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15.11.2018, 17:50


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Looking at the Word Psychology: From Ancient to Modern Meanings

The word psychology has had several different meanings from ancient to modern times. Here is its present definition: Psychology is the science that studies the Behavior of organisms.

Three words in the definition merit special attention: (1) science, (2) behavior, and (3) organisms. Modern psychology is considered a science because it bases its conclusions on data, information obtained by systematic observations. Behavior has three aspects: (1) cognitive processes, (2) emotional states, and (3) actions. Cognitive processes refer to what an individual thinks. Emotional states refer to what an individual feels. Actions refer to what an individual does. An organism is any living creature. Consequently, the behavior of dogs, rats, pigeons, and monkeys can be legitimately included in the study of psychology. Such organisms have indeed been subjects in psychology experiments. However, traditionally the principal focus of psychology has been humans. When animals are used in experiments, the implicit goal is often to explore how such basic processes as learning and motivation, as studied in animals, can cast a light on our under standing of human behavior. Although you now know the modern definition of psychology, it is important to realize that the word psychology has its roots in ancient meanings associated with philosophy. The Greek word psyche means soul. Consequently, to philosophers living 400 to 300 B.C., psychology was the – study of the soul. This was the meaning given by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In view of the fact that these thinkers, particularly Socrates and Plato, did not believe that animals have souls, it becomes evident why for many centuries psychology‘s main attention has been given to human beings.

The ancient philosophers asserted that the soul is the seat of consciousness. It is consciousness that makes mental life possible. This is why psychology is often thought of as the science of the mind. Indeed, this meaning is the one given to it by William James, the dean of American psychologists. Working at Harvard a little more than one hundred years ago, James defined psychology as ―the science of mental life. He believed that the purpose of psychology should be to investigate such mental processes as thinking, memory, and perception. Although psychology no longer is thought of as the study of the soul, this original meaning colors our present -day approach, with its emphasis on human behavior and the importance of cognition. Contemporary scientific psychology has four explicit goals: describe, explain, predict, and control behavior

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15.11.2018, 18:02
The word psychology has had several different meanings from ancient to modern times. Here is its present definition: Psychology is the science that studies the Behavior of organisms.
Modern psychology is considered a science because it bases its conclusions on data, information obtained by systematic observations. Behavior has three aspects: (1) cognitive processes, (2) emotional states, and (3) actions. The behavior of dogs, rats, pigeons, and monkeys can be legitimately included in the study of psychology. When animals are used in experiments, the implicit goal is often to explore how such basic processes as learning and motivation, as studied in animals, can cast a light on our under standing of human behavior.
The Greek word psyche means soul. Consequently, to philosophers living 400 to 300 B.C., psychology was the – study of the soul. This was the meaning given by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
The ancient philosophers asserted that the soul is the seat of consciousness. It is consciousness that makes mental life possible.
Working at Harvard a little more than one hundred years ago, James defined psychology as ―the science of mental life. He believed that the purpose of psychology should be to investigate such mental processes as thinking, memory, and perception.
Contemporary scientific psychology has four explicit goals: describe, explain, predict, and control behavior.

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