Article ID: CBB000930502

Physiological Optics, Cognition and Emotion: A Novel Look at the Early Work of Wilhelm Wundt (2009)


The German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt, who later founded experimental psychology, arguably developed the first modern scientific conception of emotion. In the first edition of Vorlesungen über die Menschen- und Thierseele (Lectures on human and animal psychology), which was published in 1863, Wundt tried to establish that emotions were essential parts of rational thought. In fact, he considered them unconscious steps of decision-making that were implied in all processes of conscious thought. His early work deserves attention not only because it is the attempt to conceptualize cognition and emotion strictly from a neural point of view but also because it represents the very foundation of the debate about the nature of emotion that revolved around William James' theory of emotion during the 1890s. However, this aspect of his work is little known because scholars who have analyzed Wundt's work focused on his late career. Furthermore, historical analysis interpreted Wundt's work within a philosophical framework, rather than placing it in the context of German medical and physiological research in which it belongs. In addition, Wundt's early works are hardly available to an English speaking audience because they were never translated. Key Words: physiology * emotion * cognition * perception * experimental psychology * epistemology * facial expressions * Wilhelm Wundt * Charles Darwin * William James

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Gary Hatfield; (2020)
Wundt and “Higher Cognition”: Elements, Association, Apperception, and Experiment (/isis/citation/CBB419943096/)

Book Mandler, George; (2007)
A History of Modern Experimental Psychology: From James and Wundt to Cognitive Science (/isis/citation/CBB000772113/)

Article Wade, Nicholas J.; (2010)
The Darwins and Wells: From Revolution to Evolution (/isis/citation/CBB001034932/)

Article Enrico Giora; Wilhelm Büttemeyer; (2020)
Roberto Ardigò as a Forerunner of George M. Stratton’s Experiments on Inverted Vision (/isis/citation/CBB233963189/)

Article Greenwood, John D.; (2003)
Wundt, Völkerpsychologie and Experimental Social Psychology (/isis/citation/CBB000330537/)

Article Ayala, Christopher; Borawski, Steven; Miller, Jonathon; (2008)
Replication and Pedagogy in the History of Psychology V: The Metronome and Wilhelm Wundt's Search for the Components of Consciousness (/isis/citation/CBB001032874/)

Book Rieber, Robert W; Robinson, David K.; (2001)
Wilhelm Wundt in History: The Making of a Scientific Pyschology (/isis/citation/CBB000101406/)

Book Keen, Ernest; (2001)
A History of Ideas in American Psychology (/isis/citation/CBB000102301/)

Book Robinson, Daniel N.; (1982)
Toward a science of human nature: Essays on the psychologies of Mill, Hegel, Wundt, and James (/isis/citation/CBB000024850/)

Article Thomas McNally; (2016)
More Than a Feeling: Wittgenstein and William James on Love and Other Emotions (/isis/citation/CBB108623002/)

Article Bannan, John F.; (2006)
James's Joke and the Beginnings of the Science of Emotion (/isis/citation/CBB000670378/)

Article Wassmann, Claudia; (2014)
“Picturesque Incisiveness”: Explaining the Celebrity of James's Theory of Emotion (/isis/citation/CBB001420015/)

Article Dibattista, Liborio; (2007)
La questione delle emozioni: Charles François-Franck (1849--1921) contro la teoria di James-Lange (/isis/citation/CBB001032703/)

Article Francesco Crapanzano; (2018)
“Strange Trajectories”: Naive Physics, Epistemology and History of Science (/isis/citation/CBB305738052/)

Book Michael Davis; (2006)
George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Psychology: Exploring the Unmapped Country (/isis/citation/CBB890472950/)

Authors & Contributors
Wassmann, Claudia
Giora, Enrico
McNally, Thomas
Crapanzano, Francesco
Wade, Nicholas J.
Staubermann, Klaus B.
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
History of Psychology
Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science
Science and Education
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
MIT Press
Kluwer Academic
Columbia University Press
University of Chicago
Experimental psychology
Emotions; passions
Visual perception
Wundt, Wilhelm Max
James, William
Darwin, Charles Robert
Piaget, Jean
Skinner, Burrhus Frederic
Ribot, Théodule Armand
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
18th century
United States
Great Britain
Universität Leipzig

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment