Introducing the Basics

Psychology Before Psychology

How did Spinoza contribute to the history of psychology?

Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677) was a sephardic Jew living in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Now seen as one of the first modern philosophers, he was excommunicated in 1656 from the Jewish community for what was then considered heretical writings. Spinoza believed our primary psychological drive to be the promotion and protection of our own well-being and survival, an idea that anticipated evolutionary psychology. He also believed our three primary emotions to be pleasure, pain, and desire, all of which signal the state of our well-being. This anticipated Freud’s pleasure principle. Finally, Spinoza taught that our cognitive appraisal of any situation will determine our emotional response. In other words how we think about an event will shape how we feel about it. Therefore we can change our emotions by changing our thoughts. This is the basic principle behind cognitive therapy, pioneered in the mid- twentieth century by Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App