A Brief History of Psychology I
from Descartes to Wundt

The Two Roots of Scientific Psychology

Although we could begin our history as far back in time as the ancient Greek philosophers (ca 300 BC), we will actually start with one man, living in France in the first half of the 17th century, who embodied both roots of scientific psychology: Rene Descartes.

Rene Descartes

Francis Bacon

As we will be learning, science is based on a combination of authority, induction from observations, and deduction. Because scientific theories are developed based on empirical observations and induction, we can never be certain that a given theory is true -- only that it does or does not do a good job of explaining and predicting those phenomena with which it deals. In the history of science, even some highly confirmed theories (e.g., Newton's mechanics) have ultimately had to be replaced when new data conflicted with theoretical predictions.

John Locke and the British Empiricists

Wilhelm Wundt: The Founding of Psychology as a Science