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The Philosophical Roots of Psychology (by Thomas Wren)

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Title: The Philosophical Roots of Psychology (by Thomas Wren)


1
The Philosophical Roots of Psychology(by Thomas
Wren)
  • Lecture 3
  • Descartes

2
Agenda
  • Descartes Historical Context
  • His Big Question
  • 1. His Conception of Human Development
  • 2. His Model of the Mind
  • 3. His Method of Inquiry
  • 4. His Conception of the Individual Society
  • Appendix His Relevance to Contemporary
    Psychology

3
Our Four Psychological Themes
4
Historical Context
  • The Renaissance and the Thirty Years War
  • Descartes, Father of Modernity (1596-1650)
  • Born in central France
  • Interested in various sciences and mathematics
  • Most famous philosophical work is Les Mèditations
    Metaphysiques (1641).

5
Descartes' Big Question
  • What can we be sure about?
  • Related Issues
  • Innate Ideas
  • The Mind-Body relationship
  • Sense qualities and natural quantities

6
Rebuilding the Edifice of Knowledge
7
Descartes' Conception of Human Development
  • (1a) Radical doubt
  • (1b) The First Certainty Cogito, ergo sum
  • (1c) Challenges to the theory
  • (1d) Solution to the challenges
  • (1e) Conclusion

8
1a. Radical DoubtGame or Madness?
  • Doubt as game.
  • The rules and the goal.
  • Doubt as madness.
  • The symptoms and the New York Fuggendabudit
    cure.

9
1b. One Certainty The Cogito
  • The act of declaring I think, therefore I am
    (Cogito, ergo sum) is the famous Cogito.

10
The Cogito auf Deutsch
  • Aber es gibt einen, ich weiß nicht welchen
    höchst mächtigen und verschlagenen Betrüger, der
    mich geflissentlich stets täuscht aber wenn er
    mich täuscht, bin ich also zweifellaus auch und
    er täusche mich, so viel er kann, niemals wird er
    dennoch bewirken, daß ich nichts bin, solange ich
    denken werde, ich sei etwas. Derart muß, alles
    genug und übergenug durchdacht, schließlich
    statuiert werden dieser Satz, ich bin, ich
    existiere, ist notwendig wahr, sooft er von mir
    gesagt oder im Geiste konzipiert wird.
    (Meditationes metaphysicae, 2. Meditation)

11
Descartes Clever Move in the Game of Radical
Doubt
  • Thinking refers to all cognitive activities.

12
1c. Challenges
  • Descartes Confronts Three Challenges
  • Sensory Illusions
  • Dreams
  • The Evil Genius

13
1c. Challenges
  • Sensory Illusions
  • Mirages
  • Hallucinations
  • Simple mistakes

14
Challenges, cont.
  • 2. Dreams
  • Realistic dreams
  • Fantastic dreams
  • Dreams of mathematical judgments
  • Dreams that Im dreaming
  • Dreams that someone else is dreaming of me
  • (Doesnt it make you feel better to know
    Descartes worried about this too?)

15
What about Innate Ideas?

16
Descartes vs. Evil Genius
17
1d. God the Guarantor
  • From my existence to Gods existence
  • Idea of God
  • Gods perfections
  • Incompatible with existence of an omnipotent evil
    genius.
  • Mathematics and logic are now trustworthy.
  • So are laws of nature.

18
1e. Conclusion God Exists and So Does Descartes!
And the World Too!
19
But Such a World!
20
2. Descartes Model of the Mind
  • Two Distinct but Related Models
  • (2a) Dualism of Mind and Body
  • (2b) Innate Ideas

21
2a. Descartes Dualism vis á vis Aristotle
Plato
  • The soul is not the substantial form of the
    body.
  • It is a separate substance.
  • DUALISM Mind and Body are totally different
    types of reality, namely Thought and Extension.

22
The Mind-Body Relationship
  • The Plausibility of Dualism.
  • The Problem with Dualism.

23
Two Puzzles
  • The body seems to influence thoughts.
  • Thoughts influence the body.

24
The Pineal GlandDescartes Emergency Answer
  • Drawn from Descartes knowledge of anatomy.
  • But is this consistent with his dualism?
  • Seems there is no good solution.

25
A Better Answer
  • What is irreducible is the WAY WE THINK AND TALK
    about mental and physical phenomena, not the
    nature of the phenomena in themselves.
  • The dual aspect theory of the mind-body
    relationship.

26
2b. Descartes Model of Innate Ideas vis á vis
Aristotle Plato
  • Ideas about world are learned from experience
  • (Descartes Aristotle)
  • But some of our ideas are innate
  • (Descartes, Plato for Forms, Aristotle for the
    basic principles of rational thought)

27
Innate vs. Adventitious Ideas
  • Innate ideas are inherently present in the
    reasoning of the mind.
  • Adventitious ideas are ideas derived from our
    experience of the world.

28
Examples of Innate Ideas
  • The idea of self as a thinking thing (Lat. res
    cogitans)
  • The idea of God as a perfect being
  • The idea of causation
  • The ideas of mathematics
  • The ideas of substance, thought, extension

29
3. Descartes' Method of Inquiry
  • The method of Radical Doubt is
  • The one that works for him, and others like him,
    but
  • May be too bold and hence not appropriate for
    some people, including
  • Those who could misunderstand the purely
    methodological function of Radical Doubt, and
  • Those whose religious beliefs might be threatened.

30
Or as Descartes Put It . . .
  • My intention has never been to do more than try
    to reform my own thoughts and to build on a
    foundation which is entirely my own. And if my
    work has pleased me sufficiently to make me show
    you the model of it here, that is not because I
    wish to advise anyone to imitate it. Those to
    whom God has given more of his grace will perhaps
    have loftier intentions, but I fear that this
    work may already be too bold for some people. My
    resolution to strip away all the opinions which I
    previously absorbed into my beliefs is not an
    example which everyone should follow. (Discours
    de la Mèthode, part 2)

31
4. Descartes' Conception of Self and Society
  • The Autonomous Self is a two-edged sword.
  • 1. Humans now can think and act for themselves,
    but
  • 2. They are alienated from other selves.

32
Descartes as the Father of Modernity
  • Emphasis on autonomy.
  • Emphasis on abstract reasoning.

33
A Bizarre Example
  • Descartes admitted that he had no way to be sure
    that there were any other people in the world
    besides himself (and God). We cannot see (1st
    level of knowing) that others are people and not
    just meaty robots.
  • He thought the most we can do is judge (2nd
    level of knowing) that they are people, even
    though we also know (3rd level of knowing) that
    our judgments are sometimes wrong.

34
Another Palmer Drawing
35
APPENDIX DESCARTES' RELEVANCE TO CONTEMPORARY
PSYCHOLOGY
  • Descartes anticipated central ideas in
  • Behaviorism
  • Cognitive Psychology

36
Behaviorism
  • We have no access to other persons thoughts or
    inner states. We can only
  • Project from our own inner experiences, or
  • Limit our psychological inquiry to external
    behavior.

37
Cognitive Psychology
  • We cannot do without some version of
    Descartes theory of innate ideas.
  • They enable us to act creatively, i.e., go
    beyond simple mimicry to produce actions that are
    genuinely novel.

38
Finale
  • An Alternative Story of Descartes Death
  • Café Waiter Monsieur Descartes, will you have
    another coffee? (Möchten Sie noch ein cafe?)
  • Descartes I think not. (Nicht.)
  • Poof!
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