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Mamie Phipps Clark

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The Philosophical Roots of Modern Psychology Aissa Gulbrandsen November 16, 2013 Psych/310 Professor Sharon Cohen

Psychology is a relatively young science, just over a hundred years old. Philosophers over the passing centuries formed various theories based on their observations in human behavior. “At the heart of both philosophy and psychology are questions about the nature of knowledge: Is the world an invention of the human mind? Are some methods of gaining knowledge (e.g., scientific methods) more reliable and rational than others? And can we ultimately justify fundamental beliefs concerning such things as the laws of logic, the existence of other minds (in addition to our own), and the durability of causal relationships?” (Fletcher, 1996). The origins of modern psychology have their roots in philosophy harking back to the beginning with the Greeks, and on to the age of enlightenment and into the 19th century. In the 17th century philosophers like Rene Descartes took their observations about human behavior and tried to explain how the mind and body worked. Descartes created a distinction between mind and body. He posited that the mind was in the pineal gland and the body composed of “animal spirits” that coursed through the nervous system and caused movement. He proposed that some ideas are innate, and some are derived from the environment. (Goodwin, 2008) Unlike Descartes, John Locke thought the accumulation of experiences is what shaped the mind. He believed that humans are a born a “tabula rasa and it is their environment that shapes their behavior. “"Let us then...

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