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Rene Descartes. French philosopher of the mid -1600’s – end of the Renaissance Period Greatly influenced by the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, and Copernicus Also influenced by development of mechanical toys and clocks

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rene descartes
Rene Descartes
  • French philosopher of the mid -1600’s – end of the Renaissance Period
  • Greatly influenced by the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, and Copernicus
  • Also influenced by development of mechanical toys and clocks
  • Major contribution for psychology was his focus on behavior and the mind – in the mind-body issue
philosophy influenced by authorities of the time
Philosophy Influenced by Authorities of the time
  • 1st book written in 1638 very mechanistic – like the toys and clocks he saw
    • Human behavior the result of reflexes
    • Eliminated the idea of free will
    • No evidence of a soul
  • This book was not published until after his death
    • Shortly after the reformation
    • The trial and imprisonment of Galileo
new philosophy of descartes
New Philosophy of Descartes
  • Nonhumans are mechanical and fully automated
  • Humans are somewhat mechanized, but we have a soul, are unique in our ability to think and reason
  • Led to Dualism – humans have a mechanical body but also a mind that was different from the body
  • Mind and body coordinated their activities in the brain – pineal gland
  • The mind has structure, it is a thing
  • The content of the mind was ideas
    • Innate ideas – such as ideas about God and self “I think, therefore I am.” Concepts of space, time, and motion
    • Derived ideas – come from experience and they alter the nervous system
descartes deductive rationalism
Descartes – Deductive Rationalism
  • Method of Scientific inquiry was deductive reasoning
  • Sensory information unreliable and can not be totally trusted
example of descartes reasoning
Example of Descartes' Reasoning
  • My body and objects in the environment are real. I can see, touch, hear, and taste them. I get thirsty, feel pain, etc.
  • However, I dream and people report pain long after a limb has been amputated – these feelings and sensations are not real
  • Therefore how do I know things really exist, maybe I shouldn’t trust my experiences as evidence of the existence of self and objects
  • God gave us these senses, God is not deceitful, therefore we can use trust the senses God gave us
descartes as a foundation for psychology
Descartes as a Foundation for Psychology
  • First attempt to develop a model of the Mind-Body position – Dualism
  • Methodology – breaking a large complicated problem down into simpler individual parts
  • Learning and experience alter the Brain
british empiricism
British Empiricism
  • John Locke, John Stuart Mills among others
  • Not interested in the content of the mind; most interested in how the mind worked
  • Wanted to understand how the mind acquires knowledge, not what it knows
  • The importance of learning through experience
john locke
John Locke
  • Many of his philosophical ideas were the basis for our American form of democracy
  • But he was also an important foundation of psychology
  • We develop ideas – sensations, perceptions, and abstractions through experience
  • Concept of Tabula Rosa – used by Descartes, but Locke denied the idea of innate ideas
  • Yes, sensory experiences maybe inaccurate at times, but we have no choice; there is no other source of information
qualities and ideas
Qualities and Ideas
  • Addressed accuracy of sensory systems using 2 terms:
  • Qualities – the ability of the physical properties of an object to produce an idea – wavelength is a quality of light
  • Ideas – a mental image that could be employed while thinking – results from sensations or reflections
    • The source of all ideas is sensation
    • But these ideas can be acted upon and rearranged by operations of the mind
qualities of an object or event
Qualities of an Object or Event
  • 2 types of qualities
    • Primary qualities- the actual attributes of the object or event
    • Secondary qualities – the type of psychological experience they cause
    • Paradox of the basins – 3 basins - hot water, cold water, and lukewarm water
  • 2 kinds of ideas:
    • Simple ideas - the basic elements of experience because they cannot divided or analyzed further into other ideas
    • Complex ideas – combinations of simple ideas
  • Mental processes operate on simple ideas to form complex ideas
    • Complex ideas have attractive forces that bring simple ideas together
    • Mutual attraction of ideas became the basis for many learning theories
john stuart mills associationism
John Stuart Mills -Associationism
  • Interested in how sensations and ideas became associated or combined
  • People who study his work and compare it to others estimate his IQ was about 200, the highest in history
  • Strong advocate for women’s rights and was anti-slavery – all people created equal
mills a foundation of psychology
Mills: A Foundation of Psychology
  • Human thinking involved actively restructuring and rearranging the ideas provided by experience
  • Mental chemistry – ideas, like chemicals, could be combined to produce a combination with properties not found in the individual ideas
  • Argued against the ideas of Auguste Compte that it was impossible to scientifically study the mind
  • Many of the questions that concerned him are relevant to psychology today
alexander baine
Alexander Baine
  • British associationist who was more similar to a psychologist than the others
  • Wrote what was later to become the 1st British Psychology textbook
  • An important foundation for Edward Thorndike’s Law of Effect
  • Supported the study of psychology using naturalistic observation and experimentation
  • Created the first “psychological” journal, Mind
opposition to associationism
Opposition to Associationism
  • Emmual Kant – a strong nativist
  • We learn through experience, but what we learn is innately determined
    • We learn a language through experience, but the ability to learn a language is an innate quality of the mind
  • A foundation for a number of current developmental theories attempting to explain the interaction between innate processes and experiences
importance of early philosophers
Importance of Early Philosophers
  • Raised some of the basic questions psychologists strive to answer today
  • Developed the methods of deductive and inductive reasoning
  • Stressed the importance of understanding the mind
differences in ideas about the nature of humans
Differences in Ideas About the Nature of Humans
  • Christian Church – humans bad, need religion to control instincts
  • Hobbs agreed – humans are basically aggressive animals. Society has to teach them to control aggression
  • Locke – humans are naturally good and people are born with equal potential
  • Rousseau – French Romanticist – children have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. They will be good unless society interferes
  • Freud – humans born with need for instant gratification, selfish, etc.
  • Maslow and Rogers – humans born to strive to be good