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قراءة كتاب Psychotherapy

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‏اللغة: English


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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

neighbor in a purposive way, and may yet in the next moment consider from a causal standpoint how these emotions of his are perhaps affected by his fatigue or by some glasses of wine, or by a hereditary disposition, or by a suggestion; in short, at one time I look out for the meaning of the emotion as a part of the expression of a self, and at another time for the structure and appearance of the emotion as a part of a causal chain of events. In both directions I can go on with entire consistency, and there cannot be any part of inner experience which cannot be fully brought under either point of view. How far we have a right to mix the two standpoints in practical life, we shall carefully examine; but it is clear that if we want to understand the true meaning of the study of inner life, we have no longer any right carelessly to mix the two standpoints without being conscious of their fundamental difference. We must understand exactly what the aim of the one and of the other is, and where each has its particular value; science certainly has no right to throw together such different views of life. And now this may be said at once: the causal view only is the view of psychology; the purposive view lies outside of psychology.

Such a separation does not at all aim to indicate that the one view is more important than the other, or that the one has more scientific dignity than the other; both yield us truth, and both may be carried from the simplest and most trivial observations of daily life to the highest elaborations of scholarship. To those who are inclined to give all value and all credit only to the strictly psychological view, it may be replied at once that surely our most immediate life experience is carried on by the non-psychological attitude. If we love our family and like our friends, and deal with the man of the street, we are certainly moving in a world of purposive reality. We try to understand each other, to agree and to disagree, to be in sympathy and antipathy, without asking how those volitions and feelings and ideas of other people are built as mental structures, and from what causes they arose; we are satisfied to understand what they mean. In the same way with ourselves. We live our lives by hinging them on our aims and purposes and ideas, and do not ask ourselves what are the causes of our attitudes and of our thoughts.

This purposive view has in no respect to disappear if we move on from our personal intercourse to a scholarly study of reality. The historian, for instance, who tries to understand the will relations of humanity, is the more the true historian the more he sticks to this purposive view of man. The truth which he seeks is to interpret the personalities, to understand them through their attitudes, to make their will living once more, and to link it by agreement and disagreement, by love and hate, with the will of friends and enemies, groups and parties, nations and mankind. It is only a loose popular way of speaking, if this purposive analysis of a character is often called psychological. In a stricter sense of the word, it is not psychological. If the historian really were to take the psychological attitude, he would make of history simply a social psychology, seeking the laws of the social mind, and treating the individual, the hero, and the leader, merely as the crossing-point of psychological law. For such a psychological view the mental life of the hero would not be more important or more interesting than the mental life of a scoundrel, and the psychology of the king would not draw his interest more than the psychology of the beggar. The historian has to shape all that from an entirely different standpoint: his scientific interest depends upon the importance of men's attitudes and actions, and such importance refers to the world of purposes.

In the same way, we have to stick to the non-psychological point of view whenever man's life, his thoughts and feelings and volitions, are to be measured with reference to ideals; that is in ethics and æsthetics and logic, sciences which ask whether the volitions are good or bad, whether the feelings are valuable or worthless, whether the thoughts are true or false. The psychologist does not care; just as the botanist is interested in the weed as much as in the flower, the psychologist is interested in the causal connections of the most heinous crime not less than in those of the noblest deed, in the structure of the most absurd error not less than in that of the maturest wisdom. Truth, beauty, and morality are thus expressions of the self in its purposive aspect.

We can go one step further. Those who narrowly seek every truth only in the scientific understanding, ought to be reminded that this seeking for causal connections is itself, after all, only a life experience which as such is not of causal but of purposive character. "Life is bigger than thought." In the immediate reality of our purposive life we aim towards mastering the world by a causal understanding, and for this end we create science; but this aim itself is then a purpose and not an object. The first act is thus for us, the thinkers, not a part of the causal events, but a purposive intention towards an ideal. Therefore, our purposes have the first right; they represent the fundamental reality; the value of causal connections and thus of all scientific and psychological explanation, depends on the value of the purpose. Causal truth can be only the second word; the first word remains to purposive truth. From this point of view we may understand why there is no conflict between the most consistent causal explanation of mental life on the one side, and an idealistic view of life on the other side; yes, we can see that the fullest emphasis on a scientific psychology—which is necessarily realistic and, to a certain degree, materialistic—is fully embedded in an idealistic philosophy of life, and that without conflict. And we shall see how this consistency in sharply separating the psychological view from the non-psychological, secures much greater safety for true idealism than the inconsistent popular mixing of the two principles, where scientific psychology is constantly encroached upon by demands of faith and religion, and where faith and religion seem constantly in danger of being overturned by new discoveries in physiological psychology. We may, indeed, remove from the start the mistaken fear that a consistent causal aspect of life leads to injustice to the higher aims and ideal purposes of mankind. If we want to have psychology,—and that means if we want to consider the mental life in a system of causes and effects,—we must proceed without prejudices, and without side-thoughts.

From a psychological standpoint our own mental life and that of our neighbor, that of the man and that of the child, that of the normal and that of the insane, that of the human being and that of the animal, are to be considered as a series of mental objects. They are to be analyzed, and to be described, and to be classified and to be explained, just as we deal with the physical objects in the outer world. How are these objects of the psychologist different from the objects of the physicist, from the pebbles on the way and the stars in the sky? There is only one fundamental difference and all other differences result from it. Those outer objects which we call physical, are objects for everybody. The star which I see is conceived as the same star which you see, the table which I touch is the table which you may grasp, too. But every psychical object is an object for one particular person only. My visual impression of the star, that is, my optical perception, is a content of my own consciousness only, and your impression of the star can be a content of your consciousness only. We both may