Baldwin, James Mark

views updated May 11 2018


(b. Columbia, South Carolina, 12 January 1861; d. Paris, France, 9 November 1934)

psychology, philosophy, biology, mental development, social development, evolutionary mechanisms.

Baldwin carried out psychology’s first systematic, experimental studies of infant behavior and introduced a biosocial theory of individual adaptation—its evolutionary origins, ontogenetic development, and sociocultural formation—that helped shape the direction of modern developmental psychology. He contributed an evolutionary principle, now known as the Baldwin effect, which, though still controversial in evolutionary theory, has come to occupy an important place in evolutionary computation.

Childhood and Education. Baldwin was the son of Cyrus Hull Baldwin, a merchant, and Lydia Eunice Ford Baldwin. After attending private schools and working for two years in the city of his birth, Baldwin traveled to New Jersey in 1878 to enter the Salem Collegiate Institute. Three years later he enrolled as a sophomore at Princeton University.

At Princeton, his most important mentor was President James McCosh. Arguably the last great exponent of Scottish realism in the tradition of Thomas Reid, McCosh viewed the God-created human mind as possessing innate, universal tendencies to perceive the world as it actually is. Mind and reality exist in a preestablished harmony whereby perception of the world is guaranteed a general validity. From this perspective, scientific progress cannot contradict religious truth since both reflect the operation of God-given mental operations. This principle allowed McCosh to foster the teaching of science at Princeton without regard to religion and introduce biological evolution and the then new experimental psychology of Wilhelm Wundt to his undergraduates. Both of these exerted a powerful influence on the young Baldwin.

On 18 June 1884 Baldwin graduated from Princeton. Awarded the Chancellor Green Mental Science Fellowship for a year’s study abroad, he spent a semester in Leipzig, Germany, attending lectures by Wundt and serving as an experimental subject in the recently established psychological laboratory.

Academic Positions and Accomplishments. In September 1885 Baldwin returned to Princeton to enroll in the Princeton Theological Seminary and to assist in modern languages in the college. His enthusiasm, however, had been captured by the new psychology, and much of his time was devoted to translating Theódule Ribot’s German Psychology of To-day (1886), a history of recent trends in scientific psychology.

After two years at Princeton, by which time he had abandoned all thought of a theological career, Baldwin accepted a professorship in logic and philosophy at Lake Forest University in Illinois. He remained there until 1889. During this period he taught psychology and wrote a dissertation opposing materialism, for which he received a Princeton doctorate under McCosh in 1888. On 22 November in that same year, he married Helen Hayes Green, daughter of a prominent professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. They had two daughters, Helen, born in 1889, and Elizabeth, born in 1891.

At Lake Forest, Baldwin also published his Handbook of Psychology: Senses and Intellect (1889), which drew for its inspiration on both the new experimental psychology and the old Scottish mental philosophy. The generally positive reception accorded to Senses and Intellect figured prominently in his receiving an offer of the chair of logic and metaphysics at the University of Toronto, to which he moved in November 1889.

Baldwin remained at Toronto until 1893, a period of transition in which he ended his reliance on the old mental philosophy tradition and became an experimental psychologist. At Toronto he founded the first psychological laboratory in Canada, completed work on the second volume of his Handbook, subtitled Feeling and Will (1891), and initiated a classic series of experimental studies of infant behavior. These observations, to be described below, marked the beginning of Baldwin’s shift toward the evolutionary, developmental perspective on mind for which he is best remembered.

In the fall of 1893, while the infancy work was still in progress, Baldwin returned to Princeton to occupy the Stuart Chair in Psychology and establish a new psychological laboratory. Upon arrival he began rereading the literature on biological and mental evolution. This led to his two most important theoretical contributions, both having to do with the conceptualization of related evolutionary mechanisms, one ontogenetic, the other phylogenetic.

In Mental Development in the Child and the Race, published in 1895, and Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development, which appeared in 1897, Baldwin articulated a biosocial theory of individual adaptation that is his primary claim to fame within psychology. In 1896, in an article titled “A New Factor in Evolution,” Baldwin described a mechanism by which acquired accommodations might influence the course of phylogenetic evolution by natural selection. This mechanism has become known in evolutionary theory and evolutionary computation as the Baldwin effect. Both Baldwin’s biosocial theory of individual adaptation and the Baldwin effect will be described below.

