Skip to main content
×
Home

Hermann von Helmholtz's Empirico-Transcendentalism Reconsidered: Construction and Constitution in Helmholtz's Psychology of the Object

  • Liesbet De Kock (a1)
Argument
Argument

This paper aims at contributing to the ongoing efforts to get a firmer grasp of the systematic significance of the entanglement of idealism and empiricism in Helmholtz's work. Contrary to existing analyses, however, the focal point of the present exposition is Helmholtz's attempt to articulate a psychological account of objectification. Helmholtz's motive, as well as his solution to the problem of the object are outlined, and interpreted against the background of his scientific practice on the one hand, and that of empiricist and (transcendental) idealist analyses of experience on the other. The specifically psychological angle taken, not only prompts us to consider figures who have hitherto been treated as having only minor import for Helmholtz interpretation (most importantly J.S. Mill and J.G. Fichte), it furthermore sheds new light on some central tenets of the latter's psychological stance that have hitherto remained underappreciated. For one thing, this analysis reveals an explicit voluntarist tendency in Helmholtz's psychological theory. In conclusion, it is argued that the systematic significance of Helmholtz's empirico-transcendentalism with respect to questions of the mind is best understood as an attempt to found his empirical theory of perception in a second order, normative account of epistemic subjectivity.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Allik Jüri, and Konstabel Kenn. 2005. “G. F. Parrot and the Theory of Unconscious Inferences.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 41 (4):317330.
Araujo Saulo de Freitas. 2012. “Why Did Wundt Abandon His Early Theory of the Unconscious?History of Psychology 15 (1):3349.
Bell Charles. 1811. Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain. London: C. Bell.
Bernfeld Siegfried. 1944. “Freud's Earliest Theories and the School of Helmholtz.” Psychoanalytic Quarterly 13:341362.
Boring Edwin. 1950. A History of Experimental Psychology. New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts.
Bradley Francis Herbert. 1876. Ethical Studies. London: Henry S. King.
Cahan David, ed. 1993. Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Cassedy Steven. 2008. “A History of the Concept of Stimulus and the Role It Played in the Neurosciences.” Journal for the History of Neuroscience 174:405432.
Cassirer Ernst. 1944. “The Concept of Group and the Theory of Perception.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 5 (1):136.
Crary Jonathan. 1992. Techniques of the Observer. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Darrigol Olivier. 2003. “Number and Measure: Hermann von Helmholtz at the Crossroads of Mathematics, Physics and Psychology.” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 34 (3):515573.
Daston Lorraine, and Galison Peter. 2007. Objectivity. Cambridge: MIT Press.
De Kock Liesbet. 2014. “Voluntarism in Early Psychology: The Case of Hermann von Helmholtz.” History of Psychology 17 (2):105128.
DiSalle Robert. 1993. “Helmholtz's Empiricist Philosophy of Mathematics: Between Laws of Perception and Laws of Nature.” In Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science, edited by Cahan David, 498521. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Disalle Robert 2006. “Kant, Helmholtz, and the Meaning of Empiricism.” In The Kantian Legacy in Nineteenth-Century Science, edited by Friedman Michael and Nordmann Alfred, 123140. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Ferrari Massimo. 1997. Retours à Kant. Paris: Editions du Cerf.
Fichte Johann Gottlieb. [1794] 1997. Grundlage der gesamten Wissenschaftslehre. Hamburg: Felix Meiner.
Fichte Johann Gottlieb. 1798. Das System der Sittenlehre. Leipzig: Christian Ernst Gabler.
Fichte Johann Gottlieb. 1817. Die Thatsachen des Bewusstseins. Stuttgart: Gottaischen Buchhandlung.
Finger Stanley, and Wade Nicholas. 2001. “The Eye as an Optical Instrument: From Camera Obscura to Helmholtz's Perspective.” Perception 30:11571177.
Finger Stanley, and Wade Nicholas. 2002a. “The Neuroscience of Helmholtz and the Theories of Johannes Müller, Part 1: Nerve Cell Structure, Vitalism and the Nerve Impulse.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 11 (2):136155.
Finger Stanley, and Wade Nicholas. 2002b. “The Neuroscience of Helmholtz and the Theories of Johannes Müller, Part 2: Sensation and Perception.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 11 (3):234254.
Friedman Michael. 2001. Dynamics of Reason: The 1999 Kant Lectures at Stanford University. Stanford: CSLI publications.
Friedman Michael. 2006. The Kantian Legacy in Nineteenth-Century Science. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Friedman Michael. 2009. “Einstein, Kant, and the Relativized A Priori.” In Constituting Objectivity, edited by Bitbol Michel, et al., 253267. New York: Springer.
Fullinwider Simon P. 1990. “Hermann von Helmholtz: the Problem of Kantian Influence.” Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):4155.
Goldschmidt Ludwig. 1898. Kant und Helmholtz. Hamburg: Leopold Voss.
