[Naming the Mind: How Psychology Found Its Language]

By Danziger, Kurt; Tolman, Charles W. | Canadian Psychology, August 1997 | Go to article overview

[Naming the Mind: How Psychology Found Its Language]


Danziger, Kurt, Tolman, Charles W., Canadian Psychology


In 1899 H. S. Jennings published a paper entitled "The psychology of the protozoan." In 1904 he published another called "The behavior of the Paramecium." The second edition of Ernst Meumann's book on the "economy and technique of memory" was published in 1908; its third edition, translated into English and published in 1913, was called The Psychology of Learning. These events serve as markers for the historical introduction into scientific practice of the two categories that would become fundamental to American psychology by the middle of this century: behaviour and learning. By the mid 1930s psychology would become almost universally defined as the science of behaviour and its principal explanatory category would be learning. While both "behaviour" and "learning" had long been part of ordinary discourse, there is no evidence that they assumed any kind of technical, scientific significance until around 1900 for the former and just before 1913 for the latter.

A similar picture emerges for most, probably all, major psychological categories. "Intelligence" developed as a biological category in the 19th century but was first applied to humans in its modern psychological form in 1904. "Motivation" appeared first in education in 1916, and then in psychology only in 1928. "Personality," long a moral or theological category, then a psychiatric category, first took on its psychological meaning in the 1920s. The same decade saw the first appearance of "attitude" in its current technical, psychological sense. And psychologists did not generally speak of their subject matter in terms of "variables" until the 1930s. It is the fascinating story of how psychologists in this century came to define and speak of their objects of investigation that Kurt Danziger recounts in this book.

Returning to the examples of behaviour and learning, one might ask how it happened that two categories, to which philosophers and scientists had been largely indifferent prior to the turn of the century, should have become so utterly indispensable by mid century? According to Danziger, the success of evolution theory in biology had much to do with it. Among other things, evolution implied the continuity of species. The minds of humans had to have qualitatively similar counterparts among lower animals. This recognition led to the establishment of comparative psychology as a biological discipline. But to speak of the minds of protozoa made biologists uncomfortable. Mental processes were necessarily inferred from observable movements, so why not just talk about those? As the prevailing scientific motive shifted from understanding to control, behaviour became all that really mattered since control could only be exercised from the perspective of external conditions. Thus J. B. Watson urged psychologists to forget inferring anything about internal, unobservable states and processes. Watson's stand was subsequently softened somewhat by later neo-behaviourists and behavioural scientists, but the resulting behavioural methodology remained to shape the subject matter, however it was called.

But the reduction to behaviour alone left an explanatory vacuum. This was quickly filled by learning, supported by comparative psychology's emphasis on the organism's capacity to make adjustments to environmental demands. Indeed, the capacity to adapt had already in 1884 been asserted by biologists as the criterion of mind in animals. In contrast to instinct, what made animals, including human beings, different from one another was their degree of modifiability. Some organisms are more adaptive than others, and thus more successful. Another boost came from a growing concern in industry for the training of practical skills. Thus some of the earliest studies of what became know as "learning" were in telegraphy, typewriting, and stenography. The growth of standardized schooling with its need for efficiency in training was also important. The new category of learning appeared to unify the other diverse processes that had traditionally preoccupied educationists, like habit formation, memory, and association. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

[Naming the Mind: How Psychology Found Its Language]
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.