On This Day … 09 August

People (Births)

  • 1890 – Eino Kaila, Finnish philosopher and psychologist, attendant of the Vienna circle (d. 1958).
  • 1896 – Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist and philosopher (d. 1980).
  • 1949 – Jonathan Kellerman, American psychologist and author.

People (Deaths)

  • 1949 – Edward Thorndike, American psychologist and academic (b. 1874).

Eino Kaila

Eino Sakari Kaila (August 9, 1890 – July 31, 1958[1]) was a Finnish philosopher, critic and teacher. He worked in numerous fields including psychology (sometimes considered to be the founder of Finnish psychology), physics and theater, and attempted to find unifying principles behind various branches of human and natural sciences.

Life

Eino Kaila was born in Alajärvi, Finland. Kaila’s father, Erkki Kaila was a Protestant minister and later archbishop. He graduated from the University of Helsinki in 1910. In the 1920s he worked in the field of literary criticism and psychology as a professor at the University of Turku and is said to have been the first to introduce gestalt psychology to Finland. He was a part of the cultural circles of the time with the likes of Jean Sibelius and Frans Eemil Sillanpää. In 1916 he married the painter Anna Lovisa Snellman, who was granddaughter of Johan Vilhelm Snellman. He had University positions as lecturer in Helsinki and professor in Turku, and in 1930 he was appointed professor of theoretical philosophy at the University of Helsinki. In the 1930s, Kaila was closely associated with the Vienna Circle.

During World War II, Kaila lectured in Germany. In 1948 Kaila became a member of the Finnish Academy. He died in Kirkkonummi on 31 July 1958.

Ideas

Despite being greatly influenced by the logical positivists and critical of unempirical speculation, an aspect common to all of Kaila’s work was in strive for a holistic, almost pantheistic understanding of things. He also maintained a more naturalist approach to psychology. His book Persoonallisuus (1934, Personality) was a psychological study with philosophical dimensions, in which emphasized the biological nature of psychological phenomena. During the last years of his life he attempted to construct a theory of everything in Terminalkausalität Als Die Grundlage Eines Unitarischen Naturbegriffs, but this, what was meant to be the first installment in a more extensive study, was not met with much enthusiasm outside of Finland.

Though he withdrew his support of the National Socialists before the end of the Second World War, he wrote about the differences between “western” and “eastern” thought and claimed that the homogeneity of the people was a necessity for a functioning democracy. After the war his close friendships with Edwin Linkomies and Veikko Antero Koskenniemi put a political shadow even over Kaila.

Influence

Kaila’s most famous pupil was Georg Henrik von Wright, who was the successor of Ludwig Wittgenstein at the University of Cambridge. The tradition of highly German-influenced analytical-idealist philosophy which Kaila championed remained unchallenged in Finnish philosophy until the appearance of continental influences in the 1980s.

Kaila founded the psychological laboratory at the University of Helsinki, and educated the next generation of psychologists. He contributed to founding professorship in psychology, and to establishment of the Faculty of Political Science together with Edwin Linkomies.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget (09 August 1896 to 16 September 1980) was a Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called “genetic epistemology”.

Piaget placed great importance on the education of children. As the Director of the International Bureau of Education, he declared in 1934 that “only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.” His theory of child development is studied in pre-service education programs. Educators continue to incorporate constructivist-based strategies.

Piaget created the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955 while on the faculty of the University of Geneva and directed the Centre until his death in 1980. The number of collaborations that its founding made possible, and their impact, ultimately led to the Centre being referred to in the scholarly literature as “Piaget’s factory”.

According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget was “the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing.” However, his ideas did not become widely popularised until the 1960s. This then led to the emergence of the study of development as a major sub-discipline in psychology. By the end of the 20th century, Piaget was second only to B.F. Skinner as the most cited psychologist of that era.

Jonathan Kellerman

Jonathan Seth Kellerman (born 09 August 1949) is an American novelist, psychologist, and Edgar- and Anthony Award–winning author best known for his popular mystery novels featuring the character Alex Delaware, a child psychologist who consults for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Born on the Lower East Side of New York City, his family relocated to Los Angeles when Jonathan was nine years old.

Kellerman graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a doctor of philosophy degree in psychology in 1974, and began working as a staff psychologist at the USC School of Medicine, where he eventually became a full clinical professor of paediatrics. He opened a private practice in the early 1980s while writing novels in his garage at night.

His first published novel, When the Bough Breaks, appeared in 1985, many years after writing and having works rejected. He then wrote five best-selling novels while still a practicing psychologist. In 1990, he quit his private practice to write full-time. He has written more than 40 crime novels, as well as nonfiction works and children’s books.

Edward Thorndike

Edward Lee Thorndike (31 August 1874 to 09 August 1949) was an American psychologist who spent nearly his entire career at Teachers College, Columbia University. His work on comparative psychology and the learning process led to the theory of connectionism and helped lay the scientific foundation for educational psychology. He also worked on solving industrial problems, such as employee exams and testing. He was a member of the board of the Psychological Corporation and served as president of the American Psychological Association in 1912.

A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Thorndike as the ninth-most cited psychologist of the 20th century. Edward Thorndike had a powerful impact on reinforcement theory and behaviour analysis, providing the basic framework for empirical laws in behaviour psychology with his law of effect. Through his contributions to the behavioural psychology field came his major impacts on education, where the law of effect has great influence in the classroom.

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