Hallet Dani. 2009. “On the Subject of Goethe: Hermann von Helmholtz on Goethe and Scientific Objectivity.” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 31:178194.
Hamilton William. 1859. Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, 2nd volume, edited by Mansel Henry L.. Boston: Gould and Lincoln.
Hamner Gail. 2003. American Pragmatism: a Religious Genealogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hatfield Gary. 1990. The Natural and the Normative: Theories of Spatial Perception from Kant to Helmholtz. London: MIT Press.
Heidelberger Michael. 1993. “Force, Law and Experiment. The Evolution of Helmholtz's Philosophy of Science.” In Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science, edited by Cahan David, 461497. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Heidelberger Michael. 1994. “Helmholtz’ Erkentniss- und Wissenschaftstheorie im Kontext der Philosophie und Naturwissenschaft des 19. Jahrhunderts.” In Universalgenie Helmholtz, edited by Krüger Lorenz, 168185. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
Heidelberger Michael. 1997. “Beziehungen zwischen Sinnesphysiologie und Philosophy im 19. Jahrhundert.” In Philosophie und Wissenschaften. Formen und Prozesse ihrer Interaktion, edited by Sandkühler Hans Jörg, 3758. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Helmholtz Hermann. [1847] 1889. Uber die Erhaltung der Kraft. Leipzig: Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1851] 1883. “Beschreibung einen Augenspiegels zur Untersuchung der Netzhaut im Lebenden Auge.” In Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen, vol. 2, 591609. Leipzig: J. A. Barth.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1852] 1883. “Ueber die Natur der menschlichen Sinnesempfindungen.” In Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen, vol. 2, 591609. Leipzig: J. A. Barth.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1855] 1896. “Ueber das Sehen des Menschen.” In Vorträge und Reden, vol. 1, 85119. Braunschweig: Holzstiche.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1862] 1995. “On the Relation of Natural Science to Science in General.” In Science and Culture, edited and translated by Cahan David, 7695. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1863] 1912. On the Sensations of Tone. Translated by Ellis Alexander J.. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1856/66] 1924/25. Treatise on Physiological Optics, published in three volumes, translated by Southall James P. C.. Menasha WI: George Banta Publishing Company.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1868] 1995. “The Recent Progress of the Theory of Vision.” In Science and Culture, edited by Cahan David, 127203. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1870] 1995. “On the Origin and Significance of Geometrical Axioms.” In Science and Culture, edited and translated by Cahan David, 226248. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1877] 1995. “On Thought in Medicine.” In Science and Culture, edited and translated by Cahan David, 309327. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1878] 1995. “The Facts in Perception”. In Science and Culture, edited and translated by Cahan David, 342380. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1891] 1995. “Hermann von Helmholtz. An Autobiographical Sketch.” In Science and Culture, edited and translated by Cahan David, 381392. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Helmholtz Hermann von. [1892] 1995. “Goethe's Presentiments of Coming Scientific Ideas.” In Science and Culture, edited and translated by Cahan David, 393412. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Helmholtz Hermann von. 1894. “Über den Ursprung der richtigen Deutung unserer Sinneseindrücke.” Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane 7:8196.
Helmholtz Hermann von. 1896. Handbuch der Physiologischen Optik Zweite umgearbeitete Auflage. Hamburg: Leopold Voss.
Helmholtz Hermann von. 1921. “The Facts in Perception.” In Hermann von Helmholtz. Epistemological Writings. Translated by Herz Paul and Schlick Moritz, 115185. Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing.
Hochberg Julian. 2007. In the Mind's Eye. Edited by Peterson Maryet al.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
James William. 1890. Principles of Psychology, vol. 1. London: Macmillan.
Jeannerod Marc, et al. 1979. “Corollary Discharge: Its Possible Implications in Visual and Oculomotor Interaction.” Neuropsychologia 17:241258.
Kant Immanuel. [1781/1787] 1998. Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Guyer Paul and Wood Allen W.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Koenigsberger Leo. 1902/1903. Hermann von Helmholtz, 3 vols. Braunschweig: Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn.
Kohls Nico, and Benedikter Roland. 2010. “The Origins of the Modern Concept of ‘Neuroscience’.” In Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics, edited by Giordano James and Gordijn Bert, 3765. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Krause Albrecht. 1878. Kant und Helmholtz. Lahr: Moritz Schauenburg.
Lange Friedrich A. 1881. History of Materialism, vol. 3. Translated by Thomas Ernest C.. London: Trübner.
Leary David E. 1980. “German Idealism and the Development of Psychology in the Nineteenth Century.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 18:299317.
Leibniz Gottfried W. [1695] 2004. “Clarification of the ‘New System of the Nature of the Communication of Substances’.” In The Shorter Leibniz Texts, edited by Strickland Lloyd, 7778. New York: Continuum.
