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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Notes from Benjafield

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Chapter 3 Touchstones: From Descartes to Darwin -renaisthnce: ‘rebirth’; refers to the renewal of interest in thassical antiquity that originated in Italy in the 14 century and spread throughout Europe in the 15- 16 centuries -renewed interest also brought a questioning attitude toward the received wisdom of the medieval period RENE DESCARTES 1596-1650 -he saw that our beliefs grow in the way that cities grow; they were constructed over a long period of time by many different people; also, that our beliefs are result of a long process of development that lacks any clean plan -his way of discovering the truth begins with clear and distinct ideas that cannot be doubted -rationalism: our ability to use reason is sufficient to provide us with the truth, provided our premises are correct -discovery of a premise is important because rationalism requires it -Descartes “Cogito”: one cannot doubt the fact of their own thought, therefore they must exist -reach this by using Cartesian doubt -innate ideas: people know certain things without having to learn them; for Descartes this is true -he argued that the body is separate from the mind: dualism -suggested the interaction between mind and body happened in the pineal gland (in the brain) -interactionism: his model of the mind-body relation; he thought of the mind as a ‘ghost in a machine’ -Cartesian model’s important features:  mind and body are separate  body is mechanical, mind comes from God  we know our minds directly through introspection; we cannot know others’ minds; all we can observe about others is from their bodies The Body as a Machine -THOMAS HOBBES also agreed with the body being mechanical -Descartes said animals had no souls therefore were not distinguishable from machines -three controversial issues concerning the body:  can a machine be built that stimulates human behaviour that can’t be differentiated from human behaviour?  are there qualitative differences between humans and other organisms?  should we be able to do whatever we want with animals in research? ISAAC NEWTON 1642-1727 -has been called the greatest scientific genius the English- speaking peoples have produced -his fame rests on his work called ‘Principia’, published in 1687 The Laws of Motion -a law is a basic rule or truth -Newton’s laws of motion -first law of motion: body continues in a state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state of forces impressed upon it -second law of motion: acceleration, or rate of change in velocity: acceleration is the resultant of all the external forces exerted Can Newton’s Laws be Generalized to Psychology? -can see organisms as physical systems operating according to the same laws that regulate other physical systems -can attempt to take physics and apply it to mental life, to try to explain the mind in the same way you would any other physical system -several consequences of taking physics as a model for psychology: -the subject matter of psychology is seen as essentially the same as physics; in physics, seek to see how objects achieve motion... in psychology, we look for the motion of organisms (BEHAVIOUR), rather than the motion of inanimate objects The Nature of Colour -Newton also did work on colour, which had far-reaching consequences for psychology -one of his best known procedures: passing white light through a prism that subsequently yielded the colours of the rainbow; put colours through the prism, out came white light -he didn’t believe the rays themselves were coloured; he distinguished between the stimulus for colour and the subjective experience of colour -JOHANN WOLFGANG von GOETHE made significant descriptions of colour as a subjective experience (didn’t give Newton any credit though) -he described the phenomena of after- images The British Empiricists: JOHN LOCKE 1632-1704, GEORGE BERKELEY 1685-1753, & DAVID HUME 1711- 1776 -empiricism should be contrasted with the rationalism that Descartes believed in -empiricists trusts only the evidence provided by the senses JOHN LOCKE -wrote ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ -argued that there are no innate principles of the mind; contradicting Descartes -when he said ‘idea’, he meant : whatsoever is the object of understanding; ex. hardness, sweetness, motion, man, elephant, etc -said we got ideas from 2 sources:  sensory experience; ex. yellow, hot, cold, soft, hard, bitter, sweet etc reflection; the perception of the operations of our own mind within us; ex. doubting, believing, knowing, reasoning, etc -introspection continues to be controversial -for the British empiricists, our understanding is primarily the product of our experience, not our reason -suggested that even basic concepts, such as colour, must be acquired, as well as less common experiences, like tasting an oyster -thought experiment: device used in science that involves considering the results of an imaginary experiment, which would yield important conclusions (if it could be performed) -for example: a blind man who can tell objects by touch; what if his sight was restored, what would happen if he was asked to name objects by vision? Molyneux experiment Simple and Complex Ideas -simple ideas: cannot be reduced to anything more elementary; ie. coldness, hardness -complex ideas: are compounded out of simple ones; get abstract ideas like army, universe, etc -the fact that there are complex ideas points to the importance of association of ideas -he said that custom settles habits of thinking; therefore the beliefs and attitudes we express are the result of the way in which our ideas have become associated Rewards, Punishment, and the Process of Education -said rewards and punishments are the spur and reins whereby all mankind is set on work, and guided -use rewards and punishment to make children act they way others desired Primary and Secondary Qualities -objects have qualities: the power to produce any idea in our mind; ie. when you think of a snowball you think of a cold white ball -primary quality: one that is in the object itself; ex. motion, size, number, colour, taste, etc -secondary qualities: do not correspond to the experience to which they give rise; ex. a feather can tickle you, but the tickle is in you, not the feather -this all corresponds with Newton’s colour theory, with the importance between stimulus for colour and experience of colour GEORGE BERKELEY -he argued that there were no unambiguous visual cues to the spatial location of objects -ie. the information given just by looking at an object is not enough to tell what it is -he resolved this problem by suggesting that the sense of touch provided the observer with an important source of info that supplemented the visual info -size constancy: when we see a car driving away from us, we do not see the car as shrinking, we see it as the same size but getting farther away -therefore the visual image of an object is associated with a previous experience of moving a certain distance in order to touch the object -according to Berkeley’s view, young children would not have size constancy because they lack the requisite experiences -so, the perceived location of objects is determined by what you do in relation to them If a tree falls in the forest, does
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