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Psychological Approaches – The History of Psychology

1. Before Wundt

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About this Lecture


This first lecture introduces Wilhelm Wundt as the founder of psychology as a science in 1879. It then moves to discuss the prehistory to this, including the use of the term ‘psychology’ by David Hartley to describe a theory of the human mind in 1749, and the widespread discussion of psychology topics in ancient civilisations across the globe. Mr Fairholm introduces a long-standing debate called the mind-body problem, which aims to conclude on whether the mind and the body are distinct or the same. Descartes is introduced as an early thinker on the concept of consciousness, distinguishing animals from humans based on their perceived lack of consciousness. One of Descartes’s theories centred around the human mind being immaterial, leaving the unanswered question of how it interacts with the body. The philosophical concept of materialism is introduced as a contrasting theory, proposing that the mind and the body are the same, advocated by Thomas Hobbes. The final discussion in this lecture centres around the idea of empiricism, proposed by John Locke as a method of collecting data and forming theories in scientific practice.


Mind-Body Dualism – In the philosophy of mind, mind-body dualism denotes either that mental processes are non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct.

Materialism – A form of philosophical monism which considers matter to be the fundamental substance in nature. Therefore, all things, including mental states and consciousness, are the result of material interactions.


In this course, Mr Ian Fairholm (University of Bath) walks through the history of psychology and its evolution from philosophical beginnings to modern science. The first lecture describes the evolution of psychology as a philosophical entity, as it develops prior to Wundt opening the first psychology laboratory in 1879. The second lecture explores the scientific practices enabled by the technological developments of the 19th century, which provided the basis for the early psychological theory of structuralism. Lecture three introduces functionalism, a key development in psychology supported by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Lecture four brings to light early psychology as we know it today, in the form of behaviourism. The fifth and final lecture works through three key perspectives which developed on from or responded to behaviourism: humanistic psychology, cognitive psychology, and social learning theory.


Mr Ian Fairholm is a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. One of his research areas of interest is the history of psychology and the issues, debates and approaches that surround the subject. Mr Fairholm’s recent publications have included investigations into the female autistic profile, treating anxiety and depression with and without addiction, adults grieving the death of a pet, and Sigmund Freud’s research on religion. He has also published papers in the fields of parapsychology, neuropsychoanalysis, perception and neuropsychology.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Fairholm, I. (2022, January 05). Psychological Approaches – The History of Psychology - Before Wundt [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Fairholm, Ian. "Psychological Approaches – The History of Psychology – Before Wundt." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Jan 2022,

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