Philosophical Influences in Psychology


The doctrine that natural processes are mechanically determined and capable of explanation by the laws of physics and chemistry.

Determinism and Reductionism

the doctrine that acts are determined by past events

Are people like machines?

Can we predict behavior just as we would with a mechanism?

Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

Babbage created the first analytical computer. Also disliked organ grinders

Ada, the Countess of Lovelace (not a porn star)

The Beginnings of Modern Science

Empiricism: the pursuit of knowledge through the observation of nature and the attribution of all knowledge to experience.

Rene Descartes (nativist)

"Cogito ergo sum."


Rene Descartes


Mind-Body problem

The question of the distinction between mental and physical qualities.

Reflex-Action Theory

The idea that an external object (a stimulus) can bring about an involuntary response.

Mind-body Interaction

Doctrine of Ideas

Derived ideas: are produced by the direct application of an external stimulus; innate ideas arise from the mind or consciousness, independent of sensory experiences or external stimuli.

Auguste Comte (1798-1857)

Positivism: The doctrine that recognizes only natural phenomena or facts that are objectively observable

Materialism: the doctrine that considers the facts of the universe to be sufficiently explained in physical terms by the existence and nature of matter.

British Empiricists

John Locke (1632-1704)

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Tabula Rasa

Sensation and Reflection

Simple vs. complex ideas

Primary Vs. Secondary Qualities

George Berkeley (1685-1753)

Perception is the only reality

Taken from

Group Alliances:
"Brutal" British Empiricists
"Infamous" Idealists
Catholic Church

AKA: Shark-ley Berkeley
No Holds Barred-keley
Da Bishop
George "You're Berking Up the Wrong Tree" Berkeley

Powers: God on his side (not a unique power among Moderns), ninja stealth skills

Weaknesses: eye-closing defense is vulnerable to Samuel Johnson's™ Rock-Kicking® attack.

David Hume (1711-1776)

Nationality: Scottish

Group Alliances:
"Brutal" British Empiricists
"Scary" Skeptics

AKA: Boomin' Hume
The Hume-an Time Bomb
Doom Hume
To Hume Am I Speaking?
The Inductor

Powers: Scottish Karate, local skepticism

Weaknesses: Never really sure about anything other than the contents of his own experience

Notes: Look! Hume's pants are the missing shade of blue!

David Hartley 1773-1836

Association by contiguity and repetition

Looked at physiological as well as mental processes

Doctrine of vibrations

James Mill (1773-1836)


No one understands my sermons

The mind as a machine

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Creative synthesis: the notion that complex ideas formed from simple ideas take on new qualities; the combination of the mental elements creates something greater than or different from the sum of the

original elements.

I heart Harriet Taylor