History of Psychology: Renaissance-Enlightenment




Exploration, discovery, and achievement. Occam's Razor, limitless universe, heliocentric theory. Less Church-dominated.

Galileo Galilei

1564 - 1642

Advocated control and measurement which provided the model for experimentation in physical and psychological realm. Championed freedom of inquiry and empirical science.


1588 - 1679

Believed in divine appointment and hereditary monarchy.


1596 - 1650

"I think therefore I am". Sought unified science through power of reason. Proof of existence is ability to think, therefore we should understand how we think. Body is largely self-regulating. Addressed many of the issues between the nativist-empiricist debate. There could be elements of both.

John Locke

1632 - 1704

Rejected innate knowledge in favor of experience. First British Empiricist. Children become who they are because of their enviroment. Only innate thing is pain/loss of pleasure.
[British Empiricist]


1632 - 1677

Opposed mind-body dualism.


Issac Newton

1642 - 1727

Broke things down into their individual components.


1646 - 1716

Humans have 25% innate knowledge but it is developed and enhanced by experience (the other 75% of knowledge).

Age of Enlightenment

1650 CE

The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state


1655 - 1753

Knowledge is only gained through experience. External world depends on perception (matter does not exist without a mind)

David Hartley

1705 - 1757

Mind and body are related biologically. External objects cause small particles to vibrate nerves of the body.

La Mettrie

1709 - 1751

"Man the Machine". Hedonistic. Only difference between man and animal is complexity of "machinery".

David Hume

1711 - 1776

Humans are part of natural world and can therefore be studied scientifically.

Immanuel Kant

1724 - 1804

Epistemological. A priori and a posterior

Schools of Thought


1554 - 1751

Doctrine that all natural phenomena are explicable by material causes and mechanical principles. A usually unconscious mental and emotional pattern that shapes behavior in a given situation or environment. Closely linked with materialism and reductionism, especially that of the atomists.

Universe reducible to completely mechanical principles—that is, the motion and collision of matter. Later mechanists believed the achievements of the scientific revolution had shown that all phenomenon could eventually be explained in terms of 'mechanical' laws, natural laws governing the motion and collision of matter that imply a thorough going determinism.
Man is measurable and predictable.



Neither fully natavist nor fully empiracist, this school of thought (not actually a school, I made it up) believed there were elements of both. Became incredibly common after Descartes's suggestions of dualism and continues through to Wundt. People realized that things didn't have to be "either-or" but that some/many things were "both-and".
-David Hume


1600 - 1776

The position that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical,[1] or that the mind and body are not identical.
The mind is a nonphysical—and therefore, non-spatial—substance. Descartes clearly identified the mind with consciousness and self-awareness and distinguished this from the brain as the seat of intelligence

British Empiricists

1650 - 1777