Descartes on Psychology

This paper discusses why Descartes believed that psychology cannot be a science like physics.

This paper discusses the concepts contained in Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy and investigates the different reasons why Descartes would assert that psychology is not a science like physics or other natural sciences. These concepts include that psychology is not made up of clear and distinct ideas, that it deals with the mind rather than objects, that human psychology is a reflex created by the interaction of the mind and body and that science requires that ideas be judged based on observation and experiments, something that psychology cannot achieve.
Meditations on First Philosophy is Descartes’ attempt to question everything around him and determine what can really be accepted as truth and what cannot. The one sure thing this is based on is that Descartes exists. The reasoning is that if he did not exist, he would not be thinking about whether he exists and so, he must exist. This is captured by the phrase cognito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am. Based on this, Descartes accepts this truth and attempts to follow it to see what else he can know for certain. Descartes then reflects on the truths and finds one characteristic that links them all, they are all clear and distinct. Descartes’ conclusion is that any truth made up of clear and distinct ideas can be known for certain.