The years at Princeton also saw the cofounding, with the Columbia University psychologist James McKeen Cattell, of the Psychological Review and Baldwin’s election, in 1897, to the presidency of the American Psychological Association. His presidential address, “On Selective Thinking” (1898), which applied principles of variation and selection to the process of intellectual discovery, is often cited as a landmark in evolutionary epistemology. In that same year, Baldwin began recruiting authors for the monumental Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology. Published under his editorship between 1901 and 1905, “Baldwin’s Dictionary” recruited many of the world’s great minds to the Herculean task of providing systematic definitions for the major concepts of philosophy and psychology. In recognition of this effort and his many other contributions, Baldwin was awarded honorary degrees by the universities of Oxford, Glasgow, South Carolina, and Geneva.

In December 1903, motivated by a resurgent interest in philosophy occasioned by his editing the Dictionary, declining interest in laboratory work, and growing dissatisfaction with administrative developments at Princeton, Baldwin accepted a professorship in philosophy and psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. There, in addition to founding another major journal, the Psychological Bulletin, he drew on philosophical insights derived from work on the Dictionary to examine the nature and development of thought in relation to reality. This led to four books published between 1906 and 1915 (three under the general title Thought and Things: A Study of the Development and Meaning of Thought or Genetic Logic and a fourth titled Genetic Theory of Reality, Being the Outcome of Genetic Logic as Issuing in the Aesthetic Theory of Reality Called Pancalism) that traced the evolution of intelligence—from early prelogical, pre-reflective thought and the rise of meaning through the emergence of

reflection, logic, and higher-order synthetic cognition to an ultimate transcendence of intellectual dichotomies in aesthetic experience. Unfortunately this work was difficult conceptually, neologistic in the extreme, and out of step with trends in both philosophy and psychology. It was then and continued to be largely ignored.

In 1908, at the peak of his academic career, Baldwin was arrested in a Baltimore bordello. In the aftermath of his arrest, he was forced to resign his position at Hopkins and generally ostracized by his American colleagues. In 1909 he moved with his family to Paris. Between 1909 and 1912 Baldwin traveled periodically between Paris and Mexico City, where he delivered lectures at the School of Higher Studies in the National University. These resulted in two publications: The Individual and Society (1911) and History of Psychology: A Sketch and an Interpretation (1913). His history lectures, which focused on parallels between the development of psychological thought from the Greeks to the moderns and that of the individual mind in ontogenesis, constitute the first genetic epistemological history of a science. In 1911 he was elected correspondent of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, Institute of France, to fill a vacancy created by the death of William James.

Later Years in Paris. From 1912 until his death at age seventy-three, Baldwin involved himself in American affairs in France and in lobbying for French causes in the United States. After the outbreak of World War I, in the face of what he perceived as German military aggression, he became quite critical of American isolationism. In 1915 he published La France et la guerre: Opinions d’un améri-cain, a defense of French participation in the war, and in 1916 he issued American Neutrality: Its Cause and Cure, urging U.S. entrance into the war on behalf of the Allies.

In March 1916 Baldwin journeyed to Oxford to deliver the Herbert Spencer Lecture, “The Super-State and the ‘Eternal Values’”—a focused attack on German political ideology. On his return voyage, the unarmed passenger ship Sussex on which he was traveling was hit by a German torpedo as it was crossing the English Channel. Baldwin and his wife survived with only minor injuries, but their younger daughter, Elizabeth, was left permanently crippled by the attack.

In 1917, in honor of his dedication to the French cause, Baldwin was awarded the Legion of Honor. Following the Armistice, he worked on his memoirs. These were privately published in 1926 as Between Two Wars (1861– 1921).

Studies of Infant Behavior. Baldwin’s interest in developmental psychology began with the birth of his first daughter, Helen, in 1889. At the time, the study of children’s behavior relied exclusively on two methods, naturalistic observation and questionnaires, neither of which was experimental. Familiar with the laboratory methods of Leipzig, Baldwin introduced experimental method into the study of infant behavior. Described in a series of papers in Science beginning in 1890, his first systematic experiments were designed to explore the conditions under which reaching with one or two hands occurs between the baby’s fourth and tenth months. The objects and colors toward which the baby was allowed to reach, their distance and direction from her body, and the child’s position at the table were all systematically manipulated. To quantify and record variation in reaching distance precisely, the stimuli were placed in position by means of a set of sliding rods, and experiments were always carried out at the same time of day. Although Baldwin’s results—optimal reaching distance at 9–10 inches, a preponderance of two-handed reaching, and right-hand preference first emerging only when the child was presented with brightly colored objects at distances slightly beyond her reach—are interesting, the real value of Baldwin’s work for an emerging scientific psychology lay in his use of methods that were experimental, controlled, quantitative, adopted with an explicit concern for research design, and focused on a specific type of behavior.

