Krueger, Felix (1874–1948)

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Felix Krueger, a German philosopher and psychologist, was born in Poznán and received his doctorate in 1897 from the University of Munich, where he studied under Hans Cornelius and Theodor Lipps. After working as an assistant at the Physiological Institute in Kiel he became a Privatdozent at Leipzig under Wilhelm Wundt. From 1906 to 1908 Krueger held a professorship at Buenos Aires, where he organized the development of scientific psychology in Argentina and left lasting traces of his views and activities. After returning to Leipzig he was called to Halle to succeed Hermann Ebbinghaus. In 19121913 Krueger was an exchange professor at Columbia University. In 1917, after three years of military service, he returned to Leipzig as Wundt's successor. At Leipzig Krueger founded the second Leipzig school of psychology, whose basic principles were designated as a genetic psychology of wholeness and structure (genetische Ganzheitsund Strukturpsychologie ). In 1928 he received an honorary doctorate from Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio. In 1935 Krueger was appointed rector of Leipzig University. He immediately became involved in political conflicts and was removed from the rectorship and for some time forbidden to lecture; in 1935 he retired prematurely from academic life. Krueger edited two series of psychological works, "Neue psychologische Studien" and "Arbeiten zur Entwicklungspsychologie," from 1914 and 1926, respectively. Early in 1945 he moved to Switzerland.

Krueger's first work, a philosophical one, was Der Begriff des absolut Wertvollen als Grundbegriff der Moralphilosophie (The concept of the absolutely valuable as the basic concept of moral philosophy; Leipzig, 1898). In this work he presented a critique of Immanuel Kant running counter to that of Neo-Kantianism. He tried to show that there was a material vein in the formal ethics of Kant himself, and he stressed that ethical responsibility is moored in the person, in his "energy of evaluation" (Energie des Wertens ) and in his attitude toward values (Werthaltung ), which Krueger understood as the "core structure" of personality or character.

After this work Krueger turned to empirical and experimental psychology, in which he became known particularly for his new theory of consonance and dissonance based on the influence of the different tones and for experiments in phonetics and the psychology of speech. In connection with this work he began to develop, as early as 1900, a theory of psychological wholeness, arising from the exhibition of emotional and physiognomic experiencing, which he characterized as a quality of complexes (Komplexqualität ) parallel to Christian von Ehrenfels's Gestalt qualities (Gestaltqualität ). Together with his English friend and student (who was, nevertheless, older than he), Charles Spearman, Krueger introduced into psychology the calculus of correlation including the first reflections on factor analysis.

In 1915, in Über Entwicklungspsychologie, ihre historische und sachliche Notwendigkeit (On developmental psychology, its historical and factual necessity) Krueger developed a theory of cultural origins departing from Wundt's psychology of peoples and carried it further in Zur Entwicklungspsychologie des Rechts (The developmental psychology of law; "Arbeiten zur Entwicklungspsychologie," No. 7, Munich, 1926). In 1918 and (in English) in 1927, Krueger presented sketches for a theory of the emotions, which he defined as the Komplexqualitäten of one's total experience, that is, as supersummative qualities not to be confused or identified with gestalt.

These various strands, including his old moral philosophy, were united by Krueger in 1923 in a theory of structure, which was both critically related to and opposed to the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey. Krueger defined structure as the new scientific conception of the mind, as "the organismic construct of psychophysical wholeness," that is, as the basis of events in experience in the form of disposition, attitude and readiness, inclination, habit, and capability. The existence and individuality of personal structure can be demonstrated particularly in experiences of personal significance and "depth," but also in the subjective predispositions or preconstellations of perception, thought, memory, etc. Structure is the bearer of development and of personal identity. Besides personal structure there are social and "objective" intellectual structures. Formally, the structure of the experienced gestalt, which exists in becoming, can be compared to the "actual genesis" (or microgenesis) of the gestalt. The development of man, like that of animals, arises from qualitatively complex, pre-gestalt experience and is only gradually differentiated into an articulated gestalt and into rational clarification. Krueger's last work, Die Lehre von dem Ganzen (The doctrine of the whole; Bern, 1948), began with psychology but culminated in cosmology.

There are four main points in Krueger's philosophical psychology: holism (opposition to associationism, emotionism (or emphasis on feeling and emotion), social evolutionism, and antiphenomenalism (structural personalism). Krueger's genetic Ganzheitspsychologie was carried on by many of his outstanding students. Shortly after his death it was characterized as a "re-establishment of the science of the mind" in the full sense of the word, as opposing both mere introspectionism and mere behaviorism. It is the radical rejection of atomism, mechanism, sensationalism, and phenomenalism (psychologism) of traditional psychology, whose loss of credit among academic psychologists is largely due to Krueger. The slogans and basic ideas of Ganzheitspsychologie have also stimulated and fertilized related fields, particularly aesthetics and education.

See also Dilthey, Wilhelm; Ehrenfels, Christian Freiherr von; Emotion; Gestalt Theory; Holism and Individualism in History and Social Science; Kant, Immanuel; Latin American Philosophy; Lipps, Theodor; Neo-Kantianism; Personalism; Psychology; Wundt, Wilhelm.


works by krueger

In English

"Consonance and Dissonance." Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Method 10 (1913).

"Magical Factors in the First Development of Human Labor." American Journal of Psychology 24 (1913).

"The Essence of Feeling." In Feelings and Emotions. Worcester, MA: Clark University Press, 1928.

In German

Zur Philosophie und Psychologie der Ganzheit. Edited by E. Heuss. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer, 1953. Writings by Krueger dating from 1918 to 1940, with a complete bibliography.

works on krueger

Buss, Onko. Die Ganzheitspsychologie Felix Kruegers. Munich, 1934.

Odebrecht, Rudolf. Gefühl und Gestalt: Die Ideengehalt der Psychologie Felix Kruegers. Berlin: Junker und Dünnhaupt, 1929.

Wellek, Albert. Das Problem des seelischen Seins: Die Strukturtheorie Felix Kruegers, 2nd ed. Meisenheim and Vienna, 1953.

Wellek, Albert. Die Widerherstellung der Seelwissenschaft im Lebenswerk Felix Kruegers. Hamburg, 1950.

Albert Wellek (1967)

Translated by Tessa Byck