William James And John Dewey

1061 Words Nov 5th, 2014 5 Pages
William James and John Dewey are well-known for their contributions to early psychology. Both were highly influential in the transition from mental philosophy to scientific psychology. This transition involved moving from a narrow focus of consciousness structure to the psychological study of the purpose, and processes of human functioning. These psychologists used their own reflections to attempt the separation of conscious experience into elements.
James conceived a more practical, and dynamic view of how human beings act. He developed a distinguishable definition of psychology, which identified pragmatism. He defined psychology as the science of mental life, regarding both its phenomena, and conditions (James, 1998, p. 139). The phenomena accounts for what is found in the soul, while the conditions were the antecedents of this mental life. James evaluated the spiritualist, and associationist schools of thought as the two most influential processes which explain the phenomena, and conditions.
Associationism is interconnected with empiricism; an individual must undergo an experience in order to learn, retain, and recall that experience. This theory views the construct of ideas, not the soul, as how individuals learn (James, 1998, p. 141). The alternative to associationism was the spiritualist theory. This was also called the soul theory, or idealism, which had been exemplified by previous philosophers. Spiritualists view cognition, and memory as not requiring previous…
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