History & Systems of Psychology
Chapter 2 –Greek Philosophers
Pre-civilized Views of the World
Animism – the belief that everything in nature is alive
Anthropomorphism – the projection of human attributes onto nonhuman things (i.e., earth or sky could be angry)
Spirits as explanation – assumes that spirits reside in everything, including humans, & control behavior & events
Magic – elaborate methods to influence spirits
Reification – belief that anything that can be imagined must exist
Ancient Psychological Thought
Ancient civilizations: thoughts & feelings from spirits & gods
External concept of the origin of mental activity
No concept of consciousness or the mind
Around 6th-7th cent. BC concept of the mind began to develop
Ability of individuals to think and choose behavior
Brain as seat of mental activity
Early Greek Religion
Two major theologies in 5th & 6th cent. BC:
Olympian religion – valued intelligence, rationality, noble deeds; saw gods as arbitrary and unconcerned; the religion of the elite
Dionysiac-Orphic religion – emphasized mysticism and experience; central idea was the transmigration of the soul, rituals were designed to atone for sin & free the soul to go to heaven; the religion of the lower classes
Dualism: reason vs. emotions
Philosophy (“love of knowledge”) begins ~ 6th cent. BC; Greek Golden Age Socrates-Plato-Aristotle
Marks turning point when supernatural explanations (mythos) are replaced by natural explanations (logos)
Some important issues included:
How to know something (reality) that is always changing. (Heraclitus: “It is impossible to step twice into the same river.”)
The subjective nature of our perceptions/senses.
Emphasis on logic (& mathematics) as unchanging, thus more reliable way to know.
Pythagoras & Dualism
Mathematical laws work perfectly only in the abstract world of mathematics, not in the real world where nothing is quite perfect (i.e. Pythagorean theorem works only for a “perfect” right triangle).
Thus, there must be a dualistic universe:
Abstract, unchanging universe known by reason & logic
Empirical, ever-changing universe know through the senses
Because the rational world is the source of knowledge, it is superior to the world of the senses, of experience.
In people, the mind is superior to the flesh, and the body comes to be despised. The mind, or soul, is believed to be immortal.
This dualistic view was later embraced by Plato and became important in Christian thought through his influence.
It is also consistent with Dionysiac-Orphic religion, which sees the body as sinful and a prison for the soul which seeks release.
Classical Greek Period (approx. 450-300 BC)
The classical Greek period, sometimes known as the Greek Golden Age, spanned the lives of Socrates, Plato, & Aristotle.
The city-state of Athens was a center of tremendous achievements in the arts, philosophy, science, and politics.
Greek culture was spread through the Western world by the Romans.
Socrates (ca. 470-399 BC)
Socrates believed that objective truth exists and can be found logically.
Emphasis on the power of reason; believed we can actually “recall” knowledge from within us.
Foundation of later philosophical and psychological beliefs about innate or inborn abilities
Mind-body dualism – mind/soul exists apart from the body
Foundation of Platonic and later Christian thought
Plato (ca. 427-347 B.C.)
Student of Socrates, founded the Academy
Emphasized real, unchanging, & perfect world of forms (ideas) vs. inferior, physical world that contains imperfect images of reality; the famous allegory of the cave
Reminiscence theory of knowledge: highest form of thought is reason, a function of the immortal soul. Before the soul was put in the body, it dwelled in pure knowledge. Therefore, all knowledge is innate & can be attained only through introspection, remembering experiences it had before entering the body.
Plato (ca. 427-347 B.C.)
Gave philosophy, theology, & psychology the foundational idea that access to the World of Ideas (the “real” world) is by thinking, rather than by observation through the senses.
The soul/mind reveals the real world & is immortal (foundational for Christian thought)
The soul/mind perceives, thinks, & guides behavior. However, the soul/mind is influenced by irrational as well as rational forces, & these must be guarded against.
Plato – The Soul
The soul has 3 parts which are often in conflict:
Rational component: immortal, existed with the “forms”
Courageous (or emotional) component: emotions
Appetitive component: needs such as hunger & sex that must be satisfied
To attain knowledge, both the emotions and the appetites of the body must be suppressed. The rational part must control.
The belief in immortality of the soul & contempt for the body were adopted by early Christianity.
Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Son of the court physician to the King of Macedonia; Plato’s student for 20 years; after Plato’s death tutor of the young Alexander the Great; founded the Lyceum (rival to Plato’s Academy)
Natural scientist, keen interest in biology & zoology, as well as philosophy; also made contributions in ethics, politics, and psychology (On the Soul considered to be the first history of psychology)
Aristotle - Empiricism
Also interested in essential truths, but contrary to Plato, thought they could be known by studying nature.
Combined rationalism with empiricism, & used both inductive & deductive reasoning.
Emphasis on careful observation and classification of phenomena (including mental processes and human behavior).
Information about the world comes through the 5 senses.
Aristotle - Knowledge
Levels of information and knowledge:
Sensory information (necessary, not sufficient)
Common sense (synthesize information from senses)
Passive reason (use synthesized sensory information to function in everyday life)
Active reason (use synthesized experience to find abstract principles – highest form of thinking)
Active reason gives humans their purpose & greatest source of pleasure. Only humans are capable of it.
Aristotle – Hierarchy of Souls
All living things have a soul, 3 types:
Vegetative soul possessed by plants; allows growth, nutrition, reproduction
Sensitive soul possess by animals; can also experience pain & pleasure, remember
Rational soul possessed only by humans; what makes us human is capacity for rational thought
Aristotle – Laws of Association
Recall, an active mental search for a previous experience, is affected by laws of association:
Law of contiguity –things that occurred close in time and/or in same situation are associated
Law of similarity – similar things are associated
Law of contrast – opposite things are associated
Law of frequency – events that occur together frequently have a stronger association
Laws of association are basis for most theories of learning.
Aristotle – The Problem of Change
Plato dealt with problem of how to know an ever-changing world by focusing on dualism and believing in an unchanging “real” world.
Aristotle, on the other hand, was the first major philosopher to focus on the causes of change, motion, etc.
Aristotle – Causation & Teleology
Material cause (material made of)
Formal cause (form of an object)
Efficient cause (force that transforms the matter into a particular form)
Final cause (purpose for which an object exists)
Teleology –belief that everything has a purpose; Aristotle believed the purpose is built in (entelechy).
Unmoved mover - that which gives the purpose of everything but is itself uncaused. It sets things in motion, is a logical necessity. NOT God.
Greek Medicine – A Natural Approach
Hippocrates (460-377 BC) proposed that all disorders (mental & physical) are caused by natural factors (inheritance, injury, imbalance of bodily fluids or humors).
Belief that the body has the ability to heal itself & the doctor’s job is to facilitate healing; led to “cures” such as rest, proper diet, exercise, fresh air, massage, baths
Important to establish a trusting relationship with the patient, and to see the patient as a whole, unique person, not a disease
Galen extended Hippocrates’ theory of humors to temperament: phlegmatic (phlegm), sanguine (blood), choleric (yellow bile), melancholic (black bile)