James Mark Baldwin

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James Mark Baldwin (1861-1934), a prominent and influential American psychologist and philosopher, made important contributions to experimental psychology, developmental psychology, and evolutionary psychology during his academic career that included faculty positions at Princeton, Johns Hopkins, the National University in Mexico City, the French Provincial Universities, and the Ecole des Hautes Sociales in Paris.[1] In his autobiography,[2] Baldwin arranges his published contributions in the following categories, a chronological survey of his work in psychology and philosophy:

  • General Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Child Psychology and Racial Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Genetic Psychology and Evolution
  • Genetic Logic
  • Terminology

Bryn Mawr College Professor of Psychology, Robert H. Wozniak, writes of Baldwin with this encomium:

Between 1892 and 1909, Baldwin could lay claim to being one of the best known psychologists in America, with an international reputation second only to that of William James [(1842-1910)].[1]

Professor Wozniak proffers that Baldwin’s writings provided a source for some of the most profound ideas advanced by the influential developmental psychologists, Jean Piaget (1896 –1980) and Lev S. Vygotsky (1896 –1937), and notes that, in turn, Baldwin was greatly influenced by the revolutionary ideas of the naturalist, Charles Darwin (1809-1882)—inspiring an image of something like a pyramid of giants with giants standing on their shoulders.

Early years

Thoughts on 'General Psychology'

Baldwin refers to general truths of psychology:[3]

And when we wish to trace out the story of the mind, as psychology has done it, we find that there are certain general truths with which we should first acquaint ourselves; truths which the science has been a very long time finding out, but which we can now realize without a great deal of explanation.[3]

Baldwin proceeds to articulate those truths as he views them, the first being that animals have minds:

The first such truth is that the mind is not the possession of man alone. Other creatures have minds. Psychology no longer confines itself, as it formerly did, to the human soul, denying to the animals a place in this highest of all the sciences. It finds itself unable to require any test or evidence of the presence of mind which the animals do not meet, nor does it find any place at which the story of the mind can begin higher up than the very beginnings of life. For as soon as we ask, "How much mind is necessary to start with?" we have to answer, "Any mind at all": and all the animals are possessed of some of the actions which we associate with mind.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wozniak RH. (2009) Consciousness, Social Heredity, and Development: The Evolutionary Thought of James Mark Baldwin. American Psychologist 64(2)93-101.
  2. Baldwin JM. (1930) History of Psychology in Autobiography. Carl Murchison, editor.1:1-30. Worcester, MA: Clark University Press. | Republished with permission, by Classics in the History of Psychology, internet resource developed by Christopher D. Green, York University, Toronto, Ontario. ISSN 1492-3173.
    • Clicking title links to full-text.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Baldwin JM. (1910) The Story of the Mind. D. Appleton and Co.
    • Clicking title links to free Google eBook.