Wilhelm Wundt's Psychology: Judgment Essay

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Wilhelm Wundt's Psychology: Judgment

It is almost impossible to write historically informed essays about any given topic in modern psychology without making reference to the work of Wilhelm Wundt. In part, this is because he produced a tremendous amount of written work (over 53,735 published pages1), and because he is widely regarded as the first experimental psychologist.2 So, it’s no surprise that Wundt has something to say about the psychology of judgment. Given the historical context in which his work took place, however, you might be surprised to learn that Wundt was keenly aware of both the problems with traditional associationist accounts of psychology and the temptations of psychologism. His system of psychology, while
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Then, he discusses the characteristics of sensations5 and provides a theory of perception. Finally, in part four, Wundt gets to the heart of the experimental psychology he hopes to found: it will consist of “…the investigation of conscious processes in the modes of connexion peculiar to them.”6 What are the modes of connection peculiar to conscious processes? This very much depends, of course, on the conscious process to which you are attending. As Robinson notes, for many forms of cognition (essentially, those that we share with the lower animals), Wundt was “…prepared to accept the broad features of associationism once these were extended to include what he called simultaneous association, and once the doctrine was refined to distinguish between similarity associations and contiguity associations.”7 In other words, for non-conceptual thought, Wundt was happy to accept an appropriately perfumed and cologned Humean account. There is an entire aspect of thought, however, which Wundt exempts from processes of this sort: logical thought, or what Wundt called “concept-ideas.” He explains:

…if cognition, recognition, and concept are so far alike it is just at this point that we are able also to lay our finger upon the essential difference between the first two processes and the third. The temporal series is always a similarity- or contiguity- association, in which (as the name implies) each idea persists as an independent unity. For objects

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