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PSYC18H3 Lecture Notes - Umwelt, Renaissance Humanism, Thrownness

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Gerald Cupchik

of 4
Psychology of Emotion - Lecture 1
Three Personal Themes
1. adapting to our worlds
2. finding meaning [finding meaning] in our worlds [fundamental concept of adjustment]
3. finding beauty in our worlds and expressing ourselves in our worlds
Where are we now?
-in our lives?
-in our work?
-in our science?
Locating ourselves in space/time, and in history…
The “Powers of 10” series of videos, available on YouTube, help us gain perspective regarding
orders of magnitude.
The video first zooms out from a picnic scene and then, in the second part, zooms in toward
-point of video, to put us where we are, realization of nature of our life
Time in this video is not shown in a linear way, but in a logarithmic one.
Travelling through orders of magnitude means that time is slowing down by a factor of ten each
In a linear movie, our presence on earth would simply not appear. - realization of where we are,
culturally speaking, where are we?
Humans have been here for the last million years as compared to 4500 million years for the
In a movie of 5 minutes, humans would only appear in the last 0.06 seconds if viewed linearly.
Concept of “Thrownness”: we are thrown into a particular 'world' at a particular time
What do I mean by the word “world”?
Consider the following three worlds:
Umwelt: surrounding physical/organic world ; how we merge/separate with the world
Mitwelt: world with others ; nature of the world with others, we can feel alienated or belong
with others
Eigenwelt: world with oneself ; you can have more than one world to yourself for example: you
have a life and one side is traditionally and other side is with the modern world
Psychology of Emotion - Lecture 1
Where are we now?
First, imagine yourself back during the Cave Dweller era.
Time moved very, very slowly.
Ice Ages would come and go.
Strange people would appear and disappear
- painting of visual ideas: cave paintings externalizing your mind artists are always a step
ahead of science
During the Middle Ages, life changed very slowly. values changed very slowly and so meaning
would change very slowly
Jump forward now to the 19th century and what Baudelaire (1821-1867) called the “Age of
Discontinuity” when life began to change more and more quickly
This is primarily because of: rapid developments in technology
Think about film…
the frames melt together.
Think about the internet…
McLuhan’s “global village”… we are everywhere now, so time and space sort of collapse.
How do we situate ourselves during an age that moves so quickly?
Here is the critical question:
Which is moving faster; you or the world around you?
The experience of time will be a function of:
Time slows down if: I change faster and the situation changes slowly
Time speeds up if: situation changes quickly and I change slowly
A big transition for psychology around 1500 c.e.
In Western European society, before the Renaissance (1250 - 1500 c.e.), the Self was diminished
in favour of: the authority of church and kings.
-good & evil were tangibles out there in the world.
-Everything was determined by the Grace of God.
-Time moved along very, very slowly.
Values and meanings were clear and stable. People knew their places in the scheme of things.
Emotion revolved around guilt related to the fact that we are all sinners and fear the wrath of
The Medieval University had 2 levels or “faculties”:
-The Senior level: medicine, law and technology
-The Junior level: philosophy, grammar and rhetheorie
Psychology of Emotion - Lecture 1
After the Renaissance, Renaissance Humanism marked a shift toward: increased secularization
and focus on people
Secularization meant no longer having to always refer to God when making any statement.
Discourse shifted toward: a description of the world around us and related phenomena both
physical and social
Rene Descartes: 1596-1650 c.e.
“Cogito ergo sum” (“I think therefore I am”)
“Dubito ergo sum” (“I doubt therefore I am”)
The crucial point here is that I am engaging in reflective self awareness.
Two traditions as of the 18th Century
The Enlightenment of the 18th century, primarily in England, fostered the belief that: we can
think for ourselves and show confidence in rationality - science for the people
e.g., John Locke: sense of our being is linked to consciousness and memory
We are introspectively accessible.
English approach emphasizes about causes & effects
18th century Idealism and Romanticism, primarily in Germany, emphasized: the value of
emotion and the need to develop a unified sense of self
a quote by Kant "only know the world through our mind" - we can never really know the
the self for the Germans is coming in terms with the world you can never know
German approach emphasizes about parts and holes
The academic world
In terms of locating ourselves in our world…
(1) Conceiving of our worlds
Geisteswissenschaften (“human sciences”) study culture through Verstehen (acts of empathic
understanding), and Hermeneutics (interpreting the artifacts of a world filled with meaning; ex.
painting, stories).
When “conceiving of our worlds” –
- Emphasis is placed on wisdom and understanding the life-world.
- Idiographic: individual cases, concrete situations or events
- Phenomenology: the description and structure of experience