In the August issue of Theory & Psychology, philosopher and historian of psychology John D. Greenwood argues that early American psychology was based on the notion of “strong psychological continuity.” Greenwood, of the Philosophy Department of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, presents his views in an article entitled, “Materialism, strong psychological continuity, and American scientific psychology.” This article builds on previous work by Greenwood, in which he argues for a re-evaluation of the import of the theory of evolution by natural selection for early American psychology.
The abstract for this article reads:
Historians of psychology commonly maintain that early American functional and behaviorist psychology was based upon two materialist achievements of the 19th century: the neurophysiological location of psychological faculties and the theory of evolution by natural selection. Yet early American functional and behaviorist psychology was based less upon these achievements than upon the principle of strong psychological continuity associated with them, according to which the psychology and behavior of humans and animals differ only in degree but not kind. This paper charts the historical development of the association between materialism and principles of strong continuity, noting that the neurophysiological location of psychological faculties and the theory of evolution by natural selection did not provide especially good reasons for preferring theories committed to strong psychological continuity.