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History and Systems of Psychology

PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Saint Augustine, Avicenna

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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Lesson 04
PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY
The period from 5th to 11th century A.D. is considered the dark ages of Europe. It was the period
in between the great Greeks and the progressive industrialized Europe. The dark ages were the period when
there was a general discouragement of research and investigation. Problems were not solved in the light of
research and observation but by invoking religious edicts. Intellectuals adopted Plato's idealism while
Aristotle's empiricism and observation were rejected.
It was believed that God was the most exalted being, followed by wisdom, followed by soul and
then followed by matter. So matter of the body was the lowest from of existence and wisdom the highest
after God. It was also thought that wisdom could be gained by looking inwards and by reflection which was
the Socratic and Platonian point of view. The dark ages also had an impact on psychology. But during the
same period emerged some prominent philosophers/psychologists whose contributions to psychology are
noteworthy.
Saint Augustine
An important contribution to the subject of psychology of those times is that of Saint Augustine.
He was born in 354AD and died in 430AD.
Saint Augustine proclaimed that evil or sin is a product of free will. This means that it is the free
will of an individual that makes him indulge into sins, evils and crimes. There ought to be checks on every
person's free will which is certainly what the order of the society is about. A society imposes certain limits
to the exercise of free will of a person which therefore results in regulation of the society. If every person is
allowed to practice his will freely there would be no society and only chaos. Saint Augustine further
proclaims that pride is a cardinal sin which is also the cause of many other evil acts that a person indulges
in. It makes him unaware of the consequences of his actions which may be harmful for others. Therefore,
Saint Augustine points out certain psychological elements in human beings that influence their actions and
the society as a whole.
Saint Augustine agreed with the prevailing ideas that the universe contains two basic principles:
The principle of light and goodness
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And the principle of darkness and evil
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This means that there are two paths in the universe and it is up to the individual to decide upon which path
to take. According to Augustine we can discover these by looking inwards into our minds or what is called
introspection. This idea is similar to that of the Socratic Platonian ideas. According to them, looking into
the self brings awareness and light of knowledge and that is the only way of gaining knowledge. Plato even
considered the sense organs as a hindrance to the acquisition of knowledge. Plato and Socrates had also said
that knowledge is virtue. St. Augustine added to their views by saying that a person can look into self in the
same way as one looks at external objects. How to introspect or to look into the self was on the one of the
biggest difficulties that were encountered by the philosophers and thinkers of that time. St. Augustine
provided a simple solution to it by saying that we can look at external objects through our sense organs, but
we can look in by reflection. Reflection here refers to looking at and understanding ideas and thoughts and
finding solutions to problems through the association of ideas within the mind. This was his solution to the
problem of how to look inwards. Because of this stress by St. Augustine on looking inwards and his method
of looking inwards, he is usually regarded as the first introspective psychologist. Introspective psychologists
therefore are those psychologists who encourage looking into the mind to find solutions to the problems
rather that observing outwardly things and trying to find solutions to problems by using the sensory organs,
as propounded by Aristotle. Plato and Socrates on the other hand were in favor of introspection.
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
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Another great contribution of St. Augustine is his explanation of consciousness which in his view is
constantly flowing. This also is related to his idea of introspection. He said tat consciousness flows
constantly in the form of a stream and it is up to us how we look into the stream to get ideas and generate
solutions to our problems. This stream of ideas is the basis of all knowledge. His ideas of introspection were
later used by psychologists such as Wundt and Titchner.
Avicenna
Avicenna holds very prominent position in the history of philosophy/psychology. He was born in
980AD and he died in 1037AD. Avicenna studied the Holy Qurran, physics, theology and medicine and
adopted a most rigorous method of the distinction between concepts.
Like the ancient thinkers, Avicenna was also of the view that human soul was non-material and
immortal. It does not exist in any material form, but nevertheless exists in the body. Therefore he rejected
the concept of a unity between soul and the body as given by Aristotle. To him the soul was a separate
entity and the body was a separate one. Avicenna was of the view that soul has its identity and its own
operative laws just as there are the operative laws of the body. In order to study the soul and discover
solutions to problems regarding the soul and the body, we need to study and become aware of the operative
laws of the soul. This in turn would then help in the process of gaining knowledge as well. Once the
operative laws of the soul are determined, it would be easier to know how the soul thinks and what governs
its actions and influences it to behave in a certain manner.
Avicenna was of the view that the mind has a tremendous effect upon the body, such that it can
make it sick or make it healthy. Here the mind and the soul are considered to be the same thing as the
ancient thinkers or philosophers thought. Avicenna thought that the soul has an influence to the extent that
if a person thinks that he is not well the body responds in a similar fashion and he actually becomes ill.
Therefore, soul is stronger than the body and it can dictate the body to behave in a certain manner. He
further added that strong soul or mind can not only affect a person's own body but it can affect others as
well. This is the case in hypnosis where a person tends to bring the other person under the influence of his
mind and makes him do what he wants him to.
Elaborating his views on the strength of the mind or the soul, Avicenna said that the soul had the
power to the extent that it ordered the body to move and the body obeyed. In other words the soul was
responsible for all the actions of the body.
Following the Aristotelian tradition Avicenna recognized four stages of motion. Motion here refers
to the process of performing a certain act. Based on these stages of motions, Avicenna tried to explain the
human actions. The four stages of motion are:
Imagination
Imagination is the process of thinking about something in which in turn leads to a desire of possessing that
thing.
Desires
It is the second stage of motion according to Avicenna which represents a person's willingness to achieve
something or to act in a certain manner. The person desires to posses something or to do something.
Impulsion
The desires of the person cause him or push him to do something. This is the third stage of motion as given
by Avicenna. The person is motivated by the desire to make a certain move which would satisfy the desire.
Movement
The last stage of motion according to Avicenna is the movement where a person actually makes the move
to satisfy the desire that was cause by his imagination and which has forced him to perform a certain action
or make a movement to satisfy it.
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
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In other words, imagination creates desires, which in turn propels the person and then the person acts.
Another of Avicenna's contributions is that he distinguished between primary and secondary perceptions.
Primary Perception
It is the subjective perception of a person that is based on his personal dispositions. For example if a person
is taking a walk in a garden and he has in his mind that there are snakes in that garden, he is quite likely to
confuse a twig with a snake. That is due to his personal disposition that there are snakes in that garden. In
other words, an illusion is a primary perception. This kind of perception is called subjective perception and
in Avicenna's terminology Primary perception.
Secondary Perception
Secondary perception is objective perception based on logical reasoning and rationality of observation. In
this case personal biases and disposition do not influence the perceptions which are totally based on
empirical evidence.
Avicenna's idea of primary and secondary perception was similar to what was later proclaimed by the
Gestalt School as "geographical reality" and "subjective reality."
As mentioned earlier, Avicenna showed the effect of soul or mind on the body. Therefore, he is
considered to be a great healer and a physician. He also showed that some sick people recovered from
illness by their will power and some fall sick because they loose the will to live. He also elaborated the
concept "Wahm" which plays a significant part in Avicenna's thought. "Wahm" is akin to what modern
psychologists, particularly psychotherapists describe as "nervous response." The modern psychotherapists
have explained that nervous response is the forerunner of many psychological and physical ailments. This is
what Avicenna had explained earlier. An example of nervous response or "Wahm" is the stress created in a
person, which ultimately has negative impacts on a person's health, behavior and psyche.
Avicenna was the first one to develop a system which looked at diseases form not just the physical
but also the psychological point of view. This is why he is considered to be a great physician as well as a
psychologist.
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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