2. Chapter Overview and Goals
Epistemology and Learning Theory
Reminiscence Theory of Knowledge
The Beginning of Modern Psychology
Other Historical Influences on Learning Theory
Psychology’s Early Schools
Summary and Overview
Branch of philosophy that is concerned with the nature of knowledge. An
epistemologist would ask the following questions:
a. What is knowledge?
b. What can we know?
c. What are the limits of our knowledge?
d. What does it mean to know?
e. What are the origins of knowledge?
The study of what is meant by "knowledge". What does it mean to "know" something as opposed to merely having an
opinion. This issue has been at the core of Western philosophy since before Socrates, since, until it has been answered,
all other questions become unsolvable.
The study of what is meant by "knowledge". What does it mean to "know" something as
opposed to merely having an opinion. This issue has been at the core of Western philosophy
since before Socrates, since, until it has been answered, all other questions become unsolvable.
4. Wanna know what Plato believed?
Plato believed that knowledge was inherited and was, therefore, a
natural component of the human mind. According to Plato, one
gained knowledge by reflecting on the contents of one’s mind.
Aristotle, in contrast, believed that knowledge derived from sensory
experience and was not inherited.
The belief that the mind is actively involved in the attainment of knowledge.
Rationalism, also known as the rationalist movement, is a philosophical doctrine that asserts that the truth should be
determined by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching. Rationalism has some
similarities in ideology and intent to secular humanism and atheism, in that it aims to provide a framework for social
and philosophical discourse outside of religious or supernatural beliefs
Branch of philosophy which emphasizes reason or intellect, rather than observation or sensory
perception, as the basis for knowledge and truth.
A branch of philosophy where truth is determined by reason.
In essence, rationalism was a philosophical theory of knowledge that thrived especially as a movement in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, its greatest
proponents being Renes Descartes (1596-1650), Benedict Spinoza (1632-77), and Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716). As a movement, rationalism was characterized by its
confidence in reason , and intuition in particular, to know reality independently from sense experience. Thus, rationalism was the polar opposite of empiricism
which asserted that knowledge could only be derived through sense experience. see Empiricism. In the nineteenth and twentieth century, the term rationalism has
somewhat become synonymous with reason (ie scientific reason), over and against all systems of faith.
6. Nativism / Empiricism
Nativism – The belief that knowledge is innate
Empiricism- The importance of sensory experience as the basis of all knowledge.
Nativism – (philosophy) the philosophical theory that some ideas are innate
In psychology, "nativist" is comparable to "innate," the "hard-wired" components of human psychology.
The view that some important aspects of perception and of other cognitive processes are innate.
Empiricism – the doctrine that says sense experience is the only source of knowledge. A belief that
experience alone is the source of all knowledge. Empiricism is essentially a
theory of knowledge which asserts that all knowledge is derived from sense experience. It rejects the notion that the mind is furnished with a
range of concepts or ideas prior to experience. In the thought of John Locke (1632-1704), the human mind is a tabula rasa (ie, a blank tablet)
at birth; thus, knowledge is acquired as the mind experiences external reality through the senses. Three principal British philosophers who
are associated with empiricism are John Locke (1632-1704), George Berkeley (1685-1753), and David Hume (1711-76).
in philosophy, a doctrine that affirms that all knowledge is based on experience, and denies the possibility
of spontaneous ideas or a priori thought.
Empiricism (greek εμπειρισμός, from empirical, latin experientia - the experience) is generally regarded as being at the heart of the modern
scientific method, that our theories should be based on our observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith; that is, empirical
research and a posteriori inductive reasoning rather than purely deductive logic.
Plato was Socrates’ most famous student. In fact, Socrates never wrote a word about his philosophy – it was
written by Plato. This is a most significant fact because the early Platonic dialogues were designed primarily
to show the Socratic approach to knowledge and were memories of the great teacher at work. The later
dialogues, however, represent Plato's own philosophy and have little to do with Socrates. Plato was so upset
by the execution of Socrates for impiety that he went on a self-imposed exile to southern Italy, where he
came under the influence of the Pythagoreans. This fact has important implications for Western people and
is directly related to all approaches to epistemology, including learning theory, that have occurred since.
