Psychology as a recognized science is a fairly new revelation, falling into favoritism only within the past century. Philosophy bears the roots of psychology, and philosophers have been pondering the inner workings of the mind and body for many centuries before psychology came in to favor. One of the key philosophers crucial in the development of psychology in to a formal discipline was Descartes. Their writings influenced more modern Western philosophers such as John Locke and John Mill. From this point, psychology grew into the science it is now recognized as.
The 17th century is the cornerstone of philosophy evolving into psychology. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is often considered to be the inspiration for and credited to be the father of our modern philosophy, and psychology. He is most famously quoted for “I think, therefore I am” (Descartes, 2006). A human’s ability to reason is the only to find truth. Descartes would also not accept anything to be truth unless there was no discernable reason for doubt. “The only way to get to the certainty of truth is to arrive at oneself, relying on the clear use of one’s own reasoning powers” (Goodwin, 2008, p.33).
Disenchanted with the philosophy he was taught, Descartes found nothing in his learning that could not be left to question. He was said to only believe as truth what could not be doubted and Descartes pursued to find the knowledge he could find within himself (Goodwin, 2008). Descartes was a rationalist and dualist, making him firm believer in the mind and body being two completely separate entities. His beliefs on this are debatable in philosophy and psychology and have been so in the centuries following his life.
Philosophers and psychologists to this day are still trying to find the connection between the mind and the body. Western Influences John Locke John Locke was a 17th century British philosopher who is credited with being the founder of Empiricism, the idea that our experiences are our only true source of knowledge. Locke’s view on the formation of ideas was sensation and reflection is the only foundation on which we form ideas. He believed we acquired all of our knowledge form our experiences in the world and in life. Locke compared the human mind to a sheet of white paper.
Over the course of life, all of our experiences are recorded upon this paper, our sensations. These sensations can later be recalled, in reflection, to add to new sensations and to acquire new compounded knowledge. John Mill John Mill is considered to be the most important contributor during the British Empirical movement. His contribution stated all knowledge is attained through experience and inborn ideas do not exist. Mill also believed a man should be able to do anything desired as long as the actions do not harm or hurt fellow man in the process.
This also affected his views on the necessity of government. “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. ” (Mill, 2008). Mill found the government to only be necessary for the protection of the people in defense of a war, safety against violence, and to prevent cheating or fraud. Modern Psychology The evolution of philosophy into the science of psychology rapidly took shape in the 19th century.
The world was also rapidly changing; the Industrial Revolution created new technologies to help in the advancement of many facets of science. Moving into the next century, advances in the knowledge in anatomy and of the brain further assisted the progress of psychology being a science. Robert Watson was crucial in the study of the history of psychology. Founding a new division of the American Psychological Association, he encourages a study of the history of psychology. As a result, nearly all psychology programs today require a course in psychology’s history. (Goodwin, 2008) Conclusion.
Psychology as the science we recognize today is barely more than a century in the making. When following the links to the past and the minds that have gotten us to where we are in psychology today, much it to be learned. From modern medicine and science all the way back to ancient philosophers, psychology is a longstanding and diverse study. References Descartes, Rene (2006). A discourse on method/ by Rene Descartes [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon. com Goodwin, C. J. (2008). A history of modern psychology [3rd ed. ]. Mill, John S. (2008). On liberty/ by John Stuart Mill [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon. com.
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