History and Systems of Psychology PSY502
The first German philosopher/psychologist in the present context was Wilhelm Leibniz. He was
born in 1646AD and he died in 1716 AD.
One of the most important contributions of Wilhelm Liebniz is that the universe including human
beings is made up of atoms. His theory was based on the preexisting belief of atoms forming the matter.
Liebniz called these particles or atom as Monads.
Liebniz further proposed that Monads are spiritual in nature and they are permanent and
indestructible. They have their own stages of growth and development. Liebniz said that objects are made
up of lowest monads, animals of higher monads than objects and man is made of the highest monads of
them all. We are born with these, and they develop with the passage of time.
Another contribution of Wilhelm Liebniz is that he proposed that the soul and the body exist and
operate parallel to each other. This means that the body and the soul operate in the humans at the same
time and complement each other in their functions. This view of parallelism of soul and body is termed as
Another great German philosopher/psychologist was Immanuel Kant who was born in 1724 AD
and died in 1804 AD.
Kant was against introspection and believed that observation and empiricism can lead to
knowledge. The important contribution of Kant in this regard is that he proposed that the human mind is
active and it rearranges and catalogues information gathered by observation. This means that whenever an
individual observes something, he stores the information in his mind. The mind performs the function of
the storage house and also arranges the information for the individual. This may result in easy retrieval of
the information and the information being associated with other pieces of information that are in the same
category. Therefore, this combination of information results in formulation of ideas etc.
Kant proposed that the mind has an innate capacity to see unity in what is observed. This means
that mind relates every observation and information to some other information and this is what was termed
as unity. It finds different observations as similar because of the previously stored information.
Further, Kant proposed that mind has the capacity to give meaning to sensations and observation.
The sensations received by the body are conveyed to the mind. Then the mind is responsible for
interpreting these sensations and deciding how the person and the body have to react. Similarly for
observation, the mind acquires all the information and tries to draw conclusions out of it. Therefore, the
mind performs the function of an interpreter.
Kant's ideas are a mixture of Liebnisian and Lockean views. Liebniz proposed that in the sense
both mind and body operate at the same time. Liebniz had proposed the concept of psycho-physical
parallelism. On the other hand Kant's views were similar to Locke in terms that according to Kant there
was not material existence of the mind and its operations. Kant further proposed that psychology could not
become a science, since science deals in matter and mind is not material.
Another name belonging to the German epoch was that of Friedrich Hegel who was born in
1770AD and died in 1831AD.
History and Systems of Psychology PSY502
Hegel taught that there is no conflict between mind or wisdom and nature or matter. He further
proclaimed that there is a logical flow in nature, which can be discovered by logic and wisdom. This means
that all the phenomenon of nature can be described in logical terms. It may have a cause and effect
relationship or may otherwise be explained using simple methods of observational reasoning.
He postulated the view of Absolute idea. Absolute idea is the absolute truth and it is non-material.
Hegel put forward the idea that objects and events can not be studied separately. This idea had the
implication in his theory that if we want to study a person we must look into his family life, his political and
religious ideas, his economic conditions etc. It is one of the most important features of Hegel's viewpoint.
Hegel correctly and implicitly stated that the behavior of a person, his attitude and his actions are influenced
by his environment. The kind of environment from which a person belongs to has to determine his own
behavior. For example an individual living in a joint family system would have different attitude from one
living in a separate family. He also purported that economic, political and social environment also influence
the person, which can be understood by looking at the French revolution. The French peasants felt that
they were being oppressed by the clergy men and the rulers. This made them revolt against both the church
and the monarch.
Hegel proposed that objects and events affect each other and in turn get affected. Similarly human
thought affects objects, and objects affect human thoughts. This means that humans tend to use their
thoughts for the improvement or to make best use of the objects. On the other hand natural phenomenon
related to the objects influence human minds and make humans develop new ideas and thoughts. In other
words this conflict between objects and human thought leads to change, growth and development.
Hegel also proposed a theory of development of man's thought which states that development
takes place in three stages. This theory is also based on the idea of the conflict between objects and
thoughts. The three stages of development of thought are:
The first stage is when man discovers some phenomenon. He tries to explain the phenomenon
according to his own information. In other words, man discovers, generates an idea and calls it a
thesis. This thesis is the basis of the thought or idea.
Later when the idea has been proposed in the form of a thesis, further observation and
interpretation results in the formation of its opposite or contradictory idea. This opposite or
contradictory idea is called the anti-thesis
Finally the two conflicting or contradictory ideas are merged together to from a new idea which is
known as synthesis. This generates the explanation of the phenomenon.
In other words, there is first an explanation of the phenomenon. This explanation is then negated
by another explanation. When both these explanations are combined it results in a final explanation which is
called a synthesis.
As a whole these three steps by the development of a synthesis lead to growth and development.
The synthesis ultimately also becomes a thesis and is then negated in the same manner as the original thesis.
This process of negation of the synthesis as a thesis is called the negation of negation. It continues
forever. Therefore, according to Hegel contradiction is basic mover of the entire universe, including man
Old ideas generate new ideas, those are negated and new ideas are formed. This means that there
are no permanent ideas in this world. Hegel also taught that we should look at the universe and see the
logical connections between objects and ideas. These logical connections would explain various
phenomenons. This process is called the dialectical process. The dialectical process means that by looking
at two things, i.e. the object and the ideas we can draw conclusions about them. These were the
contribution of Friedrich Hegel.
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