Week 2 Discussion Board.
Any discussion of evolution as seen in Darwinian theory and Creationism as seen in Biblical text is always a heated one. Think about these issues and ask yourself as you study them, is it possible that the two views are really not at opposite ends of the spectrum, but can actually fit together much the same way a jigsaw puzzle fits together even though we may not have all the pieces of the puzzle? Please post your ideas and respect the ideas of others.
Discussion Week 2 – Chapter 6:
Please go to the Week 2 – Chapter 6 forum found in the Discussion Board button on the left and post your response to the following:
Any discussion of evolution as seen in Darwinian theory and Creationism as seen in Biblical text is always a heated one.
Think about these issues and ask yourself as you study them, is it possible that the two views are really not at opposite ends of the spectrum, but can actually fit together much the same way a jigsaw puzzle fits together even though we may not have all the pieces of the puzzle? Please post your ideas and respect the ideas of others when you post responses to theirs.
There is a second discussion about whether philosophy or physiology has influenced the founding of the discipline of psychology. Think about what you have been learning in these two modules as you give your idea in the post. Be sure to post a response on at least 2 other student postings on this issue.
Remember to study the Glossary (on course menu) as I will expect you to use vocabulary words in your writings!
Questions for Chapter #4 Assignment:
1. Explain the two levels of psychology Wundt proposed that demanded very different research possibilities and the idea of creative synthesis. You should include the ideas of immediate and mediate in your answer. Would the British Empiricists and Associationists agree with these levels and the idea of creative synthesis?
2. Learning and memory had been thought to be outside the possibility of empirical study, but Ebbinghaus showed that it could be done. Describe Ebbinghaus’s research and how it contributed greatly to the advancement of experimental psychology.
3. What is the phenomenology movement and how was Brentano’s Act Psychology a part of this movement? What was Kulpe’s idea of “imageless thought” and did it agree with the British Associationists and Wundt’s lower psychology?
A Little More Explanation of Wundt
Your book does a good job explaining Wundt’s role in the founding of psychology. The founding date of 1879 is based on the organization of Wundt’s Lab. For all the sciences, it is important to do good research based on scientific methods. This research must have controls on it and the laboratory is the place best suited for this. It is true that we do naturalistic research too, but you can not assign cause and effect to this type of research as you can to experimental research. It will be of interest as you continue your readings, how many of the movers and shakers of American psychology were educated by Wundt. His enormous number of students (189) graduating with a Ph.D. from his program is one of the most important legacies of Wundt. These great numbers of Ph.Ds allowed the young psychology discipline to spread to numerous universities in Europe and mainly America. Remember the idea of “power” and psychology was gaining power as a science.
As you look at Wundt’s Voluntarism, be sure to note that he really believed that there were two different types of psychology based on their focus and how they could be studied. The first was his lower psychology that examined in the lab the idea of sensations and the association of these sensations into ideas. This is where he used introspection. He felt like this lower psychology could be appropriately examined empirically.
His upper psychology was different. Wundt felt like it was inappropriate to research empirically this part of psychology. It was not subject to empirical scrutiny. The subject matter for the upper psychology was the social culture, anthropology, languages and communications seen in humans. This is where his “Volkerpsychologie” comes in that he wrote about, especially in the later years of his career. The interesting thing is that Ebbinghaus showed that some of these things could be empirically examined as he developed his theories of learning and memory. Be sure to read “in Their Own Words” on page 79 to really get a feel of the original writings of Wundt. He was a very prolific writer.
The Differences Between Immediate and Mediate – It can be confusing!
Be sure you have these two terms well understood in your mind. The term immediate concerns the sensations that come in through introspection and can be studied empirically. These would be the basis for Wundt’s lower psychology. The term mediate involves the idea that something has intervened between the sensations and the telling of those sensations. This really involves Wundt’s higher psychology of culture and language. Think about it – when these areas are studied, it is after the fact when other things could have intervened and been variables on these perceptions.
