Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/211

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197
TWO SCIENTIFIC CONGRESSES.

dates back to 1888, when the first assembled in Paris under the presidency of Prof. Th. Ribot, of the Collége de France. It was devoted very largely—and that intentionally—to two topics which were then uppermost in the French psychologists' minds: hypnotism and telepathy. Very few Germans were there. Of English-speaking delegates, Prof. Sidgwick, of Cambridge, and Prof. James, of Harvard, who were the two best men at that time—as they are yet—interested in both these subjects, were prominent. The second meeting was in London, in 1892, under the presidency of Prof. Sidgwick—a large and profitable meeting; and it is significant of the change that had come over the personnel of the congress, as well as of the growth of ideas in the interval between the two meetings, that at this second session the name of the organization was changed from "Congress of Physiological Psychology" to "Congress of Experimental Psychology." For at the London meeting the range of topics was greatly broadened; both hypnotism and telepathy took a much less prominent place; and all the varied branches of psychological work came in for treatment, especially the purely academic experimental psychology of the laboratory.

The third session of this congress, held August 6th to 9th in Munich, showed the same development, and so became the great unrestricted body that it should be. All departments of psychological investigation were adequately represented in the five sections into which it was found necessary to divide the more technical papers; while the general sessions, devoted to topics of more universal interest, were full and most instructive. Indeed, the president found it necessary to repeat what the former presiding officer had said in London, that the word "experimental" in the title of the body did not describe laboratory work alone, but all investigations into mental things which were conducted by competent men in accordance with inductive scientific methods. This range is shown by the titles of the five sections referred to: "Neurology, the Senses, Psychophysics"; "Normal"; "Abnormal"; "Dreams, Hypnotism"; "Comparative and Educational." Consequently, at the Munich Congress the word "experimental" was dropped from the official designation of the body.

The work of the general sessions was interesting to a wider circle than that of the professed psychologists, in several respects. The president. Prof. Stumpf, of Berlin, discussed the relation of mind and body in a way which may be profitably read by those moderately versed in philosophy. His address has since appeared in full in the Revue Scientifique of Paris, and will also appear in full in the Proceedings of the congress. Prof. Richet, of Paris, discussed "Pain" in a way which did not throw much light on the subject, and his paper has also come out in the Revue Scientifique.