It was once a way of thinking that men are autonomous (self-ruled). [Auto (self) nomous (ruling/controlling)]. Man was being controlled by soul or mind and that man does what he does because of internal events. He is ruled by the mind and your behavior is a reflection of the actions of internal agents.

Psychology deals with these indwelling events. The notion of  indwelling agents – as long as you hold onto this model, your science will make no progress.

Progress of the science made no change until that notion was abandoned – the concept of autonomy.

Science also resorted to autonomy  for explanations – basically models on manÂ’s experience and familiarity with.  For example: Lightning flies because somebody threw it – Zeus (like when a spear flies).

In early Greek and Roman history and science (over 1,000 years ago), physical activity was attributed to Gods: Vulcan – volcanoes; Zeus – meteorological activity; Poseidon – storms; Haiti's – under world; Mars – war; Eros/cupid = love; Etc. Today, mother nature.

The belief that external invisible people cause things changed to attributing causes of things due to autonomic forces. Aristotle called them essences; objects had essences. There were four element essences: Fire, Air, Earth, Water – everything is made of these. Every thing had essences (internal characteristics that know their places). Placement and order of the essences: Fire, Air, Water, Earth  

Mix elements and they know where to go.  The church added the 5th element: The Quintessential

Examples: burn something, and it turns to fire and smoke and rises up. Air is above the water and earth, Water is above the earth and beneath the air. If you drop earth into water, it goes down to the bottom – it’s place. If there is air in water, it goes up to it’s place.

Chemistry too changed itÂ’s view and moved toward a view that there are external causes. This moved the western civilization.

However, psychology has NOT abandoned the autonomous man. It hasnÂ’t changed the nature of itÂ’s explanation.

 Why autonomy doesnÂ’t work:  

  1. Ad Hoc: The agents are ad hoc (to a special purpose). You make up special agents to explain many things. Ex. Aggression, passive, argumentative, amorous, studious, etc. For each thing to explain, we have to invent a new cause.
  2. Circularity: Your ad hoc causes are circular. E.g. Why does he worry? Because heÂ’s moody. WhyÂ’s he moody? Because he worries, etc.
  1. Diversion: You divert from the event that needs to be explained. E.g. Why does he fight? HeÂ’s aggressive. LetÂ’s study aggression. Problem is not aggression, thatÂ’s a personality. It's also like when a child has a studying problem and you treat for ADHD.
  2. Deferment: Deferment of cause. When you deal with autonomy, you move from explaining something tangible (directly observable) to something intangible.