Pythagoreans - The Pythagoreans were an Hellenic organization of astronomers, musicians,
mathematicians, and philosophers; who believed that all things are, essentially, numeric. The
group strove to keep the discovery of irrational numbers a secret; and legends tell of a member
being drowned, for breaching this secrecy (see Hippasus).
8. Reminiscence Theory of Knowledge
a mental impression retained and recalled from the past
recall: the process of remembering (especially the process of recovering information by mental
effort); "he has total recall of the episode"
Life review activity aimed at surfacing and reviewing positive memories and experiences.
The recollection of the experience our soul had in the “heaven which is beyond the heavens”
The “minds eye”
Plato was a nativist because he felt knowledge was inborn. and a rationalist because he believed
knowledge could only be made available through reasoning
One of Plato's students. First followed Plato's teaching quite closely and later
broke away from them almost completely. A basic difference between he two
thinkers was in their attitude toward sensory information. To plato it was a
hindrance and something to be distrusted, but to Aristotle sensory information
was the basis of all knowledge. With his favorable attitude toward empirical
observation, Aristotle complied an extraordinarily large number of facts about
physical and biological phenomena.
Differed with Plato in that…the laws, forms, or universals that Aristotle was
looking for did not have an existence independent of their empirical
manifestation, as they did for Plato. They were simply observed relationships in
nature. Second, for Aristotle all knowledge is based on sensory experience.
This, or course, was not the case with Plato. It is because Aristotle contended
that the source of all knowledge is sensory experience that he is labeled an
10. Laws of Association
The traditional laws of association, based on Aristotle, are:
Contiguity in time or space.
In the philosophy of mind, associationism began as a theory about how ideas
combine in the mind. John Locke suggested that each of us was born without
any innate capabilities - a Tabula Rasa - which learned to form
representations as a result of experiences, rather than of reason.
"Experimental Psychology", as David Hume (1711-1776) called it, was
concerned with studying the mind as a mirror of representations of nature,
constantly trying to make sense of the world.
Wrote De Anima – First history of psychology
With his death, came the end to empiricism in science.
Plato – incorporated writings into dogma of the church
Religion is defined as philosophy in the absence of dialogue.
12. Rene Descartes
Believed in a separation between the mind and the body. Viewed the body as
predictable, like a machine, but said the mind was a unique human attribute.
Belief in Plato’s earlier notion of nativism
(1596-1650) Wrote Meditations on First Philosophy and Discourse on Method. Rejected Aristotelian and Scholastic
traditions; Boosted rationalism .
Descartes: French philosopher and mathematician; developed dualistic theory of mind and matter; introduced the
use of coordinates to locate a point in two or three dimensions (1596-1650)
Ren Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and
mathematician. He is equally notable for both his groundbreaking work in philosophy and mathematics. As the
inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, he formulated the basis of modern geometry (analytic
geometry), which in turn influenced the development of modern calculus.
13. Thomas Hobbes
Opposed the notion that innate ideas are a source of knowledge. He maintained that sense impressions are
of all knowledge. With this belief, Hobbes reopened the philosophical school of empiricism and its
related associationism. He believed that stimuli either help or hinder the vital functions of the body. A
stimulus that aids in the vital functioning of the body causes a feeling of pleasure; therefore the person
seeks to experience this pleasure again.
Hobbes: English materialist and political philosopher who advocated absolute sovereignty as the only kind of government that could resolve problems caused
by the selfishness of human beings (1588-1679)
Thomas Hobbes (April 5, 1588 - December 4, 1679) was a noted English political philosopher, most famous for his book Leviathan (1651).
14. John Locke
Opposed the notion of innate ideas. For him, the mind is made up of ideas, and ideas come from experience. He indicated that if ideas were innate, people
everywhere would possess them, but they do not. Rather, different cultural groups differ markedly in what they think and believe. Thus, the infant mind at
birth is a tabula rosa, a blank tablet, and experience writes on it. The mind becomes what it experiences; there is nothing in the mind that is not first in the
senses. Simple ideas come directly from sense experience; complex ideas come from combining simple ideas. He was an empiricist with a rationalist
Locke: English empiricist philosopher who believed that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience (1632-1704)
John Locke (August 29 1632–October 28 1704) was a 17th century philosopher concerned primarily with society and
epistemology. An Englishman, Locke's notions of a "government with the consent of the governed" and man's natural
rights—life, liberty, and estate (property)—had an enormous influence on the development of political philosophy. His
ideas formed the basis for the concepts used in American law and government, allowing the colonists to justify revolution.