The Passive Versus the Active Mind
We will see throughout our study this semester that some will say that the mind is active and creative and others will say the mind is passive like a receptacle in which sensations are collected and passively become associated. Wundt felt that the mind was passive only in the way sensations would automatically come into the mind from the environment. However, the mind was active when associating events together. This is his idea of apperception or the process of creative synthesis. It is the passive mind that is like the mixture in our chemistry analogy and the active mind is like the compound in that analogy. If you are merely memorizing material, that would be the passive mind making associations. When two associated things are combined and form something completely different and not reducible to the parts, that is apperception. Wundt criticized the British Assoc. and Empiricists for failing to differentiate between apperception and simple association.
Ebbinghaus and the Measurement of Learning
Understand the importance of Ebbinghaus and his belief that such a covert activity as learning lists of words or ideas could be measured empirically. Pay special note to his idea of the nonsense syllable. This was quite a creative solution to the problem of measuring learning when sample populations had such a variety of backgrounds. Were subjects learning the material in only a few trials because of former knowledge of some of the words or was the research really measuring how long it took to learn something completely new? The nonsense syllable allowed the researcher to know that all material was new and that there was no bias or confound going on.
One other contribution that was not mentioned in your book was his research in the idea of Mass versus Distributed Practice. This research was done in the 1800’s but is still applicable today and to you! The idea that was supported by his research was that if we study the same material in one mass of time, we will not learn it as well as if we break up that same amount of time into several increments and take short breaks in between. Try it and when it works…,thank Ebbinghaus. The most important thing to remember about Ebbinghaus is the idea that the learning, which had always seemed too covert to measure, could truly be measured.
The Beginnings of Phenomenology
Brentano’s Act Psychology may not really be the beginning of phenomenology, but for our study it is. Certainly others, even the ancients, had some similar ideas, but there had been no empirical effort to study it. Most of the ancients used a rational rather than empirical way of theorizing. Review exactly what phenomenology is from your book and glossary. If you are not sure, ask me!
Note that the Wurzburg School of Imageless Thought was unique in its efforts to show that the mind may give rise to thoughts that were totally without any environmental stimulus motivating them. Think about that…are most of your thoughts due to some cue in the environment? Maybe the cue is a person walking toward you or the sound of a whistle or the color red. It could be anything. But do some of your thoughts arise in the mind totally devoid of any environmental cue? With this Wurzburg School, we see the first time that this had been experimentally talked about. Obviously Wundt and the British would robustly disagree with this idea and we will find Titchener in the next chapter also in strong disagreement.
If you would like to read more about phenomenology to the following site for a good understanding: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/phenomenology
Questions for Chapter #5 Assignment:
1. Discuss the contention that Structuralism was a school of thought with power that was out of step with the emerging zeitgeist. What were the criticisms lodged against Structuralism?
2. What was Titchener’s method of introspection and how did it differ from the introscpection of Wundt? Be sure to include his idea of the stimulus error.
3. What were the major ideas of Titchener and how did he change or some would say “soften” these ideas later in his life?
The Bias of History a la Titchener!
This chapter discusses the Structuralist school of thought and its leader E. B. Titchener. There is an interesting bit of historical bias that should be talked about here. Titchener was a bit of a pompous academic who translated Wundt’s writings from German into English. His bias for how psychology ought to be viewed and studied was on Wundt’s lower psychology. As you remember, this lower psychology looked only at immediate experience. Some have said that Titchener was more Wundtian that Wundt. This means that his Structuralism went even farther than Wundt in its strict adherence to only studying immediate experience as the person is experiencing it. There was no room for the study of culture and language. In fact, Titchener never translated that part of Wundt’s ideas. It was years before people realized that this mediate experience was even part of Wundt’s body of work. It was only on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the founding of psychology that a full translation was done.
