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The Great Ideas of Psychology

Get a complete overview of the exciting field of psychology in this comprehensive course that explains the fascinating debates over the continuing mysteries of the mind.
The Great Ideas of Psychology is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 70.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Big Picture This is a response to a popular negative review, I am sharing it here as well, because I want to make sure that others are able to distinguish between personal preference and opinion, which might be biased and unfair, and unduly influence them to miss out on such a wonderful educational and enlightening lecture series... Your entire review is only about personal/individual preference and opinion and a true disservice to people who might read it and then miss the opportunity of learning from one of the most brilliant men. His education and positions within many highly respected institutions speaks volumes above and beyond your personal opinion. I find it insulting to other people's intelligence and disappointing that 120 people found your review helpful and therefore most likely never bothered to even try to pay attention to someone who dedicated his life to this particular area of study. He received awards in regard to his immense knowledge in psychology. I wondered if you could even come close to that at all and how much time and study you invested in this area of education and could not understand why or what exactly you got out of taking away such a great opportunity from those who might benefit from one of the best courses offered and most definitely the absolute best teacher I have had the privilege of experiencing. For those who might consider that the negative review I am responding to is most likely prejudice for reasons that are not obviously apparent and possibly simple jealousy, here are examples in regard to one of the greatest learning experiences of my life: In the experiments and research that were mentioned in the negative response... There are two that I took notes on; one was where they paid students to sit in separate rooms - one person hooked up to a machine - and in the other room the other person was able to manipulate the machine and cause the other person pain. It was very informative and interesting to learn about this and I was shocked by the results. Another research experiment was in regard to understanding the influence the educational system has on young adults - it was also shocking - to discover how they learned that they could tell Ivy League students that they should be farmers and such and what the results were. Both of these have to do with the mental state of people and was enlightening - no one should miss out on this information including the following things: He discusses this criminal psychological defense where they were able to set precedence for someone not being responsible for their actions. What Professor Grant Voth, in History of World Literature, mentions are close on the heels of a perverse thing the reasonable and sensible have referred to as the "twinkie defense". He also discusses quite a few heinous psychological scientists that tortured animals and even people, just to prove a theory. Another where they are sexually perverse and even deviant in their research, which had a lot to do with how psychology at one time adhered to the belief that homosexuality and such things were a mental disease. He discusses Freud, which is one of my favorite parts, because I have done some research in regard to the man as well and found him to have a sexually perverse mentality. He shared one of my favorite quotes in regard to Freud, not sure if it is in this lecture or in his philosophy course... "One prominent physician when asked what his opinion on Frued's latest theories was, stated that it was not a fit subject for academic discussion, but a reason to call the police." Another thing I was never aware of was about a good, decent and highly educated as well as successful psychologist, Thomas Szasy who came to understand that... There aren't mental illnesses, and some physical illnesses may have profound psychological manifestations - but clear up the physical illness and the psychological illness goes with it. He would also tell his patients that insisted on seeing him... Understand I am not treating a disease (illness) during our talking session... BECAUSE "you can't treat a disease by talking to it." - He came to believe that there are NO MENTAL DISEASES... because... "the mind is NOT an organ." This is only a small portion and not only am I able to watch this enlightening, educational and brilliant lecture series on Wondrum, but I bought myself a copy of the DVDs to have for my very own, along with all my other favorites, just in case they became unavailable. They are among my most valuable and even precious possessions - no greater gift than knowledge and education - so that you can make fully informed decisions in regard to yourself and others you are associated with. So that you can be a good citizen and make reasonable and sound judgements that promote decency, values, morals, peace and happiness in the world at large and especially for your own well-being.
Date published: 2024-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The GREATEST LECTURER EVER!!! Not my usual subject choices, but I HAVE to write a review and commend this professor (tho he probably is dead by now). SO reminiscent of my professors during my college years! KNOWS his subject, incorporates information from other disciplines, DOES NOT READ HIS LECTURE FROM A PROMPTER (My biggest gripe about TGC since I have been purchasing them (15 yrs), and is INTERESTING!!! Other than Don Lincoln's course or Sean Carroll, he is the only presenter I have never fallen asleep while listening. I HIGHLY recommend this course to round out anyone's education.
Date published: 2023-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Introduction to Psychology Professor Robinson's knowledge of the subject is deep and wide. He's easy to listen to. My only little criticism is that the transcript book has some horrible mis-spellings.
Date published: 2023-10-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A quirky Philosophical view of Psychology While the information was well-crafted and interesting, the focus on philosophical aspects seemed idiosyncratic and differs from a more modern consensus of what's important in psychology. Nonetheless, the presenter has great verbal fluency, presents well, and memorably presented material with sensitivity and nuance.
Date published: 2023-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great information Based on what I read I think this will be very interesting
Date published: 2022-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful professor I first was introduced to Daniel robinson from his course in philosophy. He is just as thorough with his presentation on psychology. If you are interested in history of ideas he is the man who can teach you!
Date published: 2022-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent speaker. I am new to pschology and bought this course to be able to talk about the subject to my grandaughter who is studying it at Glasgow University. Professor Robinson is an excellent speaker with a superb vocabulary and a magnificent breadth of knowledge. I am thoroughly enjoying this course, it is so interesting, at present I have reached lecture 15.
Date published: 2022-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Found out there's more to Psychology than imagined Professor Robinson does a great job in giving us a flavor of all the aspects associated with psychology. The professor made it easy to understand the complexity of the subject. There was so much information in the lectures that I am watching them for the third time to see what else I have missed from the first two.
Date published: 2022-03-18
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This introduction to psychology stands out because it brilliantly analyzes the larger intellectual context in which the discipline has grown up. From Plato and Aristotle to Freud and Jung, you follow the fascinating debates that occur and recur as one school of thought after another seeks answers to the continuing mysteries of the mind.


