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On The Threshold of Psychology Associationism – A Philosophy of Mind & Brain –David Hartley –Alexander Bain Evolution – Abandoning Teleology –Charles Darwin.

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Presentation on theme: "On The Threshold of Psychology Associationism – A Philosophy of Mind & Brain –David Hartley –Alexander Bain Evolution – Abandoning Teleology –Charles Darwin."— Presentation transcript:

1 On The Threshold of Psychology Associationism – A Philosophy of Mind & Brain –David Hartley –Alexander Bain Evolution – Abandoning Teleology –Charles Darwin Foundations of An Experimental Psychology – Psychophysics. –Weber –Fecher –Helmholz Structural Psychology and the Introspective Method –Wilhelm Wundt –Edward Titchener

2 David Hartley ( ) Originally trained to by a minister in the Anglican church but decided against the clergy and trained to tbe a medic His most famous work was Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty and his Expectations This book combines neurology (as it was then understood), moral psychology and spirituality. He was perhaps the first writer to proposed physiological model of association as a model of the mind This was based on extending Newtonian science into the field of human psychology

3 The Science of Man “Since therefore sensations are conveyed to the mind, by the efficiency of corporeal causes... it seems to me, that the powers of generating ideas, and raising them by association, must also arise from corporeal causes, and consequently admit of an explication from the subtle influences of the small parts of matter on each other, as soon as these are sufficiently understood. (OM 1, prop. 11)” According to Hartley nerves “vibrate” and can change their frequencies or amplitudes of vibration and pass on those changes to other nerves. Because there are a huge number of associative connections between nerves this basic mechanism generates all the complexities of action we observe in living beings. For Hartley the mind is essentially the brain and its operations. This avoids the substance duality of the ‘mental’ and the physical.

4 Alexander Bain ( ) A Scottish philosopher born in Aberdeen who originally trained as a weaver. Best known for two books: –Senses and the Intellect (1855) –Emotions and the Will (1859) Like Hartley he argued that mental and physical processes operated together to create the mind –But his was a psychophysical parallelism Like Hartley the associations formed in the mind were essentially caused by neurological changes. Bain introduced hedonism into associationism emphasising that pleasurable associations of behaviour were more likely to be repeated than those that were painful (pre-dating Thorndike’s law of effect)

5 Charles Darwin ( ) Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh but it was not to his taste so he was sent by his father to Cambridge to study for the clergy (Anglican) obtaining his degree in He developed his interest as a naturalist and obtained the unpaid role of naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle. During the Beagle’s five year voyage Darwin kept extensive notes which later became the basis for his later writings While on the Galapagos islands Darwin observed small variations in the beaks of the finch populations that seemed to him to be adapted to the local ecologies and behaviours of these birds.

6 Darwin’s Key Ideas Humans are animals like all other animals (descended from primates) –Freud pointed out that this was the second great blow to the human ego. Natural selection was the process by which organisms change over time. Random, and often minor, variations in animals are the raw material of natural selection Adaptation to the environment is the ‘goal’ of evolutionary processes Following on from Malthus, the adaptations that are functional will survive whilst non-functional adaptations will die out.

7 A Useful Resource The following link is to a list of journal articles, book chapters, and essays by some of the historical characters that have been mentioned so far.

8 The Consequences of Evolution for the Study of Psychology Comparative Psychology – if animals and humans are related then studying animals can tell us something about ourselves Individual Differences – examining the variations bet’ween individuals and how they are ‘selected’ will inform us about the human mind –Francis Galton (a half cousin of Darwin’s) developed both the science and statistical analysis of individual differences (e.g. Pearson (r) was one of his students. The structure of the nervous system could now be considered in terms of the ‘older’ and ‘newer’ parts of the brain. The notion of ‘evolution’ was applied to the understanding of ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ societies Developmental Psychology – as ‘Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny’ studying children gives access to the early development of the human mind.

9 Ernst Weber ( ) He was a doctor and professor of anatomy at the University of Leipzig. He asked a fundamental questions about perception –How do we notice the difference in intensities of two different stimuli? (e.g. how do we know that one thing weighs more than another) He set out to systematically and experimentally study this question. He developed a ‘psychological law’ concerning ‘just noticeable differences’ –∆R/R=K where R is the stimulus intensity (R=Reiz) and K is a constant

10 Gustav Fechner ( ) Fechner also studied and worked at the University of Leipzig. Fechner is considered the founder of Psychophysics – the study of the relationship between stimuli (specified in physical terms) and the sensations and perceptions evoked by these stimuli He studied the limen (thresholds) of perception –Absolute (what is the minimal amount of energy for a stimulus to be detected) –Relative (what change in stimulus energy is required for that change to be detected) He was interested in relating the perceived magnitude of a sensation to the physical stimulus: –S = k log R

11 Hermann Von Helmholz ( ) Helmholz studied at a medical institute in Berlin and served as a military surgeon in the prussian army. He later worked as a professor in the University of Konisberg doing ground breaking research in physiology, physics and psychology He developed a theory of hearing that involved the basilar member acting as a tonal analyzer responding differentially to different frequencies. His method focussed on sensations themselves and not on the objects sensed –He introduced the idea of unconscious processing of stimuli (based on learned associations –This process is inductive and leads to generalisations between similar stimuli

12 Wilhelm Wundt (1832 – 1920) Wilhelm Wundt was born in the Baden region of southwest Germany He studied at the University of Heidelberg initially as a physiologist but changing to medicine and then back to physiology. He later working in Leipzig In his book (Principles of Physiological Psychology) Wundt set about establishing Psychology as the experimental science of the mind. He emphasized the need to study the ‘content’ of the mind Both attention and volition were fundamental to Wundt’s psychology which he name ‘voluntarism’

13 Edward Titchener ( ) Titchener, was a British student of Wilhelm Wundt and eventually founded the first Psychology Department in the USA at Cornell. He originally studied philosophy at Oxford University but became fascinated by Wundt’s work He developed his own view of Wundtian Psychology and tried to convince his American Colleagues of its importance Structuralism was his renamed version of ‘voluntarism’

14 Structural Psychology Structural Psychology had three fundamental aims –To describe consciousness in terms of its basic elements –To describe how those elements combine together –To explain how the nervous system is connected to consciousness Consciousness was defined as immediate experience – the nature of experience as it is experienced The experimental method used was introspection –It was only considered appropriate if it was conducted by well-trained scientists Most of the findings of this system of Psychology were undermined by other researchers –E.g. the ‘Imageless thought’ controversy –Boring (1950) noted that Structural Psychology was probably a negative force in the development of Psychology – a lot of effort was spent discrediting structural psychology.


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