Fields of Psychology: A Study of Man and His Environment

Fields of Psychology: A Study of Man and His Environment

Fields of Psychology: A Study of Man and His Environment

Fields of Psychology: A Study of Man and His Environment

Excerpt

In order that we may properly approach our present study of psychology we must first obtain a certain degree of orientation in the general field of scientific endeavor. We must try to secure some understanding concerning the character of the scientific frame of mind; to discover something of the major objectives and the distinctive methods to which science has given rise; and, finally, to set psychology in its proper relation to the other sciences within this general field.

Fundamental Attitudes. The sciences as organized and systematized bodies of facts secured through the employment of refined methods are a comparatively recent product. The materials of science (the raw environment surrounding man), as well as man himself, considered racially, are, of course, thousands upon thousands of years of age. But only within the last few hundred years has man found occasion to deal with and to reconstruct the materials of the world in the way of science. From the very beginning man was, of necessity, intensely practical. With his meager biological equipment, he had to be, in order to survive under the terrific pressure of his environment. With development, conditions have gradually changed. As he slowly established himself more firmly in his struggle with environmental forces, a certain degree of freedom came, and he was then able to pause a bit and look about him; to consider in greater detail from a somewhat different attitude the world as he found it. He must have been gradually led to speculate in a vague way as to the relations between things; upon the reason for this, about the cause of that. He must have come, too, to look upon the objects experienced about him as sources serving immediately to give him pleasure or to produce pain; to contribute to his good or to his harm. Some things, as he saw them, were no doubt to be left as they were because they were satisfying; while others were to be ignored, avoided or changed. Thus man in time became, as it were, a creature who not only acted overtly, depending upon his own bodily needs and the exigencies of the moment, in many different ways toward the objects about him; but one who speculated upon these . . .

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