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Two Roman Proto-Psychologist, Essay Example

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Claudius Galen (Kagan, 1998) – A Proto-Neuroscientist

Galen believed that human temperaments could be charted based on a mix of the Four Elements. Equilibriums between the hot-cold and wet-dry could yield a total of four temperaments. Ideally, the personality, balances these characteristics. In as less balanced personality, hot, cold, wet, or dry dominate the rest or one pair dominates the other pair. Galen related this paradigm to the body where imbalances in “humors” created physical illness so did imbalances in temperaments created diseases of the mind. Although Galen was an accomplished physician and even understood neurology to some extent, he still failed to bring the mind-body duality into a unified comprehension of the psyche. Nevertheless, even today neuroscientists still struggle with the same problem.

Plutarch (Duff, 2002) – A Proto-Personality Theorist

Plutarch wrote Parallel Lives. Parallel Lives is a collection of biographies of famous Greco-Romans. The aim of his writing was to investigate the morality of each subject. They were written in pairs so as to understand them through comparative analytics. For example, one of his subjects was Alexander the Great. Plutarch illustrated how good and bad character could influence the course of a person’s life. Even though his subjects were all famous, he hardly looked at the historical impact of their personalities. Instead, Plutarch focused on the personal impact of character. In so doing, he often analyzed the smaller events and behaviors in their lives as a method of illustrating certain character traits. Interestingly, he often equated physical appearance with character traits.

References

Kagan, J. (1998). Galen’s Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature. New York: Basic Books.

Duff, T. (2002). Plutarch’s Lives: Exploring Virtue and Vice. UK: Oxford University Press.

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