Psychological Self-Help

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were originally experienced together tend to occur together. So,
observing events lead to ideas, then ideas lead to other ideas,
according to these "Laws of Association." Both Plato and Aristotle
grossly oversimplified human learning and thought. 
Unfortunately, Plato had more influence than Aristotle on
Christianity. Thus, the Christian religion set "man" apart from natural
law, i. e. since man (not women) was made in God's image and had
"free-will," man could not supposedly be studied scientifically. This
anti-empiricism, i. e. opposition to learning by observation, lasted for
1500 years! About 1600 philosophers started to speculate about the
nature of man again. Some thought there were innate ideas (from
Plato), e. g. Descartes and Kant; others believed ideas come from
experience, e.g. Hobbes, Locke, and Mill, very much like Aristotle...and
current thinking (Hergenhahn, 1982). For about 300 years, we
philosophized about learning. Empirical, careful research on learning
only started about 100 years ago, a blink of the eye in the history of
life. In general, humans have avoided learning about themselves. 
The Old Testament in the Bible described Adam and Eve as being
made by God's own hands (God was pictured as an ordinary man). All
the other animals were assumed (even by great philosophers) to be
very different from humans; they had no mind, no rational thought, no
language, no feelings, and no soul; animals were mechanical
machines. But in 1859, Darwin in Origin of Species challenged the
separation of animals from humans with his idea of evolution and
aroused interest in adaptation to the environment by his idea of
survival of the fittest. Evolution was another way, instead of God's
hand, to create humans and all other creatures. A species may come
into being and adapt by capitalizing on mutant changes and/or by
learning how to cope better. People suddenly became interested in
psychology, especially in learning to adapt. Learning was also
considered another sign of a mind, so psychologists asked, what are
the smartest animals? Was learning a mechanical process or a
thinking-symbolic-creative, self-controlled process? Is there a
continuum from lower animals to humans--do they think like us, as
evolution theory suggested, or are they inferior and different
The 1880's and 1890's brought some remarkable breakthroughs in
understanding learning. Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909), a German
psychologist, described the laws of learning and forgetting by
experimentally studying his own memorization of thousands of
nonsense syllables. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) was a brilliant,
systematic, Russian physiologist who won the 1904 Nobel Prize for his
studies of the digestive and nervous systems. For the next 30 years,
he carefully explored a kind of learning he called "conditioned reflex"
(classical conditioning), which he believed was the basis of all acquired
habits and thoughts. At about the same time, a young American
studying under William James, Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949),
established the "Law of Effect," which states that voluntary
(controllable, unlike Pavlov's reflexes) behavior followed by a
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