•History of Psychology
Issues of psychology have been discussed for long periods of time. People always
questioned such issues as what is mind/consciousness…Where mind resides?
Science has always been contextualized in a larger set of societal/historical/political/
E.g., Theological/religious barriers impeded the progress of physiological sciences
(and therefore psychology):
- direct study of human body was forbidden
- doctrines regarding human exemptionalism (i.e., therefore, impossible to learn
about human biology through animal studies). Humans are the only species to have
Philosophy and medicine/physiology gave rise to psychology.
•The Rise of Mechanism
- an 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
- thus, human and animal bodies were complicated machines, consistent with the
mechanistic zeitgeist ( ) -of the time; e.g., water statues, clocks
But the soul is not a mechanized machine. It is more complicated.
Descartes set the mind apart from the body
-however, what set humans apart from animals was the MIND, which was
non-physical but able (somehow…..) to interact with the body
- Descartes believed the mind-body nexus ( ) was the pineal gland
But the question still remained how the material body interacts with the
- this splitting of the mind & body still plagues us. We either have to accept that the
body (brain) IS the mind, in which case humans are just (soulless) animals, i.e., bio-
gunk; or we have to figure out how it is that a more-than-physical 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.
-e.g., Is the Mind simply a complicated, but deterministic machine, or do we
have free will? Can we do anything creative, or are we merely stimulus-
-How can we study the mind scientifically? How does it work? What are the
connections between mind and body? Can we learn to control the mind and
use it more effectively? If the mind is immaterial and the body is material?
What is the relation between them.
-How does the brain give rise to the mind? How does ‘objective’ biological
matter produce subjective experience?
•How to Study an Immaterial Mind?
The turning point that lead to the scientific study of mind really came from studies
of physiology, using reaction times to measure nerve conduction - Helmholtz, 1800s.
(Time is an objective tool)
People started realizing you can study nervous system processes via objective
measures such as time.
Very productive scientist. He wandered if auditory sense and vision are
experienced simultaneously or does the perception go back and forth from one
Watched the clock pendulum moving. Carefully capsulated the distance
traveled by the pendulum, and the time as 1/10th of a second.
Thus, he reasoned that it takes human 1/10th to reorient their attention.
Therefore, mind can be studied scientifically!
- possibly the biggest influence on subsequent psychology was Darwin’s theory of