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The Varied History and Future of Psychology as Science and Philosophy

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Essay title: The Varied History and Future of Psychology as Science and Philosophy

The Varied History and Future of Psychology as Science and Philosophy

As events in history unfold, they have ways of appearing to be part of one simultaneous thrust of coordinated progress. Perhaps as part of one view of evolution, individuals are inclined to regard those developments and occurrences which transpire during their lives as somehow interrelated, interdependent, and principally part of the same body of human thought and ideology. This is likely the philosophy which causes us to regard the current state of psychology as a diffuse but centrally originated discipline of science. By working from the perceptions of those who existed simultaneous to some of our biggest intellectual and neurological leaps, we seem to be grounded in the idea that there is a Diaspora, in effect, of the fundamental underpinnings in the science and that our changing views have simply drawn certain strands in widely contrary directions. This, the field of clinical psychology would contend, is a misunderstanding of the diverse and distinctively partitioned psychological discipline.

Psychology practice in America is now an endlessly multiplicative spectrum of forms and forums, but its history is most often told by those at the academic round tables, whose interest in the pervasion of specific scientific, religious or social standards in the field sometimes sparks a narrowness of retrospective. This is to say that there is no single history of psychology, which has experienced both collective variation points in special moments, theories, and individuals, but which has also largely been forged upon the diffuseness of events and progressive patterns in human history. To this end, “it is now generally recognized that there is more than one interpretation of the history of American psychology... one step further... there is, in fact, more than one definition of psychology in common currency.” (Taylor, X)

As such, there is an automatic difficulty in reconciling the claims of some historical accounts with those of others. For example, more empirically inclined traditions of thought are certainly predisposed to reject any history of psychological evolution that includes deference to scientifically unfounded psychotherapy. And contrarily, there are certain overlaps in every history which point to an occasional inevitability in reconciliation between these two outlets. To some, in fact, this collision of concepts should be seen as the initiation of psychology as a science itself. Accordingly, it may be argued that “when psychology became an autonomous field of research it did not invent its concepts and problems out of the blue but took them over from already existing fields like philosophy and physiology.” (Danziger, 17) This prompts us to consider the history of psychology as something of a synthesis and consequent discourse toward improved validity.

As Feist argues, “the history of the psychology of science has been a struggle for existence. If we wish to move away from struggle and toward a comfortable existence, then we need to learn lessons from the other disciplines that successfully have made the transition from fledgling field to fully established scientific dispute.” (Feist, 92) It is for this reason primarily that the history of psychology so remarkably focuses on the transition in perspective which leaps beyond classical conceptions of psychology as part of some philosophical discourse. Instead, this discussion will show the various moments and ideas in history which have more closely tied psychology to such established fields as the social sciences and biological disciplines. Through its important historical basis in philosophy to its eventual interdependence with clinical principles concerning chemical and neurological processes, we can see that the growth of psychology from niche field to crucial science is one which is still ongoing.

We consider thus, the history of academic (or laboratory) Psychology and of clinical psychology both. The former is essentially a school of thought which draws its history through scientific developments, growing neurological understanding, and a strict concession only to empirical evidence. The latter relates to direct clinical therapy, which is considered the most comfortable confine for psychoanalysis. Though its parameters are far more abstract than those of laboratory psychology, it is nonetheless controlled by an integration of psychophysics and philosophy. With regard to the intrinsic relationship between psychology and culture, we also consider that there is a history reserved for American folk psychology that differs dramatically from the more scientific perspective in its humanistic spirituality, which is a prime operant over more empirical and academic terms.

To the central argument of this discussion, Brennan contends that “by the

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