Mind and Body

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Mind and Body Much of the intellectual history of psychology has involved the attempt to come to grips with the problem of mind and body and how they interact. While the philosophical distinction between mind and body can be traced back to the Greeks, it is due to the influential work of René Descartes, (written around the 1630’s) that we owe the first systematic account of the mind/body relationship. When Descartes' friend and frequent correspondent, Marin Mersenne, wrote to him of Galileo's fate at the hands of the Inquisition, Descartes immediately suppressed his own treatise. As a result, the world's first extended essay on physiological psychology was published only well after its author's death. In this essay, he proposed a mechanism for automatic reaction in response to external events. According to his proposal, external motions affect the peripheral ends of the nerve fibrils, which in turn displace the central ends. As the central ends are displaced, the pattern of interfibrillar space is rearranged and the flow of animal spirits is thereby directed into the appropriate nerves. This is the reason he has been credited with the founding of the reflex theory. Descarte was the first to talk about mind/body interactions, and thus had a great influence in later psychologists and thinkers. He proposed that not only body can influence mind, but that mind could also affect body. Years later, the work of Nicolas Malebranche was probably the most influential provider of occasionalism. Occasionalism deals with the contradiction that if the nature of causality is such that causes and effects must have a necessary connection and be of a similar type, then mind/body interactionism is unsound. He argued that both of Descartes' substances, mind and body, are causally ineffective. His belief was that G’d is the one and only true cause. There is no influence of mind on body or of body on mind. “In order to retain the notion of God as the one true cause without sacrificing the idea of causality as operative in both the mental and the physical spheres, Benedictus de Spinoza abandoned Descartes' two-substance view in favor of what has come to be called double-aspect theory.” Double-aspect theories are based on the notion that the mental and the physical are simply different aspects of one and the same substance. Nonetheless, he agreed with De... ... middle of paper ... ...ssembled a theory of moral development. The theory is based on standards of moral judgement. According to Piaget these cognitive abilities develop only as the child progresses through developmental stages. Kohlberg’s theory is too divided into stages. He proposed three major levels of moral reasoning, or development. According to Kohlberg, his three stages occur in that same order in all cultures. Development is closely related to socialization, because as we have discussed earlier, nurture, or the environment plays a major role in the development of an individual. Socialization the perceptual “process of shaping an individual’s behavior patterns, values, standards, skills, attitudes, and motives to conform to those regardless as desirable in a particular society.” Sexuality is closely related to socialization. Psychologists differ in their approaches towards development because the view it from distinct points of view. Piaget, for example, proposed a theory of the cognitive development of children, while Erikson proposed a theory based on the psychosocial development of individuals. Although Kohlberg based his theory on Piaget’s, his theory focused on moral reasoning.

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