Twentieth Century Psychology: Recent Developments in Psychology

By Philip Lawrence Harriman | Go to book overview

SUMMARY

Organic and psychological processes are so inextricably entwined that the laws of traditional psychology are hybrid laws in the sense that they reflect the influences of both the organic and the mental constitution of the individual. This is shown to be the case in the spheres of sensation, perception, emotion, and for goal-seeking (teleological) behavior. The dilemma of psychology is that it must either rest content with this hybrid character of its field and findings, or seek to achieve a monistic point of view.

But the attempt to break down traditional body-mind dualism always results in a dualism of some other form. The opposition between Wundt and Brentano regarding the ontological status of sensations was solved by Kulpe and Titchener at the cost of accepting a methodological dualism. The behaviorists and even certain psychologists of the introspective tradition ( Boring and Pratt) try to secure a monistic point of view by accepting physiological data as more fundamental than psychological statements and by seeking to order the findings of psychology by means of concepts of dimensions and fields. It is shown, however, that these devices achieve monism by doing that violence to facts which consists in neglecting their differences.

The adoption of operationism as a device for avoiding ontological questions entirely is subject to critical scrutiny. The brand of operationism which identifies the concept with the operation is rejected. The dualism in nature which it seeks to dodge reappears in the realm of operations. Operationism may ignore the systematic order or lack of it in the things upon which operations are made; but the systematic order or lack of it will reappear among the operations. The crux of the difficulty in the way of a monistic psychology is that the interlocking system which appears among physical operations differs from that which appears in psychology. The introspective method which for example reveals experienced feelings is as far removed from the physiological observations which fail to reveal feelings as body was removed from mind in the first place. If the Rubicon between matter and mind cannot be crossed it does not help much

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