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Middle Ages

Fall of Roman Empire 476 AD ushered in the Middle (Dark) Ages (approx. 400-1400)

Feudal system rather than nations

Primitive way of life, characterized by war, disease, suffering, superstition

Roman Catholic Church major political & social power in Europe

Church was anti-science, nonconformists punished

Theology & psychology followed Augustine

Transition to Renaissance

Rise of European universities 10th-11th centuries

Scholars continued to wrestle with issue of faith vs. reason

Aquinas & others restored interest in Aristotelian thought, emphasizing nature as a source of revelation and the interdependence of body and soul

Renaissance ("rebirth")

14th-16th centuries

Time of tremendous intellectual growth

Renewed emphasis on the natural and reality in art & literature

Commerce & international trade

Printing press 1450

Martin Luther (1483-1546) and the Protestant Reformation

Renaissance: Factors

The Plague ("Black Death") 1347-50

Millions died, 1/3 of entire population

Led to breakdown of social order and disenchantment with authorities, espec. Church

Expanding geographic knowledge, discovery of the New World

Rediscovery of Greek classics

Increased interest in human values and open inquiry vs. dogmatic answers and suppression of debate

Renaissance: Factors, cont.

Decline in power of Catholic church

Corruption (indulgences, etc.)

Emerging nations competing for land & money

Bible available to more people

Growth of empirical studies

Map-making based on observation, anatomy text based on dissection, empirical observation in botany & zoology

Increased interest in mathematics—for navigation & commerce, also as a "pure" science

Renaissance: Factors, cont.

Changing visions of the world—cosmology

Growth of theories about the nature of the universe, suggestion that earth was not the center of the universe

Development of mathematics & improved telescopes aided new science

Copernicus & Galileo 16th century

Led to crisis of faith and debate about epistemology, new appreciation for natural causes

Renaissance: Psychology

No real development of psychology as a science, but growth of empirical science & humanistic studies set the stage

Several people made contributions to the growth of psychological thought

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540)

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

Juan Huarte (1530-1592)

Renaissance: Psychology

Trends begun in the Renaissance that influenced the development of psychology

Recognition of importance of social influence in shaping behavior

Recognition that both temperament & environment affect behavior

Inconsistency of human behavior because of multiple influences, both internal & external

Importance of education, & of positive practices to foster learning

Negative effects of punishment on learning & character

Individual differences in abilities

Developmental readiness for various tasks

Skepticism in the Renaissance

Montaigne extremely influential French skeptic, deep concern about Protestant-Catholic rivalry & atrocities in name of religion; attacked both reason & empiricism as bases for knowledge

Faith cannot be supported by reason, which is arrogant & limited

Beliefs can be affected by emotions & motives

What science "knows" changes from one era to the next

Sensory information is limited and subject to influences of bodily conditions, emotions, upbringing


Elevates the roles of observation and experience & diminishes the role of reason

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) founder of modern empiricism

Optimistic view of ability to acquire knowledge through the senses (vs. skeptics)

Metaphor of ants, spiders, bees

Emphasized the importance of collecting large amounts of data from many sources before generalizing from it

Empiricists following Bacon

John Locke (1632-1704)

Controversial view that the mind at birth is "white paper" (vs. theory of innate knowledge)

Emphasis of learning & education, including moral education

Important influence in educational psychology

Empiricists following Bacon

"Radical" empiricists

George Berkeley (1685-1753)

We cannot know absolutes through empiricism, real world is the world of ideas & experience, not the material world

David Hume (1711-1776)

No causal connections, just contiguity in time & space

Sense of self-identity is actually our construction of a succession of selves

Associationism & Utilitarianism

Growth of empiricism led to interest in how knowledge is acquired

Associationism: knowledge is not innate but grows inevitably out of the gradual build-up of associations from sensory data

Utilitarianism: a philosophy emphasizing the idea that the moral basis of action should be the greatest good for the greatest number

Associationism & Utilitarianism

David Hartley (1705-1757)—founder of associationism

One of first to classify sources of pleasure & pain

Interest in neurophysiology as mechanism of mental activity/associations

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)—founder of utilitarianism

Legal reformer, believed punishment should fit crime

"psychological hedonism"—humans motivated to seek pleasure & avoid pain

Associationism & Utilitarianism

James Mill (1773-1836) popularized & expanded

Mechanistic approach to mental processes—all are grounded in association or conditioning

advocated education for the masses

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

accepted A’ism but doubted whether sufficient to explain complex mental processes

Human nature governed by laws of which we have little or no knowledge, but knowledge is growing

Identified basic psychology (study of mind & bodily influences on mind) and applied psychology (study of character formation or ethology)