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Fig 4.10 – Mental Chemistry

Text: Page 186

Advancing the associationism theory of his father that complex ideas were always the aggregate of simple ideas, John Stuart Mill offered mental chemistry as an option. In physics, he observed that chemicals combine and create an entirely different element. When Newton combined the spectrum of all colors, a white light was produced. The excitement of viewing mental processes in chemical terms was that ideas, like in chemistry, were created from many contiguous combinations of many experiences. John Stuart Mill believed he had emancipated the rigid mechanistic theory of his father. However, he also reaffirmed his father’s belief and those of early behaviorists that the mind was not active and autonomous, but rather a blank and passive recipient of the environment.

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