What is Associationism, What Does It Mean?

What is Associationism, What Does It Mean?

July 1, 2021 Off By Felso

It is possible to answer the question of what is associationism as follows: Associationism is the doctrine that reduces the logical connections between thoughts and the functioning of the mind to mental automatism. Associationism is also the doctrine that wants to explain all memory operations, all principles of mind, even all memory life, with the association of thoughts.

British thinkers Stuart Mill, David Hume, Herbert Spencer have argued that knowledge comes into being by the universalization of particulars by calling each other.

The idea of ​​association started with the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle, while examining memory, suggested that association is realized with the interests of contiguity, similarity, opposition. The name that coined the term association is the English philosopher John Locke. The English materialist philosopher Berkeley tried to make use of associationism in his doctrine of a universe composed of non-existent thoughts. Indeed, to explain the whole phenomenon of knowledge by association means to lead to immaterialism, if everything happens in consciousness with associations, there is no reason not to deny matter.


Thoughtful associationism began with David Hume’s phenomenalism. According to this empiricist view, all knowledge was formed by the associations of thought that emerged during the experiments. On the other hand, materialist associationism was developed by David Hartley, based on Thomas Hobbes’ mechanical Materialism, all spiritual life is formed by associations and associations are made up of brain vibrations.

All these false conclusions arise from the one-sided view of the metaphysical understanding, whether it be thoughtful or materialistic. Association is a mental operation, and integrating this fragmented information with one side and bringing it to the whole information gives abstract and wrong results.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım