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Lecture 2

PSYC85H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Polytheism, Greek Mythology, Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Calendar


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC85H3
Professor
Michelle Hilscher
Lecture
2

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Lecture 2: Touchstones: The Origins of Psychological Thought (Lecture Content)May 14th, 2014
PSYC85: Midterm Material
Three Main Problems in Psychology (Lecture Content)
As proposed by Berlyne (1928 – 1976):
1) Mind-Body: The Materialism/Dualism debate
Materialism: The view that everything is material at the core – Feelings are
organic processes
Dualism: The view that the mind and body exist as separate entities – the
mind is not material
What is the relationship between them?Are the independent or is one part of
the other?
What is the nature of consciousness?  Does consciousness lie within the mind
or the body; or is a product of the two?
Do they affect each other?  Does the state of the body change the mind, vice-
versa, or none?
Example: Dr. Duncan MacDougall (1907) did an experiment to see how
much the soul weighs.
Had five dying patients who he weighed before and after death – found
that the soul weighs ¾ of an ounce
Repeated the same experiment with dogs – found no difference in
weight, concluding that animals had no souls
2) Epistemology: Study of knowledge
What is the nature and origin of knowledge?
The Nature-Nurture Problem: Is knowledge innate or acquired? A priori or
a posteriori?
Example: Egyptian King (7th Century BC) secluded children and found that
they could not learn language, concluding that it is acquired and not innate.
3) Meaning, Values, and Behaviour
How do we understand the nature of morality?

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Lecture 2: Touchstones: The Origins of Psychological Thought (Lecture Content)May 14th, 2014
PSYC85: Midterm Material
What is the source of morality? A deity? Social convention? (In other words,
is it a product of socialization?)
We will consider the development of these three problems from early philosophical
speculations to more recent times in this course!
Early Development of Psychology (Lecture Content)
Well before psychology was a discipline, ancient small scale societies grappled with
psychological questions
oExamples: Why do we feel a certain way? Why do others act in a certain way?
How were psychological phenomena dealt with?  They were treated like natural phenomena
thus, folk logic was used to explain and routine behaviours were used to ‘control’ these
otherwise incalculable events.
oFolk Logic: When people use non-systematic logic/thought to come to conclusions
and heuristics
Example: Black cat is a symbol of bad luck after your neighbour dies the day
after passing one
oSmall communities encourage and grow Routine Behaviours: Socialized behaviours
(used in association with neighbours) to avoid/direct certain behaviours
Can lead to inaccurate conclusions but sometimes is correct thus, folk logic
persists
Three ways to handle incalculable events, be they natural or psychological:
1) Magical Actions: Things that a person does accurately/inaccurately and results in an
event from fortuitous association between action and natural event (E.g. Spit and
“cause” a landslide)
Superstitious Behaviour: A behaviour that is unrelated to the behaviour
being conditioned but has inadvertently been reinforced often enough that it
becomes fixed in the subject’s mind as necessary in order to receive
reinforcement

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Lecture 2: Touchstones: The Origins of Psychological Thought (Lecture Content)May 14th, 2014
PSYC85: Midterm Material
Principle of Association: Where you believe anything in contact with a
certain person or source of power takes on magical actions (E.g.
Grandmothers pendent)
Principle of Similarity: Where you presume things that look similar have
similar properties (due to magical actions)
oAnimism: A person reacts to an emotion arousing situation as though in or behind it
and “causing” it were a being with some properties
Example: Stars and plants treated as though spirit or will controls their
actions
Example: Believing that somebody who is mentally ill has been possessed by
an evil spirit
Animism can be contrasted with Polytheism
Polytheism: The belief in or worship of more than one god
oIn Polytheism, the cloud itself is alive
In Greek Mythology: Apollo…
oAnimism  Pushes/pulls the sun
oPolytheism  Is the sun
oReligion: Greek gods combine External Structures and Events + Forces of Human
Personality (Internal)
So both external and internal forces, by being embodied in familiar human
forms, become more tolerable because they can be verbalized, anticipated, and
propitiated in human terms
Example: Anger and volcano erupting
Adaptive Value of Magical and Religious Behaviour:
(1) Alternative to intolerable conflict and disorganized emotional behaviour
(2) Develops into socialized traditional forms (Ritualized Actions)
Becomes more cohesive (community)
(3) Promotes a keenness of observation
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