Who is Oswald Külpe?June 26, 2021
He was a German thinker and psychologist who lived from 3 August 1862 to 30 December 1915.
He is one of the pioneers of the Neorealism movement stemming from the system of Immanuel Kant and is the founder of the Würzburg School in psychology.
He was born on 3 August 1862 (Latvia) in Kandava, Livonia, he died on 30 December 1915 in Munich. While studying history at the University of Leipzig in 1881, he became interested in psychology and philosophy under the influence of Wundt. He studied philosophy, history and psychology at the University of Berlin, the University of Göttingen and the University of Dorpat for a while. In 1886 he continued his studies in psychology at the University of Leipzig alongside Wundt, becoming his assistant; He earned the title of doctor in 1887. After being promoted to professor at the University of Leipzig in 1894, he transferred to the University of Würzburg, where he established a psychology laboratory. After 1896, he taught psychology and philosophy at the universities of Leipzig, in 1909 in Bonn, and in 1912 in Munich. He died on December 30, 1915, of an epidemic that passed through wounded German soldiers in the First World War.
Külpe’s interest in philosophy started with reading the works of Kant, and he focused on a critical understanding of realism, influenced by the positivist views of Mach and Avenarius. His Realism aims to go down to the objective source of sense data and to evaluate the impressions provided by perception according to the criteria of reason. According to him, the source of the truth can only be reached on the basis of sensations and under the guidance of reason. Reason is not creative but guiding and formative in the process that creates knowledge. The basis of this process is criticism, which enables the organization of sensory data to reach a certain meaning content.
In Külpe’s work, the focus is on psychology, which stems from Wundt’s experimental method. According to him, psychology should not be based only on content, sensory, but should start from both sensation and reason. This is because one has a rational and the other sensory quality. Of all acts of reason, the most common is the absolutely unobservable abstraction, true even if grasped only by introspection. There are two psychological entities, one of which is thinking (Denken), and the other is an object produced by thinking, a thought (Gedanke). Thinking includes actions that are not reflected in the field of view of the act of thinking about meaning and judgment. These are activities that enable to transform the realities of consciousness (Wirklichkeiten) into visible realities (Realitaeten).
According to Külpe, to be conscious of an object, even if it is an abstract concept, means that the consciousness finds it and grasps it. Because there are also invisible consciousness contents. The first of these is meaning. Meaning can be found in the stream of consciousness, even if it is not a word, a symptom. The aim of the Würzburg School, founded by Külpe, is to make objects that only exist in the stream of consciousness and have a meaning quality. According to him, rational acts provide the knowledge of these meaning-like consciousness beings.
Külpe’s aesthetic also stems from psychology, inspired by the views of Fechner and Wundt. According to him, the basis of taste in aesthetics is a ratio and reason between objects in the highest stage of existence. However, it is necessary to acquire some preliminary knowledge and experience in this regard. Order, harmony and mutual balance are important in aesthetic appreciation.
Also please see:
– What is the Würzburg School?
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook