History and Philosophy of Psychology 2020

  1. Discuss how the views and approach of Socrates might be relevant to psychology today.

Modern scientific psychology is based on two foundations—what human study and how they view the same. As such, modern-day psychology requires a systematic technique and critical inquiry. The active application of critical examination in modern scientific psychology is what is still makes Socrates’ views and approach relevant to psychology.  Modern-day scientific methods applied in psychology, such as evidence-based and empirical point of view, makes Socrates relevant. Socrates’ approach of questioning people to see hidden truth through critical inquiry, which he called elenchus, draws similarities to today’s psychotherapy (Tweed & Lehman, 2002).

Besides, Socrates’ consideration of naturalism is another methodology applied in modern-day psychology. Naturalism focuses on how humans can strive to achieve happiness minus the reliance on heavenly divinity, guiding them or dictating their joy (Tweed, & Lehman, 2002).  Modern psychology also views happiness as eudemonia and can be passed by a person for a person through well-being practices.

  • What is meant by “Ockham’s razor,” and how do Ockham’s views illustrate it? Do you believe it is a principle which psychology should follow today?

Ockham’s razor is the simplification of answers or ideas by erasing unnecessary components. Ockham demonstrates by eliminating any supernatural reasons and substituting them with habits. Ockham’s perception of habit was more of a mental response than behavioral. He believed that knowledge is a person’s elementary cognition level, and complex systems of knowledge were held in “abstract” cognition. Ockham’s views also illustrate the idea of the razor on account of how he explains the phenomenon by applying the most straightforward explanation possible (Panaccio, 2017).  For instance, the notion that students attend university could be defined simply by the idea that their parents are academics. He also asserted that there is no evidence of the soul. Instead, only specific components of the brain are active, performing an action that could otherwise be shut (Panaccio, 2017).  

  • Using the lecture material, explain the difference between primary and secondary properties. Do you agree that secondary properties exist only in mind?

The primary properties of an item create thoughts that resemble the comparing qualities in that article that inspired thoughts. Secondary properties, on the one hand, develop views in the mind that does not take after the comparing attributes of the items that inspired those thoughts. In other words, the primary properties of an article create ideas in the mind that resembles those qualities, while views generated by secondary properties do not appear as the qualities of the article. No, secondary properties do not exist inside the mind. Instead, they refer just to powers that make us sense some of the objects, reflect and classify the same idea.

  • *Explain and discuss Leahey’s (2013) claim that “Descartes dug a hole” (p. 147) for psychology. (500 words)

Leahey’s (2013) assertion is a metaphorical statement implying that Descartes was not positive about psychology. The subjective view of the mind of human adopted by Descartes negatively impact psychology. Descartes developed a theory of the mind as a non-extended and immaterial substance capable of engaging in different activities and experiences numerous states sensation, rational thought, willing and imagining as expressed through the motto “I thinking therefore I am” (Descartes, 2013). He believed that the most vital way to operate is through contemplation and systematic doubting of beliefs.

Descartes subscribed to the Socrates’ “elenchus,”—disbelieving the validity of particular beliefs, and to explain his view of humans being cognitive creatures. He found himself skeptical about the reality of God, but believed in an alive human by using introspection, which brought forth Descartes’ slogan “I thinking therefore I am.” The philosopher established his validity by maintaining that sensation and perception were the basics of his consciousness (Descartes, 2013).

Descartes argued that the soul and the body exist as separate entities, operating separately. The soul resides in the body, which to the philosopher, is a mechanical shell. Therefore it is probable that one of them can exist without the other. He related the idea with the concept of the world—the geographical and spiritual elements of the world, which comprises of a god. The interpretation of the soul was perceived as a “mathematical peak” in human intelligence as opposed to space-occupying material within the body. His view of the interrelationship between the soul and the body was, however, criticized (Descartes, 2013). The philosopher responded to the criticisms by referring to the connection of the soul and body through the action of the pineal gland, which proved to be fantastic because of developments in the neurological study. Besides, Descartes also argued that human does not see the world directly, but rather perceive the visual projections (Abramson & Wells, 2018). The philosopher here improved the physiological practice of visual perception and used it for psychological analysis.

