Select three
individuals whose work contributed to the foundation of psychology and examine
in 3–4 pages some of the foundational ideas of the field of psychology.

By successfully
completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the
following course competencies and assessment criteria:


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This assessment looks
back at the thinkers and thought that form the foundation of Western
psychology, beginning in ancient Middle Eastern and western European history.
There, people not so very different from us wondered where thoughts and
emotions, those ephemeral and insubstantial things, come from. Their answer:
the gods. This belief sufficed until sixth century B.C., when individuals in
several places across the globe—the Buddha in India, Confucius in China, and
the Greeks—emerged with radically new ideas and a conception of mind, as well
as core questions that would become the center of psychology.


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Assessment 1 Context


Pre-Socratic philosophers began to investigate psychological
questions. However, it was with Socrates that ideas emerged
that shaped how we could answer these questions. Socrates held that all our
knowledge is innate, we already know what we will know, and this knowledge
resides in an immortal soul. This conception of knowledge and immortal soul set
up the mind-body split, or dualism, which has plagued and aggravated Western
thinkers (at least since Descartes).

Socrates had a faithful student, Plato, who
maintained Socrates’ dualism and downplayed the importance of our sensory
perception in gaining knowledge about the world around us, an idea that would
benefit Christianity and significantly delay the development of an
empirically-based psychology.

But then, in a turnaround, Aristotle, a pupil of
Plato, eventually supported the value of experience for gaining knowledge,
while dealing with many of psychology’s contemporary questions in a
contemporary way, though sometimes mixed with errors and folklore. (A story
goes that Aristotle thought that women had fewer teeth than men.)

Christian Thinkers

For close to 2000 years—20 centuries—there was little
development in psychology. The Church’s insistence on knowledge through faith
(and the existence of an immortal soul housed in a mortal body) stymied
empirical investigation of the world. There were some figures who thought

Saint Augustine, who believed that thought could transcend sensory experience
(echoing Plato).

Saint Thomas Aquinas, who attempted to adapt Aristotle’s thought to Christianity. In
doing this, he gave some validity to sense perception (an advantage to an
empirical psychology) but also held that we attain certain higher ideas only
through faith (harmful to an empirical psychology).

Rationalists and Other New Groups

But, progress can be repressed for only so long. In the 1600s
there began a mode of investigation we would eventually call science, a mode
vigorously but unsuccessfully opposed by Platonists and the Church. The
challenge came in two forms:

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