Science and Psychology
I want to ask: What is knowledge of human beings and can it be acquired by experimental methods?
It is a widespread assumption in academic psychology that the methods which have been applied with great success in the physical sciences are applicable to investigations in other areas and hence to psychological investigation. The history of experimental psychology is the history of the adjustments psychologists have made to their subject to be able to apply the experimental method of the sciences to it. In the process of trimming the head to fit the cap on it they have emasculated psychology.
The knowledge they seek in this way—which is the only kind of knowledge they recognize—is impersonal, general, inductive, theoretical. It is to be applied to particular cases so as to obtain an understanding of individual people and help them to deal more efficiently with such problems as difficulties in learning at school, stress at work, problems of maladjustment, unhappiness in relationships, and so forth. This is the orthodox view.
Thus, in his Psychology: The Science of Mental Life, George Miller says that advance in a science is measured in terms of theory and of practical results: 'scientific knowledge provides a foundation for technological advances, for the solution of practical problems that arise in the daily affairs of ordinary people' (p. 16). This foundation, he tells us, is to be found in the understanding it seeks of 'what people are really like' (p. 17). 'Like all sciences, psychology has influenced our lives at both levels. It has given us technical