History & Systems of Psychology
Chapter 4 – Beginnings of Modern Science & Philosophy
The Renaissance (1450[?]-1600)
Exploration of the world
Interest in different cultures
Need for maps, navigation, banking
Breakdown of church authority
Arts moved from religious themes to human ones, individual achievements in the arts (Da Vinci, Shakespeare, etc.)
Spirit of humanism: intense interest in human beings
Renaissance Humanism: Intense Interest in Human Beings
Individualism – concern for human potential & achievement, power of the individual to make a difference in the world
Interest in the past - especially Greek & Roman poets, philosophers, & politicians
Personal religion – desire for more personal & less formal/ritualistic religion
Backlash against Aristotelianism in religion – church had embraced Aristotle to the point of making him authoritative in theology; reliance on rationalism led to set of rules/dogma more important than personal relationship with God
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Augustinian priest & biblical scholar, disgusted by church practices
Emphasis on personal religion & salvation through repentance and grace; sola fide (opposition to reason or empiricism)
Reformation – 1517, 95 Theses, new movement called Protestantism
Luther translated the Bible into German so all could read it
Renaissance & Breakdown of Church Authority
Humanist writers & Protestant Reformation criticized excesses, hypocrisy, greed
Effects of the Plague (Black Death) 1347-1350
Church dogma susceptible to attack through reason & science (ironically, through methods espoused by Aquinas, under influence of Aristotle)
i.e. “fixed truths” such as exactly 7 heavenly bodies in the solar system, earth is center
Church’s response to explain, then censor
Cosmology & the Beginnings of Modern Science
Ptolemy’s geocentric view part of church dogma & worldview
Copernicus (1473-1543) proposed heliocentric view; seen as opposed to both church dogma and Scripture, heretical
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): mathematician & inventor of telescope who observed & made mathematical deductions about the universe; disproved much of church dogma & was subjected to the Inquisition
Cosmology & the Beginnings of Modern Science
The confrontation between the church and scientists such as Galileo had tremendous implications for the relationship between religion and science after that time.
By trying to dictate (wrong) science, the church undermined its own credibility and authority.
Separation of Religion & Science
With the emphasis on scientific study of the natural world, and the discrediting of the church, came a separation between the realms of faith and science. They were seen as knowable through different means.
One powerful influence on the modern worldview was Sir Isaac Newton.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
Mathematician & physicist, developed differential and integral calculus, law of gravity, Newtonian physics
Deeply religious, believed studying universe was a way to study God
However, his view of the universe essentially banished God from it.
Saw universe as complex, lawful machine created by God, set in motion, & left to run on its own (basis of deism – belief that God created & abandoned)
Universe operates according to natural laws, & there are no exceptions
Beginnings of the Enlightenment
Scientists at the end of the Renaissance period ushered in the Enlightment or Age of Reason (in contrast to the irrational & superstitious Dark Ages).
This is the foundation of the “modern” period, which has continued to the present, although not without significant critics (to be studied later).
Beginnings of Modern Science
The history of the modern period is about the development of the scientific method, a combination of empiricism and rationalism.
Empiricism and rationalism developed separately, at times in opposition to each other, but more often overlapping. Both schools ultimately made major contributions to the scientific worldview.
We will begin our overview of these developments by looking briefly at two early figures: Francis Bacon, an empiricist, and Rene Descartes, a rationalist.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Contemporary of Galileo & Descartes
Radical empiricist, believed must study nature directly & objectively
Inductive method with no preconceived ideas (i.e., no theories or hypotheses)
Empirical observation as basis of knowledge later called positivism
Believed in classifying observations and drawing generalizations from them
Famous metaphor of ants, spiders & bees:
Empiricist like ants, simply collecting things
Rationalists like spiders, “spinning webs out of themselves”
Bees (“middle way”) gather, then transform & digest
We see in this metaphor that Bacon valued reason, even though he emphasized empiricism.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Mathematician who developed analytic geometry, making it possible to describe & measure virtually all known physical phenomena
Philosopher whose search for something beyond doubt led to “I think, therefore I am.”
Deductive method – rational, use analysis from what is known to arrive at other truths
Humans are different from animals because we have a mind, which allows for consciousness, free will, & rationality.
The mind is nonphysical, but it interacts with the body and influences the body. This interaction occurs in the brain (pineal gland).
Innate ideas: natural components of the mind such as infinity, perfection, God, geometric axioms
Did have an interest in physiology and had a hydraulic theory about movement and nervous system.
Believed God would not deceive us, so sensory impressions are reliable IF they are clear & distinct.
Advocated common sense observations of the world followed by deep thought about the observations.
This demonstrates that he made a place for empiricism, although he emphasized reason.