HISTORIANS of psychology are almost unanimously agreed on one point: that psychology is a relatively new science. There may be some disagreement as to when it started--with Weber, or Fechner, or Wundt, or James--but there is almost no dissent from the proposition that psychology as a scientific discipline is less than one and one-half centuries old. Many earlier writers are often discussed in histories of psychology, but invariably they are called speculators, or philosophers, as opposed to scientists. We believe that (...) this is an incorrect appraisal of the career of psychological research. To demonstrate our point, we propose to show how one key psychological idea from Descartes' work has had an extensive and robust scientific history. If it is true that this Cartesian idea has had great influence in science, then many claims concerning the history of psychology will need to be reconsidered. Not everything which happened in psychology prior to the nineteenth century was speculative, nor is everything which happened later scientific. Even more importantly, if Descartes' idea has been of such central concern to several hundred years of research, it must be treated as an important claim about the way the world is, as a law of nature. (shrink)
Hintikka has criticized psychologists for "hasty epistemologizing," which he takes to be an unwarranted transfer of ideas from psychology (a discipline dealing with questions of fact) into epistemology (a discipline dealing with questions of method and theory). Hamlyn argues, following Hintikka, that Gibson's theory of perception is an example of such an inappropriate transfer, especially insofar as Hamlyn feels Gibson does not answer several important questions. However, Gibson's theory does answer the relevant questions, albeit in a new and radical way, (...) which suggests that the alleged distinction between psychology and epistemology is suspect. In fact, contrary to Hintikka and Hamlyn's claims, Gibson's theory of perception appears to be a valuable source of epistemological as well as psychological ideas. (shrink)
It is proposed that the Darwinian theoretical approach and account of living systems has not yet been clearly given. A first approximation to this is attempted, focussing on behavior in evolving environments. A theoretical terminology is defined emphasizing the mutuality of organism and environment and the existence of biologically theoretical entities.
The philosophical or metaphysical architecture of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is analyzed and diflussed. It is argued that natural selection was for Darwin a paradigmatic case of a natural law of change — an exemplar of what Ghiselin (1969) has called selective retention laws. These selective retention laws lie at the basis of Darwin's revolutionary world view. In this essay special attention is paid to the consequences for Darwin's concept of species of his selective retention laws. Although (...) Darwin himself explicity supported a variety of nominalism, implicit in the theory of natural selection is a solution to the dispute between nominalism and realism. It is argued that, although implicit, this view plays a very important role in Darwin's theory of natural selection as the means for the origin of species. It is in the context of these selective retention laws and their philosophical implications that Darwin's method is appraised in the light of recent criticisms, and the conclusion drawn that he successfully treated some philosophical problems by approaching them through natural history. Following this an outline of natural selection theory is presented in which all these philosophical issues are highlighted. (shrink)
Abstract Descartes's theory of volition as expressed in his Passions of the Soul is analyzed and outlined. The focus is not on Descartes's proposed answers to questions about the nature and processes of volition, but on his way of formulating questions about the nature of volition. It is argued that the assumptions underlying Descartes's questions have become ?intellectual strait?jackets? for all who are interested in volition: neuroscientists, philosophers and psychologists. It is shown that Descartes's basic assumption?that volition causes change in (...) the brain/mind, not in the world around us?has set in train a series of ?themata? that have dominated studies of the will, severely curtailing our understanding. It is then shown that these Cartesian themata are so limiting and confusing that a number of internally contradictory ideas have actually become mainstays of most theories of volition; in particular, the concepts of unconscious sensations and of involuntary volitions. (shrink)
AI is supposed to be a scientific research program for developing and analyzing computer-based systems that mimic natural psychological processes. I argue that this is a mere fiction, a convenient myth. In reality, AI is a technology for reorganizing the relations of production in workplaces, and specifically for increasing management control. The appeal of the AI myth thus serves as ideological justification for increasing managerial domination. By focusing on the AI myth, critics of AI are diverting themselves from the very (...) important task of preventing this increasingly dangerous threat to deskill and dehumanize large sectors of the workforce. (shrink)