear conscience of
which Socrates was the apostle, and which prevailed
in Western thought until the end of the eighteenth

Under Plato Socratic teaching blossomed into a
grandiose metaphysics, affirming the eternity of the
soul and its supermundane destiny. In Aristotle there
was a more clearly manifested concern to limit the
field of psychology before it was a proven science; his
works, particularly De anima, are rich with observa-
tions which form the basis of classical psychology.
Reproaching Plato for conceiving the soul in the body
as a pilot in a boat, Aristotle saw in the soul the active
principle of life, the organizing power already present
in plants which are capable of feeding themselves and
of growing; the soul guarantees the animal the power
to desire and to move itself, and guarantees to man
the power to think and to will. The views of the great
idealistic Greek trilogy (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle)
continued to feed the principal current of Western
thought from the advent of Christianity until the
Renaissance. When it made the shift from ancient
culture, Christianity attributed in principle a greater
value to the soul than to earthly matters; and inasmuch
as Christianity emphasized the inner life and examina-
tion of one's conscience, it created a favorable climate
for the development of introspective psychology,
which Socrates had inaugurated and the Stoics had
promoted further.

But the inventive mind of the Greeks opened up
many other vistas. It was thus that the great physician
Hippocrates, in the fifth century B.C., appeared to be
the initiator of clinical observation and of character-
ology; and the philosopher Epicurus (341-270), who,
in his quest for inward tranquility, concerned himself
with interactions between the body and the soul, as
in psychotherapy. These interactions led him to think
that the soul and the body are of the same nature, that
the soul is material like the body, but composed of
more subtle atoms. Such a materialistic solution was
to reappear in the modern world.


With the great discoveries and the new ideals of the
Renaissance there was a transformation in the rela-
tionship of man to nature. The cultural upheaval was
illustrated by the persecution and burning of Giordano
Bruno, apostle of the theory of the infinity and evolu-
tion of the world, as well as by the sentence to retract


imposed in 1633 on Galileo Galilei, creator of mathe-
matical physics. The great supervening transformation
inspired in particular the work of René Descartes, who
is a better illustration in this period of the breaking
away from the ancient Greek and medieval modes of
thought. A mathematician as well as a philosopher,
Descartes reduced the physical universe to matter and
space (Body and Extension). Convinced that the laws
of Nature are, in principle, reducible to those of mo-
tion, he treated biology as though it were a branch
of physics. The functions of living bodies would thus
result mechanically from the arrangement of the
organs. The animal to whom Descartes refused to grant
any consciousness is for him nothing but a machine,
an automation. And what is man? Having discovered
the basis of all knowledge in Cogito ergo sum and the
reality of thought, whose immateriality made it impos-
sible for thought to be reduced to matter and space,
Descartes attributed a unique absolute originality to
the soul. By thus affirming the coexistence of the two
principles of space (res extensa) and thought (res
), the Cartesian doctrine was also able to foster
the revival of introspective psychology as well as
mathematical physics devoted to the knowledge and
mastery of the external world. This second mechanistic
goal was finally to dominate European thought to the
point where the cogito, and all that Descartes derived
from it appeared as a kind of superfluous appendix.

His contemporary, Thomas Hobbes, had already
counterpoised his naturalistic conception of man in
which man's soul is assimilated to the physiology of
the brain and nervous system (De corpore, 1655; De
1656). This one-sided Cartesian development
marked French materialism in the eighteenth century.
A work of the physician La Mettrie (L'homme machine,
1748), inspired by Descartes, sanctioned the extension
of automatism to include thought (res cogitans), the
mechanism to which Descartes had reduced animal
consciousness. The theory of conditioned reflexes and
contemporary behaviorism fit well into this perspec-
tive. The discussions which Cartesian dualism stirred
up about the relationships of the soul to the body were
aimed especially at the origin of ideas. When the
empiricist John Locke maintained (Essay Concerning
Human Understanding,
1690) that all ideas come from
experience, Leibniz, the rationalist, answered (Nou-
veaux essais sur l'entendement humain,
1714) that
intelligence is a necessary condition for every experi-
ence. The question in point was basically one of know-
ing if and to what extent reason could dispense with
direct observation of facts. Locke's influence, which
was very great in France in the eighteenth century,
had a particularly strong effect on Condillac (Essai sur
l'origine des connaissances humaines,

In Great Britain, Locke's empiricism paved the way
for David Hume's theories, which brought to light the
role that repetition and habit played in knowledge;
and also the theories of John Stuart Mill, author of
an “associationist” system which was to have great
repercussions on the Continent.

