chapter  II
8 Pages

Understanding Human Nature: Philosophy, Experimental Psychology, Biology and Sociology

All teachers in their day play many parts. They are organizers of differing forms of human learning and inevitably they are engaged as technical experts in the assessment of the effect of their endeavours. This chapter argues that in the study of human motivation a progression can be traced from an emphasis on mental processes to a concern with conflicting instincts and from that to a preoccupation with social influences. The work of the biological psychologists was significant in its reminder of the complexity of human behaviour, of the possibility of ambivalence, and of the element of apparent irrationality and unexpectedness in human reactions. In the 1920s it was not realized that this sociological emphasis offered a clinical challenge both to psycho-analytic interpretations and to other forms of biological psychology. In the case of writers on human psychology who continued to favour metaphors of biological origin, the connotation of the term 'instinct' can be seen to have altered almost insensibly.