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History

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Department
Psychology
Course
Psychology 2135A/B
Professor
Robert Brown
Semester
Fall

Description
History of ideas about behaviour - we have a tendency to anthropomorphize - we all know that human behaviour is very complex; need complex theory to explain behaviour - Classical times: gods caused human to do things; gods are the complex mechanisms; something complex, powerful, and mysterious was needed to explain behaviour - Behaviourists argue that behaviour is caused by one's life history of conditioning i.e. reinforcements; complexity is in the idea of one's life-history; to know entire history in detail is impossible - modern neural-network theories argue behaviour explained by complex changes in trillions of connections between billions of neurons; complexity is in sheer number of facts involved in trillions of connections and the process through which they are altered by experience - theories of behaviour answer a human need: to understand the system of the world; makes world seem less unpredictable - cognition is about us; we begin with a need to find the system Pre-history Did early societies have the concept of mind? - no evidence integrated concept of mind existed - reference to many functions, but not to relations among functions - words for memory, perception, language, but not mind Did early societies see a connection between mental contents and behaviour? - Gods and demons were thought to interfere with human activities - idea that behaviour comes from outside the person - Modern echoes of idea that behaviour comes from outside the person - i.e. television causes violence, media causes anorexia - diminishes the person, who is not seen as having agency - brain had no special status, but internal organs seen as interacting in complex ways to produce behaviour i.e. "venting their spleen" Early History Descartes - system and order were very important to him - distinguished between reason and emotion and said emotion should not control behaviour - knew that animals share many psychological functions i.e. learning; differences between animals and humans are interesting - language and consciousness are functions of the human soul - we are self-aware; conscious in a way that animals are not Locke - two types of knowledge - sensation: sensory impressions of the world - reflection: combining sensations through association to create complex knowl
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