15. George Berkeley
Claimed that Locke did not go far enough. There was still a kind of dualism in Locke’s view that
physical objects cause ideas about them. Nothing exists unless it is perceived; thus to be is to be
perceived. What we call primary qualities, such as shape and size, are really only secondary qualities
or ideas. Ideas are the only thing we can be sure of. HE was an empiricist : what we experience
through our senses are God’s ideas.
Berkeley: Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop who opposed the materialism of Thomas Hobbes (1685-
George Berkeley (bark-lee) (March 12, 1685–January 14, 1753), also known as Bishop Berkeley, was an
influential Irish philosopher whose primary philosophical achievement is the advancement of what has
come to be called subjective idealism, summed up in his dictum, "Esse est percipi" ("To be is to be
perceived"). He wrote a number of works, the most widely-read of which are his Treatise Concerning the
Principles of Human Knowledge (1710) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713
16. David Hume
Agreed with Berkley that we could know nothing for sure about the
physical environment, he added that we could know nothing for sure
about ideas. We can be sure of nothing. Mind, for Hume, was no more
than a stream of ideas, memories, imaginings, associations, and
feelings. HE was saying that we only experience the empirical world
indirectly through our ideas. Even the laws of nature are constructs
of the imaginations... the “lawlessness” of nature is in our minds, not
necessarily in nature.
Hume: Scottish philosopher whose skeptical philosophy restricted human knowledge to that which
can be perceived by the senses (1711-1776)
17. Immanuel Kant
Despised Hume. Kant attempted to correct the impractical features
of both rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism can involve on the
manipulation of concepts, and empiricism confines knowledge to
sensory experience and its derivatives. Kant attempted to reconcile
both points of view.
Kant reasoned that that there must be innate
categories of thought – These categories of thought, or “faculties,”
are neither part of our sensory experience not derived from it. If
these thoughts are not the result of sensory experience, then they are
innate categories of thought .
German philosopher and founder of critical philosophy. Explored role of knowledge and mind.
Contributed to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics.
A large part of Kant's work addresses the question "What can we know?" The answer, if it can be stated
simply, is that our knowledge is constrained to mathematics and the science of the natural, empirical
world. It is impossible, Kant argues, to extend knowledge to the supersensible realm of speculative
metaphysics. The reason that knowledge has these constraints, Kant argues, is that the mind plays an active
role in constituting the features of experience and limiting the mind's access to the empirical realm of
space and time.
18. John Stuart Mill
Accepting the notion that complex ideas are made up of simpler ideas, mill added the
notion that some simple ideas combine into a new totality that may bear little resemblance
to its parts. For example, if we combine blue, red, and green lights, we get white. In other
words, Mill believed that the whole is different from the sum of its parts. Thus Mill modified
the empiricist contention that all ideas reflect sensory stimulation. For him, when some ideas
combine they produce an idea that is unlike any of the elemental ideas that make up the
19. Thomas Reid
Reid believed that the mind has powers of its own,
which strongly influence how we perceive the world.
He hypothesized twenty-seven faculties of the mind,
most of which were thought to be innate. The belief
in the existence of such faculties in the mind was
latter called faculty psychology.
The philosophical view that perception accurately portrays all
objects and events in the world.
In philosophy naive realism is used to describe the belief that
physical objects continue to exist when they are no longer
perceived. It can be contrasted with solipsism.
Faculty psychology is a view of the mind as having separate modules or
faculties assigned to various mental tasks. The view is implicit in Franz
Joseph Gall's formulation of phrenology, the disreputed practice of
measuring personality traits by measuring bumps on one's head.
Reid: Scottish philosopher of common sense who opposed the ideas of David Hume
20. Franz Joseph Gall
First, he assumed that the faculties were housed in specific locations in the
brain. Second, he believed that the faculties of the mind did not exist to
the same extent in every individual. Third, he believed that if a faculty
was well developed, there would be a bump or protrusion on the part of the
skull corresponding to the place in the brain that houses that faculty.
