In this paper I am going to be talking about the philosophy of psychology in the 19th century. I am going to be discussing the roots in early philosophy leading into the 19th century that influenced the development of modern psychology, identify philosophers that historically relate to the beginnings of psychology as a formal discipline, identify major philosophers in the western tradition that were primary contributors to the formation of psychology as a discipline and explore the development of the science of psychology during the 19th century.
There were several philosophers that historically relate to the beginnings psychology as a formal discipline. John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume and John Stuart Mill are just a few to mention. John Locke made a distinction between simple and complex. “Simple ideas resulted from experiencing basic sensory qualities such as yellow, white, heat and so on, and from making simple reflections such as “pleasant.” A complex idea includes sever ideas, which can be a combination of simple and other complex ideas. Complex ideas are compounds and can be ultimately reduced to simple ones, much as chemical compounds are composed of simple elements.” (Goodwin, 2008).
George Berkeley’s work on vision was the first systematic example of how empiricist thinking could be applied to the study of perception. Berkeley tried to show that our perceptions of the distance, size, and locations of objects are judgments that depend entirely on experience. We do not see objects directly; rather we make judgments about them based on visual information and our experiences. Davie Hume came up with the rules of association, that ideas that are similar or happen simultaneously are associated. He proposed three laws: resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect.
David Hartley, another dualist, believed that although the mind and body operated separately but also parallel to each other. He used association in his theory of memories. He believed the “strength of association relies on repetition” (Goodwin, 2008). John Stuart Mill, known as the “key transition figure in the shift from the philosophy of the mind to the science of the mind” (Goodwin, 2008), used a chemical rather than mechanical description in our complex ideas are made from simple ones. He believed that the mind was much more active than passive. Mill’s logic consists of the Method of Agreement, Method of Difference, and Joint Method.