Psychology down the Ages - Vol. 2

Psychology down the Ages - Vol. 2

Psychology down the Ages - Vol. 2

Psychology down the Ages - Vol. 2


The Call from James. § 2. Voice of Common Sense. § 3. Voice of Morality. § 4. Voice of Philosophical Die-hards. § 5. Long Initial Silence of Psychologists. § 6. Outburst in the Eighteenth Century. § 7. Subsequent Reaction. § 8. Situation Today.

§ 1. The Call from James

On the matter of laws, as on innumerable others, the outstanding literary expression comes from William James. At the close of the most successful book ever written on psychology, he characterizes this his own branch of knowledge, as follows:

"A string of raw facts; a little gossip and wrangle about opinions; a little classification and generalization on the mere descriptive level; a strong prejudice that we have states of mind, and that our brain conditions them; but not a single law in the sense in which physics shows us laws, not a single proposition from which consequences can causally be deduced. We don't even know the terms between which the elementary laws would obtain if we had them. This is no science, it is only the hope of a science."

Now, the "terms" of the laws must somehow be derivable from the mental constitution which we have just been considering. Let us, then, look for the laws themselves.

§ 2. Voice of Common Sense

What is advanced by James as a lamentable fact from which we may hope sometime to escape has elsewhere . . .

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