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Lecture 1: The Greek Influence

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Western University
Psychology 3950F/G
Mark Cole

Lecture 1: The Greek Influence The Origin of the Term Psychology  Term psychology comes from the combination of two Greek words  Ψυχη (psyche) o Means soul, spirit, or mind o “That spark of life that defines a human” o Much debate about the concept and even if there actually is such a thing as a soul or mind vs. just a concept  λογος (logos) o Words o Thought to have mystical and explanatory powers o “An explanation or an account of a thing”  An explanation or account of the soul or spirit – a lot of people would quarrel this explanation but none the less it defined what this discipline was about for much of its history  Psychology is a relatively modern discipline (1879) – steamed from philosophy Why the Greeks?  It was in ancient Greeks between 600-300 B.C. that emerged a group of philosophers, artists, and writers who produced many of the ideas that still define and perplexed psychologists/psychology to this day  Philosophers o The philosophers were significant because they were concerned with fundamental questions about people and their place in the universe  Physicians o Significant because they studied the structure and function of human body in pursuit of cures for the human body The Physicians Alcmaeon of Croton  c. 500 BC  One of the first physicians to be physiological about medicine – was more of a spiritual approach before vs. scientific  Prior to Alcmaeon, the soul was thought to have 2 aspects/locations 1) Thymos – part of the soul concerned with thought/memory (called consciousness/cognitive psychology today)  Thought to be mortal –connected directly to the body and thus stayed with the body (no thoughts/memories about death)  Dependent on experience and was conscious  Thought it was located in the lungs – thoughts born in your lungs and conveyed out of your body as words (pneuma - air) 2) Psyche  The immortal aspect of the soul  Not dependent on experience and was unconscious  Was thought to lie in the brain by pre-Alcmaeon Greeks  The idea is that if there is immortality, it does not involve consciousness or memories – may survive your death but it won‟t be in any recognizable form  Unified these two aspects  Focused on the thymos aspect but the soul was now considered unified o Mover or animator o Animus: active soul  Veins o Realized there are clearly pathways to the brain (veins) – now called nerves o The ones he saw were the ones that ran from the eye to the back of the brain o Concluded that the other senses would have similar veins connecting the sensory apparatus to the brain o One of the reasons he called them veins were because they appeared at hollow tubes – thought to convey some substance like blood, but wasn‟t clear what it was – invented a substance (animal spirits/vital spirits – something like air but not quite)  The active eye o May be the first to undertake anatomical views of the eye o Saw the eye as both the transmitter of visual rays (the eye as an active organ vs. passive) and the receiver of images o The eye transmitting beams of light is nonsense, but the eye as an active organ was not nonsense Hippocrates  c. 460 B.C  “Hippocratic oath” of physicians - do no harm  Responsible for humor theory of disease o The body contained 4 crucial substances (humours) – associated with elements  Black bile (earth) – black bile not really a substance, one theory is that it is an invented substance, another is that it was heated blood or scabs (both black)  Yellow bile (air) - in gull bladder and aids in digestion  Blood (fire) – plays a big roll in early medicine  Phlegm (water) o The idea was that there was a connection because the humours and disease - when they get out of balance then you got sick – had to reach an equillibrium  E.g. the large amount of phlegm that is produced when you are sick  E.g. used to gather your blood when sick – believed there was a connection between „blood letting‟ and feeling better Galen  130-200 AD believed the soul was located in the brain  Dissections and vivisections in humans and animals  Located and described 7 of the 12 cranial nerves  Contralateral representation o First to note that the neural system works contralateral – left side of body controlled by right side of brain and vice versa  Motor and sensory nerves o First the distinguished between the two o sensory: convey information form a sensory organ e.g. eye) to the brain – afferent nerves o Motor: convey information from the brain to organs to move them - efferent  Pineal and pituitary glands  Ventricles – spaces within of the brain that are filled with cerebral spinal fluid o Where the animal spirits that flowed through the veins were thought it reside  Corpus callosum: connects the two hemispheres of the brain to one another – transmission of neural impulses from one side to the other  Early theory of personality o Blood (sanguine personality) o Black bile (melancholic personality) – depressed o Yellow bile (choleric personality) – bad tempered o Phlegm (Phlegmatic personality) – slow moving  Formed the backbone of modern medicine Summary The Philosophers  2 streames that emerged in ancient Greece  their views were tied to two different but prevailing religious views of the time Religion as a Precursor  Olympian Religion o The gods that live up on Mount Olympus o Zeus, Athena, Odyssey and Iliad by Homer  These gods were aloof – messed with people‟s lives and did not have much empathy for people  If the soul survived the owner at all, it did so without any previous memories o Followed by upper classes o Characterized by order, rationality, and changelessness  Dionysian/Orphic Religion o Dionysus and his “sidekick” Orpheus o Followed by lower classes o Believed in transmigration of the soul  Your soul survives, but it survives in tact with memories  Is passed around from organism to organism – depending on how you lived your past life predicted what species you came back as o Chaos and feelings as opposed to rationality. The Rationalists  Idealism o Focuses on the world of „ideas‟ (cognitions in modern society) o Denies the existence of a material world  Pythagoras (mathematics) o Advanced the motion that truth laid on mathematics – the doorway to unity vs. chaos o Harmony through mathem2tic2 2 o Pythagorean theorem – a + b = c  Parimenides (staticism) o Thought the physical world was unchanging o Attributed the apparent movement to faulty sensory systems – not that things are actually moving but your sensory system is so faulty that it doesn‟t perceive the world actuary and therefore you get distortions  Zeno (illusion of motion) o Famous for introducing paradoxes o Proves by argument that motion is impossible in one of his famous paradox - Achilles and the tortoise  Poses an issue of having a race between Achilles and a tortoise  Gives the tortoise a head start of 10 yards  Tortoise always continues to surpass Achilles  Can argue that it is impossible for him to catch up Plato  427-347 B.C.  Major figure in philosophy and the history of psychology  Culmination of this rationalist school  Socrates  The Academy: the first „university‟ interested in the pursuit of knowledge  Taught in the university but also outside of the academy to the general public Plato‟s Basic Philosophy  Forms and Ideas o Believed that sensory data were inherently untrustworthy o Truth can only be found by „searching your own soul‟ (your own mind)  Pure Forms and Ideas o Exist only outside of the mind, but Plato thought working on attempting to seek this would better one‟s self o E.g. of perfect form: the perfect circle exists somewhere but all circles on earth are imperfect o E.g., Golden Section: AC/AB=AB/BC  Viewed as the ancient Greeks as an example of perfection  Cant express the ratio using a rational number o The problem of irrational numbers  Fibonocci Series o As you go down the series, you get closer and closer to the ratio of the Golden Section but never get there  Cave analogy o How metaphor and analogy can be used to make a point o Trying to make a point of the insufficiency of the sensory world o Prisoners chained in a cave in such a way that they can only look forward towards a wall – their understanding of the environment is only based on what they can see o Behind them there is a fire and in front of the fire is a walkway – casts shadows on the wall when people walk by o Automatically assume that the voices of the people are actually the voices of the shadows o Their knowledge of the world comes from these shadows – they assume that is what people look like o Asks to assume that one of the prisoners are released and allowed to go into the sunlight – would be astonished and see the world in a way they had never seen before o They would realize that the world they believed to be true was in fact false and the real world was in fact completely different o The prisoner then goes back into the cave to tell the others but they do not believe him o You have to experience truth for yourself – not good enough for someone else to tell you about it  Sensation vs. rationality  Nativism o Believed knowledge is inherent o Argued that w
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