Lecture 9e - Module 1

Lecture 9e - Module 1 - Module 1 The Scope and History of...

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1 Module 1: The Scope and History of Psychology Chapter Overview I. What is psychology? II. Philosophical and theological psychology. Before the beginning of “modern, scientific psychology,” people were interested in all of these things. III. Scientific psychology IV. Perspectives in current scientific psychology V. Psychology as a profession I. What is psychology? “A science that attempts to describe and explain how we think, feel and act.” There are at least two “fault lines” that underlie this definition. A. What are we really studying here? Observable behavior or subjective experience? 1. either? 2. both? B. How are we actually studying these things? As broad philosophical questions or with narrowly defined methods for finding practical answers? 1. art, literature, history? “humanities” methods? 2. physics, chemistry? methods from the “hard sciences”? II. Philosophical psychology – provocative early questions A. How are mind and body related? 1. “Dualism”: the mind is a faculty of the soul, the immortal soul, not a product of the body. Practical implications: a. Investigate philosophical and theological writings and even sacred scripture. b. Focus on mental processes and subjective experiences. c. Don’t bother studying the body, since the body at most is a reflection of pure mind or spirit, and never a cause. Socrates, Plato, the Atheneum. 2. Aristotle: the Lyceum. The mind and the body are in fact “connected”: “the soul is not separable from the body, and the same holds good of particular parts of the soul” (cf. Aristotle’s De Anima). Practical implications: a. Focus on observable behavior. Observe, measure and record what you notice. b. Pay attention to what’s happening in the body. It could be
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2 important. Observe, measure and record what you notice. “Empiricism”. 3. René Descartes (1596-1650) – the soul has a physical seat, the pineal gland at the base of the brain 4. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) – “Materialism”: there is no soul, immortal or otherwise. The mind is a product of the brain. If you can’t observe it and measure it, it doesn’t exist. “Empiricism.” B. Are people programmed only by external experience (a form of “Empiricism”) or is there a genetic predisposition that guarantees that humans will notice certain patterns of language, mathematical relations, etc. (“Innate, ‘in-born’ ideas,” “Nativism,” “Genetic determinism”)? 1. “Nature” (genetics, innate ideas) vs. “Nurture” (external training, control) 2. Plato vs. Aristotle 3. Abrahamic mysticism & oriental religion (karma, destiny, divine Providence) vs. “scientific positivism” (“human reason conquers all”) III. Scientific psychology A. The work of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a great inspiration to those who wished to create a scientific psychology. Nineteenth Century biology was obsessed with classification – the culmination of an intellectual trend that had been set loose by the European discovery of the Americas and the
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Lecture 9e - Module 1 - Module 1 The Scope and History of...

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