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Lecture 2


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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

History of Psychology -in the past,psychology was medicine + philosophy;psychology as a study didnt exist in the form it is in today -even now,psychology possesses a dualism:links the social and health sciences -over the last thousand of years,people wondered where the consciousness resided:heart/brain/mind/spirits? ->ancient egyptians knew the brain was the seat of consciousness,but heart was also crucial -> ancients had an idea of the brain's function:if left side of the brian was damaged,then they understood that the right motor skills would be disabled ->>central nervous system (CNS)=settled on as the seat of consciousness at present time -CNS is interconnected with all other human systems,is an open system, functioning of brain depends on external factors -science itself isnt a closed system either,is contextualized in other processes such as historical,political,societal -ex.why did it take so long for psychology to emerge??:in the past,barriers impeded progress of physiological sciences and thus impeding the progress of psychology (CNS):prevention from studying human bodies,prevention from making inferences about humans through the study of animals (b/c humans believed themselves to be superior and unlike animals) -enlightened way of thinking ingrained in the field of psychology -post enlightenment thinking:cognition & emotion are divided,rise of the self- interested and rational individual (the unit of analysis) although the individual is embedded in larger social structures ex.emotional self is irrational,illogical,while the cognitive self understands what is appropriate and restrain the emotional self -post biolgical revolution & neuroscience:re-emergence of cognition & emotion, breaking down of the dualism,interdependence of the groups emphasized Human Psychology as Mechanistic Processes Descartes:prominent figure in psychology,very intense,aimed to overthrow Aristotleon philosophy for decades -stepped out of mainstream perspective and ended up making significant advances in the field *proposed a systematic account of the body as a machine,controlled by hydraulics and mechanics (fluids and levers) -therefore animals and people are efficient machines -this brought on the issue:if humans are machines,this makes them predictable, bodies are deterministic systems,but the mind is much more complicated-> if the mind has free will,then it is NOT mechanistic Mind-Body Dualism:Descartes proposed what set humans apart from animals was the mind,which is non-physical,but is able to interact with the body -with psychology,there still exists struggles with the splitting of the mind & body: we either have to accept that the body (brain) is the mind,in which the humans are soulless animals/biogunk/robots,or we have to figure out how we have free will (how does a more-than-physical mind exist,how can it interact with a physical body) -much of the history of psychology is composed of a struggle to answer questions emerging from mind-body dualism -questions:is the mind a complicated,deterministic machine or do we have free will? how can we study the mind? can we learn to control it? how does the brain give rise to the mind (consciousness)?  How to study an immaterial mind?  -Helmholtz=turning point for giving birth to psychology:studies of physiology, reaction times used to measure nerve conduction led people to wonder if we could use it to study the human mind -people realized they could study nervous system processes using objective things such as time -WilhelmWundt:physiologist,wondered whether two stimuli that struck senses at same time would be perceived at the same moment  - noticed that it took a tenth of a second for humans to reorient their attention: he wasn't hearing and seeing the bell hitting the pendulum of a clock at the same time,therefore these processes are successive -mental processes can be studied scientifically!* this experiment was a turning point and changed how people started to think -Darwin:huge influence on psychology through theory of evolution -ideas influenced by Erasmus Darwin,Lamarck,geological debate between catastrophism (massive events happening over short periods of time) vs. uniformitarianism (small changes over long periods of time) -also influenced by Malthus' study of demography:people would reproduce until they use all t
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