Philosophical Assumptions are fundamentally important in Psychology.

Topics: Psychology, Philosophy, Scientific method Pages: 7 (2377 words) Published: March 7, 2009
The philosophy of science is the study of how science goes about its own business, that is, how science obtains knowledge. Knowledge must be obtained gradually. How knowledge is obtained, and even what knowledge really is, remains controversial. One aspect of scientific activity that all philosophers of science seem to agree on is the dialectical nature of scientific knowledge. In other words, it seems clear that scientists are in a constant swing between adherence to rules of proper scientific conduct such as methodologies, theories, hypothesis, and the rejection of these same rules to adopt new ideas. The philosophy of psychology also closely monitors contemporary work conducted in cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and artificial intelligence, questioning what they can and cannot explain in psychology. Philosophy of psychology is a relatively young field, due to the fact that psychology, under the Scientific Method, came to dominate psychological studies beginning in the late nineteenth century. In his 1932 lecture on psychoanalysis as "a philosophy of life" Freud commented on the distinction between science and philosophy: 'Philosophy is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods; but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the universe, though in fact that picture must needs fall to pieces with every new advance in our knowledge. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of our logical operations, and to a certain extent admits the validity of other sources of knowledge, such as intuition'(Cooper et al, 1998). Many psychological theories derived from philosophical thoughts and ideas. This essay explores some of these theories which stem from philosophical assumptions.

Sigmund Freud's (1856-1939) basic tendency of living included a position on the instincts, the sources of punishment and guilt and also the mechanism of defence whereby instincts are satisfied while punishment and guilt are avoided. He studied in a Medical school in Vienna where he received training that shaped the personality theory he developed later in life. Ernst Brucke, a tutor there was a key influence in the intellectual development of Freud. He was part of the mechanism movement. Mechanism is a theory that all natural phenomena can be explained by physical causes. It can be contrasted with vitalism, the philosophical theory that vital forces are acting as living organisms so that life cannot be solely connected with mechanism. The mechanism movement argued that the principles of natural science could explain not only the behaviour of physical objects, but human thought and behaviour as well (Gay, 1998). Brucke rejected the counter argument for vitalism, only teaching that humans are dynamic physiological systems whose functioning adheres entirely to basic physical and chemical principles, such as the principle of conservation of energy. "This teaching was a foundation for the dynamic view of personality Freud developed later in life" (Sulloway, 1979, p.69) His influences on Freud led to the development of the science of psychodynamics. Freud wanted the world to acknowledge that we are often irrational and impulsive and that we can be characterized by conflicts of a sexual and aggressive nature. This was a "shock to many scholars in the humanistic tradition of western thought, which emphasized rationality and the virtues of ethical conduct, to learn that human beings are often irrational and that they continuously engage in internal struggles to keep their sexual and aggressive impulses in check" (Ryckman, 1993, p.23) Humanism is based on the abilities to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal human qualities, particularly rationality and so contrasted with Freud's assumption. Freud's model of the mind may be...

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