Lenoir Timothy. 1993. “The Eye as a Mathematician.” In Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science, edited by Cahan David, 109153. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lenoir Timothy. 2006. “Operationalizing Kant: Manifolds, Models, and Mathematics in Helmholtz's Theories of Perception.” In The Kantian Legacy in Ninetheenth-Century Science, edited by Friedman Michael and Nordmann Alfred, 141210. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Liebmann Otto. 1869. Ueber den objectiven Anblick. Stuttgart: Carl Schober.
Makkreel Rudolf A., and Luft Sebastian. 2010. Neo-Kantianism in Contemporary Philosophy. Indiana: Indiana University Press.
McCarty David C. 2000. “Optics of Thought: Logic and Vision in Müller, Helmholtz, and Frege.” Notre Dame J. Formal Logic 41 (4):365378.
McDonald Patrick J. 2003. “Demonstration by Simulation: The Philosophical Significance of Experiment in Helmholtz's Theory of Perception.” Perspectives on Science 11 (2):170207.
Meulders Michel. 2010. Helmholtz: From Enlightenment to Neuroscience. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Mill John S. 1865. “The Psychological Theory of the Belief in an External World.” In An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, by Mill John S., 234250. Boston: William V. Spencer.
Mill John S. [1859] 1867. “Bain's Psychology.” In Dissertations and Discussions, by Mill John S., 97152. London: Longmans.
Mill John S. [1843] 1882. A System of Logic, 8th ed.New York: Harper & Brothers.
Müller Johannes S. 1826. Zur vergleichenden Physiologie des Gesichtssinnes. Leipzig: Gnobloch.
Müller Johannes. [1833/1840] 1843. Elements of Physiology. Translated by Baly William. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard.
Neuber Matthias. 2012. “Helmholtz's Theory of Space and Its Significance for Schlick.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (1):163180.
Olesko Kathryn M., and Holmes Frederic L.. 1993. “Experiment, Quantification and Discovery. Helmholtz's Early Physiological Researches 1843–1850.” In Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science, edited by Cahan David, 50108. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Peterson Mary A., Gillam Barbara, and Sedgwick H. A., eds. 2007. In the Mind's Eye: Julian Hochberg on the Perception of Pictures, Films, and the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Post Karl. 1905. Johannes Müllers Philosophische Anschauungen. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.
Rachlin Howard. 2005. “What Müller's Law of Specific Nerve Energies Says about the Mind.” Behavior and Philosophy 33:4154.
Richards Robert J. 1980. “Wundt's Early Theories of Unconscious Inference and Cognitive Evolution in Their Relation to Darwinian Biopsychology.” In Wundt Studies. A Centennial Collection, by Bringman Wolfgang G. and Tweney Ryan D., 4270. Toronto: C.J. Hogrefe.
Rieber Robert, and Robinson David K.. 2001. Wilhelm Wundt in History. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Riehl Alois. 1904. “Helmholtz in seinem Verhältnis zu Kant.” Kant Studien 9 (1):261285.
Robinson Daniel. 1995. An Intellectual History of Psychology. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.
Scarre Geoffrey. 1989. Logic and Reality in the Philosophy of John Stuart Mill. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Scheerer Eckhart. 1989. “On the Will: A Historical Perspective.” Advances in Psychology 62:3960. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Schiemann Gregor. 2009. Hermann von Helmholtz's Mechanism: The Loss of Certainty. New York: Springer.
Schmidgen Henning. 2003. “Wundt as Chemist? A Fresh Look at His Practice and Theory of Experimentation.” American Journal of Psychology 116 (3):469476.
Schmitz Heinz. 1995. Physiologischer Neukantianismus und Evolutionäre Erkenntnistheorie. Berlin: Peter Lang.
Steege Benjamin. 2012. Helmholtz and the Modern Listener. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schultz Reinhard. 2004. Naturwissenschaftshermeneutik. Würzburg: Verlag Königshausen and Neumann.
Schwertschlager Joseph. 1883. Kant und Helmholtz. Freiburg: Herder'sche Verlagshandlung.
Snyder Laura. 2006. Reforming Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Turner Steven. 1977. “Hermann von Helmholtz and the Empiricist Vision.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 13:4858.
Turner Steven. 1993. “Vision Studies in Germany: Helmholtz versus Hering.” Osiris 8:80103.
Turner Steven. 1994. In the Eye's Mind. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Wade Nicholas, and Brozek Josef. 2001. Purkinje's Vision: The Dawning of Neuroscience. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis.
Westheimer Gerald. 2008. “Was Helmholtz a Bayesian?Perception 39:642650.
Wundt Wilhelm. 1862. Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrenehmung. Leipzig: C.F. Wintersche Verlagshandlung.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Science in Context
  • ISSN: 0269-8897
  • EISSN: 1474-0664
  • URL: /core/journals/science-in-context
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 13 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 263 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.