ST. AUGUSTINE (354-430 A.D.) After a wayward and dissolute youth, converted to Christianity. His "Confessions" is a classic work of introspection, useful for his self-examination and reflection. His insistence that knowledge be consistent with Christian teachings, however, marks the approximate beginning of a millennium of intellectual oppression by the Church.

BOETHIUS (480-524 A.D.) continued the tradition that reason and philosophy should support Christian thought.

AVICENNA (c. 931-1037 A.D.), Islamic philosopher and physician, was a neo-Aristotelian who tried to integrate elements of Aristotelian and Platonic thought with Islam.

MAIMONIDES 1135-1204, Jewish philosopher-physician, also tried to reconcile reason and religious belief.

ROGER BACON (1210-1294) studied at Oxford and the University of Paris and later joined the Franciscan order where he had regular trouble with the Church authorities. He held that: 1. The Church has nothing to fear from the Greeks; their works would only strengthen a worthy theology. 2. Four widespread cause of ignorance and error are: unjustified reliance on authority; our tendency to remain slaves to habit, tradition, and custom; popular prejudices; and conceit about our own knowledge or wisdom.

THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-1274) Doctorate in theology from University of Paris. Another who tried to reconcile belief and reason. Argued for reestablishing Aristotle's scientific empirical approach to nature, that sensory information and reason is more useful than authority in knowing the world. Followed Roger Bacon in holding that an adequate philosophy had little to fear from science and reason. Emphasized the unity of body and soul but also that soul was immortal. Never truly reconciled the conflict

WILLIAM OF OCKHAM (or OCCAM) (C. 1285-1349). Born in London, educated at Oxford, finally excommunicated due to repeated conflicts with the Church over Papal authority and succession. Had an empirical orientation. Known for "Ockham's Razor," or the "Law of Parsimony" --that a more complex explanation for a phenomenon should be discarded when a simpler one is available.

Ockham saw the assumption that universals had an independent existence (like Plato's "pure ideas" as unnecessary, and argued that these so-called universals were no more than verbal labels. The use of them does not mean that there is any pure idea, essence, or form that exists beyond our expriences.

Occam believed that we could trust ouir senses to tell us what the world is really like, that we can know it directly without worrying about what exists beyond our experience. He was concerned with how the mind classifies experience, and he answered that we habitually respond to similar objects in a similar way.


PETRARCH (1304-1374) Born in Arezzo, Italy, and spent most of his life in Avignon in Southern France. Echoing the Cynics and Stoics, asserted that human problem, and especially ethics, should be the main object and concern of thought and philosophy. Influenced by Seneca's Stoic writings.

Instead of medieval Latin translations of Aristotle, went back to the original Greek texts and commentators on Aristotle and insisted on new Renaissance translations and commentary. (Ref: Paul Oskar Kristeller in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 6).

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI (1469-1527). Born to a poor family in Florence. Recognized the powerful role of social influences on human behavior. Fascinated with the social psychology of power, leadership, and authority. Wrote of how, for instance, clever leaders use religious alues to achieve desired ends. Contributed to the belief that behavior can be understood in a naturalistic-scientific context. But viewed himan nature as basically brutish, selfish, short-sighted, vain, and imitative.

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519). Many contributions to our understanding of visual perception. Studied anatomical, physiological, psychological, physical, and geometric properties of vision. Pointed out contrast effects, color-fading with distance as a function of altitude. Interested in perception as a guide to understanding nature. Wrote about emotional expression, especially as portrayed in the face. Made sketches. Held that "without the organic instruments of the body, the spirit can neither act or feel anything." Argued that we should first consult experience and then reason. Also that without the application of mathematics there can be no certainty.

JUAN LUIS VIVES (1492-1540). Born in Valencia, Spain. Advocated knowing human behavior through direct observation and an empirical-inductive method. Studied environmental and social influences on emotions, and the nature of association (learning), memory, and forgetting.

PARACELSUS (1493-1541). Born in Switzerland. Refined many folk medicines and developed other chemical remedies. Believed that health of mind and body affect each other. Argued strongly for direct experience and study of nature, and against reason, as a criterion for knowledge. Famous phrase, "The poison is in the dose."

JULIUA CAESAR SCALIGER (1484-1558) First to study kinesthetic and muscle senses. Noted that these can affect thoughts and feelings. For example, "brave men feel the force of an insult in those muscles which serve for striking." Held that muscles play a key role in forming and maintaining habits.

MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE (1533-1592) Born near Bordeaux in Southwest France and for 13 years served in the Bordeaux parliament, and was Mayor of Bordeaux.

1. Tried to understand life on its own terms rather than in terms of religious or metaphysical views.

2. His essays are masterful introspective studies, many of them psychological in nature.

3. He.advanced the Skeptic tradition, affecting Descartes, Bacon, and others who came after him. Echoed Socrates' conviction that recognition of our ignorance is more valuable than learning in acquiring truth. He pointed to the many ways in which various philosophies were in conflict and contradiction with each other, while offering their own opinions as genuine truths, and noted that "the judgments we make and accept at one time, we find doubtful at another, [and] each alleged scientific discovery is superseded by another." (Encyc. of Philosophy.) Attacked claims that either our reason or our senses are reliable guides to what's so. Lauded Phyrrus for suspending judgment on all matters, and agreed with Phyrrus that everything is dubious. Noted that our experiences differ from each other, and that therefore we cannot know when to accept an experience as accurate. "Perhaps normal experience itself is a kind of distortion. . . . "In our present state, we can only try to follow nature, living as best we can. .

4. "Opposed fanaticism and wished for toleration on all sides, recognizing man as a fallible, limited creature struggling to live and comprehend with weak and uncertain capacities. . . . To understand himself and his situation would at least make him doubtful of radical proposals for solving everything, make him more tolerant, and--most important--make him capable of accepting himself and his fate." (Ref: Richard H. Popkin in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol 5)

5. Proposed to "examine those excellent and select human beings who. . . have achieved the most and are studied most extensively."

6. Pointed to the effectws of emotions and motives on beliefs. Pay a lawyer a bit more, he said, and the lawyer may declare that your case has become more believable. Preachers who preach with emotion become more convinced of their doctrines. Rationality is weakened by wishful thinking.

7. Lamented cruel child-rearing practices and the courts' neglect of child abuse.

8. Experience is never pure. All our pleasures, pains, or other expriences are mixtures of various elements. The "best goodness...has some tincture of vice" (Essays, Vol 2, p. 383. Held that a manifest behavior or experience often serves ass a cover for its opposite.

9. We are all inconsistent, resulting from the different roles we play and different massks we wear., Growth toward consistency and integrity is one of the great challenges that confront us. Most of us are unwilling to restrain our appetites, resist flattery, or avoid prostituting ourselves in the marketplace for whatever gains we might get. ,


FRANCIS BACON (1561-1626). Born in London, worked in France and England.

. Opposed claims of knowledge based on accepted authority; appreciated the Skeptics but believed they went too far.

2. Identified three sets of errors

IDOLS OF THE CAVE. Personal biases that result from one's heredity, experiences, education, and feelings. We each have our prejudices, preferred theories or explanations, that blind us to other explanations.All these can affect how we perceive and interpret the world.

IDOLS OF THE TRIBE: Biases due to human nature. Sensory processes may distort what we see. Our hopes and imaginings cause us to perceive selectively. We may be satisfied with oversimplification or limited information due to intellectual inertia.

IDOLS OF THE MARKETPLACE We are misled by words and labels. Many disputes are over the definitions of words and the nature of concepts rather than the nature of reality.

