Re: What Is Psychology?

From: Stevan Harnad (
Date: Sat Nov 01 1997 - 17:30:13 GMT

> Psychology could be said to be the interaction of the physiological
> activity of the brain, mental processes and human / animal behaviour,

I don't think you want to think of interaction between brain activity and
mental processes (unless you are a dualist who thinks they're not one and
the same thing!).

> behaviour being something which can be observed, recorded or measured.

Yes, behaviour (and perhaps also brain function) give Psychology its
DATA. The question is then: How does Psychology explain the data: How
does it model our behavioural capacities (and perhaps also our brain

> Obviously animal behaviour is different to that of humans in many ways,
> and this is probably due to diferent, more simple, physiological brain
> activity, as well as a more strongly developed sense of instinct.

"Instinct" is a word (and concept) that has fallen into disfavour lately.
All animals evolved in the way that was adaptive to their ecological
niche. If we can think of instincts as evolutionarily prepared functions
in our brain, functions that we need not learn, because we have them
already, than the human species is the one with the largest and most
complex repertoire of "instincts," language being a prominent one among

> It uses a scientific approach in as much as it offers
> hypotheses which can be tested, although never actually proven to be
> necessarily true.

Correct. And I've spelled this out more in my earlier messages.

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