Biosocial Theory of Individual Adaptation. Baldwin’s infant observations also bore fruit in another direction. From the mental philosophy perspective of McCosh, human perception was assumed to be governed by fixed, natively given principles existing in God-given harmony with reality. Humans perceive the world as it is because God has created them to do so. Even cursory observation of his infant daughters, however, made it clear to Baldwin that this view required modification. Because infant perception is blind to aspects of reality obvious to the perception of an adult, human perception cannot exist in preestablished harmony with reality. Furthermore, the mind of the infant, far from being governed by fixed principles, is undergoing rapid intellectual change. Having come to this realization, Baldwin set out to describe a mechanism by which the direction of development toward a progressively more adequate adaptation to reality could be explained.

Although Baldwin’s theory was only fully worked out between 1894 and 1897, its beginnings can be found in concepts already present in his work at Toronto. There, borrowing in part from Herbert Spencer and Alexander Bain and with a clear debt to Charles Darwin, George John Romanes, and William James, Baldwin began for the first time to conceive of mental development as a process involving both the repetition and conservation of useful reactions (habit) and the adaptation of the individual to changing conditions so that new and progressively more useful reactions are acquired (accommodation). In addition, he became increasingly impressed with the extent to which infants cognize the environment through direct and immediate action on it (see especially “Infant Psychology,” 1890, and “Suggestion in Infancy,” 1891). Baldwin termed this idea the “principle of dynamogenesis.”

It was only with the publication of Mental Development and Social and Ethical Interpretations, however, that Baldwin brought these concepts together in a developed biosocial theory. In its most general form, this theory argues that all organisms are characterized by a dynamo-genic tendency to relate to stimuli by acting on them. In any adaptive action, both habit and accommodation are operative. Habit is a tendency to action, the ability to repeat what has been successful in the past. It begins with a congenital susceptibility to act in defined ways in relation to certain stimuli and, as it changes over time through accommodation, becomes the conservator of the organism’s life history. Accommodation is the adaptive process by which habit is altered to incorporate new possibilities for action.

What, then, is the adaptive goal of accommodation? How are actions modified in relation to environmental change? And by what criteria are modified reactions selected for retention? Baldwin’s most general answer to these questions is that accommodation serves to maintain contact with desirable stimulations (those vital to the organism and producing pleasure) and minimize contact with those that are undesirable (deadly and painful). The modification of action takes place through a “circular” process that he terms “organic selection.” In organic selection, vital stimuli trigger pleasure or pain leading to an excess discharge of varied movements, some of which are successful in bringing about repetition of the pleasurable or inhibiting repetition of the painful stimulus. Pleasure and pain, in other words, serve as the criteria by which successful movements are selected for retention so as better to adapt the organism. This circular process of adaptation is congenitally given (i.e., selected for in the evolutionary history of the species) and serves as a prototype for all higher forms of accommodation, even those that take place mentally through the mediation of consciousness.

When Baldwin addressed the issue of conscious accommodation, he focused on a particular type of circular reaction that he termed “conscious imitation.” In conscious imitation, movement elicited dynamogenically by a stimulus not only tends to maintain contact with the stimulus but to reproduce it by virtue of the fact that imitative action more or less mirrors the stimulus. This reproduction of the stimulus then enters consciousness as part of the next stimulus for the succeeding act. Conscious imitation, in other words, tends in circular fashion to perpetuate itself. It is easily observed in its purest form in very young children; moreover, in Baldwin’s view, it underlies, albeit in a more obscure fashion, even the complex conscious accommodations of the adult.

