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Rationalism. The Scottish School and the Reassertion of “Common Sense” . Thomas Reid (1710-1796) “ I despise philosophy, and renounce its guidance – let my sould dwell with Common Sense.” Believed philosophy had gone astray with Descartes and Locke

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the scottish school and the reassertion of common sense
The Scottish School and the Reassertion of “Common Sense”
  • Thomas Reid (1710-1796)
    • “ I despise philosophy, and renounce its guidance – let my sould dwell with Common Sense.”
    • Believed philosophy had gone astray with Descartes and Locke
      • Mind not acquainted with objects, but only with copies, ideas.
      • Reid thought this was the way to skepticism… if mind works as Descartes and Locke said, there is no way to ensure that ideas are veridical copies of objects.
        • Contemporary parallel: put document in copying machine. Look only at the copies. We assume the copies resemble the original, but can’t look at the original; can’t validate our assumption.
          • [Berkeley: no big deal – there was no original document. The “copy machine” (mind) made the “copies” out of bits and pieces of sensations, but the “copies” correspond to no original. As long as the machine of the mind produced stable and coherent experience, we could study it and build a science on it.]
Reid founded “commonsense philosophy”
    • Returned to Aristotelian view that perception merely records the world as it is.
      • We know the world in direct, unmediated way
      • View sometimes known as “direct” realism
    • Raised 2 issues of importance to later psychology:
      • Rejected idea (Berkeley, Locke, Hume, Kant) that conscious experience is made up of bits and pieces of sensations. No need to postulate forces that hold sensations together. Analysis of complex ideas into simple ones is artificial…. The raw material of experience is the object itself (anticipation of Gestalt)
        • Most later psychologists followed Hume and Kant, but Realism kept alive by Brentano, Gestalt psychologists, German phenomenologists, and Wm. James)
Nativist philosophy
    • Innate faculties and principles of mind that allow us to know the world accurately and give us essential truths.
      • Note: Reid was a clergyman, as well as a philosopher. He stayed within the boundaries of religion; Hume did not.
  • Dugald Stewart
    • More reconciled to Hume that was Reid.
    • Abandoned term “common sense” and used associative concepts extensively
    • Basic work, Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792) reads like an Intro. Psych text (based on everyday experience, not lab experiments, however).
Chapters on attention, association (learning), memory, imagination, dreaming. Very contemporary approach… while he dissected mind into component faculties, he also made some arguments that are found in modern information-processing theories. Devoted 62 pages to showing practical value of study of psychology.
  • Through Stewart, Scottish philosophy became influential in America. Some of America’s early college founders and presidents were adherents of the Scottish School.
spinoza 1632 1677
Spinoza (1632-1677)
  • Out of step with his time
    • Jewish, but “excommunicated” . Also denounced by Christians.–
      • identified God with nature (God IS nature) and saw the state as merely a revocable social agreement
      • God is no more than the totality of the universe—not separate from it
        • Spinoza seen as atheist
        • Nature (God) is entirely deterministic
          • To understand anything, means to unravel its efficient causes
          • No such thing as “final causes”
Spinoza extended deterministic analysis to human nature
    • Mind not separate from body.. Produced by brain processes
    • Mind and body are one, but viewed from 2 different perspectives..
      • Brain processes
      • Thoughts
        • Mind does exist, but it’s one aspect of a basically material nature
        • Thus, mental activity is as deterministic as body activity
          • Rejection of Cartesian dualism
          • We feel we are free.. But this is illusion
          • If no free will, then this calls for a psychological science to understand the causes of human behavior.