Alexander Bain

Bain Alexander (1818-1903)
The son of a weaver, Bain was born, raised and educated in Aberdeen, Scotland. Indeed, except for several years in London, he lived whole life in Aberdeen. In 1876, Bain wrote the first journal devoted exclusively to psychology (Mind). He also provided the first books on psychology as such. Until William James wrote Principles of Psychology (1890), Bain’s books (The Senses and Emotions) were widely used as textbooks of psychology. A friend of JS Mill (who he met during his London years), Bain was an empiricist and a utilitarianist. He emphasized the law of contiguity, but differentiated between voluntary and reflexive behavior, held that people are capable of spontaneous activity which becomes increasingly purposive as it is rewarded by pleasure, and was a mind-body parallelist. He held that every sensation has both a physiological and a mental reaction. Bain is sometimes called the first modern physiological psychologist because of his detailed descriptions of sense organs and how they worked. He is best known for his description of the reflex arc.


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