S-Space College of Education (사범대학) Center for Educational Research (교육종합연구원) 교육연구와 실천 Journal of the College of Education (師大論叢) vol.32/33 (1986)
心理學에 있어서의 意識의 問題 : The Problem of Consciousness in Psychology
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 사범대학
- 사대논총, Vol.32, pp. 43-60
- Following the recent decline of· behaviorism as the dominant force in American psychology, consciousness or mind has been reinstated as a proper subject of psychological study. This resurgence of interest in consciousness has brought with itself, perhaps inevitably, the problem of the mind-body relationship. Ever since Descartes separated res cogitans from res extensa, several solutions to the problem of "how is mind related to body" have been proposed. Descartes himself modified his initial strict dualism to allow for some interaction between mind and body(matter). His followers, however, vehemently denied, in one form of another, any kind of mind body interrelationship. The monadologist Leibniz did away with cartesian interactionism by advocating a mind-body parallelism (mind and body as two separate but perfectly synchronized clocks), while the pantheist Spinoza conceived of mind and body as two noninteracting aspects of the same fundamental substance. As the law of energy conservation gained acceptance in the early 19th century it became more and more ludicrous for anyone to talk of causal interaction of mind and matter. Thus Wundt founded his experimental psychology on a parallelistic base. Gestalt' psychology, though radically differing from Wundtian associationism, adopted a version of parallelism called isomorphism. In the meantime, another line of thought attempted to resolve the mind-body problem by resorting to monism, either materialistic or idealistic. The historical origin of behaviorism can be traced back to Hobbes' materialistic monism. Rebelling against Cartesian dualism, Hobbes reduced mind to bodily (brain) motion which was subject to mechanism and determinism. A 20th century version of materialistic monism, identity theory, proclaims: 'consciousness is identical with brain process.' No wonder that Smart, one of the theory's main protagonists, likened man to a physical robot. A rather peculiar form of materialism, known as epiphenomenalism, holds that mind is causally determined by brain (matter) and lacks any reciprocal influence. Thus mind becomes a mere product of matter. Through epiphenomenalism matter acquires an additional occult property-matter knows that it is matter! Quite understandably, William James rejected epiphenomenalism and returned to common sense to write his 'Principles of Psychology'. American psychology, in its overeagerness to establish itself as a branch of Newtonian science, unwittingly embraced materialism coupled with mechanism and determinism, one of the ignominious consequences of which was behaviorism. Unless cognitive psychology, now emerging as the new main current of American psychology, parts with any form of materialism by freeing itself from a rigid adherence to "scientific experimentation" (here I have in mind information processing theory), there will be slim chance of it becoming what it aspires to be-a science of human consciousness.