Gustav Fechner

Gustav Fechner
Gustav Fechner.jpg
BornGustav Theodor Fechner
(1801-04-19)19 April 1801
Groß Särchen (near Muskau), Saxony, Holy Roman Empire
Died18 November 1887(1887-11-18) (aged 86)
Leipzig, Saxony
Alma materMedizinische Akademie Carl Gustav Carus (de)
Leipzig University (PhD, 1835)
Scientific career
ThesisDe variis intensitatem vis Galvanicae metiendi methodis (1835)
Notable studentsHermann Rudolf Lotze
Friedrich Paulsen
InfluencedGerardus Heymans
Wilhelm Wundt
William James
Alfred North Whitehead
Charles Hartshorne
Ernst Weber

Gustav Theodor Fechner (ər/; German: [ˈfɛçnɐ]; 19 April 1801 – 18 November 1887),[1] was a German philosopher, physicist and experimental psychologist. An early pioneer in experimental psychology and founder of psychophysics, he inspired many 20th century scientists and philosophers. He is also credited with demonstrating the non-linear relationship between psychological sensation and the physical intensity of a stimulus via the formula: , which became known as the Weber–Fechner law.[2][3]

Early life and scientific career

Fechner was born at Groß Särchen, near Muskau, in Lower Lusatia, where his father was a pastor. Despite being raised by his religious father, Fechner became an atheist in later life.[4] He was educated first at Sorau (now Żary in Western Poland).

In 1817 he studied of medicine at the Medizinische Akademie Carl Gustav Carus (de) in Dresden and from 1818 at the University of Leipzig, the city in which he spent the rest of his life.[5] He earned his PhD from Leipzig in 1835.

In 1834 he was appointed professor of physics. But in 1839, he contracted an eye disorder while studying the phenomena of color and vision, and, after much suffering, resigned. Subsequently recovering, he turned to the study of the mind and its relations with the body, giving public lectures on the subjects dealt with in his books. Whilst lying in bed Fechner had an insight into the relationship between mental sensations and material sensations. This insight proved to be significant in the development of psychology as there was now a quantitative relationship between the mental and physical worlds.[6]

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