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The Emergence Of The Discipline Of Psychology From Its Early Philosophical And Natural Science Beginnings - Essay Example

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The word Psychology is the combination of two Greek words, psyche, which pertains to the mind, soul or spirit, and logos, meaning discourse or to study. Thus, Psychology signifies the study of the mind. Psychology was in a sense even religiously considered as the "study of the soul."
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The Emergence Of The Discipline Of Psychology From Its Early Philosophical And Natural Science Beginnings
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THE EMERGENCE OF THE DISCIPLINE OF PSYCHOLOGY FROM ITS EARLY PHILOSOPHICAL AND NATURAL SCIENCE BEGINNINGS The word Psychology is the combination of two Greek words, psyche, which pertains to the mind, soul or spirit, and logos, meaning discourse or to study. Thus, Psychology signifies the study of the mind. Psychology was in a sense even religiously considered as the "study of the soul."
There is no record of the birth and progress of the discipline of Psychology. But Psychology first appeared as a discipline around 1879 when the very first psychology laboratory in the world was established by Wilhelm Wundt in the University of Leipzeg in Germany. He and his colleagues focused serious interest on studying the mind through experimental introspection. Introspection is the detailed mental self-examination of feelings and thoughts as they occurred. The research involved meticulous observation of simple events under controlled conditions-one that could be measured as to quality, intensity, or duration-and recording of the responses to variations of those events. The emphasis on control and measurement in these investigations were what first established psychology as a scientific discipline. Wundt initiated the concept of stating mental events in relation to objectively knowable and measurable stimuli and reactions. William James of the same era also followed the psychological method of introspection in The Principles, in which he defines as "the looking into our own minds and reporting what we there discover."
However, J.B. Watson questioned the soundness of those approaches, reasoning that if one introspection yield a different result with another wouldn't necessarily mean that one set of results is correct and the other is incorrect. He argued that it was impossible to prove or disprove the results obtained by that method. He suggested that studies be confined to what can be measured and observed by more than one person. With that, Behaviorism was formed. Behaviorism states that Psychology should be a science of behavior, not the mind, and rejected the idea of internal mental states such as beliefs, desires or goals, believing all behavior and learning to be a reaction to the environment. For Watson, "introspection forms no essential part of its methods"
Other early contributors to modern Psychology include Hermann Ebbinghaus, Ivan Pavlov, and Sigmund Freud. Freud's basic theories postulated the existence in humans of various unconscious and instinctive drives, which cannot be tested scientifically for authenticity. Although his theories were popular, such abstract approach to the mind has received rejection in the 20th century. Considerably influenced by Freud, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler perceived psychology in theories of personality and psychotherapy.
The rise of computer technology also promoted the metaphor of mental function as information processing. Combined with a scientific approach to studying the mind as well as a belief in internal mental states, it led to the rise of cognitivism as the dominant model of the mind. Cognitivism became the dominant force in psychology in the late-20th century, replacing behaviorism as the most popular paradigm for understanding mental function. Cognitivism is a theoretical approach to understanding the mind, which argues that mental function can be understood by quantitative, positivist and scientific methods, and that such functions can be described as information processing models.
Psychology was gradually accepted as its methods and approaches moved closer to those of standard science.
Reference List
Boeree, George. Wilhelm Wundt and William James.
Retrieved September 2, 2006, from
Cognitivism (2006). Retrieved September 2, 2006,
Goodman, Russell. (2006). William James. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Retrieved September 2, 2006, from
Green, Christopher. Classics in the History of Psychology.
Retrieved September 2, 2006, from
Psychology as a Discipline. Report of the National Conference on Psychology as a Science.
Retrieved September 2, 2006, from
Psychology, Discipline Description. Mount Royal College.
Retrieved September 2, 2006, from
History of Psychology. (2006). Retrieved September 2, 2006,
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