Bühler, Karl

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bühler, Karl


Born May 27, 1879, in Meckesheim, Baden, died Oct. 24, 1963, in Los Angeles. German psychologist. From 1922 professor at the University of Vienna.

After the fascist occupation of Austria, Bühler moved to the USA. A pupil of O. Külpe, he joined the Würzberg School during the first period of his scientific career and was of the opinion that the main method of studying the thinking process should be self-observation by test subjects who are capable, while considering a problem, of recording the means by which they arrive at the solution. In dealing with the development of the psyche, Bühler distinguished three types of structures—instinct, training, and intellect; he related the origin of the intellect to the appearance of acts of sudden insight, the Aha-Erlebnis. In the structure of the intellect Bühler distinguished three categories of elements—images, intellectual feelings, and thoughts per se, which are divested of emotional and imaginai character and, according to Bühler, represent the main subject of psychological research.

Although important for broadening concepts about thought content, the views of Bühler met serious difficulties in explaining the development of the thinking process in children in that he did not go beyond purely describing intellectual processes and failed to show the constructive mechanisms of thinking and the actual means by which they are formed. In this connection Bühler’s works received well-founded criticism in psychological literature, especially by the Soviet psychologist L. S. Vygotskii and the Swiss psychologist J. Piaget.

Bühler wrote a number of works on the psychological aspects of speech and the theoretical foundations of psychology. Especially in his book The Crisis of Psychology (1927), Bühler advanced the idea that the crisis of psychology as a science could be overcome by a synthesis of three different approaches—the subjective psychological, the objective psychological, and the cultural-historical.


Handbuch der Psychologic Jena, 1922.
Ausdruckstheorie. Jena, 1933.
Sprachtheorie. Jena, 1934.
In Russian translation:
Dukhovnoe razvitie rebenka. [Moscow], 1924.
Ocherk dukhovnogo razvitiia rebenka. Moscow, 1930.


Iaroshevskii, M. G. Istoriia psikhologii. Moscow, 1966. Chapter 12.
Piaget, J. La Psychologie de l’intelligence. Paris, 1947. Chapter 2.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.