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Chapter 2

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PSYC85: Text Chapter 2: Touchstones: The Origins of Psychological Thought Touchstones  ‘Touchstone’ Originally referred to a stone used to test the quality of gold or silver because of the mark it left upon them  Now: means any criterion by which the value of something is measured Pythagoras (570-495)  One of the most famous figures in the western intellectual tradition  Has often been characterized as having had a peerless influence on the course of Western thought  It is the myth of Pythagoras that has had such as great influence on the way many people in the West think about the world  He founded a secret society in Italy-> the members of this society were supposed to have been able to attune themselves to the harmony that ordered the universe  Conford the view that phenomena are ordered mathematically is one way of resolving the puzzles of everyday experience  The Pythagoreans were convinced of the virtue of unity and all that this concept implies  Unity implies wholeness and oneness, a simplicity that is perfect Pythagorean Cosmology  The conception of the process of creation from ancient times -> from unity to differentiation to integration has relevance to modern thought  The Pythagorean World view: two important points o The nature of opposites o The importance of number in regulating phenomena  Ontogeny-> individual development The Pythagorean Opposites  Some pairs of opposites are useful for describing our experience  The most important is limit versus unlimited  Opposites arise out of an original unity o The integration of opposites produces the limited o We do not experience things that are unlimited o Everything we experience is limit o The union of the unlimited and the limited produces the world we experience  Johann Kepler (1571-1630)-> if we examine any of our experiences we will see that each one involves something that is potentially unlimited o Example: each snow crystal demonstrates that snow, while appearing to be an unlimited substance, in fact has precise mathematical structure  When the mixture of opposite tendencies is just right, the result is harmony  When opposites are mixed in the right proportion there is a harmonious outcome: a union of opposites that achieves the unity and integrity that we value  Psyche or soul-> seeks harmony  Pythagorean opposites: o Limit vs. unlimited o Good vs. evil o Light vs. dark o Odd vs. even o Unity vs. disunity o Square vs. oblong  Good is positive and evil is negative  Limit is positive and unlimited is negative unlimited is used in the sense of being unbalanced; lacking proportion Pythagorean Mathematics  Pythagoreans viewed numbers as underlying all phenomena  Number are responsible for uniting the opposites in a harmonious manner Plato (427-347 BCE)  Problem of the irrational-> an irrational number which was a constant object of search, whose nature as a number was continually in question  Thompson ( 1929: 44)-> Golden Section: can be obtained by dividing a line into two segments such that the smaller is to the larger as the larger is to the whole line The Forms  Plato-> advanced the notion that there are perfect forms on the one hand and imperfect appearances on the other  The perfect forms are in a sense more real than the imperfect appearances  Socrates-> it is very difficult to define concepts such as virtue o What is virtue? o Said you cannot know what part of virtue is, without knowing the whole  Innate Knowledge-> knowing a solution to something by a sense of deduction that comes from within-> something that you already know  Gestalt-> means “form” or “configuration” Lao-Tzu (sixth century BCE)  Lao-Tzu-> a mythical figure like Pythagoras o Is an example of a sage o The wisdom of Lao-Tzu is called Taoism The Tension between Confucianism and Taoism  Confucianism-> people exist through and are defined by their relationships to others, these
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