In the meantime the philosopher Immanuel Kant had
cut through the Locke-Leibniz debate by revolu-
tionizing the epistemological problem (Kritik der
reinen Vernunft,
1781). When Kant demonstrated that
knowledge is necessarily the result of a synthetic activ-
ity of the mind, his critics attacked certain illusory
ideas pertaining to spiritual substance, such as the soul
or God. Kant's Critiques thus undermined that
ontological psychology which Christian Wolff, in
keeping with the prevailing current of theological
philosophical thought in Europe, still superimposed
(Psychologia rationalis, 1734) on an empirical psychol-
ogy, which he held to be valid on the level of sensory
experience (Psychologia empirica, 1732).

Though repudiated by Kant in the domain of knowl-
edge, the value of sensibility (le sens intime) was
reaffirmed by Maine de Biran (1766-1824) and by the
protagonists of the French “eclectic” school including
Victor Cousin, Royer-Collard, and Théodore Jouffroy.
Sensibility and introspection remained the surest basis
for psychology, which they continued to regard as that
part of philosophy whose goal was the study through
direct consciousness of the soul and its aptitudes. In
Germany, the Kantian condemnation of metaphysics
did not prevent it from reemerging, but rather supplied
metaphysics with the impetus and the motives for an
unusually vigorous renewal (Fichte, Schelling, Hegel,
Schopenhauer), giving new life in another form to the
Leibnizian notion of the unconscious.


After this grandiose speculative flight, comparable
only to that of ancient Greece, the human mind seemed
to have had its wings clipped. A sluggishness was
evident with regard to the great rational systems at
the time when the more empirical systems continued
to advance and to discredit those conceptions of nature
evolved by the post-Kantians. Already J.-F. Herbart
(1776-1841), a contemporary adversary of Hegel,
without claiming to repudiate metaphysics, had
opposed the dialectic method of Hegel with the idea
of psychology as an exact science to which mathe-
matics could be applied.

In the new cultural climate, the sciences seemed to
be assured of having the last word. Under the influence
of the transformist hypotheses (inheritance of acquired
characteristics) of Lamarck (1744-1829) and especially
of Darwin (On the Origin of Species by means of


Natural Selection, 1859), the idea that there was only
a difference of degree between man and animal, which
had already enticed Hobbes and continued through the
eighteenth century, prevailed in France. The spiritual-
ist demands seemed to have fallen into a state of decay
and scarcely carried any weight any longer in the face
of the attraction which the evolutionism of Darwin
and Spencer, as well as Auguste Comte's positivism
(Cours de philosophie positive, 1830-42), exerted on
minds which had been won over to the idea of universal
determinism. It was the age when Taine explained
everything by the concomitant influences of race, time,
and place, when Renan wrote on the future of science
(L'avenir de la science, 1860), and when in the very
country of Hegel the order was issued: Keine Meta-
physik mehr
(“No more metaphysics”). It was rather
a question of substituting a metaphysical materialism
for a spiritualistic metaphysics in the manner of
Ludwig Büchner (1824-99) and of E. H. Haeckel
(1834-1919), who glorified the ideas of matter and
factual experience. In short, the times were ready to
claim a scientific psychology inspired by the biology
which was making constant progress and conquering
many new areas of knowledge, structure, function,
specific nervous energy, reflex arc, the speed of nerve
stimulation, the role of certain localized cerebral re-
sponses, etc. The creation of psychology as a science
posed the problem of measurement in a field which
seemed preeminently refractory to measurement,
namely, the domain of the creative spirit in philosophy
and the sciences; but because scientists in astronomy
and in optics were correctly preoccupied with this
problem, the transition from physics to psychology was
encouraged. It had been apparent for a long time that
the notations which astronomers used to record the
exact moment of the passage of a star to the meridian
did not agree, and that the same observer always
reported the same type of error. This personal equation
brought about the passage from the external phenom-
ena of sound and light to the implied mental processes,
that is to say, to the study of hearing and sight; and
especially to conceive experiments suitable for
measuring reaction time. This is how the illustrious
scientist Hermann Helmholtz undertook the explana-
tion of certain perceptual phenomena in his physio-
logical interpretation of Newton's optics and acoustics
(Handbuch der physiologischen Optik, 1856-66); this
led the anatomist and physiologist E. H. Weber
(1795-1878) to go from physiology to psychology.
Weber observed that sensation, under the influence of
an increasing or decreasing continuous stimulation,
varied in a discontinuous manner, and that the amount
of stimulation corresponding to a differential threshold
is in a constant and determinable relation to the initial
stimulation. To Weber's Law the philosopher G. T.
Fechner (1801-87), who was determined to introduce
measurement into psychology, was to give a more
precise mathematical formulation: sensation increases
or varies directly with the logarithm of the stimulus
(Elemente der Psychophysik, 1860).