Likewise is a faculty was poorly developed, a hollow or depression would be
found on the skull.
Phrenology - is the long practiced study of head formations.
An early nineteenth-century fad that involved palpating bumps and
indentations on the head in order to judge the examinee’s
intellectual and personality traits. A forerunner of modern
theories of cerebral localization, phrenology nonetheless had no
Belief that there is a relationship between mental attributes and
the shape of the head. Started in 1800 by Franz Gall and Johann
Spurzheim that the brain was divided into areas of self-
esteem, destructiveness, etc. For a while it was fashionable for
people to go and have their bumps read.
Phrenology is a theory which claims to be able to determine
character and personality traits and criminality on the basis of
the shape of the head (reading "bumps"). Developed by German
Franz Joseph Gall (March 9, 1758 - August 22, 1828) was a German neuroanatomist and physiologist who was a
physician Franz Joseph Gall around 1800, and very popular in the
19th century, it is now discredited as a pseudoscience.
pioneer in the study of the localization of mental functions in the brain.
21. Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, a British naturalist, revolutionized biology with his theory of evolution
through the process of NATURAL SELECTION. He also made significant contributions to
the fields of natural history and geology. The theory of evolution, which held that all living
species have evolved from preexisting forms, aroused great controversy and brought about a
reevaluation of the position of humans in relation to all other living forms.
22. Hermann Ebbinghaus
A German psychologist who pioneered experimental study
of memory, and discovered the forgetting curve.
Invented his own “nonsense material” which consists of syllables containng a vowel between
town consonants (e.g., QAW, JIG, XUW, CEW, or TEB). The syllables were not the nonsense, It
was the relationships among the syllables that were meaningless. Thus we use the term nonsense
material instead of nonsense syllables.
How many exposures to learn something.. And how many to go back to and remember it
Theory that God or the ultimate nature of reality is conceived as some form of will.
the doctrine that will is the basic factor, both in the universe and in human conduct.
The concept that belief is a matter of the will.
Perception as modified and enhanced by one's own emotions, memories, and biases.
The appreciation of objects or ideas in their entire significance, as they are related to all other objects or
ideas, including the mind, which is thus considering them. Physiologically, apperception is the
consciousness associated with the activities of the intermediate areas, both anterior and posterior, as these
are affected by the activities of the sensory overflow areas. It is evident that a very nice balancing of the
impulses to and from the different areas is required in order that these different activities may be
coordinated; therefore apperception is a function only of neurons well developed and well related in
Apperception is realized when man's ability to think judges one thing by another and draws conclusions.
Thus, the other thing is established in the mind. The objects of apperception are of different kinds. Some
of them concern things that are certain by nature. Others concern things that are hypothetical in various
degrees. Apperception ultimately reverts to perception because the only purpose of having apperception is
to achieve knowledge of the realities of things. The process of going from perception over to
apperception and back again is therefore continuous.
25. Creative Synthesis
The elements of thought could be willfully arranged in any number of combinations. It is
this emphasis on will that his school or psychology is called voluntarism.
is a psychological approach that emphasized studying the elemental structures of
the view that behind the social and cultural realities we perceive, such as clothes
or food fashions, kinship organization and even language itself, deep structures
exist which, through combinations of their elements, produce the surface
complexity of the relevant phenomena. Poststructuralism retains elements of
structuralism (its interest in surface signs for example) but abandons the quest for
Introspection was a major tool used in structuralism. Trained to report immediate
experience. To name the object (called a stimulus error).
the theory that all elements of a culture are functional in that they
serve to satisfy culturally defined needs of the people in that society or
requirements of the society as a whole.
29. John Watson / Behaviorism
A branch of psychology that bases its observations and conclusions on definable and
measurable behavior and on experimental methods, rather than on concept of "mind.“
Behaviorism is a psychological theory first put forth by John Watson (1925), and then
expounded upon by BF Skinner. Attempting to answer the question of human
behavior, proponents of this theory essentially hold that all human behavior is learned
from one's surrounding context and environment.