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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Notes from Benjafield

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University of Toronto Scarborough
G Cupchik

Chapter 4 th The 19 Century Transformation of Psychology J.F HERBART 1776-1841 -Kant thought that psychology could not be a true science because it could not be mathematical -Herbart believed that mathematics was applicable to psychological events -he was interested in what went on above the threshold of consciousness, as well as what went on below the threshold of consciousness -events below the threshold of consciousness were unconscious; can become conscious -Herbart’s psychology rests on the assumption that all mental life is ‘the result of the action and interaction of elementary ideas’  elementary ideas: he means entirely simple concepts or sensations, red, blue, sour, etc  this is kind of similar to Hume -ideas vary in intensity or clarity -some ideas facilitate each other, some ideas inhibit each other -the process of inhibition can be put into mathematical terms  an assumption of Herbart’s psychology is that intensity can be quantified -two ideas of A and B; A is stronger, so A will inhibit B, B will not inhibit A  this means A will be experienced with a greater intensity than B -equation shown on page 81 is significant because it shows that no matter how much B is inhibited by A, it will never be less than zero; will always be positive because they both started off as positive -apperceptive mass: the set of ideas that assimilates ideas consistent with it and rejects ideas inconsistent with it -Herbart believed ‘all concepts strive against suppression, and certainly submit to no more of it than is absolutely necessary’; this striving for expression in consciousness if the source of emotions -the process of apperception was central to Herbart’s psychology -since the apperceptive mass is capable of considerable variation over time, it is always possible for an idea to be incomprehensible at first but to become understandable later on  example: kids come to understand their parents better when they become parents themselves Herbart’s Influence on Educational Psychology -Herbart’s educational psychology: implied that instruction should proceed through 5 steps 1) preparation- the appropriate apperceptive mass must be engaged before any new material can be properly assimilated; students should know what they’re going to learn so they keep focused 2) presentation- once the stage is set, the lesson can be introduced; give the student the tools they need to learn 3) association- after the student learns something, they need to connect the new material with other relevant material 4) generalization- student has to have a systematic & organized approach 5) application- once something is understood, the student should have some way to apply that knowledge; knowledge to be to some purpose -Herbart is important to psychology in a few ways: -the emphasis he put on the notion that ideas can move back and forth across a threshold of consciousness -his attempt to apply mathematics to psychology -his educational psychology G.T. FECHNER 1801- 1887 -learned medicine, then physics -then he got eye problems, and after he recovered went in to study psych related topics Psychophysics -panpsychism: the notion that mind permeates everything in the universe -had an organic approach to the world that led him to believe that ‘the companionship of body and mind pervades the entire universe so that nothing mental is without its physical substratum while, conversely, a good deal of what happens physically is reflected in a corresponding mental experience’ -psychophysical parallelism: he assumed there was an intimate relationship between consciousness (the mental) and events in the nervous system (the physical) -inner psychophysics: the study of the relation between mind and brain -outer psychophysics: studied the relationship between events in the external world and the experiences to which they give rise; Fechner became most famous for this -he believed the relationships between the brain & experience and between experience & events in the external world could be expressed mathematically; to both inorganic and living systems -drawing on E.H WEBER’s work, Fechner made up Weber’s Law: expresses the relationship between a stimulus magnitude and the amount by which that magnitude must be changed in order for the subject to perceive a just noticeable different (JND) -Fechner developed 3 methods that became staples of the discipline of experimental psych: -method of just noticeable differences -method of right and wrong cases -method of average error -Weber’s law only makes sense if we regard our basic experiences (sensations) as quantifiable -the quantity objection: ‘sensations do not stand in additive relations to one another and, so, the claim that one sensation is stronger than the other is meaningless’ -sensations vary in quality, but not in magnitude Experimental Aesthetics -the psychology of art is one of the oldest areas in psychology -Fechner played a founding role in psychology of beauty; AKA experimental aesthetics -aesthetics from above: traditional approaches to aesthetics taken by philosophers and art critics; they try to evaluate art according to standards already in place -aesthetics from below: empirical; depends on observation of spectator’s responses to art in order to try to understand the effects art has on people -this distinction reflects a general trend in the development of experimental psychology in the latter p
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