Gustav Fehner

Gustav Fehner

Date of Birth: 19.04.1801
Country: Germany

  1. Gustav Fechner: A Pioneer in Experimental Psychology
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Contributions to Psychology
  4. Works

Gustav Fechner: A Pioneer in Experimental Psychology

Gustav Theodor Fechner was a German psychologist and one of the first experimental psychologists. He is considered the founder of psychophysics and his views have influenced many scientists and philosophers of the 20th century, including Gerardus Heymans, Ernst Mach, Wilhelm Wundt, Sigmund Freud, and Stanley Hall. Fechner is credited with creating the formula S=KlogI, which demonstrates the scientifically established connection between the body and the mind.

Early Life and Education

Gustav Fechner was born on April 19, 1801, in the town of Groß-Zauche near Bad Muskau, in Lower Lusatia (now the Polish town of Żarki Wielkie). His father was a priest. He received his education in Sorau and Dresden and attended the University of Leipzig, where he studied physiology under E. Weber and mathematics under C. Mollweide. Fechner spent the rest of his life in Leipzig.

Contributions to Psychology

In 1834, Fechner was appointed as a professor of physics at the University of Leipzig. However, in 1839, while studying color and visual phenomena, he injured his eye and resigned due to intense suffering. After recovering from his illness, he returned to the study of psychology and its connection to the body. He gave public lectures on the topics he explored in his books.

Fechner, along with Wilhelm Wundt and Hermann von Helmholtz, is considered one of the founders of modern experimental psychology. His contribution lies in demonstrating that since the mind can be measured and mathematically processed, psychology as a science can be subject to calculation. For a long time, theorists like Immanuel Kant claimed this was impossible, especially in terms of a scientific approach to psychology. Fechner also paved the way for Sigmund Freud's study of the unconscious mind, as seen in his eight-volume work titled "The Philosophy of the Unconscious."


- "Praemissae ad theoriam organismi generalem" (1823)
- "Maaßbestimmungen über die galvanische Kette" (1831)
- "Das Hauslexicon. Vollständiges Handbuch praktischer Lebenskenntnisse für alle Stände" (1834-1838)
- "Das Büchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode" (1836)
- "Über das höchste Gut" (1846)
- "Nanna oder über das Seelenleben der Pflanzen" (1848)
- "Zend-Avesta oder über die Dinge des Himmels und des Jenseits. Vom Standpunkt der Naturbetrachtung" (1851)
- "Über die physikalische und philosophische Atomenlehre" (1855)
- "Elemente der Psychophysik" (1860)
- "Über die Seelenfrage. Ein Gang durch die sichtbare Welt um die unsichtbare zu finden" (1861)
- "Einige Ideen zur Schöpfungs- und Entwickelungsgeschichte der Organismen" (1873)
- "Kleine Schriften" (1875)
- "Vorschule der Aesthetik" (1876)
- "In Sachen der Psychophysik" (1877)
- "Die Tagesansicht gegenüber der Nachtansicht" (1879)
- "Revision der Hauptpuncte der Psychophysik" (1882)
- "Kollektivmasslehre" (published posthumously in 1897)

Gustav Fechner's extensive body of work exemplifies his dedication to understanding the relationship between the mind and the body. His pioneering contributions to experimental psychology and psychophysics have left an indelible mark on the field and continue to inspire researchers and scholars today.