Structuralism – Out of Step With the Zeitgeist
Your book does a good job of relating why Structuralism disappeared after the death of Titchener. By the last of the 1800s and the first couple of decades of the 1900s, there were quite a few schools of thought emerging in this new discipline of psychology. Structuralism was so narrow – much more so than Wundt’s – that it simply could not survive. The rest of the psychological world was expanding to study all sorts of different subjects and use all manner of subjects. While Titchener thought that only mature, healthy adults should be the subject of research, other emerging schools were starting to study animals, children, the mentally ill and the aged. Even Titchener, toward the end of his life, began to realize that the school of thought needed to expand its vision. The phenomenological movement that was emerging was a far cry from that of Titchener’s introspection and his table of reactions.
Where are the Women?
In this chapter you begin to get the understanding that women were not welcome in the sciences. The term “biological determinism” is appropriate to use. This means that what you are born with will determine how you succeed. If you are born female, your avenues for careers were severely limited. In the 19th and first 3 decades of the 20th century, women were not allowed to own property in the U.S. nor were allowed to vote. They had no rights to their children in the event of divorce and they were not allowed to publish papers or give talks at conferences if they were in the sciences. We will talk much more about this biological determinism in Chapter 7, but realize that Titchener’s refusal to have women in his experimental meetings was not untypical of the zeitgeist. He was, however, at the forefront of the movement for women to have educational advantages in personally conferring Ph.D.s on a number of women while many universities refused women entrance to their programs.
You book talks about Margaret Flory Washburn, Titchener’s first doctoral student. After Titchener conferred her with the Ph.D, she went on to do research that expanded psychology into the field of animal behavior and its comparisons to human behavior. This seems quite far afield from Titchener’s work – and indeed it was! As often happens, students learn and do the work of their mentoring professors and then upon graduating from the program, go out and change (often dramatically) their theories. This is a healthy thing for science, but does it tend to take “power” from the old school of thought? Absolutely!! This was the problem with the survival of structuralism. It was out of step with the zeitgeist but the new Ph.D.s were not!
Questions for Chapter #6 Assignment:
1 Explain all of the tenets of Darwin’s evolutionary theory and how this theory helped develop the ideas of the functionalist movement.
2 Read the controversy between Darwin and Wallace and explain how it was settled.
3 Differentiate the methods of George Romanes and Lloyd Morgan in studying animal behavior. Include why the law of parsimony was important and a more vigorous scientific stance was needed for the emerging psychology.
4 What were the ideas of Galton and how did Darwin’s evolutionary theory influence them. Explain also the emergence of statistics under Galton and how it reflected a life long persuit in measuring things.
It is important to understand that the development of Functionalism in psychology was dependent on evolutionary theory. Rather than concentrating on sensations and their resultants, a new view developed of seeing how the individual adapted to a changing environment. Remember that America was a frontier and adaption to this frontier was vital for survival. Understand that there is a difference between basic science and applied science. Basic science investigates things for the sake of new knowledge. Applied science investigates things for the sake of solving a specific problem. Both are vital, but in frontier America, applied science was becoming the most important.
The Functionalist Protest
With the advent of evolutionary theory in the sciences and the strict subject matter of Wundt and Titchener, we see a protest forming known as the Functionalist movement. It really may not be correct to say it was an organized school of thought, but it certainly had the influence of one. One of the concerns of the protesters was that the mind was being studied too reductionistically into sensations and what should really be looked at is the mind as a total entity and its ability to solve problems and adapt to the environment.
Functionalism is the first uniquely American system of psychology. Although we have to be careful about calling it a singular system or school, we see that all the adherents shared an interest in the adaptive functions of consciousness. Darwin and Galton can be seen as antecedents to the Functional movement because of the ideas of individual differences within a species and the measurement of those differences. Wundt and Titchener can be seen as those who were protested against. We will meet several more individuals who will be antecedents of the Functionalist movement – William James, Granville Stanley Hall and Hugo Musterberg. One last influence that helps usher in the Functionist “power” should be recognized. That is the influence of George Romanes and Lloyd Morgan for their animal research and the beginning of comparative psychology.
