Psychology, Descriptive and Explanatory: A Treatise of the Phenomena, Laws, and Development of Human Mental Life

Psychology, Descriptive and Explanatory: A Treatise of the Phenomena, Laws, and Development of Human Mental Life

Read FREE!

Psychology, Descriptive and Explanatory: A Treatise of the Phenomena, Laws, and Development of Human Mental Life

Psychology, Descriptive and Explanatory: A Treatise of the Phenomena, Laws, and Development of Human Mental Life

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The difficulties of defining the science which it is now customary to call "psychology" are, in part, common to all branches of scientific inquiry. In general, satisfactory definition is one of the latest results of the growth of any science; and since every genuine science is in a constant process of growth, the conception to which its name answers is subject to change in the thought both of the individual student and of the race. The more complete and accurate conception which the definition is designed to embody must be established and defended in the course of the detailed investigations. With the understanding, then, that the statement is only provisional, we define psychology as the science which describes and explains the phenomena of consciousness, as such.

This definition, like every other, involves certain assumptions both of fact and of principle; it also involves certain subordinate conceptions, some of which require further definition, and some of which, perhaps, cannot be defined. The task of justifying the assumptions, of defining the subordinate terms, and of tracing the vaguer aspects of thought to their ultimate factors, must also be left to the development of the science itself. A few words here, however--even if they must be of a somewhat controversial character--will be helpful, and are indeed necessary. Our definition assumes not only that such a science as psychology is remotely possible, but even that it actually exists. It also assumes that a class of phenomena, called "phenomena of consciousness" (or by other equivalent terms), may be distinguished from other classes of phenomena . . .

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