The conclusions of the psychophysicists were to be
refuted by the French philosopher Henri Bergson who
attempted to demonstrate (Essai sur les données
immédiates de la conscience,
1889) that the stimulus
could actually be measured but not the sensation itself,
and that the relationship of equivalence established
between the two was purely conventional.

Psychophysics having revealed its insufficiency, in
the sense that Weber and Fechner had intended, be-
cause it neglected the physiological intermediaries
between physical stimuli and sensations, was to be
dethroned by psychophysiology, hinged exactly on the
correlations between physical and physiological states
(glandular, nervous, cerebral). This was the direction
in which Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) was going to
lead psychology. A physiologist of great culture, his
ambition was to construct psychology as an experi-
mental science, and its creation is rightly attributed
to him. Under the influence of Cartesianism he claimed
the specificity of the psychic fact against those who
tended to absorb it into physiology; he invoked
“parallelism” for the relationships between psychical
phenomena and their organic, nervous and cerebral
foundation (Grundzüge der physiologischen Psycholo-
1874). When his researches proved to him that the
experimental method, efficacious for the study of the
contents of consciousness, did not permit the appli-
cation of the laws of the higher processes of the
psychical life, he undertook the study of the psychology
of peoples by a comparative method (Völkerpsycholo-
1900-20). The laboratory which he set up in
Leipzig in 1879 provided with two assistants and per-
fectly equipped, attracted many foreign students. Such
was the case also with G. Stanley Hall and J. McKeen
Cattell, who in their turn set up laboratories in the
United States; William James, whose work was to be
a decisive contribution to the creation of American
psychology, had already established a laboratory at

In France Théodule Ribot, who held the works of
Wundt in great esteem (La psychologie allemande
1879), advanced experimental psy-
chology by theoretically endowing the new science,
inspired by the biological sciences, with legal status
in a complete break with tradition. In Switzerland
Théodore Flournoy (1854-1920), a friend of William
James, who turned his interests toward the new science,
became the first one to occupy the chair in experi-


mental psychology at Geneva with a laboratory pro-
vided for it. His young cousin Édouard Claparède
(1873-1940), who studied in the department of the new
science before he himself achieved fame, reported that
about half a dozen neophytes, in the wake of Fechner
and Wundt, had attempted to record reaction time and
to determine thresholds of sensation without really
understanding the significance of such experiments.
Meanwhile in Germany, about 1885, a new path was
opened up by certain works, especially by those of H.
Ebbinghaus (1850-1909), on memory (Ueber das
1885), which demonstrated that it was
possible to study psychical phenomena directly without
having to study them from the viewpoint of their
physiological concomitants. There were psychologists
at that time who wanted to use the experimental
method of introspection which others had wanted to
banish from the laboratories. Wundt estimated that
such a method was impracticable, and he was to dis-
avow his pupil and assistant Ostwald Külpe when he
adopted the introspective method to become the leader
of researches which, under the name of “Thought-
psychology” made the reputation of the Wurtzburg
School (Külpe, Marbe, Ach, Messer, and Bühler).

Those researches implied raising questions again
about the empiricist and sensualist systems inherited
from the English and from Condillac, who, intending
to explain the operations of mental life, including its
connection with ideas and principles of reason, by the
mechanical association of ideas, were able to see in
thought only the end-product of the association of
images. To have recourse to experimentally induced
introspection was to be content no longer with record-
ing the excitation to which a subject was exposed, and
his reaction. It was asking him to take an active part
in the experiments, to observe, and to give an account
of what they produced in him. From their researches,
conducted in this way, the Wurtzburgians had to con-
clude that it was necessary to admit the existence of
a pure thought without pictures or words.