As we study the functionalist, you will see psychology enter into an exciting time of growth and expansion. Many of the branches of psychology that you know today will be forming and extending. Unlike Structuralism and Voluntarism, Functionalism will allow a much broader range of subjects to be studied – comparative, developmental, clinical, forensic, advertisement and learning and memory to name a few. It will also allow for a much broader range of subjects to be used in research – adults, children, adolescents, animals, the mentally impaired and the criminally minded. Remember that was not true of former schools that utilized only the normal functioning adult for their research.
Wallace and Darwin’s Dual Discovery – Can they be friends?
Your book does a good job of relating some of the theories that predated Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Indeed, Darwin’s own grandfather, a physician, may have actually planted the seed in Darwin’s mind. He was a member of the Zoonomia Society that fostered some of the ideas of evolution. As your book points out with numerous examples, it was the Zeitgeist that really demanded that this theory emerge to the forefront of science. Darwin, himself waited 20 years to publish his theory and only then because Wallace had sent him a copy of his own ideas and they matched Darwin’s almost exactly. Darwin had originally planned to have his book published posthumously because he knew it would cause a stir – and quite a stir it was…and is!
With Wallace and Darwin formulating the same theory, one might ask why it is only called Darwin’s theory of evolution. After all, we will see numerous examples of dual theories because of the readiness of the zeitgeist and usually they are called by each of the names of the authors. Examples are the Bell–Magendie Law, the Young–HelmholtzTheory of Color Vision and the James–Lange Theory of Emotion. Why not the Wallace–Darwin or Darwin–Wallace Theory of Evolution? The answer lies in the fact that Darwin’s collection of scientific data was the greatest and Wallace was also a scientific “gentleman”. Perhaps Wallace did not want to be famous when he would also be infamous!
There is a fascinating bit of history that I want to share with you about this dual ownership of this theory. A number of years after Darwin had died, Wallace was awarded the Darwin–Wallace Medal by the Linnean Society of London. It was in a meeting of this same society that Darwin and Wallace had first held a debate on their dual theories before either had been published. The following is the acceptance speech by Wallace. Please read it as you have an essay to do on it. I think you will find the professional respect refreshing when some might have been quite bitter:
Acceptance Speech on Receiving the Darwin–Wallace Medal (S656: 1908/1909)
• Picture Link: This is Wallace at age 25
• Description: This portrait is of Charles Wallace at age 25 when he was just starting his scientific career.
• Picture Link: This is Wallace at age 55
• Description: This portrait is of Charles Wallace at 55. He had already formulated his theory and compared it with that of Darwin.
A Bit More on Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle
Darwin was born to a father who was a physician and a mother who was the heir to the Wedgwood China Co. His early life was one of ease. He was not a notable student and did poorly in school and his father vowed that someday he would disgrace the family! He spent his childhood collecting things – plants, shells, minerals. He entered medical school, but found the lectures boring and the surgery unbearable as this was before the advent of anesthetics. He then went to Cambridge to become an Anglican clergyman. He graduated very tenuously due to his adoption of an “eat, drink and be merry” lifestyle. His more pleasant recollection of this time was his extensive collection of beetles that he made.
What is interesting about this background is that before embarking on the Beagle, Darwin was a creationist, one who believed the earth was created as described in Genesis. At 21 he boarded the ship the Beagle for a three year trip that was to last 5. The captain of the Beagle was Robert Fitz–Roy, also a creationist. He almost did not allow Darwin on because he believed in phrenology and thought that Darwin’s nose showed him to not possess sufficient energy and determination for such a voyage.
The Beagle left in 1831 and arrived home in 1836 having gone to South America, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, and Australia among other destinations. Darwin began formulating his theory and collecting vast evolutionary examples. He became quite close to Fitz–Roy, but 6 years after Darwin published his theory of evolution, Fitz–Roy committed suicide and there was some talk that it was because he felt he had fostered Darwin’s opportunity to develop such a heretical theory.
