A History of Modern Psychology
Steve J. Rositas
University of Phoenix
Though psychology and philosophy may sound similar they are divided by application of scientific method. What started as philosophical analysis and speculation has led to what we today call psychology. Men such as Plato and Socrates wanted to better understand the human mind but lacked the scientific proof that today’s psychologist are equipped with. Through out these next paragraphs is the history of modern day psychology and the philosophers that contributed to its success. René Descartes (1596–1650) may have been the earliest philosopher to bridge the gap between philosophy and psychology with an experiment in the 1620’s. For example, he combined his interests in optics and physiology by extracting the eye of an ox and examining the properties of the lens, thereby discovering the fact that retinal images are inverted (Vrooman, 1970). What began as a hypothesis led to the scientific investigation that today’s psychologist use to better understand the mind. Later on Descartes introduced the idea of dualism, arguing for a clear separation between mind (or “soul”) and body (Wiley, 2008). Sigmund Freud was another philosopher that historically related to the beginnings of psychology as a formal discipline. Freud branded the idea of psychoanalysis; he described it as the philosophy of life. Freud argued that philosophy clung to the tradition methods of creating illusion about the universe without giving much thought to the intuitions which determine the most coherent picture of the universe (Sokal, 2001). John Locke (1632-1704) was a major philosopher in the western tradition that contributed to the formation of psychology as a discipline. He was considered the father of Empiricism, the philosophy that all concepts originate in experience, that all concepts are about or applicable to things that can be experienced, or that all rationally acceptable beliefs or...
References: Sokal, M. M. (2001). Practical phrenology as psychological counselling in the 19th-century United States. In C. D. Green, M. Shore, & T. Teo (Eds.), The transformation of psychology: Influences of 19th-century philosophy, technology, and natural science (pp. 21–44). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Goodwin, C. J. (2008). A history of modern psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Jon Wiley & Sons.
Hunt, M. (1993). The story of psychology. New York, NY: Random House.
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