Transition from Medieval to Modern Times
Renaissance, Reformation, Rise of Science
- Revival of the Greek tradition
(philosophy, art, & etc.)
- Commerce - The Medici family
- Art: from Byzantine to Renaissance forms
- Nationalism in Europe
- Response to abuse/decline of Papacy
- Luther (1483-1546)
- no need of Pope to mediate between
individual & God
- Calvin (1509-1564)
- asceticism & Protestant (work) ethic
Rise of Science
- Emergence of new ideas & their conflict with the Church
- Heliocentric universe opposed to
Ptolemaic view endorsed by Church
- Escaped inquisition (dedicated his
work to the Pope!)
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Important work: Novum Organum
- Visionary of modern science
- sailing beyond Pillars of Hercules:
symbolic limit of classical science
- Provided new perspective on knowledge:
- knowledge of what, what for, and how?
- Seek knowledge of works, not words
- (Read the book of Nature)
- Knowledge for Human Enlightenment and Power
- Experimenta lucifera: seek "light"
- Experimenta fruictifera: seek "fruit",
(Note: pure vs applied distinction)
- Seek knowledge to command Nature
into action, rather than to overcome
an opponent in argument
Knowledge for gaining power over Nature,
to improve the "estate of man [sic]"on earth
- How should we seek knowledge?
- start from observation of particulars
and proceed to the general (Form)
- follow the Inductive method
- Criticism of Aristotelian Deductive method:
- In proceeding from general propositions
to particulars, the entire superstructure
may fall if based on faulty
- "True knowledge is knowledge of causes."
- "But ... final cause rather corrupts than
advances the science [physics] ... except
such as ... human action."
- Proposed science as continuing, organized,
cooperative, publicly funded accumulation
of facts for the well-being of humanity
- Identified various types of errors and faulty
presuppositions which he called the "Idols":
1. Idols of the Tribe
Basic biases of human nature
(e.g., perceptual biases)
2. Idols of the Cave
Personal biases that result from one's
own experiences, education, feelings
3. Idols of the Market Place
Biases that result from being overly
influenced by traditional meanings
of words. "... unfit choice of words
obstructs the understanding"
4. Idols of the Theater
Blind allegiance to dogma, authority,
Some general points about Bacon:
- " For man is but servant and interpreter of
Nature: ... For the chain of causes cannot
by any force be loosed or broken, nor can
nature be commanded except by being obeyed."
Note: the dilemma of
freedom vs determinism
faced by Skinner ...
and everyone else!
- Considered Founder of Empiricism
- followed by British thinkers Locke & Hume
- Inspired the founding of the Royal Society
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Developed the "method of experiment"
(e.g., experiment on speed of falling bodies)
Re-invented the telescope
- discovered satellites of Jupiter
(which Aristotelian scholars refused
to see through the telescope)
> observed spots on the sun
Adopted Copernicus' heliocentric view
of the universe
- angered Churchmen as a threat to an
Robinson (1986). An Intellectual History of Psychology
- Rationalism: Geometry of the mind. Certainty!
Following Copernicus, Galileo, Kelper (1609)-1st 2 laws.
enabled: 1) Framing hypotheses
2) Mathematisation of data
Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Traditional upper class upbringing
Jesuit training: of scholastic Philosophy and Physics
emphasis in mathematics
-contributions to mathematics, optics, analytical geometry
Jones (1975): Descartes had a "mystical Experience"
outlined a new scientific method
of building truths on others
1644 Principles of Philosophy
4 part maxim on an "unprejudiced mind"
1. Accept nothing as true except those of
enough clarity and vividness to remove doubt
2. Divide problems into many descriminable elements
3. work solutions from smallest to grandest
4. ...thus: guarantee solution is general enough
to allow no exceptions!
Cogito Ergo Sum
the indubitable foundation
...to become a Kepler of Biology?
-thought highly of Harvey's work
Observed the nerves of the body,
thought of them as tubes through
which the animal spirits flowed.
Viewed body as machine
- invented concept of "reflex arc"
Viewed humans different from animals:
- rational soul; - free will
Distinguished substance from its attributes:
"Substance is a thing which so exists
that it needs no other thing to exist."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(l' (me: mind, self, soul)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- soul acts on body & vice-versa
- soul has free will (works with help
of "animal spirits")
- preference for reasoning over
experience as source of knowledge
- Doctrine of "Innate Ideas"
- God places clear ideas (such as
triangles) in the soul
Note: invited criticism from the
The separation of body & mind as a way of
separating the spheres of science and religion
Importance for psychology:
Defined the "Mind-Body Problem"
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Important work: Leviathan
Useful ref.: Article on Hobbes in the
Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
Views of Body and Mind
- are Automata
- heart, a spring; nerves as strings, etc.
- ideas and thoughts are "phantasms,"
i.e., motions in the brain which may
cause other motions
Hobbes was a "metaphysician of motion":
"Life is but a motion of limbs"
Matter in motion is all there is:
implicit material monism.
View of causation and free will
- Cause simply means antecedent
- "Will" is the name we give to an appetite
or aversion that immediately precedes
action; and appetites and aversions are
but motions toward or away from
Freedom is merely the lack of constraint.
Note: A fully mechanistic & determinist position;
freedom does not imply will in the
sense of capacity to choose,
initiate and sustain a course action.
View of Knowledge
- "Nominalistic": i.e., implying that
concepts are mere words, no more
- Reasoning merely involves "adding and
subtracting" of "general names"
that mark & signify our thoughts
- "Science is the knowledge of
consequences, and dependence
of one fact on another" [so that]
"causes come into our power"
Note: implicit notion of knowledge for
"prediction and control"
View of the Good
- "Good" simply is
a man's object of desire;
evil that of hate and aversion
- Worth or value of a man is "his price",
i.e., "so much as would be given for
the use of his power"
Implications for Psychology:
- Anticipates mind/brain identity theory , &
REM (rapid eye movement)-type
studies of dreams:
"Dreams are caused by distemper
of some inward parts of the body"
- Materialist, mechanistic, and determinist
world view (LaMettrie, Watson)
- Advocacy of control of individuals by
the state or by monarchy