Descartes’ subjective approach to the human mind, as Leahey (2013) puts it, “Descartes dug a hole” (p. 147) for psychology. The conventional scientific psychology has continuously reflected itself as non-Cartesian by virtue of replacing Cartesian’s idea of dualism spirit with a “realist,” material naturalism. However, psychology has always up to its neck in a kind of “crypto-Cartesianism” in apprehending perception as the cause of images in the mind/brain, treatment of mental states, ascribing psychosomatic qualities to components of the brain, and accepting as true that illusionary nature of “free will” can be illustrated experimentally as well as crediting the incoherent idea of a “self” or “I’ and trying to puzzle of the “problem of consciousness”( Petocz & Mackay, 2011). In all these puzzles, psychology tried to replace the immaterial Cartesian mind by a material brain, while holding the central structure of dualist psychology.

Even though Descartes’ idea of the mind and body met with many queries and theories, including Darwin’s Evolution theory that undermined it, his primary interpretation of psychological treatments beginning with introspection is still a method applied in contemporary psychology. Descartes’ strong promotion on the non-reliance of human senses when considering realism led to additional movements, including the psychodynamic approach that focused on the chasm-like configuration of the human mind. The idea was damaging as it advocated people that their sensations are not in with the real world. Nevertheless, Leahey’s suggesting that the argument that Descartes’ conception “dug a hole” for psychology may not be fair for the positive impact of introspection.

  • Briefly explain what Leahey (2013) refers to as an “irony of the Scientific Revolution” (p. 160). How did Berkeley answer the “skeptical question”? Do you think his answer is acceptable?
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“Irony of the Scientific Revolution,” is that while it signified a significant achievement of human reason, it, on the other hand, cast doubt on the very possibility of human knowledge. The scientific revolution has given humans freedom from superstitions, dependency, and inactiveness, injecting us with self-directed vigor that humans have never known before. However, the subsequent division is disturbingly unequal. Philosopher-psychologists such as John Locke, who came after Newton, argued that no human view was free from the likelihood of mistake and that the very presence of the physical world was open to doubt.

However, Berkeley answered the skeptical question of whether knowledge is attainable by asserting that things or matter exist only when we perceive them “Esse est percipi” “(To exist is to be perceived),”implying that knowledge is attainable. The idea that an object relates to a “real object” does not count when there is no “real object.” The idea is acceptable because knowledge is attained by infinite pieces of evidence, one of the perceptions through seeing.

  • How, according to Leahey, does the Wizard of Oz illustrate Kant’s explanation of why the world looks the way it does? What is the alternative realist view? Which do you prefer and why?

Kant argued that the human mind appropriately organized experiences to make them as valid as possible. He viewed worldly/external perception as “phenomena” and the internal perception as “noumena” and proposed that question of human knowledge of truth relies on the nature of the external but not inner perception. Wizard of Oz illustrates Kant’s viewpoint, for instance, by considering that people who lived in Emerald City alter the visual state by wearing glasses. Wizard of Oz acknowledges that Ozzites won glasses, making them view the environment as green. Empiricists. Who Kant was against would argue that Ozzites would logically conclude that the world and everything in it are green (Auxier & Seng, 2008). However, Kant’s argument that objects conform themselves to the human mind materializes though the Ozzites’ eyeglasses changed the visual perception of their phenomena.

John Locke’s view of the mind is the alternative to Kant. Lock suggested that the mind derive its idea from the experiences, and what human observe is regarding either external object or internal process, which supplies the understanding. He also argues that their desires will direct social creatures. However, Kant’s idea of the world is more preferred as it considers whether an ideal is logical or not.

