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Voluntarism in early psychology: the case of Hermann von Helmholtz

Liesbet De Kock (UGent)
(2014) HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY. 17(2). p.105-128
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Abstract
The failure to recognize the programmatic similarity between (post-)Kantian German philosophy and early psychology has impoverished psychology's historical self-understanding to a great extent. This article aims to contribute to recent efforts to overcome the gaps in the historiography of contemporary psychology, which are the result of an empiricist bias. To this end, we present an analysis of the way in which Hermann von Helmholtz's theory of perception resonates with Johann Gottlieb Fichte's Ego-doctrine. It will be argued that this indebtedness is particularly clear when focusing on the foundation of the differential awareness of subject and object in perception. In doing so, the widespread reception of Helmholtz's work as proto-positivist or strictly empiricist is challenged, in favor of the claim that important elements of his theorizing can only be understood properly against the background of Fichte's Ego-doctrine.
Keywords
Hermann von Helmholtz, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, perception, voluntarism, transcendental philosophy, KANT

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
De Kock, Liesbet. 2014. “Voluntarism in Early Psychology: The Case of Hermann Von Helmholtz.” History of Psychology 17 (2): 105–128.
APA
De Kock, Liesbet. (2014). Voluntarism in early psychology: the case of Hermann von Helmholtz. HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY, 17(2), 105–128.
Vancouver
1.
De Kock L. Voluntarism in early psychology: the case of Hermann von Helmholtz. HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY. 2014;17(2):105–28.
MLA
De Kock, Liesbet. “Voluntarism in Early Psychology: The Case of Hermann Von Helmholtz.” HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY 17.2 (2014): 105–128. Print.
@article{4248092,
  abstract     = {The failure to recognize the programmatic similarity between (post-)Kantian German philosophy and early psychology has impoverished psychology's historical self-understanding to a great extent. This article aims to contribute to recent efforts to overcome the gaps in the historiography of contemporary psychology, which are the result of an empiricist bias. To this end, we present an analysis of the way in which Hermann von Helmholtz's theory of perception resonates with Johann Gottlieb Fichte's Ego-doctrine. It will be argued that this indebtedness is particularly clear when focusing on the foundation of the differential awareness of subject and object in perception. In doing so, the widespread reception of Helmholtz's work as proto-positivist or strictly empiricist is challenged, in favor of the claim that important elements of his theorizing can only be understood properly against the background of Fichte's Ego-doctrine.},
  author       = {De Kock, Liesbet},
  issn         = {1093-4510},
  journal      = {HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY},
  keyword      = {Hermann von Helmholtz,Johann Gottlieb Fichte,perception,voluntarism,transcendental philosophy,KANT},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {105--128},
  title        = {Voluntarism in early psychology: the case of Hermann von Helmholtz},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0035978},
  volume       = {17},
  year         = {2014},
}

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