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Meditation Center Presents Part 10 in Great Courses Series

mind body

By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center will show part 10 of The Great Courses series of lectures, Mind-Body Philosophy on March 29.

In this course, we have been tracing the history of thought on bodies and minds, always with an eye to contemporary scientific results. Psychology, as the science of the mind, is clearly a major part of that history.

There are three major claimants to the title of the father of psychology: William James, Sigmund Freud, and Wilhelm Wundt. All three developed their theories in the infancy of psychology as a discipline in the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. All three have influenced the trajectory of psychological theory and research to the present day. This lecture contrasts the work of James against that of Freud and then compares both to Wundt’s work.

William James’s foundational work, The Principles of Psychology, was published in 1890. For James, the primary concern of psychology is the issue of consciousness. He claims that a genuine science must be built on the phenomena of experience. The goal is an understanding of consciousness, and consciousness can only be revealed to us from our own subjective experience in introspection. According to Freud, the mental is divided into three realms: the conscious, the preconscious (that which can be retrieved from memory), and the unconscious. Given that map of mental territory, Freud develops a theory of basic forces: the id is the locus of inborn, biological instincts or drives; the ego, developed from the id in infancy, is the id’s interface with reality; the superego develops in early childhood as we incorporate the social constraints of parental influence. Freud’s approach is closer to the therapeutic model of medicine rather than a science. James and Freud’s theories have not fared well.

The third figure, lesser known, William Wundt, is a far clearer precursor of academic psychology as it developed in the twentieth century. He was looking for elements of sensation as they compounded into higher ideas. His approach was experimental. He didn’t rely on verbal reports but on a subject’s simple signals regarding subjective experience. His experiments are indistinguishable from those today.

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Patrick Grim has provided his students with invaluable insights into issues of philosophy, artificial intelligence, theoretical biology, and other fields. Professor Grim was awarded the university’s presidential and chancellor’s awards for teaching excellence and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video. Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


Video Presentation

Mind-Body Philosophy: Rival Psychologies of the Mind

Thu, Mar 29, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted

044 415 156 1950


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