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But were these developments groundbreaking enough to advocate for pre-dating the beginnings of scientific psychology?In the years 1762–1780, the newly appointed minister Franz Friedrich von Fürstenberg set out to modernize the state's agriculture, public budget, police, military, jurisdiction, and education (Esser, 1842).That is, while other pioneers of a scientific and experimental approach to psychological questions such as Weber (1795–1878), Fechner (1801–1887) or Helmholtz (1821–1894) did not consider themselves psychologists, Ueberwasser and Wundt both attempted to establish psychology as an independent field of study, explicitly portraying themselves as psychologists.In addition to these structural similarities, Ueberwasser's and Wundt's conceptions of scientific psychology also converge on a number of critical theoretical aspects.For instance, both emphasize the utility of physiological processes for understanding psychology, while simultaneously arguing against physiological reductionism.Thus, physiology is mainly seen as providing methods and approaches for testing and validating psychological accounts.Thus, the circle's members and their immediate academic fellows, especially Ueberwasser's designated successor, Georg Laymann, were dedicatedly catholic and their agenda clearly followed the spirit of the Catholic Enlightenment (Niehaus, 1998).
Furthermore, these developments seem to parallel the well-known, later achievements of Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) with his Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology (Wundt, 1863; Ger.: “Vorlesungen über die Menschen- und Thierseele”) and his official foundation of the Leipzig laboratory in 1879 (Wontorra et al., 2004).
Accordingly, he changed the denomination of his professorship into Professor of Empirical Psychology and Logic (Ger.: “Professor für empirische Psychologie und Logik;” later also: Psychology and Metaphysics; Schwarz and Pfister, 2016).
Finally, in 1787 he published a remarkable textbook entitled “Instructions for the regular study of empirical psychology for candidates of philosophy at the University of Münster” (Ger.: “Anweisungen zum regelmäßigen Studium der Empirischen Psychologie für die Candidaten der Philosophie zu Münster”).
RP drafted the first version of the manuscript and KS provided critical revisions.
This publication was funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG) and the University of Wuerzburg in the funding programme Open Access Publishing.
The late eighteenth century was a remarkable period for psychology (Vidal, 2000, 2011; Schwarz and Pfister, 2016).