IDOLS OF THE THEATRE. Biases that result from blind allegiance to any viewpoint, from acceptance of widely held systems or paradigms that come and go. Avoid the easy acceptance of any kind of authority, he cautioned

3. Was optimistic about what humans could achieve from application of scientific methodology; but had a very negative view of nature. Extremely anthropocentric. "Torture nature. . . on the rack. . ." to get her secrets out of her.

DESCARTES (1596-1650) Born to wealthy parents in Le Haye, France. Although an adventurer and man of the world, he moved to Holland to avoid people after his fame began to grow.

1 INVENTED ANALYTIC GEOMETRY after watching a fly in his room Could describe the fly's position at any moment with just 3 numbers: fly's perpendicular distance from 2 walls and ceiling. This was an exact correspondence between mathematics and physics. He concluded, in Pythygorean fashion, that ultimate knowledge is always mathematical.

2. MECHANISM. In the Parisian suburb of St. German, he obwserved a group of mechanical statues that had been built for the Queen's amusement. When a person stepped on a hidden floor-plate, it activated a system of water-pipes that caused a series of complex movements and sounds. This idea of a substance flowing through pipes had a strong ifnluence on descartes. He concluded that the sense receptors of the body were like the pressure plates that started the water flowing through the tubes and saw the nerves as hollow tubes containing "delicate threads" that connect sense receptors to the brain.

3. William Harvey, in 1628, had discovered that the heart was a large pump that forced blood to circulate. Descartes concluded that bodily functions are essentially mechanical in nature.

4. INNATE IDEAS. Concluded that some of his ideas that were experienced with clarity and distinctiveness had no counterparts in his parsonal experience. (relate to Jung's archetypes.)

2. PHENOMENOLOGY. Although a rationalist, Descartes also introspectively studied intact, conscious experience. He viewed the methods of induction and deduction to be as valid toward the world of inner experience as when directed toward the physical world. By making subjective experience respectable, he paved the way for scientific study of consciousness.

THE CARTESIAN SPLIT, which is related to the difference between humans and animals. The body is a machine, but only humans have a mind that possesses consciousness, free choice, and rationality. The mind is nonphysical and the body physical. Descartes was a DUALIST, and his tualism was INTERACTIONIST in nature.


BARUCH SPINOZA (1632-1677) Born of Portuguese-Jewish parents in Amsterdam. Holland was a center of intellectual freedom. Initially followed Descartes, but then rejected Descarte's suggestion that God, matter, and mind were separate entities, and proposed that they were inseparable aspects of the same substance. His stance contradicted the anthropomorphic God image of both Jewish and Christian religions. He was publicly excommunicated from his synagogue and members of Jewish community were forbidden to read his writings, be in the same room with him, or communicate with him in any way.

Spinoza's ultimate goal was to find a way of life that was both personally satisfying and ethically correct.



THOMAS HOBBES (1588-1679) Sometimes referred to as founder of British Empiricism.

1. Accepted the view of humans as machinies. "For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves but so many strings; and the joints but so many wheels, giving motion to the whole body." All human actions could be explained mechanically, and therefore free will was an ilusion. Denied the existence of a nonmaterial mind. Anything that existed could be explained in terms of the laws of physics.

2. The Leviathan. Justified rule by an absolute monarch. Humans would selfishly seek power over others to guarantee satisfaction of their own personal needs.


JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704). Son of an English lawyer.

1. An IDEA was simply a mental image that could be employed while thinking. "Whiteness, hardnesss, sweetness, motion, man, elephant, army, and drunkenness."

2. SIMPLE IDEAS can come from either sensation or reflection. Ideas from sensation can be rearranged by the operations of the mind, creating new ideas.

3. COMPLEX IDEAS are composites of simple ideas and therefore can be analyzed into component parts. ASSOCIATION was an early name for the process we now call learning. Reduction or analysis of mental life into simple ideas, and the association of simple ideas to form complex ideas, was Locke's basic learning theory.

4. PRIMARY QUALITIES exist in an object whether or not we perceive them. SECONDARY QUALITIES exist not in an object but in our perception of it. The size and shape of a building are primary qualities; its color iss a secondary quality. If we did not bite into an apple, its taste would not eixst. So it's a secondary quality.

