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Readings in the History and Systems of Psychology (2nd Edition) [Paperback]

James F. Brennan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 10, 1997 0136267971 978-0136267973 2

Designed for use on its own or in conjunction with any main book on the history/systems of psychology (including Brennan's History and Systems of Psychology). This anthology provides a representative sampling of primary sources — from Plato to Descartes to Freud to Watson — that provides a coherent exposure to the evolution of ideas within psychology. It is written for those students without an advanced academic background in history, philosophy, or biology.

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From the Back Cover

This unique collection of readings provides a resource of primary source material, affording a survey of the history and systems of psychology from pre-Socratic thought to the present. Selected for accessibility, the 24 selections are organized to offer a representation of the historical sweep of psychological interpretations.

After presenting approaches to the scholarly study of psychology's history, through an excerpt from Thomas Kuhn, the readings introduce the major themes of psychological inquiry in chronological fashion. The selections include the works of: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Wilhelm Wundt, Franz Brentano, William James, John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, Ivan Pavlov, John Broadus Watson, B.F. Skinner, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Carl Rogers.


  • Introductory essays for each group of readings provide important historical, social, and cultural background and context.
  • Sample questions encourage critical reflection on the issues raised by the authors.
  • Compatibility with most textbooks in the history and systems of psychology.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


The purpose of this book is to provide a selection of primary source readings to accompany the study of psychology's long history. From the time of ancient societies, intellectual writers have recorded their observations and interpretations of human activities, motives, and emotions. The progression of ideas that led to the post-Renaissance development of empirical science in Europe allowed psychology to assume its present, diverse form. Accordingly, the scope of twentieth-century systems of psychology may be best understood in terms of the evolution of Western thought from the time of antiquity.

While a textbook can provide the outline of this historical development, the writers themselves perhaps best document their thoughts on psychology. This collection of readings can supplement any textual exposition of the history and systems of psychology, and it offers a coherent perspective by itself as well.

After presenting approaches to the scholarly study of psychology's past, the readings follow a general chronology. Following the outlines of most textbooks, the selections introduce the major themes of psychological inquiry, initially considered by Greek scholars and subsequently modified by early Christian writers. As modern science grew out of the Renaissance, the place of psychological inquiry became a source of controversy that resulted in competing philosophical models of the nature of psychology, represented in the writings of Rene Descartes (1596-1650) and Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). These models followed trends of psychological views proposed by scholars selected from the intellectual climates of France (Etienne Bonnot de Condillac, 1715-1780), Britain (John Locke, 1632-1704; John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873), and Germany (Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804). The tremendous advances of the empirical disciplines, which culminated in the nineteenth century, led to the articulation of the formal study of psychology in the 1870s. This period is represented by the writings of Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) and Franz Brentano (1838-1917).

The remainder of the readings deals with the major twentieth-century systems of psychology: the American functional movement (William James, 1842-1910; John Dewey, 1859-1952; James Angell, 1869-1949), Gestalt psychology (Kurt Koflka, 1886-1941), psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939), reflexology and behaviorism (Ivan Pavlov, 1849-1936; John Broadus Watson, 1878-1958; Edward C. Tolman, 1886-1959; B. E Skinner, 1904-1990), and the third force movement (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1908-1961; Carl Rogers, 1902-1987).

A project such as this develops in competition with a wide range of faculty demands, and I want to thank those colleagues and research assistants who have helped throughout this project, including Bill Faw of Brewton-Parker College, Denis Nissim-Sabat of Mary Washington College, and Eric Vanman of the University of Southern California, who critically reviewed the material. I especially want to acknowledge the help of Diane Shaw and Tracy Foxworth of The Graduate School staff of Loyola University of Chicago for their invaluable assistance in helping me to meet my deadlines.

For their continuing help, I am grateful to my wife Maria and daughters Tara and Mikala, who have always been a source of support for these projects.

James F Brennan
Chicago, Illinois

Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 2 edition (July 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0136267971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0136267973
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #462,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A teacher's dream June 28, 2000
I purchased this book for a graduate course I took and now that I teach psychology I use it all the time. It is great for personal reference and also as assigned reading for students. You are able to give them essays from the great figures of psychology. Because it starts with the early guys like Plato you can extend student's understanding of psych past Wundt. Some of the essays are difficult to read and younger students have some trouble if they don't review them a couple times. But even still, I highly recommend this book.
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