RUNNING HEAD: History of Psychology Paper


History of Psychology Paper

History of Psychology Paper The history of psychology is such an interesting thing. Historically, psychology is a very young discipline that started in the mid-1900’s. The Catholic Church began creating

History of Psychology Paper


philosophies, and then many philosophers started to question. The questions they started to ask were the birth of Psychology. Psychology’s history can be traced all the way back to the time of the early Greek’s, and there has been others who believe psychology started back even further. Early psychology was what people thought of as the study of the soul and was important when it came to the work of many philosophers. In 1879 a self-conscious field of experimental study began, which was called Psychology. This was when Wilhem Wundt founded the very first laboratory in Leipzig. On the other hand, before this, a lot of early philosophers made speculation on the nature of the mind, of the soul, and of the spirit. A famous French mathematician scientist and philosopher named Rene Descartes was born in 1596 and passed away in 1650. He brought many ideas to the field of psychology. Descartes said that the body works something like a machine. The soul or mind has been said by Descartes to be a non-material entity that lacks extension and motion that is not like the body. He also did not believe that humans have minds and that the mind interacts with the body at the pineal gland. This has been said to be dualism. Dualism suggests that the mind controls the body. Descartes strongly believed that animals could not feel any type of pain because they did nog have minds. After this thought, the dissection of live animals began. This also became widely used in Europe until the Enlightment. Descartes also explained in his Discourse on method that he would accept the truth only if something could not be doubted. Descartes believed the way to the truth was through human capacity to reason. Four basic rules were described to arrive at the truth in the Discourse on method. (Goodwin, 2008). Right before he passed away, Descartes wrote “The Passions of the Soul,” which spoke of him being a pioneer psychologist and physiologist. Descartes wrote this because he wanted to explain human’s emotions but the book also described what we all know today as reflex.

History of Psychology Paper


John Locke was an Oxford scholar, and a medical researcher, and a great philosopher of the late seventieth and early eighteenth century. He wrote an essay concerning human understanding. The point of the essay was to determine the limits of human understanding. Many early writers argued that human understanding had a few limits and Locke also tried to figure out those limits. Locke thought that everyone knew that God existed. Locke also argued about morality because he felt that we were the creators of moral and political ideas. He also firmly believed that individuals grew based only on his or her experiences in life (Goodwin, 2008). Also in his essay, Locke wrote about how the human mind is a tabula rasa at birth. In his essay he also wrote that we have no innate knowledge so, at birth the human mind is more or less a blank state and that our experiences shape who we all become and everything we learn growing up adds to what we all become. One of the leading figures in Natural philosophy was Francis Bacon. Bacon studied in the period of transition from the Renaissance to the early modern era. Bacon was also a lawyer and a Member of Parliament and Queen’s Counsel. Bacon also wrote on questions of state, law, religion and contemporary politics. He is known for his texts on empiricist natural philosophy. Bacon said that the mind is not a tabula rasa, but instead an ideal plane for receiving an image on an account of implicit distortions (Cherry, 2011). Francis Bacon is well known for his treatises and empiricist natural philosophy as well as for his doctrine of the idols that he put together in his early writings.

Charles Darwin was a British scientist who changed the way we think about the natural world. Darwin was born in Shrewbury, England in 1809. He produced the evolution theory.

History of Psychology Paper


Darwin composed an essay that outlined natural selection. Natural Selection was carefully breeding or only allowing successful variations to survive and reproduce. Darwin published his work on the Origin of Species by Mean on Natural Selection, in 1859. Instantly, the book was very successful. (Cherry, 2011). Wilhelm Wundt Was born in Germany in 1832 and was considered the founder of modern psychology. Wundt was a structuralist that debated that psychology is human experiences that come from an individual’s own experiences. He very much believed that an individual’s mind as well as behavior should be subject to being scientifically analyzed. He showed hoe important that introspection and self-exploration is. Wundt studied medicine and was selected to be an instructor on physiology. He believed in the Spinozan idea of psychophysical parallelism, which stated that every physical as well as mental event has a counterpart. Wundt would observe a simple event closely and after record the responses for evaluation. In 1890, William James book “Principles of Psychology” came out and became a very influential textbook in American Psychology history. In this book, the very many foundations for questions in psychology were laid out. It also had very informational chapters on emotion, habits and even consciousness. Many experimental psychology demonstration labs were created soon after even though experimentation was not the only attempt to psychology. Functionalism was a new approach to psychology by William James. Functionalism is known as the study of how the mind works so that an individual can get used to its environment. James had a belief that mentality must be seen as a process that kept going and not something that is broken up. James only believed that emotions came from the inside and in an emotional situation.

History of Psychology Paper


Psychology has been around since the seventh-century B.C., but most of the advancements were from Descartes work and other wonderful philosophers of the Renaissance and the century after that. Since the beginning of psychology, and in the last 100 years, there have been many different disciplines from science and it continues to develop as well as change. Thankfully philosophers in the past asked all of the questions that they did because without them asking the questions, we would not be lucky enough to know all that we do today.

References Cherry, K. (2011). William James Biography (1842-1910) Retrieved on September 9, 2013 from:

History of Psychology Paper

6 Goodwin, C.J. (2008). A History of Modern Psychology (3rd e.d.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

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