fbChapter 1: Methodological Considerations
Why Study the History of the Domain
- Presentism: interpreting a historical event or concept with reference to modern (present)
knowledge and values.
o E.G. assume that what people prefer now is “better”, therefore democracy should be
better always- thus Plato was wrong.
o Very judgemental approach
- Historicism: interpreting historical events or concepts in the context of epoch and place.
o A non-judgemental approach
o Tries to understand the event or a concept within the circumstances of the times and
Who or What Makes History?
1) Zeitgeist Ortgeist Hypothesis:
o Assumes that the historical events or ideas by themselves have a momentum that
permits somebody at a right time and place to enact or express them (e.g. Hitler acted
as an expression of economic and social frustrations in Europe)
o Originally the term was used by two German philosophers of European Romanticism
o George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and Johann Wolfgang von Goeth (1979-
A semi-mystical force that shapes human history. (Hegel)
A world view or collection of beliefs and opinions that dominates a
culture at a given period and shapes the intellectual, artistic, and social
Now it means a climate of opinion or mentality of the epoch. ( e.g. 21-
century internetism, 20-century commercialism)
Climate of opinion or mentality typical for a specific place, community,
for a country (e.g. British nostalgia for royal tradition, Polish
commitment to Catholicism)
2) Special- Person Hypothesis:
o Also known as the “Great-Person Model”
o Assumes that the appearance of an extraordinary individual makes history unique (e.g.
Alexander the Great, Napoleon)
3) Cyclical repetition hypothesis: o Assumes that history repeats itself in cycles of growth and collapse; wealth and poverty;
war and peace; development and stagnation; democracy and autocracy; rationality and
irrationality; spiritualism and materialism.
o The old philosophies or scientific concepts disappear and re-emerge in a new form.
4) Randomness Hypothesis:
o Considers the political, social, artistic, and scientific events as occurring by chance rather
than as a predictable chain of occurrences.
o There is no regularity, no rules therefore it is impossible to predict the political, artistic,
or scientific events, and there is no meaning in history, yet we impose meaning onto
o Werner Karl Heisenberg: Everything happens by chance (1901-1976)
o Paul K Feyerabend: it would be naïve to search for regularities in the emergence of
scientific theories, because theories emerge by chance or by random “rebellion” of a
scientist who tries an unorthodox idea.
History of Written Term “Psychology”
- Aristotle: originally written in Greek (Peri Psuche) and translated into Latin “De Anima (About
the soul, or On psyche) gave us quite a complex set of psychological concepts. However, he
never used the term “psychology”.
- The original in Greek was lost
o Fortunately its Latin transcriptions, as well as many other Hellenistic books, were copied
by Christian (Byzantine) monks.
- Jewish and Islamic scholars also contributed in preservation of ancient scripts
- Believed that Marko Marulic (1450-152et4) first wrote “psychology” for the first time
o A Macedonian monk and scholar
o wrote a Latin treaty entitled “Psichologia de ratione animae humanae” (Psychology of
human rational soul)
o used the term psychologia as a combination of two Greek words: Psuche = soul and
Logia= study OR logos = words/teaching
- Three Renaissance humanists: Melanchthon, Freigius, and Goclenius
o Historians believed they almost simultaneously used the term psychology in their
- Johannes Thomas Freigius:
o A scholar and lawyer uses the term in his Latin Essay “Ciceronianus”
- Rudolph Goeckel (or Goclenius):
o In his book “Psychology i.e. on human perfection, the soul and its origin” used Greek
letters to emphasize the Greek origin of the term psuchelogia or psychologia.
o After his death the term psychology disappears from writing and is replaced by the term
“pneumologia” to emphasize the notion of animating breath of life (Pneuma).
- Psychology remained a domain of philosophy until 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt establishes it as
an autonomous domain of science - John Watson tried to replace the term psychology by a pragmatic term “behaviorism”
o Albert Bandura: called it social-cognitive behaviorism
Old and New Ways of Thinking about Behavior and its Mechanism
o Term comes from two Greek words : human and structure or form- thus, “human-like”
o The attribution of human characteristics and qualities to non-human beings or objects
o Most likely one of the ways our ancestors understood the behavior of other humans
animals, and even nonliving objects’ by projecting their own subjective feelings,
thoughts, and attitudes onto others.
o Comes from Latin term “Anima” which is translated as Spirit, Soul, Breath of life, or
o Tendency to understand behavior as an act produced and monitored by a powerful
agent residing in the body of other material entity, and making the action possible
o Ancestors noticed that whenever the breath of life (spirit or anima) leaves the body,
o Similar to words: magnitude, magnificence, and power.
o A belief that the spirit might temporarily detach itself from the body without necessarily
leaving it dead (in contrast to animism)
o The traveling spirit has an enormous power of influencing other spirits and material
bodies or objects.
o If divided into two words : re- and league = a hope to re-unite humans with God
o Each religion offers a complex system of beliefs about the universal spirit and the place
of human spirit or soul in it.
o The term emphasizes the idea of the love of wisdom, a sophisticated way of reasoning
about the universe and human existence in it.
o Deals with issues such as: What is the nature and role of human beings in the universe?
Is there a deeper meaning of our existence and destiny? Why do we struggle to achieve
some goals, to experience something and to leave good memories behind before we die?
o The term emphasizes such procedures as: observing, measuring, experimenting,
hypothesizing, controlling, and predicting.
o System of rigorous principles and procedures of collecting data and generating
conclusions about the structure and functions of nature.
- Modern psychology aspires to have the status of a science of behaviour and its mechanisms, and
tries to apply the universal rules and assumptions of science. Philosophical and Methodological Issues
Basic Axioms or Assumptions in Science
Two basic assumptions:
1) There is a lawful universe
2) The universe is knowable
- Observational Laws: describe the repeatable coincidences or contingencies of 2 or more events
which are not measurable (e.g. after the sun sets, always the night follows)
o Allow further observation and description but not control or explanation
- Correlational Laws: rules of coincidences between 2 measurable variables (e.g. the higher the
level of anxiety, the lower the cognitive performance)
o Allow prediction but not control or explanation
- Causal Laws: rules of controllable and measurable coincidences (e.g Newton’s laws of gravity)
o Allowed to make predictions, control and offer an explanation
- Aristotle: believed there are at least 4 types of causes mutually linked, as illustrated by the
o Antecedent causes:
Called material causes and formal causes
Material cause of domino effect is the type of material all the pieces are built
Formal cause: al