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Lecture 2

PSY100H lecture 2 - history of psychology

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Dan Dolderman

Alexandra Zylka th January 18 , 2011 PSY100- Lecture 2 History of Psychology - The science of psychology has come a very long way over the past 1000 years. o Ex. Most of human history, debate raged as to where consciousness resided…the heart, the brain, the mind, the spirits? - Science has always been contextualized in a larger set of societal/historical./political/ideological/economic processes o Ex. Theological/religious barriers impeded the progress of physiological sciences( and therefore psychology)  Direct study of human body was forbidden  Doctrines regarding human exemptionalism (therefore, impossible to learn about human biology through animal studies) The Rise of Mechanism - Descartes : 1600s o An extremely, intense, unbalanced driven personality. o 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) slide - Mind-Body Dualism o However what set humans apart from animals was the MIND, which was a non-physical but able (somehow….) to interact with the body. o Set the mind apart from the body (Descartes) o How do you get the material realm to contact the immaterial realm? o This splitting of the mind and body still plagues us. We either have to accept the body (brain) is the mind, in which case humans are just (soulless) animals. Ex, bio-gunk, or we have to figure out how it is that a more-than-physical mind could exist, what is substrate is, and how it could interact with the physical body. o How does the soul communicate with the body? - Much of the rest of the history of psychology can be described as a struggle to answer questions that emerge from this dualism. o Ex. 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-response machines? o We want to believe that we have this inner-spark. o 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? - How to Study an Immaterial Mind? o The turning point that lead to a scientific study of mind really came from studies of physiology, using reaction times to measure nerve conductions (Helmholtz,1800s) o People started realizing you can study nervous system process via objective measure such as time. o If consciousness is an extension of the nervous system, maybe we can study consciousness? - Wilhelm Wundt o Physiologist, extremely curious and careful experimentalist, thinkers, driven, lock on to a problem to figure it out, didn’t live a normal life. o Wondered whether two stimuli that struck sense at same time would be perceived at the same moment (see and hear clapping hands – how does that work? Can I simultaneously experience this at the same moment at the same time?) o Noticed that the pendulum was on its way down when Wundt heard the bell. o Came to the conclusion that the pendulum is not in contact when he heard the bell  Where, when, period of pendulum etc. o Carefully calculated the distance traveled by the pendulum and the time as 1/10 of a second th o Reasoned that it took humans 1/10 of a second to reorient their attention. Therefore… - Mental processes can be studied scientifically! - Darwin o Possibly the biggest influence on subsequent psychology was Darwin’s theory of evolution o Mentally productive o Built on previous ideas of evolution (vs. creationism theories): Erasmus Darwin; Lamarck. o Interestingly, Darwin’s ideas were influenced by the geological debate on “uniformitalirms” slide o Incredibly curious and observant (Darwin) o On Beagle voyage, collected countless speciments, many from species never before know, and he generated a small library of his own notebook observations. o Wondered, why do animals do the things they do? What was the function of their behaviours? o Ex. A marine iguana “ I threw one several times as far as
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