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A History of Psychology

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A History of Psychology

The ideas of early philosophers contributed to the development of psychology. Psychology became a formal discipline in the late 1800s yet its earliest history can be traced back to the seventeenth century (Cherry, 2011). This paper will discuss the philosophers responsible for the emergence of psychology. It will also discuss the developments of psychology in the nineteenth century.

The idea of dualism which suggests that the mind and body are two separate entities was introduced by French philosopher Rene Descartes (Goodwin, 2008). In his dualism argument he suggests that the mind and body can be distinguished (Goodwin, 2008). He went on to explain that the mind cannot be moved or extended and the body takes up space and moves through it (Goodwin, 2008). Descartes was also considered a rationalist because of his beliefs that the truth could emerge from the careful use of reason (Goodwin, 2008). The mind and body relationship has perplexed philosophers for centuries. This argument continues to live because psychologists and philosophers find it difficult to separate the mind and body to see if they can function without one another (Goodwin, 2008).

John Locke was the founder of British empiricism who rejected the idea of innate ideas (Goodwin, 2008). He also compared the mind to a white sheet of paper. This means that the mind (paper) was to be written on by the human experiences (Goodwin, 2008). Locke also suggested that parents should fulfill an active role in the education of their children (Cherry, 2011). His belief was that children are encouraged by praise and not by punishment (Goodwin, 2008).

John Stewart Mill was the leading British philosopher in the nineteenth century and was dubbed a child prodigy (Goodwin, 2008). His father kept him from interacting with other children during his childhood. His empiricist perspective became prevalent when he credited his advance intellect to his experiences and not his abilities (Goodwin, 2008). His methods of Agreement, Difference and Concomitant Variation contributed to the scientific approach to the analysis of psychology (Goodwin, 2008).

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is well known for being one of the inventors of calculus. He admired the work of Locke yet disagreed with his "mind is white paper" metaphor (Goodwin, 2008). Leibniz instead associated the mind with a veined marble which also contributed to the nature versus nurture argument (Goodwin, 2008). He later suggested that the mind and body work parallel of one another. His idea of parallelism provided the philosophical base for psychology to be studied as an individual science (Goodwin, 2008).

Immanuel Kant was a major contributor to the rationalist perspective. Kant was considered very advanced in nineteenth century German philosophy (Goodwin, 2008). Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Critique



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