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History and Systems of Psychology

ASSOCIATIONISTS:Thomas Hobbes, John Locke

<< RENAISSANCE:Rene Descartes
ASSOCIATIONISTS:David Hume, FRENCH REVOLUTION, Denis Diderot >>
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Lesson 07
ASSOCIATIONISTS
Associationist is a group of three English philosophers/psychologists of the 16th century.
Associationists are given this name because they believed in the concept of association of ideas. They are
very important in the history of psychology and their theories are known as Associationism.
Thomas Hobbes
One of the most important names in the context of Associationism is that of Thomas Hobbes. He
was born on 5th April 1588 AD and died on 4th December 1679 in Wiltshire, England. Hobbes was a
philosopher/psychologist and a writer who is known for his book "Leviathan" which was published in
1651. Hobbes is also known for his emphasis on materialism. Hobbes was educated at Oxford and worked
as a tutor to the son of William Cavendish, later the Earl of Devonshire. His connections to the royal family
gave him opportunities to travel and pursue his studies, but they also put him in the middle of the English
Civil War. In 1640 political turmoil forced him to leave England for France, where he continued to
associate with scholars and scientists of Europe, including Galileo and René Descartes.
As mentioned earlier, Hobbes is considered an important materialist thinker of the time.
Materialism means, greater interest in material possessions rather than spiritual values. Materialist thinkers
were of the view that matter is dynamic, which means that matter changes from one form to another.
Hobbes put forward the view that all we see including humans are different forms of matter and the laws
that govern matter are also applicable to animals and humans, therefore these laws can be discovered. He
contented that animals and man are in fact different types of machines and their functions and operations
can be studied, understood, explained and even predicted. This mechanical view of human beings was
initially given by Rene Descartes. Hobbes went on to elaborate the idea given by Descartes by saying that all
human feelings and emotions such as laughing, crying, feeling hungry could be understood and explained in
terms of functions of the human machines. This means that there has to be an input into the human
machine in order to get an output in the form of the above mentioned functions of the human machine.
For example, when a person is subject to heavy stress, he may start crying. A person who has not eaten for
a long time starts feeling hungry. Therefore, the human machine has to have some sort of an input in order
to give the above mentioned responses as its functions or outputs. Hobbes concentrated on finding
similarities between humans and machines and this idea of finding similarities between man and machines is
called "mechanical materialism," and Hobbes was one of its originators.
Hobbes was of the opinion that our thoughts and emotions are caused by the motion the external
stimuli. As the variables of the external stimuli change, they impact the human body which results in
emotions and thoughts.
He further proclaimed that motion in the brain creates thoughts. Then these thoughts get
accumulated and get connected. This results in creating chains of thoughts or ideas leading to complex
ideas. This is what has been termed as the association of ideas. Aristotle has also given his explanation of
association of ideas which according to him is caused due to similarity, contiguity and contrast. Hobbes and
two other associationists propounded this concept later that ideas tend to get associated.
Thomas Hobbes believed that knowledge can be acquired by observation through the sense organs.
Therefore, he rejected the idea of introspection and agreed with Aristotle's empiricism as a means of
acquiring knowledge.
According to Hobbes three things create association:
Habits
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Wishes
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Repetition
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Habits result in association of ideas. Wishes create linkages in ideas. A person who wishes for
something links many ideas with his wish which in turn results in association of ideas. Further, repetition of
event also results in association of ideas. This is similar to Aristotle's contiguity and similarity when two
things happening close to each other or having similarity with each other result in association of ideas.
Because of his views of association of ideas he is called an Associationist by historians of
psychology.
John Locke
Another important British Associationist was John Locke. He was born in 1632 AD and died in
1704 AD. Educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, he became (1660) a lecturer there in Greek, rhetoric,
and philosophy. He studied medicine, and his acquaintance with scientific practice had a strong influence
upon his philosophical thought and method. He is considered to be the founder of British Empiricism.
His major contribution in psychology came in the form of an Essay. In the Essay Concerning
Human Understanding Locke examines the nature of the human mind and the process by which it knows
the world. Repudiating the traditional doctrine of innate ideas, Locke believed that the mind is born blank
and the world writes on it.
John Locke was of the view that ideas were not innate or inborn, but ideas were developed over the
due course of time through experiences that an individual has. In other words he rejected the Platonian
point of views of introspection and ideas being inborn. According to John Locke, the mind of a child at the
time of his birth is like a clean slate. Locke called this clean slate a "tabula rasa." This means that the mind is
open to all external influences. The slate is blank and anything could be written upon the slate. Experiences
throughout the life of the individual write on the slate. This is how ideas and thoughts are formed.
