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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Mary Whiton Calkins - 727 words
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Mary Whiton Calkins was the first woman to be elected as president of the American Psychological Association in 1905. The majority of her adult life was dedicated to her work in the development of "psychology of selves." She was very passionate about the relatively 'new' world of psychology and was highly active in the field of philosophy. Mary Whiton Calkins was not deterred in her ambitions because she was a woman, instead she used her struggles to gain a voice and to speak out against the oppression of women during the 1920's. Born in 1863 to a Presbyterian minister and his wife, she grew up in a very tight-knit family as the oldest of five children. In 1880, the family moved to Massachusetts where they settled and built a home. Mary's father wanted the best for his daughter, and designed and supervised Mary's education until she graduated in 1882.
Upon graduation, Mary attended Smith College with an advanced standing as a sophomore. In 1893, Mary's sister passed away and Mary dropped out of college for a season, taking her classes through private lessons at home. Mary returned to Smith College in 1884 as a senior and graduated with a concentration on philosophy and classics. In 1886, two years after graduation from college, the Calkins family went to Europe for a holiday that lasted for sixteen months. Mary continued to expand her knowledge of the classics and upon returning to America, her father arranged an interview with the President of Wellesley College
Mary was offered the position as a tutor in Greek in the fall of 1887 and remained there for three years until the Department of Philosophy at Wellesley discovered her gift of teaching. Mary began teaching in the 03Philosophy Department as a teacher of Psychology, a sub discipline of Philosophy. In 1898, Calkins was promoted to Professor of the Philosophy Department where she wrote several papers on Philosophy and Psychology. She wrote four books, including, An Introduction to Psychology (1901); The Persistent Problems of Philosophy (1907), The Good Man and the Good (1918). Calkins' major contribution to psychology was the development of a system of self-psychology .
Her own work in the field dealt primarily with such topics as space and time consciousness, emotion, association, color theory and dreams. Her theory held, in contrast to behaviorist views then in the ascendant, that the conscious self is the central fact of psychology. In the field of philosophy she acknowledged Royce's idealism as the chief influence leading her to her own system of 'personalistic absolutism.' (Furumoto, 1980) Two forms of psychology at the time were "aromistic psychology" and the "science of the selves," a theory that Caulkins was the first to discover. Her definition of the "science of the selves" is:'All sciences deal with facts, and there are two great classes of facts-Selves and Facts-for-the-Selves. But the second of these great groups, the Facts-for-the-Selves, is again capable of an important division into internal and external facts.
To the first class belong percepts, images, memories, thoughts, emotions and volitions, inner events as we may call them; to the second class belong the things and the events of the outside world, the physical facts, as we may name them.. The physical sciences study these common and apparently independent or external facts; psychology as distinguished from them 04is the science of consciousness, the study of selves and the inner facts-for-selves (cited in Strunk, 1972)." Calkins felt that her psychology could relate with other models of psychology. While Sigmund Freud's theory of psychoanalysis gained notoriety, she felt that self-psychology could interpret all the facts that Freud had discovered. She wrote, 'Self-psychology is finally at the core of every one of the psychoanalytic systems. Not only does the conscious ego play a role, if only a minor role, on the psychoanalytic stage, but even the unconscious closely studied turns out to resemble nothing so much as a dissociated self' (1972). While Culkins was trying to get her PhD from Harvard, she faced many setback because she was a woman.
These experiences shaped many of her views on women's rights and cultivated her into an advocate for women's and minority's rights. She devoted herself to Women's Suffrage and in 1905, Calkins was elected president of the American Psychological Association and the president of the American Philosophical Association in 1918. She retired from teaching in 1929 after forty-two years of teaching at Wellesley. She died of cancer a year after her retirement.
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