托马斯·布朗 Thomas Brown
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标签: 次级联想律 勒格兰党派 斯图尔特 心理化学 托马斯布朗
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T.布朗

托马斯·布朗 [Thomas Brown 1778.01.09-1820.04.02],英国哲学家和联想主义心理学家。出生于苏格兰的柯库布里郡的柯克麦布雷克,逝于伦敦。他在爱丁堡长大,求学于伦敦,并在爱丁堡大学获得医学学位。

布朗是 J.斯图尔特的弟子和助手,并共同拥有道德哲学教授职位达 10 年之久。他的讲稿《人的心灵哲学演讲集》,在他死后不久即发行于世。他继承苏格兰的传统并把它转化为联想主义,对联想主义心理学的发展起了促进作用,布朗把联想主义改称为提示原则。

“提示”即由此及彼、互相引起,是心的主动作用而不是观念间的粘合力。可分两种:一种是简单提示,如其他人所说的联想;另一种是关系提示,即知觉或设想两个对象时立即觉察到其相互关系,这种关系感不是感觉而是全新的经验、判断、推理和抽象等的关系提示。他指出,“提示”引起复杂的心理状态,不只是集合,而是如同化学反应那样的溶合,它的性质已与原成分完全不同。这一“心理化学”的见解对其后的 J.S.穆勒和冯特均有影响。

传统的联想律指出了联想的一般条件。他则提出九条决定某一特定联想的“次级联想律”:

原先感觉持续时间的长短;
它们的强烈程度;
经常的程度(频率);
时间的远近(近因原理);
常相伴随,很少例外的情况,容易记忆
个人之间的天性差异;
个人情绪的暂时变异;
暂时的身体异常状况;
以往的生活和思想习惯。
其中前四条尤为重要,至今在心理学中仍占有一定地位。

布朗还是心理学史上著名的“勒格兰党派”三人小组中的第三位成员,其先行者分别为 T.里德和 D.斯图尔特。

Thomas Brown 1778-1820

Thomas Brown was born at Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire in the south west of Scotland on 9 January 1778 and died in London on 2 April 1820. He entered the University of Edinburgh in 1792, at the age of 14, quite usual at that time. During the summer vacation of 1793, he read the first volume of Dugald Stewart's Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, and this led him to attend Stewart’s lectures the following winter. Even though, under Stewart’s influence, Brown acquired a deep interest in philosophy and literature, he opted for a career in medicine, graduating MD in 1803 and thereafter going into practice. Five years later Stewart fell ill. This drew Brown back to philosophy, who was appointed to assist in the teaching of moral philosophy at Edinburgh. Then, in 1810, technically Stewart’s colleague but effectively his successor, he was appointed to the Chair of Moral Philosophy. Like Stewart, he quickly gained a reputation for brilliant and inspiring teaching.

Thomas Brown published his first work, Observations on the Zoonomia of Erasmus Darwin, M.D., at the extraordinarily young age of 20. This work sets out his understanding of philosophical method. His next publication, An Inquiry into the Relation of Cause and Effect, appeared in 1818, and in its own time was much better known. But his major work, Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind was published posthumously in 1820, because of his sudden death at the age of 42. The book proved immensely popular. It ran to no fewer than twenty editions, the last edition being published forty years after its first publication.

Throughout his writings, Thomas Brown argues against the notion that there are efficient causes in nature, or anywhere else, hidden from view. In the Inquiry he concurs with Hume in arguing that neither reason nor experience can ground the belief in the uniformity of nature that makes induction possible. To this extent Brown was unusual in being a philosopher clearly in the Scottish tradition who argued with rather than against Hume, though his admiration for Hume was not uncritical.

Though Stewart was Brown’s inspiration and mentor, he harshly criticized Brown’s works as ‘radically deficient’, no doubt because of their sympathy for Hume. Sir William Hamilton, who assumed the Chair of Logic and Metaphysics not long after Brown’s death, declared his philosophy to be riddled with ‘radical inconsistencies’ and ‘frequent misrepresentations of other philosophers’. Nonetheless, he had a considerable influence on later Scottish philosophers, notably Alexander Bain, Professor of Logic at Aberdeen from 1860-80, and a founding figure in modern psychology. Another admirer was John Stuart Mill who declared that ‘no better introduction to Positivism than the early part of his Lectures has yet been produced’. Despite this endorsement form an impeccable source, Brown’s works were never republished and are now scarcely known. In recent history, only George Davie’s The Scotch Metaphysics (London, 2001) offers an extended discussion of his views.

Recommended Reading… 

Thomas Dixon is currently preparing an edited selection of Brown’s writings for the Library of Scottish Philosophy.

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