Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/147

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143
PHYSIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY

degree improbable as well" (p. 547); and (3) that "Weber's law is probably purely physical" (p. 548). And he concludes, "the only amusing part of it is that Fechner's critics should always feel bound, after smiting his theories hip and thigh and leaving not a stick of them standing, to wind up by saying that nevertheless to him belongs the imperishable glory of first formulating them and thereby turning psychology into an exact science (!):

"And everybody praised the duke
Who this great fight did win."
"But what good came of it at last? "
Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why, that I can not tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory" (p. 549).

All of which need not be taken with too many grimaces. For it merely means that physiological psychology remains in the "natural history" stage—it is still occupied mainly in the assemblage of facts. And no one would oppose it were it not that some foolish partisans, after the fashion of fools in all ages, go about to magnify their office. That psychology can never hope to be "exact" after the kind of physics, or even, mayhap, physiology, seems beyond doubt. Yet one attaches little, if any, weight to this remark. For, as physiology ceases to be physiology when it assimilates itself to physics or to chemistry, so psychology ceases to be psychology when it attempts to become physiology, just as sociology, masquerading in the guise of psychology, is no science, but simply a homeless bastard. Sceptical as the conclusion may seem, Fechner, nevertheless, needs no justification, as his work for esthetics proves abundantly.[1] For, in psychology, as in every other science, the investigator assumes the intelligibility of nature; and then, by an attack in detail, attempts to show that natural interrelations are as his conceptual conclusions anticipated they would be. And from this process no sphere of experience can be held exempt. Doubtless, the application is most difficult in psychology, because there abstraction from either body or mind leads to positive error. But, here, again, we are only saying that, despite all its laboratories and apparatus, psychology remains that new revelation—a philosophical science. And to my mind its first-rate importance grounds exactly in this very fact.

  1. Cf. "Fechner," Lasswitz, p. 101.