Dave and Greta Munger have posted an excellent reply to the following question:
What’s the difference between psychology and neuroscience? Is psychology still relevant as we learn more about the brain and how it works?
You have to be a pretty staunch reductionist to believe that neuroscience makes psychology obsolete. After all, according to scientific materialism, neuroscience is ultimately just a subset of quantum mechanics. So should we all become physicists? Of course not. While our different levels of inquiry are obviously interconnected, they are also autonomous. As Dave points out, neuroscience and psychology really study separate phenomenon:
Human behavior itself is so complex that trying to understand it from an anatomical perspective alone simply doesn’t make sense. You wouldn’t try to learn how use a complicated computer program like Adobe Photoshop by taking the computer apart, or even by analyzing the lines of its computer code. If all you want to do is remove the red-eye from junior’s Christmas portrait, all that stuff is irrelevant. And even if you want to understand the underlying computer system and programming, you still need to know what the software does.
That said, I do hope that the mental sciences of the future begin to dissolve the artificial distinction between “brain” and “behavior,” “software” and “hardware”. We now know that this distinction is simply a category error. The mind is the brain. Furthermore, we don’t experience this distinction. We don’t parcel our mental contents into “software” or “hardware,” or perceive any separation between our behavior and our brain. Our psychological experience is unitary, and so should any science trying to describe our psychological experience. The fact that we still find it necessary to divide our mental sciences into different categories should remind us how much we have left to learn.
I await the day when there is only one branch of mental science, and not an archipelago of fields and specialties. Only then will we have achieved what William James dreamt of: “a science of experience”.