Lecture 2 - Chapter 1 - The Science of Psychology

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26 Sep 2011
Lecture 2 - Chapter 1 - The Science of Psychology
The 'parents' of psychology are philosophy and biology
The Philosophical Roots of Psychology
For many years it was not ok for humans to study themselves because humans are
different/special and it is because of the erosion of this notion of a difference that
really lead to the birth of psychology
The concept of 'intelligence' is like the concept of 'magic', it only holds any validity
when we don't know how it's done
If the magician explains to you how to do it and give you all the details and then you
watch it; you might still be impressed but you will no longer feel like you have
witnessed the impossible. If we can build something that acts intelligent; the very
fact that we can build it says that we understand the processes underlying that
intelligence and once we understand those processes we will no longer see it as
What about the will. the soul or consciousness?
If we ask the question about why are humans unique because of the notion of a soul. For
many years; the notion was that humans possess a soul; a spiritual element (we
are god's special chosen creatures)
Early in human history, humans would attribute souls or wills to almost anything....a
behaviour termed 'animism'
Many people believe that humans are chosen and therefore we are not physical; we are
not material; and therefore science is about how the laws of physical nature
interact....so humans are not really material beings so how can you study them
However, once we 'understand' the true causes of certain events...the attribution of a soul
oftern disappears
So what of human behaviour? If we ever completely understand the causes of human
behaviour, will there be room left for a human soul
Rene Descartes (1596-1650), believed that the human body and many of its responses,
could be thought of as a highly complex machine
However, Descartes also believed that humans possess a soul and free will...a concept of
- What if we assume no soul? No free will?
Dualistic philosphy is the idea that human behaviour is reflective of two distinctive
Rene thought that humans can be a machine that is best thought of like a puppet; but
there is a puppet master as well. There is a soul and it connects to the body and it
controls the body. This notion is called dualism
John Locke (1632-1704) went a step further then Rene in assuming that even the mind
could be thought of as a machine
First person to push boundaries and say that our mind controls our behaviour and maybe
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