4. EMOTIONS. Feelings of pleasure or pain accompany both simple and complex ideas. All other emotions derive from these two. Things that cause pleasure are good, and those that cause pain are evil.

5. The TABULA RASA: Our minds are "blank slates" at birth that do not innately contain any ideas, waiting to be written on by experience.

6. Locke influenced England and the US toward democratic government. He challenged the divine right of kings and advocated government by and for the people.

GEORGE BERKELEY (1685-1753). Born and educated in Ireland. Was ordained a deacon of the Anglican Church at age 24.

1. PERCEPTION IS THE ONLY REALITY WE CAN KNOW. In regard to Locke's distinction, Berleley argued that there are no primary qualities, but only secondary quality. All knowledge depended on the perceiving or experiencing person. Later this was called MENTALISM. We can never know precisely the nature of objects, but only our perception of them.

This does not mean that they do not have a reality independent of us. Even if the tree falls in the forest and no one is there, it makes a sound because God would always be perceiving it.

2. Like Locke, accepted the law of contiguity as his associative principle. All sensations that are consistently experienced together become associated. If a coach drives along the street, "the complex idea of the coach is fashioned from the sound of its wheels on the cobblestone street, the sturdy feel of its frame, the fresh smell of its leather seats, and the visual image of its boxy shape. The mind CONSTRUCTS complex complex mental ideas by fitting together these basic mental BUILDING BLOCKS.(Schults & Schultz, 2004).

DAVID HUME (1711-1776) distinguished between IMPRESSIONS (in today's language, sensations and perceptions) and IDEAS. Both impressions and ideas may be simple or complex. Hume's two laws of association are RESEMBLANCE or similarity and CONTIGUITY in time or place.


DAVID HARTLEY (1705-1757)

1. used CONTIGUITY and REPETITION as his two laws of association.

2. He tried to show that voluntary behavior developed from involuntary, or reflexive behavior.

3. He tried to explain not just psychological, but also physiological, processes in mechanical terms. He suggested that nerves are solid, and transmit information by vibrating.

JAMES MILL (1773-1836) tried to destroy the "illusion" of subjective or psychic activities and show that the mind was nothing more than a machine. Not that it was LIKE a machine, but that it WAS a machine, working in a mechanical, predictable way just like a clock. A totally passive entity acted on by outside cues that we respond to automatically. There was no place in his system for free will. Aswsociation occurred through contiguity alone, which could be simultaneous or successive.

JOHN STUART MILL (1806-1873), James Mill's son, was an active advocate for women's rights.

1. He was appalled that women had no financial or property rights. He proposed that a marriage be a partnership between equals rather than a master/lave relationship, in his essay, "The Subjection of Women."

Freud later translated this essay into German, and in letters to his fiance, he sneered at Mill's notion of gender equality: "The position of women cannot be other than what it is: to be an adored sweetheart in youth, and a beloved wife in maturity." (Freud, 1883, cited in Schultz, p. 58)

2. MENTAL CHEMISTRY, or CREATIVE SYNTHESIS. Mill held that complex ideas are more than the combination of simple ideas, because they take on new qualities not found in the simple elements. The proper combining of mental elements produces some distinct qualithy that was not present in the elements themselves.


The focus is conscious processes

The role of sensation is primary

Conscious experience is analyzed into elements

Simple elements are synthesized into complex expdriences through association.



VOLTAIRE (1694-1778) Born in Paris to a well-to-do Bourgeois family. His satirical writings resulted in several banishments from Paris, brief exile in Holland, and 11 months imprisonment in the Bastille. Was the dominant playwright in France for 50 years.

