Conflicting Psychologies of Learning

By Boyd Henry Bode | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE LEARNING PROCESS FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE "MIND" THEORY

If we undertake to interpret the learning process in terms of a substantive mind, the suggestion lies at hand that all learning must represent some activity on the part of the mind. But this is only a point of departure. When we inquire into the nature of this activity, we find that it varies according to circumstances. The activity of the mind expresses itself through the use of the sense-organs and through the exercise of memory, imagination, and reflective thinking; which is to say that the mind can operate in a variety of ways, or that it has a number of distinct powers or functions. These powers are known as faculties, such as the faculty of observation, of memory, of volition, and the like.

This doctrine of faculties has achieved a conspicuous place in the history of human thought. The type of psychology which is based on the belief in the existence of such faculties has become known as faculty psychology. The time was when this was the prevailing psychology. According to this point of view,

"Mental activity is, strictly speaking, one and indivisible. The mind is not a complex substance, composed of parts, but single and one. Its activity may, however, be exercised in various ways, and upon widely different classes of objects; and as these modes of action vary, we may assign them different names, and treat of them in distinction from each other. So distinguished and named,

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