Physiological Psychology and Psychophysics

    Abstract

    IT seems hardly profitable to carry on a discussion with Dr. Titchener at intervals of more than a month. I readily confess that through an error of memory, for it is a good while since I read the “Elemente der Psychophysik,” I misrepresented Fechner's use of the term psychophysics. The fact, however, that he recognised an “outer psychophysics,” and the further fact that, as he shows (“Elemente,” i. p. 11), nearly the whole of his inquiry has to do with establishing the relation of external stimuli to psychic phenomena, show that the error I fell into was not altogether unnatural. Are not the inquiries of Weber, Fechner, and their successors still brought under the head of psychophysics by those who reject Fechner's peculiar “psycho-physical” interpretation of the results? And do not nine students out of ten, who are not themselves “working psycho-physicists,” associate the term “psychophysics” with these important lines of inquiry? If so, I would contend that there is room for a reconsideration of the terminology of the subject. The retention of Fechner's “outer psychophysics” seems confusing if, as I understand Dr. Titchener to say, “psychophysics” has properly to do with the correlation between psychic processes and intra-organic and (I suppose) more especially, central nervous processes. With respect to the term “psycho-physiological,” used by Dr. Hill in his syllabus, it may at least be said that it avoids the ambiguity of “psycho-physics,” as coined and defined by Fechner, while it is the direct descendant of the term “mental physiology,” which is well fixed in British scientific literature.

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