As accommodation proceeds on the basis of circular reactions, three additional factors—memory, association, and voluntary attention—come into play, and with the participation of these factors individual adaptation reaches its highest level in accommodations that are volitional in nature. Memory involves the reinstatement of a perception as an internal stimulus in the absence of the original. Association links external stimuli to internal stimuli, so that habit becomes elaborated into a complex network of associated processes and the relevant dynamogenically elicited reactions tend to realize themselves in concert. Because of this complexity, actions may eventually lose the imitative or stimulus-reproducing character from which they originated and take on a purely mental form. It is in voluntary attention that Baldwin finds the most highly developed form of mental accommodation. Through voluntary attention, consciousness deliberately selects that to which the habit system will be accommodated, and new elements of reality are assimilated to the old (the habit system) and given their meaning.

In this theory of the process by which action, consciousness, reality, and an underlying dispositional cognitive system (habit) change in an adaptive fashion, Baldwin had proposed a biologically given functional mechanism by which the mind gradually develops toward a progressively more adequate adjustment to the real world as a function of experience. Baldwin’s interest, however, also lay in the development of the social mind, and no sooner had he elaborated his biologically based concept of organic selection than he extended it to the social domain.

Like all consciousness, social consciousness (e.g., the infant’s perception of a parental smile) is a joint function of habit and social stimuli (termed social suggestions to emphasize the dynamogenic nature of social consciousness) and tends to realize itself in social action. Social action, in turn, may imitatively mirror social suggestion (e.g., the infant smiles in return) or inventively vary from it (e.g., the infant sticks out her tongue). In either case, social action changes the social stimulus (e.g., the baby feels herself smile or stick out her tongue and sees the parent’s answering response). This changed stimulus contains elements that are relatively novel as well as those that are familiar. Assimilation of this combination of novel and familiar to habit forces an accommodation with concomitant change in social consciousness expressing itself in new social action which again changes the social stimulus, leads to ever newer accommodations, social consciousnesses, social actions, and so on—in a circular process of social adaptation that continues throughout life.

The criterion for success by which social actions are selected for incorporation into the habit system Baldwin terms “social confirmation.” Social confirmation is a change in social stimuli that results from and reflects the nature of social action (e.g., the parent’s returning the infant’s smile). Over the course of development, as novel social actions receive social confirmation and are selected as part of the child’s own social habit repertoire, they become available to give meaning to the actions of others. The child’s consciousness of the other, therefore, comes to reflect consciousness of self. Baldwin refers to this aspect of the process of social adaptation as “the dialectic of the social self.” Finally, social stimuli, social actions, and social confirmations all exist in a broader social context from which they receive cultural meaning. In Social and Ethical Interpretations, Baldwin labels this context “social heredity,” describing it as “the mass of organized tradition, custom, usage, social habit, etc., which is already embodied in the institutions and ways of acting, thinking, etc., of a given social group, considered as the normal heritage of the individual social child” (1895, p. 301). Social heredity is, in effect, the system of social meanings into which the child is born and to which the child must become enculturated.

The Baldwin Effect. As Baldwin was elaborating the social implications of his principle of organic selection as a mechanism of acquired adaptation in the individual, he was also engaged in extending these ideas to account for the influence of individual adaptation on species evolution. Although Baldwin’s view was not yet fully worked out in Mental Development, it is clear that he was already aware of the issue. “No theory of development is complete,” he wrote in 1895, “which does not account for the transmission in some way, from one generation to another, of the gains of the earlier generations, turning individual gains into race gains” (p. 204).

As a confirmed Darwinian, Baldwin knew that any mechanism he might propose to link individual adaptation to phylogenetic evolution had to be consistent with the principle of natural selection. In discussions with C. Lloyd Morgan, a British psychologist and zoologist, and Henry Fairfield Osborn, a Columbia University biologist, Baldwin developed a hypothesis that he thought met these criteria. This hypothesis was announced in the American Naturalist of June–July 1896 and extensively discussed, together with issues of heredity and instinct, physical and social heredity, determinate evolution, and isolation and selection, in Development and Evolution (1902).

To emphasize what he saw as the close relationship between individual adaptation and evolutionary change, Baldwin borrowed the term “organic selection,” already introduced for individual adaptation, for his new factor. In its most developed form, his argument goes as follows: Congenital variations that are “coincident with” and therefore lend themselves to the successful acquisition of new adaptations (accommodations) will influence individual survival and be subject to natural selection. Over evolutionary time these variations will be accumulated and support ever better accommodations in the same direction. Individual adaptations, in other words, while not physically inherited, screen congenital variations in the direction of a developing function (i.e., favoring both convergent and correlated adaptations), thereby providing the opportunity for natural selection to exert an effect along determinate lines. On this basis, as he put it in Development and Evolution, “it is the accommodations which set the pace, lay out the direction, and prophesy the actual course of evolution” (1902, p. 39).

