New ideas come up in every age. The problem with such new ideas is that it is very easy for many to say what somebody said to Freud when he first described his theory: that he says a lot of things that hold true, but others have said them before him, and a lot of new things, which, however, are of no importance and are nonsense. After so many years, nobody now remembers this person; but everybody remembers Freud.
It is in such conditions that the progress of ideas takes place. Even Freud himself could have said of others what was said about himself and which we have just described above.[i]
This is the problem of consciousness, with its tendency towards stagnation. The problem of the limited mobility of the interpretative consciousness as regards the truly complex and dizzying happening in nature and the functional aspect of life is an anthropological one. To this is added that of the level of self-referentiality of the consciousness, of its self-awareness and self-knowledge.
No system which seeks to be closed is complete. The pivotal issue is whether the material universe is open to actions, in the sense that we give to set theory and to mathematical theory and meaning. In this case, physico-chemical operations have within them the potential for, in the broader sense, psychological and biological actions. Thus, psychological and biological laws of material causal connections, of physical and biochemical processes and affinities have a broader field of application than that which has been attributed to them up to now.
A closed system of concepts which does not have a reference to ontology and consciousness is not sustainable. According to Gödel’s propositions,[ii] any closed mathematical system of propositions was rejected as deceptive. The same applies, a fortiori, when we speak of concepts in their universality by and large which have reference to the consciousness.
The consciousness has a phasmatic nature and a multiplicity which has also been developed in man and in his civilisation. This multiplicity and its freedom cannot be restrained, because freedom lies in the spiritual nature of the thing which is innate in a bipolar manner and isomorphically related to its material nature.
There is in the consciousness a dual dynamic of reasoning and dream which cannot become, one-dimensionally, monopolar. In the universe of the few perceptible dimensions, as we apprehend it today, the present-day cosmology of physical science adds dimensions which make much more difficult the simulatability of the consciousness. The Shakespearean observation addressed to Horatio is something more than actual truth.[iii]
On a psychology inspired by the holistic structure of the phenomenon of life
In parallel with the new psychological developments and the evolution of psychological theory, we must also deal, in a constructive way, with the semantic reading of information, speaking in terms of the microcosm and taking into consideration the biological example. From the point of view of the life of the cell, for example, there is a primeval threefold dynamic in its functioning; this is the dynamic:
(b) of reconnaisance, of co-operation, of rejection;
(c) of energy and of stamina.
This dynamic is revealed to us when we study the immune and haematological cycle of coherence of the systems. We see it also in the dynamic of specialisation in systems of the homoeostasis of consciousness, energy, and irregular response. In a similar way, we can advance to greater functional specialisations by observing systematically the dynamic of functioning of the core of the cells.
As we draw these conclusions from the observation of biological life, we could say that it would be normal to expect the same conclusions about the characteristics of life and sustainability from the human sciences and theories. Consequently, it is natural for us also to expect from psychology, in parallel with the phasmatic natural process of evolution of the phenomenon of life, a phasmatic approach to consciousness and life which would bring to light the blastocellular dynamic of the human hypostasis. We can expect from the new psychology an isomorphic dynamic of reading of the biopsychological phenomenon on all the scales.
Philosophical origins of psychology
Thus, the philosophical movement of Existentialism, which started out with Søren Kierkegaard and spread with Karl Jaspers, Gabriel Marcel, Martin Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, and other philosophers, inspired the creation of the school of psychology of the existentialist psychologists, such as Abraham Maslow and Rolo May.
We can also see the affinity of psychoanalysis with the fundamental problématique of Schopenhauer, in connection, moreover, with the primeval myths of the tragic cycle.
The phenomenological school of psychology of Laing is descended from the philosophical trend of ‘phenomenology’ of Edmund Husserl,[v] and attempts to throw light both on what appears and on the way in which it does. It studies the angles of vision of the subjects in looking on their world. It tries to describe in detail the content and the structure of the subjects’ consciousness, and to take the qualitative multifariousness of experiences in and to analyse their substantive meanings. One of its basic characteristics is the emphasis which it gives to the self-referentiality of consciousness and to the quest for the consciousness as an entity.
We can also see the organic theory of the lifespan, or, expressed in another way, the organic theory of time, from Bergson to Whitehead, also raising issues interdependent with time, life, and consciousness as phenomenological or philosophical psychology.
We could say, in conclusion, that all the main schools and the psychological evolutionary process have as their starting-point either philosophical developments of the thought of Kant, or the dualist perception of ‘self and non-self’ of Fichte, or the transition through the various phases involving the ‘titanic’ in the cultural element, in Schelling. At the same time, there is also a current of fundamental psychophysics which has its initial reference to Fechner and Goethe.
Yiannis Zisis, writer
(Photograph by Yiannis Zisis)