  • *Why was Darwin’s theory considered to be objectionable? Is our attitude to his theory different today? (500 words)

Darwin’s theory asserts that all organisms and species stem from natural selection. The majority of living organisms have characteristics that allow them to survive right from the time they are born. The idea proves characteristic variability in excess as everything that is born does not survive. Darwin described evolution as “descent with modification,” implying that species evolve, produce new species, and share common ancestors. Surviving organisms that are selected naturally are followed by sexual selection. Animal mate, passing inheritance to the next generation, thus explains the continuity of living organisms (Sober, 2011). These organisms with undesirable features die out.

            Darwin’s theory of evolution was, however, considered objectionable, as it contradicts the Genesis account of Creation. The philosophy that species evolve through a natural process and that different species have common ancestors appeared to reject the idea that God created humans. It was believed that God created nature and that humans were created to fit into the heart, an idea summed as active creationism. Those who believed in Biblical infallibility attacked Darwinism on the basis that sacrilegious (Sober, 2011). The natural theology of the early nineteenth century was epitomized by the watchmaker analogy proposed by William Paley in 1802, the argument from design still used by the creationist movements. Natural theology entailed a range of arguments and ideas from the beginning when Darwin’s theory of evolution was published, philosophies of theistic evolution were offered. Evolution was accepted as a secondary cause of creation open scientific examination while still holding trust in God as the first cause with a non-specified role in controlling evolution and creating humans (Cunningham, 2010).

The believers of the Biblical infallibility maintained that the creation by God was purposeful. On the contrary, the evolutionary approach to creation was irrational as it suggested that the reason species evolve is that some cannot take advantage of their environment to ensure survival. Darwinism was regarded as a passive and mechanical description of life, while creationism is an active, organic, and focused explanation (Cunningham, 2010).  Darwin’s theory, according to the critics, did not distinguish between humans and animals, hence contravening the religious outlook of humans.

Misinterpretation was another cause for the objection of Darwin’s theory. A typical illustration is observed in social Darwinism. The idea of Social Darwinism is that the rich people in society are naturally suited to rule as they have natural skills. Social Darwinism is accepted partially, as seen with the practices of religion among laypeople (not scientists). Another instance where the partial rejection of Darwinism happens is with the treatment of individuals with inheriting unfavorable physiognomies in our contemporary society, such as disabilities, who are likely to get healed with medicine (Cunningham, 2010). Treatment in this context is antievolution, as it promotes ways to extend the lifespan of individuals who are biologically “unfit” for survival. Darwin’s theory of evolution asserts that if an organism is unfit, they die before reproducing, but scientists and doctors strive to make people live even longer, against Darwin’s theory of evolution (Sober, 2011).

  • Discuss how James’s claim that consciousness does not exist led to the neorealist alternative to the Cartesian Way of Ideas.

In an article, “Journal of Philosophy of I940,” John Dewey illustrated how in James’ approach to psychology, the subconscious subject was already reduced to a simple “passing through” by 1890 and was dissolved into neutral “experiential stuff.” Dewey argues that James’s supposition denying consciousness and substituting it by an “empirical and behavioral self” was the endmost word of James’s philosophy. The narrow present of “acting self” that comprises sensory and motor components was a leading object of James’s scrutiny in i890 and I904. However, the “wider self,” though frequently refuted by the philosopher, enthused the speculative imagination of philosophers’ expressions such as the Cartesian Way of Ideas, shifting the neurologists to such alternatives. Cartesian consciousness is a kind of reasoning/cognition—away from being acquainted with facts (Simmons, 2012), and its basis on the dualism idea of body-mind.

  • What are the five propositions which, according to Westen (1998), all psychodynamic theorists would support? Do you support these propositions?