The reaction against the tendency to reduce mental
life to a sort of mosaic was equally evident in other
places. In France Alfred Binet (1857-1911), who knew
intimately the methods used by the pioneers of scien-
tific psychology in Germany, judged those researches
to be excessively narrow; he was actually the first to
have used controlled introspection (L'étude expéri-
mentale de l'intelligence,
1903). Also, in Switzerland
Édouard Claparède envisioned a much broader psy-
chology capable of explaining mental behavior guided
by intelligence (L'association des idées, 1903); he was
to qualify his own theory as “functional,” meaning by
function the relationship between the psychological
fact to be explained and the total behavior pattern.
His ideas were closely related to those of the Swiss
psychologist Pierre Bovet (of Neuchâtel). These two
men together created in 1912 the Jean-Jacques
Rousseau Institute which Jean Piaget now directs under
the name of Institut des Sciences de l'Éducation.

Meanwhile, in Great Britain important researches
were to bring renewed vigor to the development of
the new science. There were, for example, the work
of Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton (1822-1911), whose
researches on individual differences and heredity
introduced the statistical method in psychology, and
the work of the illustrious neurologist John Hughlings
Jackson (1834-1911), inspired by the evolutionism of
Spencer, which considered psychical functions as form-
ing a hierarchy in which “mental illnesses” repre-
sented disintegration. The views of Jackson, which
Théodule Ribot (1839-1916) had already adopted in
France in his works on mental disturbances, in the sense
of the inability of the functions themselves to reveal
the levels of organization imperceptible in the normal
state (Maladies de la personnalité, 1885), are the most
important in psychophysiology and in psychopathol-
ogy. This same kind of medico-psychological approach
to problems was used again by the great psychologist
Pierre Janet (1859-1947) in whose work a hierarchy
of real functions is made evident and is sustained by
a synthetic power requiring a psychological force and
“tension.” All these ideas were to play a part in the
reaction which occurred in medicine and in the human
sciences in general against mechanism in favor of a
synthetic orientation. This orientation received a deci-
sive thrust forward by the works of Sigmund Freud,
which were at first ignored or contested. He was the
discoverer of subconscious mechanisms in psychical life
(Die Traumdeutung, 1900; Zur Psychopathologie des
1901), and in particular he espoused
psychosomatic medicine.

Besides, the conclusions of the Wurtzburg school had
posed the current psychological problem of thought
and language, that could hardly be separated from
the ideas which stimulated the phenomenological re-
searches of Husserl (Logische Untersuchungen, 1901).
He found conflicts between his researches and the
current of thought which characterized scientific psy-
chology in its early stages: the naturalism of Wundt
and the introspection of Külpe. Even in the years when
Wundt's researches were highly favored in Germany,
some minds were repelled by the naturalistic concep-
tion of psychology. One of these was Franz Brentano,
who influenced Husserl by introducing the notion of
“intention” in psychical facts; also Wilhelm Dilthey
strongly opposed psychology as a natural science by
proposing a “psychology of understanding” (verste-
hende Psychologie
) which was less preoccupied with


determining laws than understanding man and his
capacity to attain self-consciousness (Ideen über eine
beschreibende und zergliedernde Psychologie,
Dilthey's views fell in line with Husserl's phenomenol-
ogy, thus hastening the reaction to the objectivist psy-
chology by the philosophies based on “existence”
(Heidegger, Jaspers, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty). The
theme of “understanding” as opposed to “explanation”
had already appeared in the work of Karl Jaspers in
1913 in Allgemeine Psychopathologie; he distinguished
in pathological phenomena the organic processes,
which yield to causal explanation, from personality
developments, which involve a living meaning which
it is incumbent upon the psychiatrist to understand.

This same theme again acquired a fundamental
importance in Freudian psychoanalysis, at one and the
same time a therapeutic technique, an investigation
of the unconscious, and a theory of man in society,
whose implications have upset our cultural life. Split
into rival schools, of Alfred Adler in 1910 and then of
C. G. Jung in 1913, which branched out from the
original trunk by challenging the Freudian conception
of the “libido” and sexuality, Freudian psychoanalysis
crops up in American social psychology. The views
of the American “culturalists” (Karen Horney, H. S.
Sullivan, Erich Fromm), who have reinterpreted psy-
choanalysis on the basis of more recent sociological
and anthropological data, have had a considerable
repercussion in continental Europe. These views have
been criticized by Herbert Marcuse (Eros and Civili-
zation, A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud,
1955), who
reproaches them for vulgarizing Freudianism and for
making it lose its corrosiveness by sacrificing it to a
kind of conformism.

