BECHER Erich—philosopher, psychologist, and natural scientist, b. September 1, 1882 in Reinshagen, d. January 5, 1929 in Munich.
From 1901 to 1904 he studied in Bonn. From 1909 to 1916 he was a professor at the University of Münster, and from 1916 to 1929 in Munich.
He presented an outline of his own philosophical views in Einführung in die Philosophie in which he supported a critical-realistic theory of knowledge based on the laws of events in the world and a confidence in perceptions and memory. The theory led to metaphysics conceived as an inductive science that concerns real being as whole in its four layers: matter, life, soul, and spirit. This conception of metaphysics becomes the foundation for ethics conceived in terms of eudaimonism. The requirement of social behaviors of the consciously acting man is ontologically rooted in the element of spirit.
Becher supported the division of the sciences into natural and humanistic. The basis of this division is the applicable object, method, and epistemological reasons. The image of the world as a whole is based on the data of the natural sciences and it is filled out by philosophical investigations. Becher’s interests focussed primarily on the question of teleology and the relation of the soul to the body. Initially he supported a psychophysical parallelism, then psychovitalism, of which he was one of the major representatives. He regarded psychovitalism as an extension of the hypothesis that the soul and body act upon one another. He stated that an soul beyond individuals directs the processes of the development of animate nature.
Becher’s major philosophical works: Philosophische Voraussetzungen der exakten Wissenschaft (L 1907); Gehirn und Seele (Hei 1911); Naturphilosophie (L 1914); Weltgebäude, Weltsetze, Weltentwicklung (B 1915); Die fremddienliche Zweckmässigkeit der Pflazengallen und die Hypothese eines überindividuellen Seelischen (L 1917); Geisteswissenschaften und Naturwissenschaften (Mn 1921); Einführung in die Philosophie (Mn 1926, B 19492).
P. Luchtenberg, Erich B., KantSt 24 (1929), 275–290; F. Thöne, Erich B. als Vertreter des Eudämonismus, Gie 1933; A. Wenzl, Erich B., “induktive” Metaphysik und ihre Weiterführung in die Gegenwart, Die Tatwelt 16 (1940), 147–155; idem, NDB I 688–689; R. Ebertin Baldur, Gehirn und Seele. Neue Forschungsergebnisse […] zu dem von Erich B. […] behandelten gleichen Thema, Aalen 1961.