Therefore, ideas are not inborn; it is the environment around the individual that shapes his or her
imagination, feelings and thoughts.
According to Locke, we learn by two ways:
Sensations
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And reflection
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Sensation is the acknowledgement of the stimuli by the body. For example if a person touches
something hot, the body feels the hotness of the object and as a result person learns to avoid the hot object.
This is learning through sensations, where a stimulus or may be stimuli induce the learning process to take
place. On the other hand, reflection means the interpretation of the stimuli by the body. The individual
interprets the stimuli according to his own perception. Therefore two persons may differ in their reflection
i.e. the interpretation of the stimuli.
In Locke's views, sensations create ideas, but reasoning connects those ideas together and these
connections or associations are the source of knowledge. When the sensations are interpreted, a reason for
it is sought. This reason results in creating knowledge for the person. For example, the sensation of feeling
something as hot may be interpreted by the person as the hot object being dangerous. Therefore, the person
may reach the conclusion that hot objects are dangerous, the reason being that they hurt the body.
John Locke was also a political philosopher. He therefore contented that for the society to move
forward, prosper and develop, it is essential to gather knowledge. Knowledge can be acquired through the
process of sensation, reasoning and association of ideas. John Locke supported the Aristotelian view point
of learning by empiricism rather than introspection. His method encouraged learning by observation.
Because of his support for the theory of association of ideas, he is also considered as an associationist.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Methodology, Grading, Course Overview up to Midterm
  2. ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY/PSYCHOLOGY:Socrates, Plato
  3. GREEK THINKERS:Aristotle, Contiguity, Contrast
  4. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Saint Augustine, Avicenna
  5. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Al-Ghazali, Ibn-Rushd, Averroes
  6. RENAISSANCE:Rene Descartes
  7. ASSOCIATIONISTS:Thomas Hobbes, John Locke
  8. ASSOCIATIONISTS:David Hume, FRENCH REVOLUTION, Denis Diderot
  9. GERMAN CONTRIBUTION:Wilhelm Liebniz, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Hegel
  10. INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS
  11. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Ivan Pavlov, Reflex, Acquisition
  12. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Vladimir Bekhterev
  13. IMPACT OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES ON PSYCHOLOGY:Charles Darwin, Gustav Fechner
  14. STRUCTURALIST SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY:Wilhelm Wundt
  15. FUNCTIONALISM:William James, John Dewey
  16. EUROPEAN FUNCTIONALISTS:David Katz, Edgar Rubin, Jean Piaget
  17. BEHAVIORISM:Edward Lee Thorndike, Law of belongingness
  18. BEHAVIORISM:Albert Weiss, Edwin Holt, Learning, Canalization, Walter Hunter
  19. BEHAVIORISM:J.B.Watson
  20. NEO-BEHAVIOURISTS:Clark Hull, Edward Tolman, Edwin Gutherie
  21. NEO-BEHAVIORISTS:B.F. Skinner, Karl Lashley, Donald Hebb, Hobart Mowrer
  22. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Max Wertheimer, Similarity, Proximity, Closure
  23. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka, Edward De Bono
  24. GESTALT SCHOOL AND DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY:Kurt Lewin, DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY
  25. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Leon Vygotsky, Sergei Rubenstein
  26. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Alexei Leontiev, K.M Bykov
  27. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL DISORDERS
  28. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL ILLNESS:Philippe Pinel, Sameul Tuke
  29. SIGMUND FREUD AND THE PSYCHOANALYTIC MOVEMENT:The Superego
  30. SIGMUND FREUD AND PSYCHOANALYTICAL MOVEMENT:Anna Freud
  31. CARL JUNG AND ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  32. JUNG’S ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  33. ALFRED ADLER AND INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY:Alfred Adler
  34. NEO-FREUDIANS:Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney
  35. NEO-FREUDIANS:Karen Horney, Erich Fromm
  36. ERIKSON and MORENO:J.L. Moreno, Protagonist, Audience, Role playing
  37. HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY:Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Positive Psychology
  38. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
  39. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT:Biological Approaches
  40. ANTI-PSYCHIATRY MOVEMENT:D.L. Rosenhan, R.D. Laing, Aaron Esterson
  41. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD:Frantz Fanon
  42. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD CHINA AND PAKISTAN
  43. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21st CENTURY
  44. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Consumer Psychology
  45. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Sports Psychology, Positive Psychology