The current tendency, which American social psy-
chology represents, is characteristic of a general
phenomenon in our culture: an eclecticism rooted in
different scientific fields and particularly in psycho-
logical schools initially opposed to one another in
methodology. For example, the Russian school of Ivan
Pavlov arose out of a decidedly neurophysiological
orientation. His discoveries about the mechanism of
conditioned reflexes, popularized to some extent by the
works of W. Bechterew (1857-1927), had such a
repercussion that many persons believed it would be
possible henceforth to explain the human psyche itself
by the role played by conditioning. It was then that
John B. Watson created “behaviorism,” a strongly ob-
jective psychology (Behavior: an Introduction to Com-
parative Psychology,
1914). He was convinced that the
pioneers of the new science had sinned through their
timidity with respect to the spiritualistic tradition. This
tendency which favored the exclusion of subjectivity
was shaken when the followers of the Gestalttheorie
(Wertheimer, Köhler, Koffka) asserted that subjectivity
could not be eliminated; their argument implied at the
same time the holistic idea of Gestalt. Beginning with
the study of perception, they showed that its content
is always a “Gestalt,” meaning that the content is
organized in such a way as to form a whole, and that
the first immediately given datum furnished through
experience is not the sensation but the “form,” meaning
an organization present in physical systems (configura-
tion, melodies, intelligent acts, reasonings, etc.) as well
as an organization in which the properties of the parts
depend on the total context.

The Gestalt theory, as also phenomenology and psy-
choanalysis, inspired the work of the neurologist Kurt
Goldstein, whose description of the organism as a
unified whole (Der Aufbau das Organismus, 1934) also
contributed to the new synthetic organization of the
human sciences.

In the same way, in animal psychology, gestaltist
views had had decisive repercussions. Wolfgang Köhler,
one of the pioneers, had the opportunity of devoting
himself during World War I, on the island of Teneriffe,
to experimenting with higher apes under conditions
much less artificial than he had previously had. He
concluded that the apes possessed an “insight,” that
is to say, a total, intuitive, and concrete discernment
which manifested itself in their ability to reorganize
the perceived field in order to resolve certain practical

Previously, aside from the Pavlov experiments and
those experiments which psychology had never aban-
doned (destruction of organs or the removal of cerebral
regions, etc.), animal psychology had studied animal
behavior in a manner which intended to prove, through
a kind of fear of anthropomorphism, that all forms of
intelligence had to be excluded. Thus it was that the
interpretations of J. Loeb (Die Tropismen, 1913) on the
basis of experiments done with lower animals, estab-
lished the neologist ideas of “phototropism” (orien-
tation or displacement reaction in the direction of
light), and of “thermotropism” (reaction directed to-
wards a source of heat), to explain animal and perhaps
also human behavior. But because it appeared to be
difficult to refuse to credit the animal with at least
an activity of its own, which was attested by his group-
ings and by his progressive adaptation in learning, the
experimenters, on the basis of experiments performed
with contraptions of boxes and labyrinths, chose to
include “trial and error” in their theory, according to
which the animal, in a difficult position in the course
of random activities would, by accident, find the effec-
tive response which is established through reflex action.

After the researches of Köhler demonstrated the
weakness of conclusions drawn from artificial experi-


ments, animal psychology concerned itself particularly
with the study of animal behavior in its natural habitat
(ethology). The researches which they undertook re-
vived all the traditionally debated problems concerning
the innate nature and the acquired characteristics of
the animal, and particularly the problems posed by
Konrad Lorenz, who conducted experiments which led
him to discover “imprinting” (Einprägung), i.e., a sort
of “imprint” or “impregnation” at birth such as would
cause young birds to cling, as though to their mothers,
to the first of those who feed or rear them on being
hatched. Also, the researches of the Dutch psychologist
Buytendijk, who offered in opposition to the method
of causal explanation a phenomenological interpre-
tation of animal behavior, opened new avenues of
approach which lead into the human sciences.

