Thursday, 22 October 2020

the mind-body problem

Pioneering experimental psychologist, physicist and philosopher who taught at the University of Leipzig and is considered the founder of the branch of study known as psychophysics—a hybrid discipline that researchers stimulation and perception—Gustav Theodor Fechner (*1801 – †1887) has been honoured on this day since 1985 by the academic community on this anniversary of Fechner awaking from a dream with an epiphany, an insight into the relationship between material and mental sensations that changed the course of scientific thinking.  

In 1834, Fechner was appointed adjunct professor of physics and focused on his early fascination with colour theory—the effect named for him—and the optical illusion of colours in the spinning black and white patterns (see also) of the Benham top, but within five years had severely damaged his eyes, forcing him to change disciplines, leading to crucial and influential breakthroughs in our outlook on the way we experience the world and interpret our perceptions. Later in 1871 Fechner conducted the first study of phenomenon we’ve come to recognise as synaesthesia (previously) and studied the corpus callosum and bilateral symmetry of the brain, correctly assessing the outcome of thought-experiments not conducted until a century later.