This book covers key movements that helped to shape psychology – from the early philosophical debate between rationalism and empiricism or realists and antirealists through to the emergence of psychology as a science and the ongoing debates about ‘objectivity’ and ‘truth’ and what a science of psychology should be. Often nuanced and complex, the author examines major conceptual issues in the history of psychology that continue to be debated and influence public policy and lay understanding. The latter stages of the book explore notions of individuality, hereditarianism, critical psychology, and feminist perspectives. While deeply rooted in human history, it is made clear that psychology, how it is conceived and practiced, has a bearing on our understanding of what it is to be human. Accessible, objective and above all comprehensive, this book will help students locate psychology in the wider field of science and understand the forces that continue to shape and define it.
Chapter 3: Science and Psychology
Science and Psychology
Before psychology became a science it had a difficulty to overcome: it had to demonstrate that it could even be a science. That has been the basis of its abiding neurosis—anxiety over not being considered scientific, which prompted the diagnosis of ‘physics envy.’ In the late 18th century Kant determined that psychology, defined as the analysis of mind through introspection, could not be an experimental science (Hergenhahn and Henley, 2014). Since it was not a physical thing, the mind could not be investigated objectively. Introspection was no aid since the mind would not hold still for analysis. Additionally, the introspective process itself would influence the mind, interfering with its independent observation. Furthermore, and perhaps most significant to psychology’s ...