Thinking across Cultures

By Donald M. Topping; Doris C. Crowell et al. | Go to book overview

III
THINKING: PHILOSOPHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

At one time psychology was a branch of philosophy, like logic and ethics, but since the late 19th century, psychology aspired to be an empirical science, and began the departure from its parent discipline. Today, psychology is considered a field of study quite distinct from philosophy. In most universities, the training of the scholars in the two fields is completely different, with departmental boundaries adding to the separate orientations of the philosophers and the psychologists.

However, one of the nice by-products of the current focus on the study of thinking has been the reuniting of the two disciplines. Philosophy is a self-reflexive discipline, and therefore appropriate in thinking about thought. Psychology and philosophy can work more closely and synergistically in an area that requires multiple perspectives in order for thought to be fully understood. The four chapters in this section are good examples of the reunifying tendencies of psychology and philosophy as each studies the process of thinking and of thought, thoughtfully.

Psychologist D. N. Perkins zig zags his way in the development of his essay using evidence from his empirical studies combined with philosophical reflection, with each stage of development improving upon the quality of the conclusions. He shows that informal, or everyday reasoning, when done well, involves rather complex skills, and does not follow the simple rules of deductive logic that are often used in the teaching of formal thinking. He brings forth distressing evidence that an increase in conventional schooling hardly improves a person's ability to engage in everyday

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