Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Experimental Psychology: A Manual of Laboratory Practice, Vol. II: Quantitative Experiments, part 2: Instructor's Manual
Titchener, Edward B.
Preliminary Experiments 
differences, is something that ‘ interpretation ’ superadds to ex¬ 
planation. We have our one-to-one correlation : that is expla¬ 
nation. We may most easily ‘ interpret ’ the correlation as a cor¬ 
relation of equals. But the addition is not necessary : for we may 
have, in fi-difference and T-distance, things that are wholly in¬ 
commensurable, and our explanation will still stand. 
This attempt of interpretation to transcend explanation was 
doubtless prompted by Fechner’s erroneous view of the character 
of the single 6". But errors die hard ; and the list of interpreta¬ 
tions figures as largely in the psychologies of to-day as it did in 
the books of twenty years ago. What we should now do is to 
discard interpretation, and confine ourselves to explanation. We 
must analyse the processes concerned in the consciousnesses 
which the Law covers, and seek their physiological conditions. 
Then Weber’s Law will ‘ interpret ’ itself : for it will depend upon 
the result of our analysis whether we put it under the heading of 
sensation, or of apperception, or of judgments of comparison, or 
what not. 
(4) This position is not by any means new. The psychologi¬ 
cal attitude which it implies comes out, more or less clearly, in 
several of the ‘ interpretations ’ familiar to us from psychological 
literature. Thus Wundt, while he insists that the interpretation 
of Weber’s Law must be psychological,—while, in other words, he 
puts the logarithmic relation between 6" and apperception of S,— 
has consistently maintained that the psychological interpretation 
is to be paralleled by a physiological explanation, and has worked 
out the mechanics of a hypothetical ‘ apperception centre ' to suit 
his psychological analysis. The difficulty of this view is, pre¬ 
cisely, that it is two-sided. Let us take a not improbable case : 
the case that physiology some day offers positive reasons for 
placing the loss of energy involved in the logarithmic relation 
between sense-organ and nerve-fibre, and at least negative reasons 
for denying such loss between sense-centre and apperception 
centre. How is Wundt to reply? He has committed himself to 
a psychological ‘ interpretation ’ ; and yet, here is physiology play¬ 
ing havoc with the supposed intricacies of the apperception centre ! 
There cannot be two courts of final appeal. Surely, the thing to 
do is to throw interpretation overboard : to carry one’s psychologi-


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