September 23, 2013
Psychology was born from the ideas of early philosophers such as Plato. These philosophers paved the way for future philosophers and psychologists. The early ideas were built upon to create a science to explain mental processes and behavior. The field of psychology underwent many important changes during the 19th century, including the first psychological laboratories in Germany and in the United States. The 19th century also brought about the first psychological clinic, which is an immense breakthrough for psychology as a whole as well as to the many people who make use of this service.
History of Psychology
Psychology involves many different ideas, which have been influenced by philosophers dating back to the time of Plato and Aristotle. While modern research methods were unavailable during the early parts of the history of psychology, philosophers were able to develop ideas that sparked interest and thinking for the philosophers and psychologists who came after them. Among the philosophers who played a role in the development of psychology as a science are Aristotle, Socrates, and Wilhelm Wundt. Each of these people made contributions to the field of psychology that allowed it to develop into what it is today.
In the Western tradition, philosophers focused on the role of the soul instead of the mind like today’s psychologists do. Aristotle is an influential figure in the Western tradition. Aristotle’s main area of interest was the soul, and how all living things have souls, even if they do not have minds (Shields, 2011). Aristotle was taught by Plato, who also developed theories about the soul. Plato believed that the soul is comprised of three parts, and that the soul is immortal (Frede, 2011). Socrates is yet another philosopher in the Western tradition. Socrates believed that the ultimate truth was someone to know himself (Fizer, 1997). To Socrates, having a healthy soul involves possessing self-control, inner discipline, self-knowledge, and soundness of mind (Fizer, 1997).
Rene Descartes received an education in the scholastic tradition, and was a rationalist (Goodwin, 2008). Descartes refused to accept anything as true that could not be seen with the naked eye and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He developed a method of figuring out the truth in a problem, and for the time period in which he lived his ideas were monumental (Goodwin, 2008). Descartes’ method was to first not consider anything to be true unless it is obviously so, without any doubt. Next, he divided problems into smaller parts, giving the ability to look at each part separately. During the problem solving process, Descartes began by looking at the simplest part, then progressing to the more complicated portions. The final step was to double check his work, ensuring that nothing was left out (Goodwin, 2008). Besides being a rationalist, Descartes was also a dualist. He believed that the mind and body are separate from one another, the body having the ability to move and the mind having the ability to reason (Goodwin, 2008).
John Locke is another important figure in the history of psychology. Locke did not believe in innate ideas, and chose to argue his idea that thoughts are based on experiences (Goodwin, 2008). He saw the human mind as a tabula rasa, or blank slate (Uzgalis, 2012). The mind begins to form ideas only after it has had a chance to experience things. Locke believed that when the mind is dealing with simple ideas, three different actions could occur (Uzgalis, 2012). The first action is to put the simple ideas together to form a complex idea. The second is to relate the ideas to one another by putting them side by side, but not combining them. The third action that can occur with simple ideas is generalization. When the mind encounters an idea, it can leave out the specifics such as time and place. This gives the