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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: Marxist Psychology (PSYL10092)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryWe will look at theoretical positions and empirical research directly influenced by Marxism, studying the contribution of particular psychologists, exploring particular issues, reconstructing particular debates, and studying philosophical dimensions of psychological theories and models.

We will explore the impact of Marxist philosophy on psychological theory and practice. We will predominantly be concerned with the psychology of language and higher cognition, but the philosophical and scientific conclusions will apply across all of Psychology.

There is no requirement of previous knowledge of philosophy or cognitive modelling.

Course description This course is 50% lectures and 50% seminar and small-group discussions of the readings. Advance preparation is essential.

Everyone operates with a set of philosophical assumptions, both inside and outside the laboratory, even if they are unaware of those assumptions and cannot articulate them. This course is all about exploring those assumptions in Psychology, from neuropsychology to education practice.

Marxism has been an influential philosophy, not least concerning scientific practice, for the last 150 years. Marxists see the world as a single totality based in movement and change, and emphasize the interconnectedness, mediatedness, complexity and specificity of that world. They prioritise the role of activity and practice, and the social and historical construction of individual cognition. A working human society is the most complex thing in the known universe. (Usually in Psychology we┐re told that the (isolated) human brain is the most complex thing; that assertion illustrates the problem.) Understanding psychology is all about making abstractions from such complexity, and Marxists have a carefully worked-out position on just this issue. The five weeks will contain: (1) Introduction to dialectical materialism and the implications for Psychology, (2) Philosophical issues in cognitive modelling, (3) The materialist program for language research, from Vygotsky onwards, (4) The Meshcheryakov Experiment: Soviet work on the education of blind-deaf children, (5) The history of the debate on IQ and human nature.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Research Methods and Statistics 2 (PSYL10126) AND Research Methods & Statistics 3 (PSYL10127)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesDegree major in Psychology and passes in Psychology courses at least to the equivalent of Junior Honours level in Edinburgh. Prior agreement with the 4th Year Honours Course Organiser
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Block 1 (Sem 1)
Course Start Date 17/09/2018
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 3000 word essay
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A working literacy in general philosophical terminology useful for psychologists.
  2. Ability to apply a Marxist approach relevant to understanding natural phenomena, cognition, and the emergence of the individual.
  3. Critical powers concerning the philosophical and ideological assumptions present in research.
  4. Skills in analysing the research concerning a particular issue.
  5. Skills in formulating a program of research for a particular research issue.
Reading List
Specially written book chapters will be provided in advance for each week┐s meeting, in addition to the readings below.

Week 1: Introduction to dialectical materialism and the implications for Psychology
Levins, R. (2006). Strategies of abstraction. Biology and Philosophy, 21, 741-755.
Ollman, B. (2003). Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx's Method. University of Illinois Press. Chapter 1.

Further background reading
Spirkin, A. (1983). Dialectical Materialism.

Week 2: Philosophical issues in cognitive modelling
Shillcock, R. (2014). The concrete universal and cognitive science. Axiomathes 24, 63-80. DOI 10.1007/ s10516-013-9210-y.
Ollman, B. (2003). Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx's Method. University of Illinois Press. Chapter 5: Putting dialectics to work: in Dance of the Dialectic.

Further background reading
Engels, F. (1896, 1898, 1925). Dialectics of Nature.
(This collection of fragments, mostly unpublished during Engel's lifetime give a flavour of scientific and philosophical debate at the time.)

Week 3: The materialist program for language research, from Vygotsky onwards
Bakhurst, D. (1991). Consciousness and Revolution in Soviet Philosophy: From the Bolsheviks to Evald Ilyenkov. Modern European Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 3.
Wertsch, J.V. & Tulviste, P. (1992). L. S. Vygotsky and contemporary developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28, No. 4, 548-557.
Shillcock, R. (submitted). The Schwa Sound in Language Use; The Philosophical Understanding of a Psychological Domain and the Case for a Critical Extension of the Cognitive Research Paradigm. Ms.

Further background reading
Mikhailov, F. (1976). The Riddle of the Self. Chapter 3. Man and his thought.

Week 4: The Meshcheryakov Experiment: Soviet work on the education of blind-deaf children
30-minute film, in class, on the education of blind-deaf children, in Russia in the 1990s.
Bakhurst, D. & Padden, C. (1991). The Meshcheryakov experiment. Learning and Instruction, 1, 201-215.
Meshcheryakov, A.I. (1979). Awakening to life: forming behaviour and the mind in deaf-blind children. Progress Publishers. Conclusion chapter.

Further background reading
Mikhailov, F. (1976). The Riddle of the Self. Chapter 2. Social and Individual Consciousness.

Week 5: The history of the debate on IQ and human nature
Deary, I.J., Lawn, M., Brett, C.E., & Bartholomew, D.J. (2009). Intelligence and Civilisation: A Ludwig Mond lecture delivered at the University of Manchester on 23rd October 1936 by Godfrey H. Thomson. A reprinting with background and commentary. Intelligence 37, 48-61.
Deary, I.J. (1999). Book review. Intelligence 34, 621-622.
Lawler, J.M. (1978). IQ, Heritability and Racism. Lawrence and Wishart Ltd. Chapter 9.

Further background reading
Charney, E. (2012). Behavior genetics and postgenomics. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 35, 331-410 doi:10.1017/S0140525X11002226
(A recent review, plus peer commentaries, addressing some of the complexities of the relationship between genetics and psychology.)

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Richard Shillcock
Tel: (0131 6)50 4425
Course secretaryMs Stephanie Fong
Tel: (0131 6)51 3733
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