This book is a re-introduction to psychology. It focuses on great scholarly thinkers, beginning with Plato, Marcus Aurelius and St Augustine, who gave the field its foundational ideas long before better known 'founders', such as Galton, Fechner, Wundt and Watson, appeared on the scene. Psychology can only achieve its full breadth and potential when we fully appreciate its scholarly legacy. Bruce Alexander and Curtis Shelton also argue that the fundamental contradictions built into psychology's history have never been resolved, and that a truly pragmatic approach, as defined by William James, can produce a 'layered' psychology that will enable psychologists to face the fearsome challenges of the twenty-first century. A History of Psychology in Western Civilization claims that contemporary psychology has overemphasized the methods of physical science and that psychology will need a broader scientific orientation alongside a scholarly focus in order to fully engage the future.
Bruce K. Alexander is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University. Curt P. Shelton is a Clinical Counselor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
1. Introduction: two histories of Western psychology; 2. Rationalism: Plato and the 'just' person; 3. Stoicism: Marcus Aurelius and the sufficient self; 4. Christianity: St Augustine and the incomplete soul; 5. Materialism: Thomas Hobbes and the human machine; 6. Empiricism: John Locke, David Hume, and experience as reality; 7. Evolution: Charles Darwin and Homo sapiens as a work in progress; 8. Medicine: Sigmund Freud and the world of neurotics; 9. Re-imagining psychology.