A History of Modern Psychology PSY 310 Andrea Terpstra March 15, 2010 Lillian Fillpot A History of Modern Psychology The history of psychology is in infancy at the present time. Many philosophers can be credited to the development of this science. Starting in the early 18th and 19th centuries philosophers such as Rene’ Descartes and John Locke opened the world of what we know as psychology today. The British empiricists also contributed to psychology.
Some of these men include David Hume and David Hartley. Psychology has a long past, yet its real history is short. –Hermann Ebbinghaus 1908 Key Issues in Psychology’s History A psychologist/historian from Wellesley College named Laurel Furumoto brought attention to what she called “old” and “new” history of psychology. Furumoto’s explanation of “old history” emphasizes accomplishments of philosophers and psychologists, which also celebrates “classic studies” and “breakthrough discoveries” (Goodwin p. ). Furumoto believed that old history is based more on presentist, internal and personalistic views where as new history views are based more on historicist, external, and naturalistic approaches. Presentism versus Historicism The definition of presentism is to interpret the past only in terms of present concepts and values. Example, if an individual were to look at the Revolutionary War and how it was fought in the present one may find this unconventional and lacking the ability to win.
In those days however it was more of an honor to fight in a straight line rather than in the present day from far distances with better weapons. Historicism is the understanding of an event in the terms of knowledge and values that existed at the time of the event (Goodwin p. 8). Internal versus External History Internal history is referred to as what is written within the discipline of psychology where as external history focuses on the influences of the discipline of psychology. This history was developed in the early nineteenth century implied from Darwinian evolution.
The founder of behaviorism John B. Watson believed that the study of animal behavior could be applied to humans as well. This is known as comparative psychology (Goodwin p. 10). Personalistic versus Naturalistic History A person who views history as the actions of individuals is what brought about history believes in personality views, whereas a person how believes the culture and intellectual environment of a particular history era believes in the naturalistic history (Goodwin p. 10)
John Locke (1632-1704), George Berkeley (1685-1753), David Hume (1711-1776) and David Hartley (1705-1757). Locke’s views on how knowledge is gained and how humans understand the world was the beginning of associatism. Though Locke did not mature the doctrines of associatism he was involved with its infancy. Locke’s views on child education are linked with twentieth-century behaviorism. Berkeley’s focus was on analysis of sensory perceptions. Berkeley also believed that human perceptions are judgments dependent on experience.
David Robinson a historian of psychology stated, “Berkeley rendered epistemology a branch of psychology, and the two have never been divorced since” (1981, p. 228). Like Berkeley David Hume also believed that understanding is rooted to experience. Hume developed the three laws of association: resemblance, contiguity and cause/effect. Resemblance is an object reminds and individual of another object or thing through similarity. Contiguity means experiencing things together. Cause and effect is one event follows another with some regularity and association is developed between the two.
Hume’s most important contribution to modern psychology was his answer to cause and effect. A causes B and it is necessary to know that when A occurs B occurs regularly. A occurs before B and B does not occur unless A occurs (p 47). David Hartley viewed association could be the guiding principle for a theory of how the human mind is structured and operates. This was an important step of physiological psychology. David Hartley was the founder of British Associationism. Conclusion
In understanding the quote at the beginning of this paper psychology has come from many years of philosophy and “great” men and women that have developed psychology as a science of its own. Though psychology is in its infancy of only 120 years the issues that arise in this science have been contemplated by many thinkers for thousands of years. We owe this wonderful science to old and new history, with hopes of more “great breakthroughs” and “classical studies” to come.
Reference: Goodwin, C. J. (2005). A history of modern psychology (2nd ed. ). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley