A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833-1933

By J. C. Flugel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
SYSTEMATIC PSYCHOLOGY OF THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY--THOMAS BROWN, JAMES MILL, BENEKE

IF Herbart, beyond a doubt the most original figure in recent psychology (as our student of a hundred years ago would see it), represented a departure from the dominant associationist school, inasmuch as he conceived of the mind throughout in terms of dynamic forces rather than of passive mechanisms, the period was not lacking in eminent exponents of the more orthodox tradition. There were above all two Scottish writers who would have claimed the attention and coloured the thought of our student--Thomas Brown and James Mill. Thomas Brown was Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh from 1810 to 1820 and published his Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind in the latter year. Brown's psychology is often said to represent a happy combination of Scottish, French and English ideas. From the Scottish tradition he inherited the religious and moral emphasis upon an active and controlling Ego, a tradition which became blended with the reaction against the mechanistic views of the arch-empiricist Condillac and the physiologically minded Cabanis that was just then taking place in France; while at the same time in much of his detailed work Brown adopted and extended the viewpoint of the English associationists. For him the mind could not be fully explained merely in terms of individual items of experience linked together by associations. There was

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