Through the Rearview Mirror

Historical Reflections on Psychology

In this lively book, John Macnamara shows how a number of important thinkers through the ages have approached problems of mental representation and the acquisition of knowledge. He discusses the relevance of these approaches to modern cognitive psychology, focusing on central themes that he believes have strongly influenced modern psychology. This is not a neutral historical survey, but a vehicle for Macnamara's compelling and provocative arguments on the relevance and worth of certain aspects of psychological and philosophical thought.

The historical figures discussed are quite varied—from Plato to Thomas Jefferson to Sigmund Freud—and include numerous Christian philosophers such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The book assumes no previous background in the subject matter; Macnamara often simplifies abstract concepts via homespun examples (many using his beloved dog, Freddie). This is a quirky, engaging book, as well as the last work by a highly influential figure in cognitive psychology.

Table of Contents

  1. A Word to Readers
  2. Editor's Note
  3. Preface
  4. Acknowledgments
  5. 1. Introduction: Three Very General Observations on Psychology and Its History
  6. 2. Plato on Learning
  7. 3. Plato on Truth and Knowledge
  8. 4. Aristotle on Knowledge and Understanding
  9. 5. Aristotle on Perception: Three Questions
  10. 6. The Book of Genesis and Psychology
  11. 7. The Impact of Christianity on Psychology
  12. 8. St. Augustine of Hippo: Christian Platonist
  13. 9. St. Thomas Aquinas on Individuals and Concepts
  14. 10. St. Thomas Aquinas and Dualism
  15. 11. Duns Scotus and William of Ockham: The Cusp of the Middle Ages
  16. 12. Thomas Hobbes: Grandfather of Modern Psychology
  17. 13. René Descartes: Medieval Man of the Renaissance
  18. 14. John Locke: A No-Nonsense Developmental Psychologist
  19. 15. Gottfried Leibniz and Necessary Truths
  20. 16. Bishop Berkeley and the Consequences of Nominalism
  21. 17. David Hume: Some Consequences of British Empiricism
  22. 18. Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence
  23. 19. Immanuel Kant and the Foundational Stance in Psychology
  24. 20. John Stuart Mill: A Contemporary Psychologist
  25. 21. Charles Darwin: The Newton of Biology
  26. 22. Wilhelm Wundt: The Founder of Experimental Psychology
  27. 23. Franz Brentano: Intuition and the Mental
  28. 24. Sigmund Freud and the Concept of Mental Health
  29. 25. John B. Watson and the Behaviorists
  30. 26. Some Notes on the Gestalt Movement
  31. 27. Extroduction
  32. Notes
  33. Glossary
  34. References
  35. Index