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Lecture 1

PSYCH 9A Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Immanuel Kant, Empiricism, Pineal Gland

Course Code
Thomas Michael D' Zmura

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Origins of Knowledge
Empiricism: knowledge is acquired through experience
John Locke - when born, our mind is blank
Experience refers to working with the information provided to us by our senses and
other faculties such as memory
Nativism: knowledge is innate
Immanuel Kant - there are categories according to which sensory material is
Space, time, and causality are a priori (built-in/innate)
Basic Distinction
Distal Stimulus: object/event in the world out there (i.e. tree)
Proximal Stimulus: pattern of energy from that object which stimulates our sensory
organs (i.e. light from tree reaching our eyes)
WHAT WE WANT: knowledge of the distal stimuli
WHAT WE GET: proximal stimulation
PROBLEM: the proximal stimulus does not tell us directly what distal stimulus is
Proximal image size does not directly tell us how big the real world distal stimulus is
Two stages are needed to understand how the mind works to interpret proximal stimuli
1. Our senses provide raw input : sensations
i.e. : patch of green, note of piano, salty taste, touch of feather
2. Our minds link these sensations to provide a meaningful organization of our
perceived world : associations
i.e. : a spherical patch of green above patch of brown = tree

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Nature/Nurture Debate
Not necessarily relatable anymore
Mind-Body Problem
Conscious mind seems completely different from physical body
Monism : mind and body are aspects of the same thing
Both are mental. Both are physical.
Dualism : mind and body are different
Decartes : mind and body are different things. there is an organ in the brain
(pineal gland) where mental information gets translated into physical event that
you can perceive and vice versa
Inverted Spectrum Problem
Two people see inverted colors
There may be a difference in subjective, mental experience that cannot be revealed
by measurements of objective behavior
A systematic examination of subjective mental experiences that requires people to
inspect and report on the content of their thoughts
John Stuart Mill : EARLY 1800s; argued that psychology should be a science of
observation and experimentation
Wilhelm Wundt : 1879; established first psychology laboratory
Reaction Time
Laboratories were established throughout Europe, Canada, and US
People lack words/other means of communication to convey their experiences
Different people use same words/messages to describe different experiences
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