The role which psychoanalytical thought played in
the broadening of psychological perspectives cannot
be overestimated. The theme of psychoanalytic criti-
cism with respect to the “official” psychology, which
clung to the superstition of the laboratory and consid-
ered as most essential the determination of the laws
which govern psychic life in general, was that it was
necessary to recognize individual differences. As a
result of this criticism the plan to establish “character-
ology” as an autonomous psychology appeared. A
number of theories were born whose bases varied ac-
cording to the morphological typologies they dealt
with (Kretschmer, Viola, Pende, Sigaud, MacAuliffe,
Louis Corman, etc.), or they were based on
“properties” of fundamental “factors” (Heymans,
Wiersma, Le Senne, Gaston Berger), or were opposed
to “atypical” doctrines inspired by philosophical con-
ception (Ludwig Klages).

In a general way European psychologists are more
concerned with character than are American psycholo-
gists who are more preoccupied with personality and
who often consider both terms synonymous (Gordon
Allport). This means that alongside the tendency to
discover types made up of basic traits to which any
individual can be reduced, there is another tendency
to consider personality in its temporal development,
and which sees in personality the power of integration
where the guiding elements can only be grasped in
a dialectical process of interactions. In the first tend-
ency, character is considered an invariant, a funda-
mental structure on which an individual's history is
grafted; in the second, it is only the expression of a
crystallized aspect of the personality.

The ambiguity in this area reflects that of psychology
in general. Should psychical facts be “explained” by
the method of the natural sciences? Or should person-
ality rather be understood in its development? At one
time the situation of their science appeared so critical
to certain German psychologists that they talked of
a crisis (K. Bühler, Die Krise der Psychologie, 1927).
Though it might have been a crisis, it did not prevent
the psychological sciences from moving forward, but
at the mercy of a growing complication of problems
and proliferation of experiments. There still exists an
official psychology, which while following in the steps
of the founders has been accumulating an imposing
mass of works both theoretical and experimental.
However, it appears undeniable that if psychology
remains confined to laboratory research by making a
sort of fetish of experimentation and scientific rigor,
it will lose sight of the forest for the trees; and it risks
losing contact with concrete, human reality by
obstinately studying only special processes and func-
tions. The extension of methods and research is a con-
stant reminder of the need not to lose sight of the life
of the mind in its concrete manifestations.

Moreover, another important aspect of the situation
is the fact that henceforth the psychological sciences
are intimately connected with practical life. Psycho-
logical discoveries are utilized for all sorts of problems:
educational, therapeutic, professional, commercial,
advertising, military, etc. This situation tends to give
research a purely “operational” direction or bent; and
the danger here is to confine the mind within the
existing social system, to identify the person with func-
tion by reducing the human subject to its ability to
measure, to experiment, and to calculate. But from the
standpoint of principles, the overlapping of data com-
ing from rival schools, for example, in the study of the
whole personality in which we find concepts of various
sources, behavioristic (apprenticeship), Gestaltist (unity
of self), psychoanalytical (lived situations), culturalists
(socio-cultural environment), etc., a new reflection in
depth has been imposed and made its appeal.

It becomes more and more clear that human behav-
ior, taken as a whole, is so complex that any doctrinal
idea claiming to be exclusive is only an illusion; in
short, it is clear that psychological sciences must guard
themselves above all against dehumanizing man, and
must recognize that all their hypotheses are entailed
by an anthropology in perpetual process, and therefore
necessarily incomplete.


Edwin G. Boring, A History of Experimental Psychology
(New York, 1929). George Sidney Brett, A History of Psy-
3 vols. (London and New York, 1912-32), reprinted
in briefer form, ed. R. S. Peters (London, 1953). Rudolf
Eucken, Die Lebensanschauungen der grossen Denker, eine
des Lebensproblems der Menschenheit-Entwicklungs-
geschichte—von Plato bis zur Gegenwart,
11th ed. (Leipzig,
1917). Laignel-Lavastine, ed., Histoire générale de la


Médecine, 3 vols. (Paris, 1938-49). F.-L. Mueller, Histoire
de la psychologie de l'antiquité à nos jours
(Paris, 1960);
idem, La psychologie contemporaine (Paris, 1963). Maurice
Reuclin, Histoire de la psychologie (Paris, 1957). M. F.
Sciacca, ed., L'Anima (Cremona, 1954), various contributors;
with ecclesiastical approval.


[See also Association of Ideas; Behaviorism; Dualism;
Evolutionism; Man-Machine; Positivism; Psychological
Ideas in Antiquity;Psychological Theories in American