1. "Condemned the oppressive religious unity in France, the wealth and power of the clergy, the despotism of the king, and the privileges of the nobility; he recommended equal status for merchant and noble, fair distribution of taxes, and free cultivation on the arts & sciences." --Voltaire

2. Influenced by Newton and Locke, was wary of theories and hypotheses unsupported by observation and experiment. Sought to find self-knowledge through meditative introspection.

3. Argued against both disgust with "sinful" life and the idea that the world is a land of bliss. Declared, "To think that earth, man, and animals are what they are created to be, is the opinion of the sage." Was strongly skeptical about the existence of a "soul." Contemplating the heavens, had personal mystical experiences of cosmic grandeur.

4. Ethics was a central concern. Believed in the existence of universal ethical principles based on natural law. and that "the value of positive law depended on the degree to which it representedthe just and humane precepts of natural law and that conflicts between men may be resolved in terms of their common human nature. He declared that dogmas disunite, and ethics unite."--Torrey

4. Good and evil have no meaning apart from society. The individual's happiness in society is a chief concern. Many miseries befall us, but in time reason and enlightenment will prevail. "The less superstition, the less fanaticism: and the less fanaticism, the less unhappiness."

5. Principal virtues: faith in human ability to solve our own problems; hope for a better society, and love of one's fellows, freedom of speech and person and property. Voltaire hated injustice, cruelty, senselesss repression, and pretense that events and arrangements are different than they are. Championed intellectual freedom. Worked to make judicial proceedings more humaine.

6. His articulate statement about religion is: " A religion is an organ of man in society which helps him to cope with the problems of nature and his destiny--his place and role in the universe. It always involves the sense of sacredness or mystery and of participation in a continuing enterprise; it is always concerned with the problems of good and evil and with what transcends the individual self and the immediate and present facts of every day."

7. Viewed the goal of history as a search for experience that will be useful in creating a better future. Disliked war and tried to show that "Even the most admirable warrior brought nothing but disaster to his nation. . . . The true benefactors of mankind are not its generals but its philosophers, scientists, and poets."--Torrey But history is not enough, he said, and once referred to history as trick the living play upon the dead. He liked imaginative literature: "History teaches us what human beings are; literature teaches us what they should be." (Ref: Norman L. Torrey, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 8)



This is the idea that the only thing we can be sure of is that which is publicly observable, that is, sense experiences that can be shared with other individuals. The data of science are publicly observable andcan thus be trusted. Positivism is the insistance on equating knowledge with empirical observation.

Once the laws among physical phenomena are known, they can be used to predict and contriol events and thus improve life. His favorite slogan was, "Know in order to predict."


HERBERT SPENCER (1820-1903) FOUNDER OF "SOCIAL DARWINISM." Spencer provided a philosophical basis for unrestricted capitalism. He extended Darwin's work far beyond where Darwin had taken it, based on a basic misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. Whereas evolutionary theory actually pointed toward each kind of plant and animal finding its own econiche amid the larger order of things, Spencer coined the term "survival of the fittest" (often mistakenly attributed to Darwin) and maintained that it meant that the "best" would survive and the rest would fall by the wayside.

Therefore, human perfection was inevitable as long as nothing was done to interfere with the natural order. He advocated total individualism and a laissez-faire economic system and opposed all forms of government regulation of business and industry. He opposed subsides for ecucation, houses, and the poor. People and organizations were to be left alone to develop in their own ways. Any asssistance from the state would interfere with natural evolutionary processes.

In practice, "best" meant whoever had the most power or money, however ill-gotten. The United States in the late 19th century was a direct reflection of Spencer's ideas, and they persist almost unchanged among many people today.



JOHANNES MULLER (1801-1858), born in Koblenz, Germany, the physiologist who established the world's first Institute for Experimental Physiology at the University of Berlin.

1. Held that we are conscious of sensations rather than of physical reality. The nature of the central nervous system determines our sensations. We are not aware of objects in the physical world, but of our own sensory impulses that are a respons to them. Therefore our knowledge of the physical world is limited to the kinds of sense receptors we possess.

