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This is an e-text about the historical and philosophical background of Psychology.  It was originally written for the benefit of my students at Shippensburg University, but I hope that it helps anyone with an intellectual interest in the field.  The material is original and copyrighted by myself, and any distribution must be accompanied by my name and the copyright information.  For personal educational use, it is free to one and all.  Please direct your comments to me at

Note:  Main chapters are in bold; shorter sections, readings, maps, and timelines are in regular type.

Quick links:

Part One:  The Ancients

Psyche and Eros

The Presocratics

The Alphabet
Two Poems by Sappho

Timeline:  From 600 BC to 200 BC
Map:  Ancient Mediterranean

Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle

Plato Selection:  Allegory of the Cave

Logical Fallacies

Kiss Hank's Ass, by Rev. Jim Huber (off-site)

Epicureans and Stoics

A Letter from Epicurus
Selections from Epictetus

Timeline:  From 1 AD to 400 AD
Map:  Roman Empire 116 AD

The Roman Empire

Part Two:  The Rebirth

The Middle Ages

A Letter from Heloise to Abelard

Timeline:  From 1000 to 1400
Map:  Europe 1278

The Beginnings of Modern Philosophy

A Letter from Galileo Galilei
RenÚ Descartes Selection: Meditations
Quotations from John Comenius

Timeline:  From 1400 to 1800
Map:  Europe 1700


The Enlightenment

August Comte's Calendar
Benedict Spinoza's Emotions


David Hume and Immanuel Kant

The Rights of Man
The Rights of Woman


Overlapping Moralities

Part Three:  The 1800's

Timeline:  The 1800s
Map:  Europe 1815

Early Medicine and Physiology

The Hippocratic Oath
Phrenology diagram
A Brief History of Psychopharmacology

Charles Darwin and Evolution

Charles Darwin Selection:  Descent of Man
John, Mary, and the Komodo Dragon

The Romantic Philosophers

The Quotable Friedrich Nietzsche
Thus SpokeZarathustra

The Beginnings of Psychology

Sir Francis Galton Selection: Hereditary Talent....
The History of Statistics

Wilhelm Wundt and William James

William James Selection:  Consciousness
Free will

Part Four:  The 1900's

Timeline:  The 1900s
Map: Europe 1914

Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud Selection:  The Unconscious


B. F. Skinner Selection
Walt Whitman There was a Child...

Gestalt Psychology

Kurt K÷hler Selection:  Gestalt Psychology Today
Carl Rogers Selection:  The Organization of Personality

Phenomenological Existentialism

James Joyce Selection: A Portrait...
Romance:  A Partial Analysis

Modern Medicine and Physiology

A Brief History of the Lobotomy

The Cognitive Movement

In addition to the primary sources mentioned within the text itself, I am indebted to several secondary sources as well:

Will and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization.
B. R. Hergenhahn's An Introduction to the History of Psychology.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (various editions).
Robert Audi's (editor) The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy.
William Sahakian's History of Philosophy.
Colin Mcevedy's Penguin Atlas of (Ancient/Medieval/Modern) History.
Kinder and Hildemann's Anchor Atlas of World History.
My own Personality Theories e-text.

All errors are, of course, mine, and I would be indebted to any alert readers for corrections, especially of factual material.

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