Psychology refers to both an academic and applied discipline that studies the mind and behaviors of human beings. Psychological research seeks to provide explanations on how people think, feel, and act. Some of the psychological applications include self-help, performance enhancement, treatment of mental problems, and other areas that affect daily life and health of human beings. Professor O’Brien has considered a number of useful psychological ideas in his lectures. Some of the ideas Professor O’Brien has considered include knowledge, Greek mythology in psychology, and physical reductionism and holism. Professor O’Brien has provided plenty of examples alongside these psychological ideas throughout his lectures. This discussion will consider knowledge, the Greek mythology in psychology, and physical reductionism and holism.
Knowledge refers to the familiarity with something or someone, including facts, descriptions, skills, information, or values that a person acquires through education or experience. It is inevitable to acquire values because values provide the basis for a person to make ethical judgments, that is, to distinguish wrong from right. This will ensure that a person behaves morally in the society. Education can enable individuals to become professionals in various fields, including marketing, as well as produces reliable politicians. People can be able to live comfortably in a democratic society upon getting relevant education. Professor O’Brien said that people can behave as commodities or intrinsic values upon gaining knowledge at school. According to Professor O’Brien, education turns people into commodities when produces individuals, who can work in various organizations as bankers, medical doctors, and accountants. This allows clients to buy the worker’s services, thereby turning the workers into commodities. Education can also help people understand themselves and the surroundings. Socrates and Plato are the common philosophers, who explain how human beings get knowledge for the purposes of understanding the world. Socrates employed questioning as a method of teaching people in the ancient society. The Socratic method of teaching ensures that people do their own enquiries and conclude on their own. Using probing questions is the best method of teaching people because they can make decisions independently (O’Brien).
Plato focused on how education can lead to the existence of an ideal Republic, where individuals have a high likelihood of attaining services satisfactorily. This philosopher believed that human beings have knowledge naturally because the soul is the source of knowledge. However, it is difficult to recognize the beliefs of Plato due to elaborations of the dialogue. According to Professor O’Brien, Socrates used a parable of the cave to explain reality, as well as to show that human beings acquire knowledge from their surroundings. In the parable of the cave, the prisoners could not move of the cave because chains restricted their movement. The prisoners could see their shadows on the walls of the cave and thought that shadows were real things. They will know the reality of nature once freed from the cave upon the removal of the chain that restricts their movement. Socrates used the restricted prisoners to represent human beings, who have not taken an appropriate step to understanding the truth of nature. Most people do not want to have access to knowledge, or they are not aware of the available information. Therefore, it is evident that the basis of Socrates’ education is remembrance. Plato argued that democracy will never work because of the inability of human beings to reason. According to Socrates, Plato’s suggestion was wrong because human beings can reason and understand the world upon getting enough education at learning institutions (O’Brien).
The Greek mythology in psychology is another significant topic that Professor O’Brien discussed in his lectures. Human beings behave morally and intellectually because of the immortal soul that exists within them. According to Professor O’Brien, the Greek mythology can explain how the Earth came into being by considering the presence of the immortal beings, Uranus and Gaia. Uranus is the father of gods while Gaia is the mother of gods, which are also immortal beings (O’Brien). Before the creation of the Earth and the rest of the solar system, the world was formless. This is contrary to the scientific theories, such as the Bing bang theory, passing star theory, and Nebula cloud theory that explain the formation of the solar system, including the Earth and other planets. Gaia was the Earth in literal terms, as well as a goddess and Uranus was the Heavens. The presence of Uranus and Gaia explains the origin of sexual life on Earth as a woman and man come together and give birth to offspring (O’Brien). The first son of Uranus castrated father to prevent him from having sex with Gaia. Because the generation consisted of sons castrating their fathers, the fathers were always jealous of their sons. Zeus was a skilful god, who did not undergo castration because of coming up with laws that discontinued castration of fathers by their sons. Therefore, natural laws that came into existence due to the will of Zeus (O’Brien).
Reductionism refers to the belief that explanation of human behavior can only be possible by breaking down the behavior into simple constituent parts. Reductionists argue that it is possible to understand human behaviors by looking closely at the simplest parts making up human systems, and using the simplest statements to understand the coordination of the parts. The basis of this explanation is the scientific assumption that people require the simplest fundamental principles to understand complex phenomena. Strong proponents of reductionism have a belief that psychologists should explain mental processes and human behavior within the theoretical account of basic science, especially chemistry and physiology. For instance, in physiology human beings are physical objects, which constitute of organ systems, such as skeletal system, respiratory system, reproductive system, digestive system, central nervous system, among other systems (O’Brien). Each of the organ systems constitutes of subparts, which constitute of complex organic molecules. The complex organic molecules in human beings constitute of simple molecules, which constitute atoms, such as carbon atoms. The atoms constitute of electrons and the nucleus, which constitutes of other subatomic particles, including the protons and neutrons. Therefore, the cause and effect of the simplest constituent parts determine the behavior of the entire organism, which is the whole part. In human beings and other organisms, the soul is the source of cause and effect, which results in the coordination of the simplest constituent parts. The soul is the immortal part of human beings (O’Brien).
Holism is the approach that focuses on the entire organism rather than the interactions of its constituent parts. Therefore, this approach is contrary to the reductionism, which focuses on the interactions of the constituent parts, to determine the behavior of the entire organism. Professor O’Brien said that the whole organism is greater compared to the sum of its constituent parts. For example, the parts of a blending machine cannot function when separate. When a person connects the parts of a blending machine, the machine will execute its function. However, if one or some of the parts have faults, the whole machine or organism cannot execute its functions. Therefore, reductionist approach takes precedence over holism because the constituent parts determine the behavior of the whole organism. A person cannot behave normally when one of the organ systems, such as the respiratory system fails to function effectively (O’Brien). The respiratory system will require intervention to enhance normal functioning of the whole body. Mathematicians contributed to the approach of reductionism by arguing that the world numerical. This implies that the constituent parts make up the entire object, and thus, the simplest parts are more significant as compared to the whole object (O’Brien).
In conclusion, Professor O’Brien made discussions regarding interesting topics, including knowledge, the Greek mythology in psychology, and physical reductionism and holism. These topics allow people to understand themselves and the surrounding word from different perspectives. Knowledge allows people to live morally and comfortably in the society.