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History of Psychology The Age of Rationalism Platos c 428-347 BC emphasis on individual differences is evidenced in his belief that humans differ in the powers they possess Some are notable for intellectual abilities others for their courage and others for their motivation Plato who devoted his life to the study of ideas argued that reason is the highest of human powers and that individuals so possessed should be the leaders of society On the other hand those possessed of great courage should serve as warriors In his ideal world which he called a republic individual capacities would determine the role a person plays in society For Plato the source of those individual differences is the human soul whose makeup is determined at birth Galen c 129-199 AD a Greek physician was also interested in the differences among humans Borrowing from some of the work of the physician Hippocrates Galen proposed that behaviors were caused by an overabundance of a particular kind of bodily fluid He decided that depressed people have too much black bile whereas apathetic people have too much phlegm These pronouncements about human behavior and ability were not the result of experimental investigations nor were they derived by any kind of systematic observations They were arrived at by the use of reason logic and common sense a philosophical approach to knowledge known as rationalism Galens views persisted until the sixteenth century Although ultimately discredited his theory is of historical importance because it illustrates a recognition of psychological differences among people and it explains those differences in terms of natural rather that supernatural causes Prescientific Psychology Because humans are part of the universe could they also be viewed as machines According to Ren Descartes 1596-1650 the answer was yes Descartes extended the mechanistic view to human behavior and viewed both the body and part of the mind as machines capable of interacting with-and influencing-one another This idea provided an excellent explanation for
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