Thesis: Evolution of Psychology

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Evolution of Psychology

Rationality

The Chapter on Rationality (and irrationality) is very well structured. It fully covers all possible areas of interest surrounding the topic, and investigates each of these to the extent that the chapter length allows. The reader is left with a much better understanding of the basis of rationality and the causes of irrationality. The author begins by taking the reader through a historical tour of considerations of rationality throughout the history of philosophical and psychological research.

Beginning with the Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the author moves through the centuries up to the paradigms of modern psychology. The causes for irrationality are also fully investigated. This is investigated on various levels. Inner biological and psychological disorders are supplemented with considerations of environmental factors such as social pressures and stress.

The role of emotions serves as the central point of the chapter, and receives a large amount of attention; and deservedly so. Emotion is inextricably part of human behavior and psychology, and indeed plays a central role in many human activities. It is therefore little wonder that it most often stands at the center of irrational behavior, as the author indeed points out. This section of the chapter is well placed before the academic consideration of modern psychology and its views on rationality. The final sections of the chapter provide both substance and balance to the preceding points.

Because of its thorough coverage of rationality and irrationality on a vast historical scale, the chapter provided me with both interesting and important information to read. The information was structured logically and the aspects were clearly explicated with diagrams and narrative where necessary. The balance of anecdotal evidence with empirical data also significantly contributed to the engaging nature of a reading that might have otherwise been dry and solely academic. On the basis of this, I also believe that university students would greatly benefit from reading this work. Specifically, I believe it would benefit students in a History of Psychology course, as a large part of the chapter is specifically devoted precisely to this.

A cannot find many weak points in the writing, perhaps with the exception of a few grammatical and syntax errors. These are not overly bothersome however, and can be remedied with some careful proofreading. In general, the overwhelmingly positive aspects such as structure and information presentation greatly overshadow any minor misspellings and syntax problems that might occur.

Another minor issue could be the length of the conclusion. In the light of the rest of the chapter, I would have liked to see a longer conclusion. But once again, this is a very minor point when considering the excellence of the rest of the work. I felt very satisfied with the information presented and with what I learned from reading the chapter.

Holism vs. Reductionism

This chapter addresses Holism vs. Reductionism by means of four sections: John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, Jean Piaget, and Gestalt Psychology. Upon reading the chapter for the first time, a multiplicity of problems presented themselves. Firstly, the information is confusing and presented at apparently random. It is very difficult to understand the concepts, not least because they are defined much later in each section than they should be. This is particularly so of the concepts of holism and reductionism in the first part, addressing Watson.

Another problem with the Watson section is the confusion surrounding the "Little Albert" experiment. It is not clear who or what Little Albert is, nor is the experiment described in any particular detail. This could be very confusing to a student with little prior experience in the field, and was indeed very confusing for me. It is neither interesting nor stimulating to read material that is presented in such a way.

It is also problematic that there appears to be no attempt to connect the four sections, apart from the fact that they all supposedly address the holism vs. reductionism issue. This exacerbates the idea that the information has been hastily thrown together with little attention to either logic or structure. In this chapter, minor grammar and spelling issues are much more bothersome than those in the chapter on Rationality.

The issue of randomness continues to plague the reader in the section on Skinner. After a brief introduction to Skinner, the Greeks and their ideas on reductionism are suddenly introduced, with very little connection between these apparently random sections of information. After the Greeks, the author suddenly and jerkily returns to the subject of Skinner's reductionism and experiments in this regard.

There is also the problem of cohesion in Piaget section. The author introduces Piaget's ideas, and then suddenly launches into a very detailed and lengthy description of the stages of cognitive development as explicated by Piaget, only relating these to holism in passing. Such lengthy descriptions appear unnecessary to make the point for holism. The same is true for the Gestalt section. The author goes into great, if random, detail on Gestalt psychology and therapy, but does little to logically relate this to holism as a central concept.

There are numerous structural issues in terms of both cohesion and coherence in this chapter. I would not recommend it as reading material for students; the presentation confuses more than it teaches. To improve it, the author needs to make a concerted effort at connecting and structuring the information logically. It would help to connect each section, as well as to make internal connections within each section.

Nature vs. Nurture

While better than the Holism vs. Determinism chapter, this chapter could also do with a considerable effort towards restructuring. While it does adequately address the various concepts with considerable clarity, I find the sequence of information somewhat confusing. The author for example begins by introducing the issue, and then suddenly launches into a detailed discussion of DNA, followed by an explication of Skinner and his experiments to prove the environmental influence. After this, there is a brief and vague reference to the "pre-1950's" and the "post-1950's" in the nature/nurture debate. Only after these discussions is there a heading indicating a return to discussing the era before the 1950's. This is much too confusing and exhausting to reading, and I feel the chapter can do with much restructuring. I did however find the material both interesting and engaging. A better structure would much improve this experience.

Although I would have to think carefully about the level of students to whom this work is prescribed, I would not be entirely averse to recommending it as reading material. There are some redeeming factors in the chapter. The information appears to be well researched, without attempting to pad the volume with excessive detail. I also feel that the examples and experiments are presented appropriately and explicated clearly, although not always in as much of a logical sequence as I would like.

I do believe that students in a History of Psychology course would benefit from this chapter, as it addresses several historical factors in the Nature vs. Nurture debate. This is specifically so in the section detailing the historical bases of the debate. The information is somewhat random, and makes for rather exhausting reading, but not so much as to be completely useless.

The chapter would benefit from being restructured in a more sequential manner. Nature and nurture should be introduced, after which the history of the debate should be explained in sequence. DNA should only be explicated and detailed in the section specifically addressing the nature aspect of the debate.

At the end of the paper, the conclusion appears to be somewhat lengthy. Some new ideas regarding the debate are introduced, which could have made a further section of the paper. Conclusion length is however not a major problem, and is remedied very easily.

In general, I do find this chapter useful and informative, although not very pleasurable to read, particularly at the beginning. If it were not part of my study material, I would have given up reading before reaching the more informative and better structure parts of the work. This would have been a pity.

3. Should a psychological researcher pay attention to philosophical inquiries?

Philosophy has always been part of the human mind. The human brain is extremely complex. Hence its function is deeper than merely absorbing experience and reacting to it. Instead, it also thinks critically and processes information in order to make something useful of it. It is therefore vitally important to not neglect philosophical inquiry in psychological research. Indeed, since the earliest times, before the birth of psychological inquiry, philosophers have been thinking about the mind, consciousness, and the nature of these.

According to the Chapter on Consciousness (2) for example, philosophy and psychology could almost be seen as parts of the same coin, particularly during ancient times. Indeed, philosophers such as Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Descartes preceded Freud in their explications of the human mind and its effects on human behavior. It is only during the 20th century that Freud made… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Evolution of Psychology.  (2008, December 19).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/evolution-psychology/802958

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"Evolution of Psychology."  Essaytown.com.  December 19, 2008.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/evolution-psychology/802958.