Chapter 1 Notes
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CHAPTER 1 NOTES
Animism – The belief that all animals and all moving objects possess spirits providing their
Psychology as a science must be based on the assumption that behaviour is strictly subject
to physical laws, just as any other natural phenomenon.
RENE DESCARTES (1596-1650)
French philosopher and mathematician. Has been called the father of modern philosophy
and of a biological tradition that led to modern physiological psychology.
DESCARTES BELIEVED THAT THE MIND HAD FREE WILL-THE ABILITY TO MAKE
DECISIONS FOR WHICH IT WAS MORALLY RESPONSIBLE.
Dualism: -the belief that all reality can be divided into two distinct entities: mind and
matter. –Extended things as physical bodies and thinking things as minds. He believed that
physical bodies do not think and that minds are not made or ordinary matter. WAS NOT
THE FIRST TO PROPOSE DUALISM. He however thought different from his predecessors
in one important way: SUGGEST A CASUAL LINK EXISTED BETWEEN THE MIND
AND ITS PHYSICAL HOUSING.
Descartes reasoned that the mind controlled the movements of the body, while the body,
through its senses or organs, supplied the mind with information about what was
happening in the environment. He hypothesised that this interaction between the mind and
the body took place in the PINEAL GLAND (small organ on top of the brain stem). When
the mind decided to perform an action, it tilted the pineal body in a particular direction,
causing fluid to flow from the brain into the proper set of nerves. This flow of liquid caused
the appropriate muscles to inflate and move. HE CAME UP WITH THIS IDEA WHEN HE
WAS GREATLY IMPRESSED BY THE MOVING STATUES IN THE ROYAL GARDENS.
DESCARTE`S RATIONALISM(PURSUIT OF TRUTH THROUGH REASON) WAS
REPLACED BY EMPIRICISM(PURSUIT OF TRUTH THROUGH OBSERVATION AND
EXPERIENCE). Locke rejected the belief that ideas were innately present in an infant`s
mind. He proposed that ALL KNOWLEDGE MUST COME THROUGH EXPERIENCE. HE
IMPLIED THAT OUR MIND WERE EMPTY AT BIRTH, AND READY TO ACCEPT THE
WRITINGS OF EXPERIENCE. Locke believed that knowledge developed though linkages of
simple, primary sensations: simple ideas combined to form complex ones.
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George Berkeley(irish) suggested that our knowledge of events in the world also requires
inferences based on the accumulation of past experiences. In other words, we must learn to
James Mill(Scottish): with the work of him, it went from animism(physical matter animated
by spirits) to materialism(mind composed entirely of matter). MATERIALISM is the
belief that reality can be known only through an understanding of the physical world, of
which the mind is a part. MILL DID NOT INVENT MATERIALISM. He worked on the
assumption that humans and animals were fundamentally the same. ESSENTIALLY, HE
AGREED WITH DESCARTES APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDINGTHE HUMAN BODY
BUT REJECTED THE CONCEPT OF AN IIMMATERIAL MIND. HE BELIEVED THAT
THE MIND, NO LESS THAN THE BODY, WAS A MACHINE.
Descartes relied on simple similarity as ``proof`` of his theory; he did not have the means to
offer a scientific proof.
Descartes hydraulic model of muscular movement was shown to be incorrect by LUIGI
GALVANI(Italian). He discovered that muscles could be made to contract by apply an
electrical current directly to them or the nerves attached to them.
JOHANNES MULLER(1801-1858) and his doctrine of specific nerve energies –
observation that the basic message sent along all nerves was the same-an electrical
impulse. The impulse was the same regardless of what the message was. So why do we see
what our eyes detect or what our ears detect? THE MESSAGES ARE SENT OVER
PIERRE FLOURENS(1774-1867) came up with experimental ablation.
PAUL BROCA(1824-1880) applied Muller’s logic and found out that the left side of the
cerebral cortex was the region of the brain for speech.
GUSTAV FRITSCH AND EDUARD HITZIG introduced the use of electrical stimulation as
a tool for mapping the functions of the brain.
HERMANN VON HELMHOLTZ found out that the speed of the nerve impulses was 27m/s
which is considerably slower than the speed of electricity in wires. Hence, the nerve
impulses is more complex than a simple electrical current passing through a wire.
ERNST WEBER (1795-1878) began work that led to the development of human sensations.
DETERMINISM is the doctrine that behaviour is the result of prior events. Determinism is
opposed to the concept of free will.
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