Chapter 5-Empiricism, Sensationalism, And Positivism Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 5-Empiricism, Sensationalism, And Positivism Deck (50)
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What is the definition of empiricism in the text, and what are its general characteristics?

It is the epistemology that asserts that the evidence of sense constitutes the primary data of all knowledge; that knowledge cannot exist in this evidence has first being gathered; and that all subsequent intellectual processes must use as evidence in only this evidence in framing valid propositions about the real world

Characteristics: sensory experience constitutes the primary data of all knowledge; it does not say that such experience alone constitutes knowledge

Knowledge cannot exist until sensory evidence has first being gathered; so for the empiricist, attaining knowledge begins with sensory experience.

All subsequent intellectual processes must focus on only sensory experience in formulating propositions about the world. Thus, it is not the recognition of mental processes that distinguishes the imperial system on the rationalist; rather, it is what those thought processes are focused on


Believed that the primary motive in human behavior is the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The function of government is to satisfy as many human needs as possible and to prevent humans from fighting with each other. Believed that all human activity, including mental activity, could be reduced to atoms in motion; therefore, he was a materialist

Thomas Hobbes


Describe Hobbs position with respect to empiricism

Rejected Bacons inductive method in favor of the deductive method. Agreed with bacon on the importance of sensory experience. Excepted Descartes deductive method but rejected his concept of innate ideas. For Hobbs, all ideas came from experience or, more specifically, from sensory experience


Describe Hobbs position with respect to materialism

He was a materialist. Because all that exists is matter and motion, he thought it absurd to postulate a nonmaterial mind, as Descartes had done.

Also called mental phenomena could be explained by the sense experiences that result when the motion of external bodies stimulates the sense receptors, thereby causing internal motion. For Hobbs, the mind was nothing more than the sum total of a person's thinking activities-that is, a series of motion is within the individual. He was a physical monist; he denied the existence of a nonmaterial mind


Describe Hobbs position with respect to psychological phenomena

Attention was explained by the fact that as long as sense organs retain the motion caused by certain external objects, they cannot respond to others

Imagination was explained by the fact that sense impressions decay overtime so imagination is nothing more but decaying sense

When a sense impression had decayed for a considerable amount of time, it is called memory

Dreams also have a sensory origin, the imaginations of them that sleep are those we call dreams the reason that they are typically so vivid is because during sleep there are no new sensory impressions to compete with the imagination


Describe Hobbs position with respect to motivation

External objects not only produce sense impressions but also influence the vital functions of the body. Those incoming impressions that facilitate vital functions are experienced as pleasurable, and the person seeks to preserve them or to seek them out. Conversely, since impressions incompatible with the vital functions are experienced as painful, and the person seeks to terminate or avoid them.

Human behavior is motivated by appetite the seeking are maintaining of pleasurable experience, and eversion the avoidance or termination of painful experiences. In other words, Hobbes accepted a hedonistic theory of motivation


Describe Hobbs position with respect to free will

With his deterministic view of human behavior, there was no place for free will. People may believe they are choosing because at any given moment they may be confronted with a number of appetite and aversions and therefore there may be conflicting tendencies to act. He referred to the recognition of such conflicting tendencies as deliberation and to the behavioral tendency that survives that deliberation as will.

Will was defined as the action tendency that prevails when a number of such tendencies exist simultaneously. What appears to be choice is nothing more than a verbal label we used to describe the attractions and aversions we experience while interacting with the environment


Describe Hobbs position with respect to complex thought processes

Hobbes attempted to explain trains of thought, by which he meant the tendency of one thought to follow another in some coherent manner. He introduced the law of contiguity first proposed by Aristotle. That is, events that are experienced together are remembered together and are subsequently thought of together.


And empiricist who denied the existence of innate ideas but who assumed many nativisticly determined powers of the mind. Distinguished between primary qualities, which cause sensations that correspond to actual attributes of physical bodies, and secondary qualities, which cause sensations that have no counterparts in the physical world. The types of ideas postulated by him included those caused by sensory stimulation, those caused by reflection, simple ideas, and complex ideas, which were composites of simple ideas

John Locke


Describe locks position on empiricism

He was an empiricist Who influenced most of the subsequent British empiricists, more so than Hobbs did


Describe locks position on the mind-body distinction

He rejected Hobbs physical monism and accepted a mind body dualism. Where is Hobbs equated mental images with the motions in the brain that were caused by external motions acting on the sense receptors, lock was content to say that somehow sensory stimulation caused ideas. He washed his hands of the question as to how something physical could cause something mental-it just did


Describe locks position on innate ideas

He was opposed to innate ideas, and because it was mainly clergymen who excepted the innateness of morality, by attacking the existence of innate ideas, he was attacking the church.

He observed that if the mind contained innate ideas, then all humans should have those ideas, and clearly they do not

The ideas that humans have come from experience according to Locke


Describe locks position on sensation and reflection

For lock, an idea was simply a mental image that could be employed while thinking.

All ideas come from either sensation or reflection, in other words ideas result either by direct sensory stimulation or by reflection on the remnants of prior sensory stimulation.