Daniel N. Robinson

Developments in philosophy are chiefly in the form of greater clarity, an ever more refined sense of just what makes the problem problematic. If ignorance is not thereby totally overcome, at least it is exposed.


Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University; Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Georgetown University

Dr. Daniel N. Robinson (1937–2018) was a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, where he lectured annually since 1991. He was also Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at Georgetown University, on whose faculty he served for 30 years. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and he also held positions at Amherst College and at Princeton University.

Professor Robinson earned his PhD in Neuropsychology from City University of New York. He was president of two divisions of the American Psychological Association: the Division of History of Psychology, from which he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, from which he received the Distinguished Contribution Award.

Professor Robinson was the author or editor of more than 40 books, including Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense from Antiquity to the Present, An Intellectual History of Psychology, The Mind: An Oxford Reader, and Aristotle's Psychology. He was the editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He also published widely on the constitutional history of the US and its philosophical foundations, with original research appearing in the International Journal of Constitutional Law and The American Journal of Jurisprudence. He was coeditor of The American Founding: Its Intellectual and Moral Framework (London: Continuum, 2012).

By This Professor

Defining the Subject

01: Defining the Subject

Is psychology really science at all? A look at the controversy that has engulfed psychology for centuries.

30 min
Ancient Foundations-Greek Philosophers and Physicians

02: Ancient Foundations-Greek Philosophers and Physicians

The ancient philosophers-in wrestling with the problems of knowledge, good and evil, governance, and how mankind should live-lay the foundations for the discipline of psychology.

29 min
Minds Possessed-Witchery and the Search for Explanations

03: Minds Possessed-Witchery and the Search for Explanations

A look at how abnormal conduct-whether considered insanity or the act of a "witch"-has attracted society's special attention, sometimes with horrifying consequences.

28 min
The Emergence of Modern Science-Locke's

04: The Emergence of Modern Science-Locke's "Newtonian" Theory of Mind

A new emphasis on experimental investigation produces great achievements in natural science and technology, as well as insistent questions about whether the same methods can explain the workings of the mind and society.

29 min
Three Enduring

05: Three Enduring "Isms"-Empiricism, Rationalism, Materialism

An examination of the great debate over how knowledge and belief come to be and what this means for the definition of psychology.

30 min
Sensation and Perception

06: Sensation and Perception

An introduction to the methods by which sensation and perception are investigated and measure, including an introduction to the science and psychophysics.

30 min
The Visual Process

07: The Visual Process

One of the more scientific sides of experimental psychology is revealed in this look at the discipline's most studied and best known system-a true miracle of organization and function.

