Chapter+12+William+James+and+Functionalism

Chapter+12+William+James+and+Functionalism - Recap:...

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Recap: Influences around the founding of psychology Hegel’s dialectic Ebbinghaus Titchener Brentano  Stumpf 11/18/11 James and Functionalism 1
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Functionalism: what mental states do for the organism Heavily influenced by Darwinian ideas about  adaptation to the environment. Mental states are indentified by what these do,  rather than what (brain events/mind-soul  events/sensory-motor events) these are made of or  correspond to. 11/18/11 2 James and Functionalism
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William James (1842-1910) His individualistic perspective was probably shaped by  his own difficult family life and intense experience  with depression He advocated multiple levels of analysis,  There is not one correct level of analysis. Pluralism rather than monism He denied that there is a primary or foundational  content area in psychology…nothing in  consistently reported human experience is beyond  psychology 11/18/11 3 James and Functionalism
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The intensity of James’ depression had at least some roots in his philosophic and scientific studies If materialistic philosophy was correct, it applied to  him… his depression was predetermined by his past,  and beyond his control If Darwin was correct, there is variation, differences  in adaptation resulting in natural selection…  11/18/11 James and Functionalism 4
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“My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.” “… when I have felt like taking a free initiative, like  daring to act originally, without carefully waiting for  contemplation of the external world to determine all  for me, suicide seemed the most manly form…. “ The change in thinking seemed to cure James’  depression, leading to his pragmatism… if an idea  works, it is valid. 11/18/11 James and Functionalism 5
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According to James, truth is elusive. Better to evaluate the “cash value of ideas” What do ideas/beliefs/habits enable an individual to  do that could not be done otherwise or so easily? Science should not exclude any aspect of experience  from study, just because scientific methods can’t  easily be used 11/18/11 James and Functionalism 6
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James vigorously opposed Wundt’s methods for studying “elementalism” He never read Wundt’s Volkerpsychologie, and did not  understand the breadth of Wundt’s interests He attacked Wundt’s work as “microscopic psychology”  which …”could never have arisen in a country whose  natives could be bored…” Wundt in turn, criticized James’ Principles of  Psychology 11/18/11 James and Functionalism 7
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The stream of thought or consciousness was more important than “elements” of thought Thoughts are personal and owned Thought is constantly changing
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This note was uploaded on 11/17/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 830:470 taught by Professor Ingate during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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Chapter+12+William+James+and+Functionalism - Recap:...

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