Be sure you understand exactly what his theory entails. It talks about the struggle of all creatures for survival. Among offspring, there is a struggle for survival of the fittest. Fitness might mean the biggest and meanest, but think about it, it might mean the smallest and most easily hidden. This is the idea of natural selection. Fitness refers to the organism’s ability to survive and REPRODUCE. That is all. Organisms that possessed adaptive features that allowed them to survive a changing environment survived. One of the most startling parts of the theory was that it put man right in there with the other animals. Always man had been thought of as greater than all other living creatures – different and greater. Now, he was simply one of them, although perhaps at the top of the phylogenic scale. This one idea opened the way in psychology for the entire field of comparative psychology in which animal and man’s behaviors are studied and compared.
A lasting effect of this theory was its emphasis on differences among a particular species. Before the evolutionary theory, it was believed that all members of a particular species were the same. While species varied greatly from other species, the individual members of a given species had little variance. It was evolutionary theory that said that within the species there was great variance of members. This is really the catalyst to the movement that you will see with Galton called “eugenics”. It is the idea that some members of a given species are more representative and eminent than others of the same species. The species that eugenics focused on was that of man.
• Picture Link: Darwin’s Study
• Description: This is Darwin’s study at Down House where he lived with his family most of his married life and where he formulated much of his theory.
Galton and Measurement
Your book does a good job on describing Galton, his life and contributions to psychology. There are several additional ideas that I think you will find interesting. Your book talks about how he created the weather map that we know today. It is the ideas of highs and lows on the weather map that he theorized and used that was the most important idea. If you think about it, it really is the highs and lows that denote the weather we will have and when they clash…we can get some really big storms.
Galton’s fascination with counting and measuring led him to revolutionize statistics with the correlation, but his Eugenics theory – and he was not the only one to theorize about it – had a darker legacy. Eugenics helped to empower many of the prejudices that have been so unfair over this last century and a half. It was these ideas that were also taken very much to the dark side by Hitler and more recently, some of the genocides in Africa.
On the lighter side, I thought I would tell you a few more ideas that Galton investigated. He tried to measure the beauty in women, the varying degrees of boredom at scientific lectures and even the effectiveness of prayer. This last measurement he admitted was troublesome to figure out how to measure. In his 1872 paper “Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer” he discussed this and concluded that it was not really known scientifically if it really helped. He also developed the idea of using the unique fingerprints of individuals for identification with Scotland Yard being the first to do so. When Galton’s cousin Darwin published his evolutionary theory, Galton felt that measuring individual differences in humans would be his life work.
• Picture Link: Galton’s Anthropometric Lab
• Description: This is Galton’s Anthropometric Laboratory where he conducted much of his research on individual differences.
A Few More Thoughts…
Notice the idea of eugenics that is talked about on page 160. Galton was not the first to theorize the idea of Eugenics, but with Darwin’s emphasis on individual differences and Galton’s attempts to measure them, the emerging ideas behind eugenics got a big boost. We will see that this plays an important role in the beginning of the testing movement in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler also knew something of eugenics when he formulated his idea of superiority of his Aryan Race. This was a tragic application of an assumption that itself was corrupted.
This is the last paragraph of Darwin’s on the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection:
“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less–improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”
I wanted you to see this last paragraph because it summates all the ideas of Darwin’s theory and at the last, he grants the origin of life to “the Creator”. This last understanding is often missed by many and perhaps goes back to his religious beginnings. Some may say that Darwin was a heretic and dismiss him as a evil influence. That may be too naive a position. Think about it!
An Interesting Tidbit: If you look at a map of New Zealand, you will see a small island off the coast called Fitz–Roy. Wonder how it got its name????
A Little Scientific Gossip: In studying the ancient mummies from around the world, researchers have been able to see some of the diseases they were subject to so long ago. One disease, Chagas, has been seen quite often, particularly in South American mummies. It is thought that Darwin may have eventually succumbed to this parasitic problem that might take 20 years to develop. Why might people think this to be possible? See the following website for the answer:
Chagas Disease (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chagas_disease)