070125 C&L - Chapter 1

070125 C&L - Chapter 1 - 1 C&LH Chapter 1 1/25/07...

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Chapter 1 1/25/07 Historical overviews in psych always begin with Descartes-- So we’ll begin there too. ..but first, Galileo (not in your text). Galileo had argued that it was necessary to develop rational and precise mathematical models of the physical world and test those models empirically . This was the beginning of science his insistence that models be developed and tested empirically, or experimentally. Empirical— define—look and see; be empirical. ... NOTE: Your text author first uses the word "empirical" at the bottom of p. 5. It's too bad it is in the section next to the British empiricists because they sat around and argued about how things were instead of checking them out or testing their ideas to see if they were true. ... Thus, Galileo developed and tested models of inanimate motion , deriving the law of gravity from experimental studies of the speed of falling bodies and the speed of balls rolling down inclined planes depending on the pitch or slope of the incline, etc. He also studied the motion o pendulums. BUT, Galileo said that it was not possible to develop and test models of animate motion . Now Enter Descartes. Descartes lived at a time when there was a great interest in devices and mechanics—not scientific technology—but people were just into tinkering and building things— like the modern equivalent of fascination with erector sets or “tinkertoys” or “legos” or “gears”. ... So at that time machinists developed these fantastic, huge clocks that ran by falling weights (describe our cuckoo clock)--you can see them on the tops of buildings all over Europe—e.g., Big Ben. One thing that was developed at this time was a set of mechanical dolls that moved by a clockwork motion—they were made out of metal and wood—for the amusement of the nobility in the Royal Gardens of St. Germaine in Paris. As you walked down a path, you stepped on a treadle & a life-size Venus rotated out in front of you from behind a bush and then disappeared back behind it; and as you continued down path and stepped on another treadle, Neptune with his trident appeared from behind a bush, and disappeared, etc. Descartes was inspired by the action of these dolls and got the idea of using them as a metaphor for a model of animate motion that could be tested empirically, thus satisfying Galileo’s criterion for science. He called the animate motion a reflex . He described a reflex was mechanical action--never any different--that was initiated by an external stimulus —like stepping on the treadle. Describe how he thought a relex worked—stimulus (like squeezing one end of a balloon that has been blown up--animal spirits flow down hollow tube to brain and reflect off it to flow back down and produce motion; if open en of balloon, it will zip around as the jet of air comes out; real example, touching a hot stove and jerking hand away. speed of jerking related to how hot it is. Descartes described animals as automatons composed of a library of reflexes
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070125 C&L - Chapter 1 - 1 C&LH Chapter 1 1/25/07...

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