Thus, the source of all ideas is sensation, but the ideas obtained by sensation can be acted on and rearranged by the operations of the mind, thereby giving rise to new ideas


Describe locks position on simple and complex ideas

Simple ideas, whether from sensation or reflection, constitute the atoms or corpuscles of experience because they cannot be divided or analyzed further into other ideas

Complex ideas are composites of simple ideas and therefore can be analyzed into their component parts, or simple ideas.

When the operations of the mind are applied to simple ideas through reflection, complex ideas are formed

The mind can either create nor destroy ideas, but it can arrange existing ideas in an almost infinite number of configurations


Describe locks position on emotions

He maintained that the feelings of pleasure or pain accompanied both simple and complex ideas. The other passions or emotions such as love, desire, joy, hatred, sorrow, anger, fear, despair, envy, shame, and hope we're all derived from the two basic feelings of pleasure and pain.

Things that cause pleasure are good, and things that cause pain are evil. The greatest good was the freedom to think pleasurable thoughts.

Therefore, like Hobbs, his theory of human motivation was hedonistic


Describe locks position on primary and secondary qualities

Primary and secondary qualities referred to characteristics of the physical world; what distinguish them was the type of psychological experience they caused.

Following Boyle, lock referred to any aspect of a physical object that had the power to produce an idea as a quality. Primary qualities have the power to create in us ideas that correspond to actual physical attributes of physical objects-for example, the ideas of solidity, extension, shape, motion or rest, and quantity. With primary qualities, there is a match between what is physically present and what is experienced psychologically

The secondary qualities of objects also have the power to produce ideas, but the ideas they produce do not correspond to anything in the physical world. The ideas produced by secondary qualities include those of color, sound, temperature, and taste


The rudimentary mental experience that results from the stimulation of one or more sense receptors



According to lock, the ability to use the powers of the mind to creatively rearrange ideas derived from sensory experience



The mental remnants of sensations

Simple ideas


Configurations of simple ideas

Complex ideas


According to lock, that aspect of a physical object that has the power to produce an idea



Locks observation that warm water will feel either hot or cold depending on whether a hand is first placed in hot water or cold water. Because water cannot be hot and cold at the same time, temperature must be a secondary, not a primary, quality

Paradox of the basins


Describe locks position on Association of ideas

He used association to explain the faulty beliefs that can result from accidents of time or circumstance. He called the belief that resulted from associative learning a degree of madness because they were in opposition to reason.

In addition to ideas that are clustered in the mind because of some logical connection among them, some ideas are naturally associated, such as when the owner of baking bread causes one to have the idea of bread. The types of associations that constitute a degree of madness are learned by chance, custom, or mistake. These associations lead to errors in understanding, whereas natural associations cannot

Example of an unreasonable belief: a person who eats too much honey become sick and thereafter avoids even the thought of honey, or a person undergoing painful surgery will develop and aversion to the surgeon


The believe that the laws of association provide the fundamental principles by which all mental phenomena can be explained



Describe locks position on education

His book had a profound and long lasting influence on education throughout the Western world

By insisting that nurture or experience, was much more important than nature, or innate ability, for character development, his views on education were in accordance with his empirical philosophy.

Important education took place both at home and at school. He encouraged parents to increased stress tolerance in their children through a process he called hardening, by having them sleep on hard rather than soft beds. Exposing children to moderate amounts of coldness and wetness would also increase tolerance for the inevitable hardships of life. Crying should be discouraged with physical punishment if necessary. Parents should provide their children with sufficient sleep, food, fresh air, and exercise because good Health and effective learning are inseparable

In the classroom, mild physical punishment of students was advocated but severe physical punishment was not because of learning occurs under aversive conditions, it will be avoided both in school and beyond


Describe locks position on government

Because he did not believe in innate ideas or innate moral principles, he did not believe that people should seek the truth for themselves rather than having it imposed on them. For this and other reasons, empiricism was considered to be a radical movement that sought to replace religion based on revelation with natural law. He proposed a government by and for the people and was accepted enthusiastically by the 19 century utilitarians, and it was influential in the drafting of the US Declaration of Independence


Describe Berkeleys ideas with respect to his theory of distance perception

Offered an empirical explanation of the perception of distance, saying that we learn to associate the sensations caused by the convergence and divergence of the eyes with different distances

Believe that a person who was born blind and was later able to see would not be able to distinguish a cube from a triangle because such discrimination requires the association of visual and tactile experiences and such a person would also be incapable of perceiving distance because many sensations must be associated to judge the proper distance of an object.

The cues for distance are learned through the process of association


Disagreed with his father James that all complex ideas could be reduced to simple ideas. Proposed the process of mental chemistry according to which complex ideas could be distinctly different from the simple ideas, or elements, that constituted them. Believed strongly that a science of human nature could be and should be developed

John Stuart Mill


The belief that the best society or government is one that provides the greatest good or happiness for the greatest number of individuals



The process by which individuals sensations can combine to form a new sensation that is different from any of the individual sensations that constitute it

Mental chemistry