Although the Baldwin effect was once largely dismissed as a minor factor in evolutionary change (see, for example, Simpson, 1953), interest in it renewed between 1975 and 2005. This reflects a growing concern with the relationship between behavior and evolution in both evolutionary biology and evolutionary computation and increased recognition of the possibility that selection is carried out not by the environment alone but by the organism and environment in constructive interaction (see Sánchez and Loredo, 2007, for an excellent discussion of these issues).


Only a few Baldwin papers are known to be extant. These are in the Princeton University Library. Additional correspondence can be found in the papers of William James, Hugo Münsterberg, George M. Stratton, Edward B. Titchener, and Robert M. Wenley. Letters received from William James are at the Bodleian.


As translator. German Psychology of To-day, by Th. Ribot. New York: Scribners, 1886.

Handbook of Psychology: Senses and Intellect. New York: Holt, 1889.

“Infant Psychology.” Science 16 (1890): 351–353.

“Origin of Right or Left-Handedness.” Science 16 (1890): 247–248.

“Recognition by Young Children.” Science 15 (1890): 274.

Handbook of Psychology: Feeling and Will. New York: Holt, 1891.

“Suggestion in Infancy.” Science 17 (1891): 113–117.

“Distance and Color Perception by Infants.” Science 21 (1893): 231–232.

Mental Development in the Child and the Race: Methods and Processes. New York: Macmillan, 1895.

“Heredity and Instinct.” Science n.s. 3 (1896): 438–441, 558–561.

“A New Factor in Evolution.” American Naturalist 30 (1896): 441–451, 536–553.

“Determinate Evolution.” Psychological Review 4 (1897): 393–401.

Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development. New York: Macmillan, 1897.

“On Selective Thinking.” Psychological Review 5 (1898): 1–24.

Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology. Vols. 1–3. New York: Macmillan, 1901–1905.

Development and Evolution. New York: Macmillan, 1902.

Thought and Things: A Study of the Development and Meaning of Thought or Genetic Logic. 3 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1906–1911.

The Individual and Society. Boston: Badger, 1911.

History of Psychology: A Sketch and an Interpretation. London: Watts, 1913.

Genetic Theory of Reality, Being the Outcome of Genetic Logic as Issuing in the Aesthetic Theory of Reality Called Pancalism. New York: Putnam, 1915.

La France et la guerre: Opinions d’un américain. Paris: Alcan, 1915.

American Neutrality: Its Cause and Cure. New York: Putnam, 1916.

The Super-State and the “Eternal Values.” Being the Herbert Spencer Lecture. London: Oxford University Press, 1916.

Between Two Wars, 1861–1921; Being Memories, Opinions, and Letters Received by James Mark Baldwin. Boston: Stratford, 1926.

James Mark Baldwin.” In A History of Psychology in Autobiography, vol. 1, edited by Carl Murchison. Worcester, MA: Clark University Press, 1930.


Broughton, John M., and D. John Freeman-Moir, eds. The Cognitive-Developmental Psychology of James Mark Baldwin. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1982.

Cairns, Robert B. “The Making of a Developmental Science: The Contributions and Intellectual Heritage of James Mark Baldwin.” Developmental Psychology 28 (1992): 17–24.

Hoff, Tory L. “Psychology in Canada One Hundred Years Ago: James Mark Baldwin at the University of Toronto.” Canadian Psychology 33 (1992): 683–694.

Holmes, Eugene Clay. Social Philosophy and the Social Mind: A Study of the Genetic Methods of J. M. Baldwin, G. H. Mead, and J. E. Boodin. New York: n.p., 1942.

Noble, David W. The Paradox of Progressive Thought. Chap. 4, “James Mark Baldwin: The Social Psychology of the Natural Man.” Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958.

Richards, Robert J. Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior. Chap. 10, “James Mark Baldwin: Evolutionary Biopsychology and the Politics of Scientific Ideas.” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Russell, James. The Acquisition of Knowledge. Sect. 1.2, “James Mark Baldwin and Genetic Epistemology.” New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978.

Sánchez, José Carlos, and José Carlos Loredo. “In Circles We Go: Baldwin’s Theory of Organic Selection and Its Current Uses: A Constructivist View.” Theory and Psychology 17 (2007): 33–58.

