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Fig 1.5 – Functionalism

Text: Page 10

In Principles of Psychology, James (1890/2017) rejected the Wundtian psychology that viewed experience as separate sensations bound by associations. For James, experience flows like a river, a stream of consciousness. In this way, James channeled Heraclitan philosophy and the philosophy of an ever-changing world of you cannot step in the same river twice. Functionalism, a counter to voluntarism, symbolized a new psychology flowing from inside the confines of a laboratory to the outside world.

Functionalism is concerned about what consciousness does rather than what consciousness is; function is more important than content. Consciousness results when habit and instinct are not enough; something more needs to be done to adapt to the environment.

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