2. Kant held that sensory information is transformed by the innate categories of thought before it is experienced consciously. Muller extended this by saying that the nervous system is the intermediary between physical objects and consciouness,

3. Muller was a "vitalist" who maitained that life was "more than" the interactions of physical and chemical processes alone and could not be reduced to them.


HERMANN VON HELMHOLTZ (1821-1894). Made contributions in physics, physiology, and psychology. Born in Potsdam, Germany. Had been a frail child and mediocre student who was especially poor at foreign languages and poetry. But spent his spare time reading scientific books and working out geometrical principles that described the configurations of his play blocks.

Helmholze was a MATERIALIST who REJECTED VITALISM: "No other forces than the common physical-chemical ones are active within the organism."

Helmnoltz applied the PRINCIPLE OF CONSERVATION OF ENERGY to living organisms.

He MEASURED THE RATE OF NERVE CONDUCTION, using reaction time experiments with both frogs and people. "Push a button when you feel your leg stimulated," and see how long it takes. Slower when toe stimulated than when thigh stimulated.

Thought the PAST EXPERIENCE OF THE OBSERVER converted a SENSATION into a PERCEPTION. Relied heavily on the notion of UNCONSCIOUS INFERENCE. In which we apply a great deal of previous exprience as we perceive, such as looking at railroad tracks converge and concluding that they're parallel.

Studied color vision and was amazed at how physiological mechanisms distorted the information a pson received from the physical world, and also at the mismatch between physical events and physiological sensations. "One might almost believe that Nature had here contnradicted herself on purpose in order to destroy any dream of a preesisting harmony between the inner and the outer world.: (In Hergenhahn, 1997)

In bringing physics, chemistry, physiology, and psychology closer together, Helmholtz' work paved the way for experimental psychology to emerge.

ERNST WEBER (1795-1878), a physiologist. and contemporary of Johannes Muller, born in Wittenberg, Germany.



WEBER'S LAW: Discovered that JND was a constant fraction of the standard weight. More generally, the JND is a CONSTANT FRACTION OF A STANDARD STIMULUS. This was the first statement of a systematic relationship between physical stimulation and a psychological experience.

GUSTAV THEODOR FECHNER (1801-1887). His father, a pastor, "shocked the villagers by having a lightning-rod placed upon the church tower, in the days when this precaution was regarded as a lack of faith in God's care of his own, and by preaching--as he urged that Jesus must also have done--without a wig."

Gustav obtained medical degree at age 21 from the University of Leipzig. Besides his medical and scientific work, Fechner was interested in spiritual phenomena, and wrote in that area under the pseudonom "Dr. Mises."

Fechner expressed Weber's law mathematically:

ÆR = k, where
R = Reiz (the German word for stimulus)

ÆR = the minimum change in R that can be detected (that is, the change needed to cause a jnd), and

k = a constant. Weber found this to be 1/40 of R for lifted weights.

Fechner then devised another formula that states that for sensations to rise arithmetically, the physical stimulus must rise geometrically. So sensations are always relative to the level of background stimulation. In a dark room, turning on a dim light will be immediately noticed, as will a whisper in a quiet room. In a bright room, or a noisy one, the dim light or whisper will go unnoticed, Mathematically,

S = k log R

other concepts:

ABSOLUTE THRESHOLD: The intensity of a stimulus at or above which a sensation results, and below which no sensation occurs.

DIFFERENTIAL THRESHHOLD--how much a stimulus needs to be increased or decreased to tell a difference.

Fechner devised a number of different PSYCHOPHYSICAL METHODS for studying sensation. A remarkable feature about these methods is that they are all quantitative. He was MEASURING MENTAL PROCESSES. This was the first time anyone had shown that "the fleeting and evanescent mind--consciousness--can be measured." (Boring)

WILHELM WUNDT (1832-1920)

Born in Neckarau, a suburb of Mannheim, about 50 miles south of Frankfurt. Shy and reserved. Graduated summa cum laude from Univ. of Heidelburg and placed first in state medical board exam. Went to University of Berlin to study with Muller and was so influence that he decided on a career in experiemental physiology instead of medicine. Returned to Heidelberg and became Helmnoltz' laboratory assistant.

