David Hartley (philosopher)

David Hartley ( born August 30, 1705 Halifax, † August 28 1757 in Bath ) was an English philosopher and psychologist. Hartley was the founder of the association psychology.

Association Teaching by David Hartley

Starting from the observation that sensations may persist even when the stimulus has already been removed (as in pain ), Hartley assumed that nerve swing further and produce these vibrations sensation. This is done in analogy to the vibration theory of Isaac Newton.

In addition to the sentiment, there is a second class of elements, the ideas. These two classes together can explain the structure of mental structures.

His major work, Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty and his Expectations was published in 1749.


  • Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty and his Expectations. 2 vols., London 1749 (Reprint, Olms, Hildesheim, 1967).


  • MH Marx, WA Hillix: Systems and Theories in Psychology. McGraw- Hill, New York 1963.
  • M.Wertheimer: Brief history of psychology. Piper & Co., Munich 1971.
  • W. Schönpflug: history and systematics of psychology. Beltz, Weinheim 2000.
  • H. Lück, R. Miller: Illustrated History of Psychology. Beltz, Weinheim, 2002.