Running head: REFLECTION ON THE HISTORY & SYSTEMS OF PSYCHOLOGY
Reflection on the History & Systems of Psychology
University of the Rockies
May 30, 2013
REFLECTION ON THE HISTORY & SYSTEMS OF PSYCHOLOGY
Pre-modern, modern and postmodern frames of reference have all helped shape important, contemporary psychological theories and issues. In this paper I will attempt, in a reflective manner, to walk through and revisit the areas we covered in course, the end aim being to gain a measure of insight into where the field of psychology stands today, particularly with regard to oppressive forms of ethnocentric monoculturalism.
In terms of pre-modern perspectives, in the course we first discussed historical issues concerning the mind-body problem. I stated the nature of the relationship between body and mind and whether they are one and the same or two distinct substances, which is the center of the debate between monists and dualist. Descartes, the most well known dualist, argued for a separation of mind from soul and body. Also an interactionist, Descartes held the mind influenced the body as much as the body impacted the mind (Goodwin, 2009). Plato, his predecessor from antiquity, was also a dualist and an interactionist arguably, and believed the body and soul/mind were temporarily at one during life; each came from a completely different place, the body from the material world and the soul from the world of ideas. At the moment of death, the body withered away in time and space, the soul or mind returning to the world of forms and there realizing universal truths (Wozniak, 1992).
Delving deeper into pre-modern views of the mind-body problem I touched upon Spinoza. Spinoza, a contemporary of Descartes, dismissed Descartes' two-substance view in favor of what is called double-aspect theory (Wozniak, 1992). Double-aspect theories hold the view that the mental and the physical realms are varying aspects of the same substance. For Spinoza, that single substance is God, perceived as the universal essence or nature of everything in existence. In Spinoza’s view, there is no partition of mind and body, therefore. Instead they are of a single substance, in a pre-established coordination, reflecting the divine essence. In reflection, I continue to side with Spinoza and double-aspect theory in terms of
REFLECTION ON THE HISTORY & SYSTEMS OF PSYCHOLOGY
pre-modern perspectives. I do believe that there is a pre-established coordination between mind and body that is reflective of the divine creation. "I am therefore I think" is my continued response to Descartes.
In terms of modern perspectives in the course we examined the origins of psychology as a subject discipline. During the course I stated that psychology first appeared as a subject discipline in 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt started a psychology lab in Germany at the University of Leipzig. The laboratory devoted itself to the analysis of conscious thought in its basic elements and structures, which was uncovered through a process of introspection (Gross, 1996). What differentiated this ‘new psychology’ at the time from philosophy was its use of measurement and control as well as its emphasis on the scientific method to study mental processes relevant to human consciousness. Due to his influence on Edward B. Titchener, Wundt’s frame of reference arguably helped give birth to structuralism. Indeed Wundt’s disciple, Titchener, is credited with developing and labeling structuralism in an 1898 paper called “The Postulates of a Structural Psychology (Goodwin, 2009). In the paper he compared and contrasted structuralism with functionalism, which he claimed infested most US universities, save Cornell where he was cultivating what would come to be called the “the Cornell school of psychology.” Notwithstanding, Goodwin (2009) has stated that Titchener and the Cornell view of psychology was extremely narrow largely because of its insistence on...
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