30 min

08: Hearing

A look at another of the body's most acute senses-and the threats posed to this complex and delicate system by the constant auditory assault of 20th-century industrial and urban life.

30 min
Signal-Detection Theory

09: Signal-Detection Theory

The more difficult a discrimination or detection task is, the harder it is to measure. A look at how signal-detection theory is providing answers, especially in the particularly difficult area of measuring perception.

30 min
Perceptual Constancies and Illusions

10: Perceptual Constancies and Illusions

Can we really trust our senses? A surprising look at how knowledge and perception work together.

30 min
Learning and Memory: Associationism-Aristotle to Ebbinghaus

11: Learning and Memory: Associationism-Aristotle to Ebbinghaus

A first look at the fascinating area of memory and how it works, including an introduction to the use of "mnemonics."

30 min
Pavlov and the Conditioned Reflex

12: Pavlov and the Conditioned Reflex

The famous "salivating dog" experiments were a harbinger of the behaviorist era to come but went well beyond what we learned about in school.

30 min
Watson and American Behaviorism

13: Watson and American Behaviorism

An impatient crusader casts his vote for a pragmatic and scientific psychology confined to observable behavior.

30 min
B.F. Skinner and Modern Behaviorism

14: B.F. Skinner and Modern Behaviorism

A first look at one of the most influential and controversial psychologists of our time and his theory of conditioning human response.

30 min
B.F. Skinner and the Engineering of Society

15: B.F. Skinner and the Engineering of Society

Skinner's theories as the model for completely changing child-rearing, education, behavior, and ultimately, society itself.

30 min

16: Language

Skinner publishes his theory of language and the resulting critique, led by the then-unknown Noam Chomsky, points the way toward a more "cognitive" interpretation of psychology.

30 min
The Integration of Experience

17: The Integration of Experience

For most developed species, survival requires more than passive absorption of disconnected stimuli. An examination of how experience is organized to help creatures actually live.

29 min
Perception and Attention

18: Perception and Attention

If perception weren't selective, we would drown in an unending flood of stimuli. A look at how we filter the input from the outside world down to what is important.

30 min

19: Cognitive "Maps," "Insight," and Animal Minds

Is man the only animal that can think? A fascinating glimpse of both sides of the argument over anthropomorphic explanations suggest a surprising answer.

30 min
Memory Revisited-Mnemonics and Context

20: Memory Revisited-Mnemonics and Context

A return to the subject of memory for a deeper discussion of how we process, store, and recover experience, including the problem of "eyewitness" testimony and reconstructed memories.

30 min
Piaget's Stage Theory of Cognitive Development

21: Piaget's Stage Theory of Cognitive Development

A search for an explanation of how our mental powers are formed leads to the influential work of Jean Piaget and his theories of cognitive development in children.

31 min
The Development of Moral Reasoning

22: The Development of Moral Reasoning

Is moral development different from cognitive development as a whole? An examination of what we know about how moral reasoning evolves.

31 min
Knowledge, Thinking, and Understanding

23: Knowledge, Thinking, and Understanding

How we solve problems-how we actually function in our daily lives-including the essential psychological short-cut that makes the process possible.

31 min
Comprehanding the World of Experience-Cognition Summarized

24: Comprehanding the World of Experience-Cognition Summarized

A summary of the finding that laid the foundation for the "cognitive revolution's" alternative to the empiricistic psychologies favored by the behaviorist school.

30 min
Psychobiology-Nineteenth-Century Foundations

25: Psychobiology-Nineteenth-Century Foundations

What is the relationship between physical and mental processes? A look at how researches have answered the question, including the strange system of phrenology and its role in the foundation of modern "brain science."

30 min
Language and the Brain

26: Language and the Brain

Injuries to the brain-and resulting functional deficits-have taught us a great deal about brain function and organization, especially regarding the way language is processed.

31 min
Rationality, Problem-Solving, and Brain Function

27: Rationality, Problem-Solving, and Brain Function

A continuing examination of the workings of the brain, including the organ's remarkable ability to compensate for damage early in development.

32 min

28: The "Emotional" Brain-The Limbic System

Pleasure. Pain. Motivation. Rage. Fear. What we know about the fascinating part of the brain associated with these and other emotional states.

