TWO BIG IDEAS
• 1. DUALISM: Pythagoras, Plato, Augustine, psyche, nefesh,
and Aristotle.
Descartes (1596-1650) introduces “modern” dualism setting
the stage for the development of both physiology and
psychology as well as the role of “mechanism.” But, any such
concept is incompatible with a natural science of behavior.
2. ASSOCIATIONISM: Aristotle again (1) contiguity, (2)
similarity, (3) contrast. Some form of association theory (or
denial of it) as a proposed mechanism is the basis of modern
learning and memory theory.
The Descartian Agenda
• Body as machine, reflexes
and involuntary behaviors:
The development of
experimental
neurophysiology and the
work of Russian
reflexologists—Sechnov,
Pavlov, Bekhterev.
• Soul as mind: voluntary
behavior and the British
empiricists—introspection
and the role of association.
DESCARTES’ LEGACY
INTERACTIVE MIND-BODY DUALISM
LED TO PARALLEL TRACKS OF INVESTIGATION
MIND: METHOD OF INTROSPECTION
ISSUE: EPISTEMOLOGY—WHAT DO WE KNOW AND HOW DO WE KNOW IT?
PRINCIPAL DIRECTION: EMPIRICISM (ROLE OF EXPERIENCE) AND ASSOCIATION
AS MECHANISM
GOAL: TO DEVELOP LAWS OF ASSOCIATION
BODY: EXPERIMENTAL METHOD: BASED ON STRICTLY MATERIALIST ASSUMPTIONS
ISSUE: REDUCTION OF ALL BEHAVIOR TO PHYSIOLOGY
PRINCIPAL DIRECTION: EXPLORATION OF REFLEXES; REFLEX ARC AS MECHANISM
GOAL: DEVELOP LAWS OF THE REFLEX
REFLEXES OF THE BRAIN (1863)
Ivan Sechenov
“Thought is generally believed to be the cause of behavior…
[but this is] the greatest of falsehoods: [for] the initial cause
of all behavior lies, not in thought, but in external sensory
stimulation.”
CONDITIONED REFLEXES (1927)
Ivan Pavlov
“The entire mechanism of thinking consists of the
elaboration of elementary associations and the
subsequent formulation of chains of association.”
“The naturalist must consider only one thing: what
is the relation of this or that external reaction of
the animal to the phenomena of the external world.”
“…natural science is under obligation to determine
only the precise connection..between a natural
phenomenon and the response of the living organism
to that phenomenon…”
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REFLEXES OF THE BRAIN (1863) Sechenov