Current Systems in Psychology History, Theory, Research, and Applications, by Noel W. Smith. Plattsburg, (New York: Wadsworth Publishers, 2001. 430 pages.)

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Amber Haque

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Abstract

This book is about systems in psychology. A system generally consists
of theoretical propositions and their methodologies. Most systems of
psychology, the author contends, have a theoretical orientation, but some
do not have coherence and unity. As far as methodology is concerned, some
systems use an eclectic approach, while others use a limited set of methods
in their inquiry into human behavior and mental processes. The author
defines a system as "an orderly and logical construction for dealing with
data and theories of the subject in a unified and coherent manner; it uses
a set of postulates (even if implicitly) and usually a single methodology"
(p. 4). The book consists of eight parts with 14 chapters. Altogether, ten major and six additional systems are described in various chapters that
are packed with not only historical perspectives but a thorough and critical
analysis as well. Additionally, an evaluative summary of each system, its
contributions to psychology and relationship with other systems, is also
given.
Part I covers an introduction to the systems, the historical background
and the logic of science. After the introductory chapter, which is an
overview of the whole book, chapter 2 presents a sketch of the older
concepts in psychology, starting from the time of hunter-gatherers and
herders to Hellenic Greeks. Together with the early and non-western
civilizations (e.g., Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian), this
chapter covers aspects of the Naturalistic Psychology of Socrates, Plato,
and Aristotle. The author examines the origin of mind-body dualism during
these stages of developments. It is pointed out that in the western world, the
mind-body phenomenon first appeared in the first or second century BC in
Alexandria when the study of nature was abandoned. Aristotle emphasized
the interaction of organism and environment, rather than internal factors, as
de- g forces for the individual. The term "psyche" was coined after
this period, when the intellectuals and the Christian theologians turned
inward, looking for explanations of human behavior, and this convention
dominated throughout the middle ages. Although natural sciences freed
themselves from theology, psychology remained bound to it until it got the
attention of philosophy. The author says that the classical systems in
psychology until early 1960s were primarily reactions to these age-old
questions. He also briefly explains the concept of the "Logic of Science"
while describing terms like mental constructs, its typtypes, criteria, the mindbody
dualism, and reductionism ...

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