Sewny, Vahan D. The Social Theory of James Mark Baldwin. New York: King’s Crown Press, 1945.

Simpson, George G. “The Baldwin Effect.” Evolution 7 (1953): 110–117.

Weber, Bruce H., and David J. Depew, eds. Evolution and Learning: The Baldwin Effect Reconsidered. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

Wilson, R. Jackson. In Quest of Community: Social Philosophy in the United States, 1860–1920. Chap. 3, “James Mark Baldwin: Conservator of Moral Community.” New York: Wiley, 1968.

Wozniak, Robert H. “Thought and Things: James Mark Baldwin and the Biosocial Origins of Mind.” In Psychology: Theoretical-Historical Perspectives, edited by Robert W. Rieber and Kurt Salzinger. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1998.

———. “Lost Classics and Forgotten Contributors: James Mark Baldwin as a Case Study in the Disappearance and Rediscovery of Ideas.” In The Life Cycle of Psychological Ideas: Understanding Prominence and the Dynamics of Intellectual Change, edited by Thomas C. Dalton and Rand B. Evans. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 2004.

Robert H. Wozniak

Baldwin, James Mark

views updated May 29 2018

Baldwin, James Mark



James Mark Baldwin (1861–1934), American psychologist, was prominent in the newly scientific American psychology between 1890 and 1910. In general, he may be said to have been a philosophical psychologist who preferred writing and speculation to experimentation—despite the fact that during his career he equipped three different psychological laboratories. He was a brilliant, erudite, and facile writer, but his thinking was involved and his prose, although precise, was not lucid.

Baldwin was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on January 12, 1861, to a family with Northern sympathies. At the age of 18 he entered a preparatory school in Salem, New Jersey, and three years later went to Princeton University, where he acquired an interest in philosophy. He was graduated with an A.B. in 1884. Upon graduation he won a fellowship for European study and spent a year studying with Wilhelm Wundt at Leipzig and Friedrich Paulsen at Berlin. Those were the days when philosophers were excited about the discovery of a new field of philosophy—experimental psychology. They did not realize how far apart in personal values are the rational and empirical modes of intellectual endeavor. Wundt was at heart a philosopher, a pioneer in the new psychology but not basically a laboratory man; Baldwin was ruled by a similar temperamental bias.

Baldwin returned from Europe to teach German and French at Princeton, but he took a course at the theological seminary and thought of the ministry for a while. From 1887 to 1889 he was professor of philosophy at Lake Forest. Baldwin had not liked the theological dogmatism he found at Princeton and turned definitely toward psychology, undertaking in his first book, the Handbook of Psychology; Senses and Intellect (1889), to correct the lack of texts in the new psychology. William James’s Principles of Psychology was still a year away, and John Dewey’s later greatness was not yet apparent in his Psychology of 1886, so there was only G. T. Ladd’s big Physiological Psychology available. At the end of Baldwin’s stay at Lake Forest, Princeton awarded him the PH.D. for a dissertation in which he undertook—at the unwavering insistence of President James McCosh, a Presbyterian—to refute materialism.

From Lake Forest, Baldwin went as professor of psychology to Toronto, where he was provided with a small grant with which to start a psychological laboratory, the first on Commonwealth soil. There he published the second volume of his Handbook, the account of Feeling and Will (1891).

In 1893 he returned to Princeton, where he spent ten years as Stuart professor of psychology. For the second time, he established a psychological laboratory, but his personal laboratory was the nursery of his two daughters, aged four and two. His many observations of these two girls were the basis of his claim to be a pioneer in developmental child psychology.

Evolution had by then taken American intellectuals by storm, and Baldwin, like G. Stanley Hall but with much greater sophistication, became an American exponent of evolution and functionalism in psychology. He published Mental Development in the Child and the Race (1895) and Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development (1897). These books were followed by Development and Evolution (1902a) and by the three volumes of his Genetic Logic (1906–1911), in which he undertook to expound the nature of thought and meaning in developmental terms. In evolutionary theory, he is perhaps best known for his doctrine of organic selection, the view that the establishment of variation in an organism is helped by the adaptation of the organism, a conception that slants the Darwinian theory slightly toward the Lamarckian. Baldwin founded laboratories but did not use them, and this stream of highly speculative theorizing with but slim empirical base prejudiced most American experimental psychologists against him.

