All knowledge comes to us through the senses. This philosophy of how we arrive at knowledge is the basis of much theory and empirical methodology (empirical – Gk empeirikos, from empeiria experience). How is this philosophy expressed in psychology?
There is nothing in the psyche which does not first come to us through our senses. St. Thomas Aquinas expressed this philosophy as early as the thirteenth century. It is a theory of how we ‘know’ the world, and it opposes the concepts of heredity and innate ideas as explanations for how knowledge is acquired.
Environmentalism is an important working assumption underlying much of the empirical methodology in psychology, and a large subset of theory and research in most sub-fields of psychology. Thus, environmentalism is very much allied with experimentalism: Environmentalism manipulates conditions external to the organism with the view of observing reactions; organisms do not act of their own accord.
The above mentioned behavioural approach , in its radical form, exemplifies environmentalism because it eliminates a self-acting psyche almost altogether in favour of the observation of measurable stimuli and consequent actions.
In This Section