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Lecture 3

PSYC85H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Great Chain Of Being, Potentiality And Actuality, Tabula Rasa


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC85H3
Professor
Michelle Hilscher
Lecture
3

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Lecture 3: May 21, 2014
Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
Plato’s student (who believed that we’re born with perfect, shared, universal
knowledge. To work with this knowledge, we need disciplined reasoning.)
Contributions to psychology:
Whole works on memory, dreams & ethics.
Strongly empirical… believed in making observations and collecting data.
Observations led him to believe heart was organ of cognition.
oIn chicks, it’s the organ that develops the fastest – first organ to have
activity
oLooking at warriors who came back from battle, those who were wounded
in the heart were more likely to die than those who received head injuries
Ideas about mind and body:
3 types of psyche, each with own functions (ranked below from most basic to
most complex)
oNutritive: plants (simplest structure in nature). It can grow, take in nutrients
(slef-maintain), reproduce
oSensitive: animals – can do same things as nutritive but it’s more complex.
Can sense world, feel pleasure/pain, can imagine, perform simple memory
tasks, locomotion
oRational: humans. Deliberation, weighing of goals, decision making
2 key differences between people and animals
There are emotions that are uncontrolled in animals. Humans have emotions but
it is balanced by rationality
Memory
Hierarchy of nature = hierarchy of psychological functioning
Aristotle’s scala naturae illustrates the process of entelechy
oProcess of change by which mere potential becomes actual through the
realization of form – example: acorn  oak, egg  chick
Developed the scala naturae (ranked below from lowest to highest ranking)
oPrime matter: simplest things in nature (hydrogen, oxygen)

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oPrimary bodies: mixtures of the prime matter
oPlants
oAnimals
oHumans
oUnmoved mover: ‘pure actuality’  gods, deities?
Plato wouldn’t be able to put his human soul (directional soul) idea on this
because the soul is non-corporeal
Aristotle’s ideas about knowledge
Sensory experience is imperative for knowledge
Tabula rasa: we’re born as a blank slate and have to find our own knowledge
There are no universals
Sensation for Aristotle
Special sensibles (property of an object, discernible by only one sensory system
 texture, sound, colour) vs. common sensibles (can identify it with many sensory
systems)
Memory for Aristotle:
Recall: simple memory (automatic) vs. recollection (only attributable to rational
human aspect – conscious effort)
Simple memory follows three laws of association
oSimilarity
oContrast
oContinuity
Timeline
Circa 650 BCE  Ancient small-scale societies, using folktales and myths to explain
things
High class were told to be more emotional and think things over
Lower class were more likely to use mythical reasoning, told to be less emotional
in order to try to move up out of their class
Circa 600 BCE – 400 BCE  The Greek Age
Time period set up for change of thought

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Naturalists – biologists
Formalists – mathematicians
Ancient Greece
Sparta and Athens created a civil war between each other
Led to Greece being a weakened state so Rome invaded
Led to Roman Age
The Roman Age
Sparta defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian war (431-404 BC) which led to (1)
dissolution of Greek city states, (2) invasion of Greece by Rome and (3) emergence of
the Roman Empire.
The time between (1) and (3) is known as the Hellenistic Period
That period ended when Rome had control and brought things back under
control
What to believe during the Hellenistic Period?
Not the Greek formalists (a theory won’t explain why everyone is dying and
hating each other) or naturalists (biology is great and all but it doesn’t do a great
job of explaining constant terror and war)
1. Skeptics  advocated for a non-reminiscent lifestyle and focus on community
a. Don’t think about past, ignore old animosities, try to build a new
community together
2. Cynics  believed in individualism above all else
a. Not social psychology. Figure out what makes you happy and do that
3. Epicureanism  moderation and self-control are key. Happiness through kinship;
unhappiness through excess
a. Happiness is through relationships, not objects
4. Stoicism  passivity is preferred
a. Believe that there is a divine plan that is running the universe. Your future
is fated
The Roman Empire (c. 1st – 5th centuries CE)
Roman focus was on technology, engineering, mechanics
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