The Foundations of Psychology

The Foundations of Psychology

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The Foundations of Psychology

The Foundations of Psychology

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Excerpt

"There are periods in the growth of science when it is well to turn our attention from its imposing superstructure and to carefully examine its foundations." With these words Karl Pearson opened the preface to the first edition of his Grammar of Science, and they are fitting words with which to introduce our present study also. This is an age of great development in all fields of scientific investigation, and in no field more strikingly than in that of psychology. But although there are many builders of foundations--such men as Pearson, More, Enriques, Mivart, Poincaré--it is chiefly the physical and biological sciences in whose bases they are interested, and rarely are the separate claims of psychology given their just due, if indeed they are considered at all.

Nor are the psychologists themselves altogether free from blame in this matter. Justly proud of the freedom which their science now enjoys--liberated comparatively late in time as it was from the shackles of metaphysical speculation, and resting securely upon the hard rock of empirical fact--they are giving their time and attention almost entirely to the development of the experimental method and the discovery of individual facts by its means, to the serious neglect of the broader significance of these facts. I do not mean to imply that there is no interest among psychologists in the foundation principles of their science, but I do mean that the interest is relatively slight, and that what work is being done in this field is grievously lacking in unity either of aim or of result. We find, in other words, not one science of psychology but many--structuralist psychologies, functionalist psychologies, behaviorist psychologies and others, each one claiming to be the truly scientific psychology, but having aims and ideals inharmonious with all the rest. Experimentation goes merrily on, building . . .

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