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Lecture

Psy100-Topic 2.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYA02H3
Professor
All

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Topic 2 HistoryMethods History of PsychologyScience has always been contextualized in a larger set of societalhistoricalpolitical ideologicaleconomic processesEg Theologicalreligious barriers impeded the progress of physiological sciences and therefore psychology Direct study of human body was forbidden Doctrines regarding human exemptionalism ie therefore impossible to learn about humanbiology through animal studies The Rise of Mechanism Descartes 1600sAn extremely intense unbalanced driven personality Proposed a systematic account of the body as a machine physiological processes described in terms of mechanistic interactions controlled by hydraulics fluids and mechanics levers Thus human and animal bodies were complicated machines consistent with the mechanistic zeitgeist of the time eg water statues clocks MindBody Dualism however what set humans apart from animals was the MIND which was nonphysical but able somehow to interact with the body Descartes believed the mindbody nexus was the pineal glandthis splitting of the mindbody still plagues usWe either have to accept that the body brain IS the mind in which case humans are just soulless animals ie biogunk or we have to figure out how it is that a morethanphysical mind could exist what its substrate is and how it could interact with a physical body Much of the rest of the history of psychology can be described as a struggle to answer questions that emerge from this dualism eg Is the Mind simply a complicated but deterministic machine or do we have free willCan we do anything creative or are we merely stimulusresponse machines How can we study the mind scientificallyHow does it workWhat are the connections between mind and bodyCan we learn to control the mind and use it more effectivelyHow does the brain give rise to the mindHow does objective biological matter produce subjective experience How to Study an Immaterial MindBecause the MIND was usually thought of as nonphysical it took a very long time before people realized that you could study the MIND using scientific experimental techniques and prominent philosophers eg Kant argued that it was impossible to empirically study the mindThe turning point that lead to the scientific study of mind really came from studies of physiology using reaction times to measure nerve conduction Helmholtz 1800sPeople started realizing you can study nervous system processes via objective measures such as time Wilhelm Wundt thCarefully calculated the distance traveled by the pendulum and the time as 110 of a second thReasoned that it took humans 110 of a second to reorient their attention Therefore Darwin Possibly the biggest influence on subsequent psychology was Darwins theory of evolution Built on previous ideas of evolution vs creationism theories Erasmus Darwin Lamarck Interestingly Darwins ideas were influenced by the geological debate on uniformitarianism vs catastrophism He was incredibly curious and observant On Beagle voyage collected THOUSANDS of specimens many from species never before known and he generated countless notebook observations Wondered why do animals do the things they do What was the FUNCTION of their behaviours The Geological Debate of the Times
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