Twentieth Century Psychology: Recent Developments in Psychology

By Philip Lawrence Harriman | Go to book overview

THEORETICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL DIFFICULTIES OF MODERN PSYCHOLOGY WITH THE BODY- MIND PROBLEM*

CHRISTIAN O. WEBER
Wells College


INTRODUCTION

H. C. Warren called the body-mind problem "the wandering Jew of science."1 Having explicitly avowed its deliverance from philosophy, modern psychology proceeds to pile research upon research blissfully ignorant of the fact that this beggar was present from the first to bedevil its results. Philosophy has not solved the problem of the relation of mind to body; but it has at least acquired a healthy respect for the difficulty of the problem, well expressed in Durant Drake's exclamation, "Happy are they who can believe that the problem is a gratuitous one".2

Belatedly, psychologists are realizing that this problem is not gratuitous for psychology because it appears historically as a problem of philosophy. Psychology, whether it claims to investigate mental phenomena or behavior, deals with beings who apparently have both bodies and minds. Therefore, the body- mind problem is one of primary concern to psychology. The realization that this is the case arose as follows: With the accumulation of observational data psychology sought to formulate general laws. But univocal laws could not be found, because

____________________
*
Sections IV and V of this study are slightly altered embodiments of an article originally published in the Psychological Review ("Valid and invalid conceptions of operationism in psychology," 49, 1942, 54-68). The author appreciates the kind permission of the editors of the Review to reprint the essentials of this article in the present larger whole.
1
Warren H. C. The mental and the physical, Psychol. Rev., 21, 1914, 79.
2
Drake Durant. The mind-body impasse, Phil. Rev., 32, 1923, 221.

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