30 min
Violence and the Brain

29: Violence and the Brain

Is criminality really a pathology better understood in scientific than in moral terms? Is insanity truly a defense?

30 min
Psychopathology-The Medical Model

30: Psychopathology-The Medical Model

Is all psychopathology, all "mental" illness, ultimately the consequence of a medical or biological disturbance? A look at this viewpoint and the criticisms it has faced.

30 min
Artificial Intelligence and the Neurocognitive Revolution

31: Artificial Intelligence and the Neurocognitive Revolution

Yes, computer programs can now contend with world-class chess players-to a point. But can computers be made to actually think? A beginning discussion of the pros and cons, along with the staggering ethical implications.

30 min
Is Artificial Intelligence

32: Is Artificial Intelligence "Intelligent"?

Do the proponents of artificial intelligence understand what "intelligence" really is? Many say no.

30 min
What Makes an Event

33: What Makes an Event "Social"?

Why a purely scientific examination of events involving people is impossible-and how researches have developed the kind of model necessary to interpret the meaning of these social events.

30 min
Socialization-Darwin and the

34: Socialization-Darwin and the "Natural History" Method

How we examine a species within its own natural context, accounting for its defining features by matching these with the conditions faced by members of the species.

30 min
Freud's Debt to Darwin

35: Freud's Debt to Darwin

Darwin's works are among the most "well-worked-over" in Freud's restored London library. This lecture explores the influence of the world's most famous naturalist on its most famous psychiatrist.

30 min
Freud, Breuer, and the Theory of Repression

36: Freud, Breuer, and the Theory of Repression

Hysterical symptoms are unlike those produced by genuine neurological disorders. This lecture discusses the discovery of the "talking cure" and how it led to Freud and Breuer's theory of repression.

30 min
Freud's Theory of Psychosexual Development

37: Freud's Theory of Psychosexual Development

Freud's explanation of psychosexual development as the individual's progression from infantile stages of sexual gratification-such as thumb-sucking-to adult heterosexual activity.

30 min
Critiques of Freudian Theory

38: Critiques of Freudian Theory

Freud believed that psychodynamic processes are universal and largely independent of culture and society, but his biological interpretation has been rejected in favor of socially and culturally oriented theories.

30 min
What Is

39: What Is "Personality"?

The question has still not been answered definitively and has furnished the grist for many since-refuted theories. This lecture examines the debate.

30 min
Obedience and Conformity

40: Obedience and Conformity

Several classic experiments have shown the powerful influence of social context on conduct and have offered a strong challenge to both the dominant theories of personality.

30 min

41: Altruism

Why do some people act heroically? Once again, social context proves critical in determining human behavior, though a highly developed self-perception can help a person rise above the common in unlikely circumstances.

30 min
Prejudice and Self-Deception

42: Prejudice and Self-Deception

Acts of prejudice call for a reinterpretation of context and even a reinterpretation of self to justify the action. An exploration of the darker side of human behavior.

30 min
On Being Sane in Insane Places

43: On Being Sane in Insane Places

What is sanity? What is insanity? As a chilling study demonstrates, the answers often depend on who is controlling the labels.

31 min

44: Intelligence

The history of I.Q. and other so-called "intelligence" tests offer valuable lessons in what is and is not "predictable."

30 min
Personality Traits and the Problem of Assessment

45: Personality Traits and the Problem of Assessment

Is there really a test that can reveal the "underlying personality" of an individual? A look at the fundamental problem of devising such a measuring stick.

30 min
Genetic Psychology and

46: Genetic Psychology and "The Bell Curve"

The issue of whether a given trait is rooted in genetics or the environment-long a controversial issues in the public arena-is when predicting the potential of an individual.

30 min
Psychological and Biological Determinism

47: Psychological and Biological Determinism

An exploration of the notion of determinism reveals it to be both counterintuitive and, in some respects, self-refuting.

30 min
Civic Development-Psychology, the Person, and the Polis

48: Civic Development-Psychology, the Person, and the Polis

In many ways, the fullest and most systematic theories of psychology are still those provided by Aristotle. An exploration of how rational creatures can flourish when the biological, social, and political are truly integrated.

32 min