Psychology is the description and explanation . . .
|that is, |
the study of the causes, conditions, and immediate consequences
so far as these can be ascertained,
of states of consciousness . . .
|such as sensations, desires, emotions, cognitions, reasonings, decision, volitons, and the like. |
in human beings.
Psychology is to be treated as a natural science.
As do all natural sciences, psychology assumes that a world of matter [a material world] exists altogether independently of the perceiving mind.
In addition, psychology assumes additional data peculiarly as her own.
These data are:
- thoughts and feelings [transitory states of consciousness]
- knowledge, gained by way of thoughts and feelings, of other things [these "things" may be material objects and events or other states of mind of oneself or of other people in the present or at other times; i.e.,
- knowing a thing [procedural knowledge, conditional knowledge],
- knowing a fact [declarative knowledge],
- knowing oneself [self-reflection? intrapersonal intelligence?],
- knowing another's feelings or intentions [particularity? intersubjectivity]
Because psychology is a natural science, it aims to acquire "a provisional body of prpositions [facts and laws] about states of mind [thoughts, feelings, and knowledge] and
about the cognitions which they [these states of mind] enjoy."
At "the proper time" these provisions "will work in with the larger truth [that Philosophy will provide] and be interpreted by [the larger truth]..."
Moreover, mental facts cannot be properly studied apart from the physical environment of which they take cognizance. [i.e., thoughts, feelings, and knowledge can only be understood
within a social-cultural context -- see Vygotsky, Bandura]
- These mental facts are adapted in advance to the features of the world in which we dwell. The purpose of consciousness is to assist individuals to adapt to their environment. The purpose of this adaptation is to secure the individuals' welfare . . . that is, their safety and prosperity [functionalism].
- When any phenomenon is important for our welfare, it interests and excites us the first time we come into its presence [consistent with Piagetian notions of equilibration, adaptation,
and organization; individual as active agent; flow?].
- These mental facts [order of consciousness] have a special interaction with the outer world [mind and cosmos homeostasis -- harmony or mutual fit of individual and world; consistent with Darwinian conceptions of evolutionary theory; ontogeny/phylogeny].
Mental life is primarily teleological [teleology is the view that natural processes are not determined by mechanisms but rather by their utility in an overall natural design; basis of functionalist view].
All states of mind are motor in their consequences.
- Our ways of thinking, feeling, and knowing have grown to be what they are because of their utility in shaping our reactions on the outer world [consistent with Darwinian evolutionary theory; foundation for functionalism in American psychology].
- Consequently, individuals think, feel, and know [their mental life] in ways that promote behaviors that enhance self-preservation [adaptation--survival of the species].
All mental states [thinking, feeling, and knowing] are followed by bodily activity of some sort [which may include changes in breathing, circulation, general muscular tension, and glandular
or other visceral activity; this passage is often, mistakenly, used to support the contention that James's views were essentially behaviorist].
The immediate condition of a state of consciousness is an activity of some sort in the cerebral hemispheres [physiological basis for behavior--mind as function (effect) of brain (cause)].
- Mind as function of brain is the working hypothesis of Jamesian psychology, i.e., all human cognition and behavior is the result of physiological processes [although James suggests that this may be a "sweeping statement of what in reality is only a partial truth"].
- The uniform correlation of brain-states with mind-states is a law of nature.
- The coming to pass of thought is a consequence of mechanical laws, for, according to a working hypothesis of physiology, the laws of brain-action are at bottom mechanical laws.
- It will doubtless take several generations of psychologists to test the hypothesis of dependence with anything like minuteness. [the time may be here--genetic research. "We are slowly coming to realize that heredity and environment are each much more important than we
ever thought they were" - Howard Gardner].
The study of psychology may be divided into three fundamental conscious process and their conditions, i.e., the states of consciousness [thinking, feeling, knowing] in correlation with their probable neural conditions].
- Sensation - anatomically, the fibres which carry currents [affect].
- Cerebration or Intellection - the organs of central redirection of them [cognition].
- Tendency to Action - the fibres which carry them out [motor].
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