After teaching at U Zurich in Switzerland, acccepted professorship at U. Leipzig. Began assembling an experimental psychology laboratory in 1876 and it was complete and in full operation by 1879.

Wundt sought to discover the basic elements of thought.

To discover the laws by which they combine into more complex experiences.

Distinguished between "pure introspection," the relatively unstructured method used by earlier philosophers, and "expedrimental instrospection," which used laboratory isntruments to make the results of internal perception more precise. "In most instances saying 'yes' or 'no' to an event was all that was needed, without any description of inner events.'

Of 180 studies in Wund's laboratiory between 1883 and 1903, all but four used experimental introspection. This method could not be used to study higher mental proceses. wundt thought that the deeper processes of conscious experience were forever beyond the reach of introspection.

A SENSATION can be further analuzed into QUALITIES (like color into hue and saturation). All sensations are accompanied by FEELINGS.

Formulated a TRIDIMENSIONAL THEORY OF FEELING. Pleasan-unpleasant; excitment-calm; and strain-relaxation

The part of a perceptual field a person attends to is APPERCEIVED. (Borrowed the term apperception from Herbart.) Attention and apperception are inked. What is attended to is apperceived. Active and voluntary, unlike perception, which is passive and automatic.

Wundt believed strongly that people can direct their attention byh exercising their will. Therefore he called his approach "voluntarism" Rearranging mental elements according to one's will is "CREATIVE SYNTHESIS." With apperception, Wund emphasized attention, thinking, and creative synthesis.



Titchener held that the subject matter of psychology is conscious experience. Wundt's views for some time were widely thought to be the same as Titchener's when in fact they were significantly different. Titchener himself, in his reports of Wund's perspective and work, may have contributed to this misunderstanding.


Method; Titchener's form of introspection relied on opservers who were trained to describe the ELEMENTS OF THEIR CONSCIOUS STATE, rather than calling things by their familiar names. Tried to use introspection to break down complex experience into elements. For example, to report an "apple" was to commit "stimulus error." Instead one would refer to "roundness," "redness," etc. Like the British associationists, Wundt wanted to discover the "atoms of the mind."


He sought:

1. To reduce conscious processes to their simplest components

2. To determine laws by which these elements of consciousness were associated, and

3. To connedct the elements with their physiological conditions.

WUNDT, by contrast, was interested in the synthesis of the elements of consciousness through apperception. Titchener emphasized the parts; Wundt emphasized the whole.


Around 1918 Titchener dropped the concept of mental elements from his lectures and suggested that psyhchology should study not basic elements but the larger dimensions or processes of mental life. These were:

QUALITY like "cold" or "red"clearly distinguishes each mental element from each other

INTENSITY refers to a sensation's strength, weakness, loudness, brightness, etc.

DURATION is the course of a sensation over time

CLEARNESS refers to the role of attention in conscious experience. Experience that is the focus of our attention is clearer than experience to which our attention is not directed.


Titchener's approach turned out to be one of the celebrated great "blind alleys" in the history of psychology. When Titchener died, structuralism collapsed.

One of his ideas was that of developing an introspective language. It was never realized. Interestingly enough, Tibetan Buddhist introspective investigators had done so eight hundred years before, as described in Walt Anderson's Open Secrets,, but the West had its pretensions of intellectual superiority and Titchener apparently never heard of their work or system, the Abhidharma.

The contributions of structuralism were a clear definition of their subject matter, conscious experience. And they endeavored to develop research methods for investigating it.


Introspection plays a useful role today in such contexts as work environments, but it is a different kind of introspection that involves listening to a person report their experience as it is for them, in their own way. But here we begin to move into phenomenology, which is part of the subject matter of psychology 307.