The five propositions fundamental to psychodynamic theorists include:

  • Mental consciousness; awareness of the external and internal existence
  • Mental process; implies things that require cognition and include perception, emotion, thinking (imagination, ideation, and reasoning), and memory.
  • Early childhood experience; experience between birth and the age of five years. The experience at this age influences psychological and emotional development and health, hence important factors to psychodynamic theorists.
  • Mental representation; describes the theoretical mental symbol that representing reality or cognitive processes that make us apply such symbols. The concept is vital for psychodynamic theorists in understanding mental processes.
  • Personality development; refers to the organized patterns of feeling, behaviors, and thoughts that different one person from the other. It helps psychodynamic theorists to understand the influence of dynamics such as environment on behavior, cognitive, and personality development (Guntrip, 2018).

I support the propositions as they all shape processes, which ultimately determines personality traits.

  1. Lecture 7 describes a response from within the APS to a recent paper (Shedler, 2010) on the efficacy of psychodynamic treatment. What are the conclusions and implications?

Psychodynamic treatment inspires the exploration and discussion of the patient’s full range of emotions, essential for the recovery process. The therapist assists the patient in describing and putting forward feelings that are threatening or troubling, and the feelings the patient could otherwise acknowledge or recognize (Shedler, 2010). The implication is that the treatment is beneficial for patients who present depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and somatic challenges, because of its focus on the client’s whole range of emotions.

  1. What is the point of James’s thought-experiment of an “automatic sweetheart”? How are we different (if at all) from robots or machines?

James coined the term “Automatic Sweetheart” to imply a soulless body without consciousness. “I thought of a soulless body which should be indistinguishable from a spiritually animated maiden, laughing, talking, blushing, nursing us, and performing all feminine offices as tactfully and sweetly as if a soul were in her” (Osborn & Ginsburg, 2014). Though his conception came long before android, avatar, or robot were coined, it still represents today’s robotic and machine world. Humans are different from robots in the sense that we have consciousness, which machines or robots do not have. Unlike humanoid robots, humans have souls, which are dynamic and can change quickly; hence they may not be as consistent as robots (Osborn & Ginsburg, 2014).

  1. Leahey (2013, p. 490) quotes Maslow as claiming, “I am Freudian, and I am behavioristic, and I am humanistic.” What was Maslow getting at? How far do you think it is possible to be all three?

Maslow’s claim, “I am Freudian, and I am behavioristic, and I am humanistic,” is trying to insert humanistic psychology as the third force in psychology, to achieve self-acceptance and self-actualization. The first force was behaviorism, and psychoanalysis the third-force. According to Maslow, humanistic psychologists must add behaviorism to appreciate human consciousness, to sum up, social psychology. This explains Maslow’s 1973 “I interpret this third psychology (humanistic psychology) to include the first and the second psychologies…I am Freudian, and I am behavioristic, and I am humanistic” (Hoffman, Lopez, & Moats 2013). Behaviorism, cognitive psychology in many cause ignores the subjective experience (personal) while humanistic psychology recognizes the subjective experiences, but at the expense of being non-scientific in the approaches and ability to provide an experience (Shedler, 010). As such, the three areas can only complement each other; it is almost impractical to be all three.


Abramson, C. I., & Wells, H. (2018). An inconvenient truth: Some neglected issues in invertebrate learning. Perspectives on Behavior Science, 41(2), 395-416.

Auxier, R. E., & Seng, P. S. (Eds.). (2008). The Wizard of Oz and philosophy: wicked wisdom of the West (Vol. 37). Open Court Publishing.

Cunningham, C. (2010). Darwin’s pious idea: Why the ultra-Darwinists and creationists both get it wrong. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Descartes, R. (2013). René Descartes: Meditations on first philosophy: With selections from the objections and replies. Cambridge University Press.

Guntrip, H. Y. (2018). Personality structure and human interaction: The developing synthesis of psychodynamic theory. Routledge.

Hoffman, L., Lopez, A. J., & Moats, M. (2013). Humanistic psychology and self-acceptance. The strength of self-acceptance (pp. 3-17). Springer, New York, NY.

Osborn, M., & Ginsburg, H. (2014). William James” Automatic Sweetheart’Revisited: Comparing Sternberg’s Love Measurements for Real versus Identical Android Sweethearts. North American Journal of Psychology16(2).