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< Articles by Julian Jaynes

The Historical Origins of "Ethology" and "Comparative Psychology"

Julian Jaynes
Animal Behaviour, 1969, 17 (4): 601-606.


Both terms come out of the polarization in French biology created by the Cuvier-Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire debates. Cuvier's protege, Flourens, founded comparative psychology in 1864, and Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire's son founded ethology in 1859. Whereas comparative psychology as a term was eagerly taken up, there appearing 5 texts with it as the title in the late 1870's, ethology was less successful. Mill had previously defined ethology as character education, and Haeckel coined ecology to mean the same thing. Giard, however, championed ethology as did his student, Bohn, and then Wheeler at Harvard. In the 1930s, Pelseneer insisted ethology should be quantitative, comparative, and phylogenetic. After World War II, the term comes to cover the observations of Tinbergen, Lorenz, Baerends, and others. The current connotations of both terms are consistent with their origins in 19th century French biology.