While he was at Princeton, Baldwin performed two important services for psychology. In 1894 he founded with J. McK. Cattell the Psychological Review and its two adjuncts, the Psychological Index and the Psychological Monographs. In 1901 and 1902 he published two huge volumes of the Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, which he had edited and which was later supplemented by Benjamin Rand’s great bibliographical volume.

Baldwin went in 1903 to Johns Hopkins, where he rescued from oblivion G. Stanley Hall’s old laboratory. Here the first two volumes of Genetic Logic were written. Baldwin was developing other interests, however. He traveled frequently; while in Mexico City he advised on the organization of the university. He liked Mexico and Paris, and after five years at Johns Hopkins he spent 1909–1913 at the National University of Mexico where, among other activities, he finished Genetic Logic.

In 1913 he moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life. He saw World War i as a moral issue and through the years of American neutrality sought American support for the Allies. He was already a member of the Institut de France, and his work for France during the war brought him further recognition; but his contributions to psychology and his version of its philosophy were done. His reminiscences and letters were published in 1926, and he died in Paris on November 8, 1934.

Edwin G. Boring

[Other relevant material may be found inDevelopmental psychologyand the biographies ofHallandWundt.]


1889–1891 Handbook of Psychology. 2 vols. New York: Holt. → Volume 1: Senses and Intellect, 1889. Volume 2: Feeling and Will, 1891.

1893 Elements of Psychology. New York: Holt. → A condensation of Handbook of Psychology.

(1895) 1906 Mental Development in the Child and the Race: Methods and Processes. 3d ed., rev. New York and London: Macmillan.

(1897) 1906 Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development: A Study in Social Psychology. 4th ed., rev. & enl. New York: Macmillan.

(1898) 1915 The Story of the Mind. New York: Appleton. → An elementary text.

(1901–1905) 1960 BALDWIN, JAMES MARK (editor). Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology. 3 vols. New ed., with corrections. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith. → Volume 1, A-L, 1901. Volume 2, L-Z, 1902. Volumes 1 and 2 were edited by J. M. Baldwin. Volume 3, Bibliography, 1905, was compiled by Benjamin Rand.

1902a Development and Evolution, Including Psychophysical Evolution, Evolution by Orthoplasy, and the Theory of Genetic Modes. New York: Macmillan.

1902b Fragments in Philosophy and Science, Being Collected Essays and Addresses. New York: Scribner.

1906–1911 Thought and Things: A Study of the Development and Meaning of Thought; or Genetic Logic. 3 vols. New York: Macmillan; London: Sonnenschein. → Volume 1: Functional Logic, or Genetic Theory of knowledge, 1906. Volume 2: Experimental Logic, or Genetic Theory of Thought, 1908. Volume 3: Interest and Art, Being Real Logic and Genetic Epistemology, 1911.

1909 Darwin and the Humanities. Baltimore: Review Pub.

(1910) 1911 The Individual and Society; or Psychology and Sociology. Boston: Badger. → First published in French.

1913a French and American Ideals. London: Sherratt & Hughes. → Reprinted from Sociological Review, April 1913.

1913b History of Psychology: A Sketch and an Interpretation. 2 vols. London: Watts.

(1915a) 1916 France and the War, as Seen by an American. New York: Appleton. → Published in France and England in 1915.

1915b Genetic Theory of Reality. New York and London: Putnam.

1916a American Neutrality: Its Cause and Cure. New York and London: Putnam.

1916b The Super-state and the “Eternal Values.” London and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

1926 Between Two Wars: 1861–1921, Being Memories, Opinions and Letters Received. 2 vols. Boston: Stratford.


Baldwin, James M. 1930 Autobiography. Volume 1, pages 1–30 in Carl Murchison (editor), A History ofPsychology in Autobiography. Worcester, Mass.: Clark Univ. Press; Oxford Univ. Press.

Boring, Edwin G. (1929) 1950 A History of Experimental Psychology. 2d ed. New York: Appleton. → See pages 528–532 and 547 ff. on Baldwin.

Urban, W. M. 1935 James Mark Baldwin: Co-editor, Psychological Review, 1894–1909. Psychological Review 42:303–306.

Washburn, M. F. 1935 James Mark Baldwin: 1861–1934. American Journal of Psychology 47:168–169.

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