Bain, Alexander

Bain, Alexander, 1818–1903, Scottish philosopher and psychologist. He was educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he later taught for three years. He taught one year (1845) at Anderson's Univ., Glasgow, but resigned to do freelance work in London. There he joined a brilliant circle including George Grote and John Stuart Mill, with whom he already had close literary relationships. From 1860 to 1880 he held the chair of logic and English at the Univ. of Aberdeen, where he worked for educational reform. After his retirement he was twice elected lord rector of the university. His major contributions were in psychology. Remaining in the associationalist tradition of the Mills and sharing their distrust of metaphysics, he developed the current psychology in several directions. In discussing the will, he favored physiological over metaphysical explanations, pointing to reflexes as evidence that a form of will, independent of consciousness, inheres in a person's limbs. He sought to chart physiological correlates of mental states but refused to make any materialistic assumptions. Besides being the founder of the first psychological journal, Mind, in 1886, Bain was the author of The Senses and the Intellect (1855), The Emotions and the Will (1859), Mental and Moral Science (1868), Education as a Science (1879), James Mill (1882), John Stuart Mill (1882), and an autobiography (pub. posthumously with a bibliography of his works, 1904).

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