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Classical theories on human nature Aristotle & Plato PLATO (427-347 BCE) Basic interest: The world of truth (Absolutes) beyond the unreliable senses. -> Ideas or Forms are beyond phenomena

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plato 427 347 bce
PLATO (427-347 BCE)
  • Basic interest: The world of truth (Absolutes) beyond the unreliable senses.
  • -> Ideas or Forms are beyond phenomena
  • -> Everything in the empirical world is a manifestation of a pure Form (Idea) (Chairs, rocks, cats, and people are inferior manifestations of pure forms).
  • -> Sensory experience --> Ignorance or opinion.
  • -> True knowledge: Grasping forms by rational thought.
platonism in psychology
Platonism in psychology?
  • Are personality factors more real than manifestations?
  • How real are the five factors?
  • “We believe it is an empirical fact, like the fact that there are seven continents on earth and eight American presidents from Virginia” (McCrae, & John, 1992, p. 194).
story of the cave
Story of the Cave:
  • “Story of the Cave” is part of “The Republic”Prisoners represent humans who confuse the shadowy world of sense experience with reality.
  • Interpretations:
  • Human condition / human nature: Are we condemned to remain prisoners of sense experience / appearance?
  • Historical interpretation: Socrates' life.
  • Christian interpretation: Jesus Christ.
the nature of the soul
The Nature of the Soul
  • How many parts does the soul have?
  • Soul has three parts:(a) rational component (the soul reflects) (immortal)(b) spirited, courageous component (mortal)(c) appetitive component (desires) (mortal)
  • True knowledge: Person must suppress the needs of the body and concentrate on rational pursuits.
  • Differential theory of human nature: In some individuals: appetitive aspect of the soul dominates -> workers and slaves; in others the courageous aspect of the soul dominates -> soldiers; and in still others the rational aspect dominates -> philosopher kings.
plato s reminiscence theory of knowledge
Plato’s Reminiscence Theory of Knowledge
  • How does one come to know the forms if they cannot be known through sensory experience?
  • -> The soul is implanted in the body. It dwells in pure and complete knowledge; that is, it dwells among the forms.
  • -> After the soul enters the body, this knowledge begins to be contaminated by sensory information.
  • -> True knowledge -> ignore sensory experience. All knowledge comes from remembering the experiences the soul had before entering the body.
plato on gender
Plato on Gender
  • Was Plato a feminist?
  • Equal opportunity but difference in ability.
  • One education for both sexes, for example, in training to become a guardian.
  • Both sexes should be taught the art of war, carry arms, ride on horseback, and receive the same treatment.
  • Women have the same nature as men -> every occupation should be accessible to them.
  • The difference: Women were not quite as strong as men.
aristotle 384 322 bce
  • Aristotle was the first philosopher to treat extensively topics that were later to become part of psychology.
  • Tutor to Philip's son, Alexander, who was to become Alexander the Great.
  • Athens. Founded a school: Lyceum (empirical and philosophical)
the works of aristotle
The works of Aristotle
  • Collected works: Arranged many centuries after his death (e.g., physics, metaphysics)
  • Topics:
  • Logic, dialectic, metaphysics (founded the field of logic; e.g. syllogism).
  • Science and philosophy of science
  • Psychology and philosophy of mind
    • Soul, senses, memory, sleep, dreams, developmental stages, death, etc.
    • The psychological master work: De Anima (On the Soul).
  • Ethics and politics
  • Aesthetics
divergence from plato
Divergence from Plato
  • Aristotle: Forms do not have a separate existence from particulars.
  • Interested in studying the things in the empirical world and their functions.
  • Nothing can exist without matter, and matter cannot exist without form.
on knowledge
On knowledge
  • Every kind of knowledge is to be prized.
  • Psyche is a substance capable of receiving knowledge.
  • Three kinds of knowledge:
    • Theoretical knowledge.
    • Practical knowledge.
    • Productive knowledge.
  • Without sensation thought is not possible. Compared the mind to a blank writing tablet (tabula rasa).
  • Not the senses fool us but our incorrect interpretations of the sensory information.
  • However, knowledge is not possible through sense perception alone, since the senses give us only particulars.
  • Deduction and induction.
cause and teleology
“Cause”and Teleology

Everything has four causes:

  • Material cause. What an object or thing is made of.
  • Formal cause. The particular form or pattern of an object.
  • Efficient cause. The force that transforms the matter into a certain form.
  • Final cause. The purpose for which an object exists.
    • Aristotle was a teleologist: He believed there was a plan or design to the universe. Developing and moving to an end, the final cause of motion
aristotle s psychology de anima
Aristotle's Psychology: De Anima
  • Psyche: Of primary interest to Aristotle
  • All knowledge is valuable but that knowledge of the psyche is to be prized above all.
  • Psyche is not confined to humans alone. Psyche marks the distinction, not between thinking and unthinking beings, but between the organic and the inorganic.
  • Body and psyche are an inseparable unit.
  • Aristotle: Psyche is in the heart. Rejects the Platonic doctrine of the brain as the organ of the psyche.
  • He divides functions into growing, sensing, remembering, desiring, reacting, and thinking.
the hierarchy of souls
The Hierarchy of Souls
  • Three kinds of souls:
  • Vegetative souls: Possessed by plants. It allows only growth, the assimilation of food, and reproduction.
  • Sensitive souls: Possessed by animals and people, but not by plants. The ability to sense is a means for distinguishing an animal from a plant. Locomotion, sensation and memory.
  • Rational souls: Possessed only by humans. It provides all of the functions of the other two souls, and in addition allows thinking or rational thought.
psychological topics
Psychological Topics
  • 1. Growing
  • 2. Sensing
  • Possessed by animals and people, but not by plants. Five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.
  • Common sense: synthesizing the sensory elements into perceptual units (perception and consciousness).
    • Sensory information: Isolated experiences
    • Common sense: Synthesized experience
    • Passive reason: Utilization of synthesized experience
    • Active reason: Abstraction of principles from synthesized experience
  • Sleep: Caused by fatigue of the common sense.
  • Dreaming: Sensory stimulation that occurred during the waking state is carried over into sleeping.
psychological topics17
Psychological Topics
  • 3. Remembering
  • Effect of sensing that persists after the object is removed.
  • Remembering: Spontaneous reproduction of past perceptions.
  • Recall: Active search to recover these past perceptions.
  • Laws of association: Similarity, contrast, frequency, and contiguity.
psychological topics18
Psychological Topics
  • 4. Desiring and Reacting
  • Pleasure and pain follow upon sensing. Some objects are perceived as pleasurable, and others as unpleasurable.
  • Once these feelings are experienced, desire is introduced. When an activity is pleasurable, it tends to be exercised
psychological topics19
Psychological Topics
  • 5. Thinking
  • The human being is the only animal that thinks.
middle ground
Middle ground
  • Golden mean: The desirable middle ground between any two extremes.
  • Examples: Appetite, humor, spending money, etc.
  • Education: The right sort of habituation for establishing the virtue of character must avoid excess and deficiency.
  • Age: Middle age is more desirable than youth or old age.
  • Q: Is the middle ground always the best choice?
  • An end in itself.
  • It is not amusement but virtuous action.
  • Theoretical study is the supreme element.
  • Humans have a natural desire to leave behind them an image of themselves.
  • Man is by nature a political animal.
  • Man is the only animal endowed with speech.
  • Some men are by nature free, some men are by nature slaves.
  • Comment: Rhetoric of “by nature”.