Precedent of the Mind

Philosophy…being, arguably definitively, the most ancient academic discipline, grounding the roots of investigation into number and language, existing at the initial step of any new curiosity, determining the very nature of argumentation itself, belonging at the foundation of any kind of dialectical move whatsoever (ahead of the move's progress into a field of inquiry which might then be given its own disciplinary heading), asking as it does, why? - the most primary of questions, the most over-arching and open-ended question, at one and the same time both the laziest and the most searching question you can ask…is at loggerheads with psychology, the youngest of the major disciplines which in its short history has achieved seniority in a claim to knowledge as it is recognised legally and in the scientific community. The two subjects starkly collide where psychology ventures (necessarily to its identity) beyond the physical processes of the brain and attempts to infer scientific data about the mind. Meanwhile, the philosophy of mind is entitled to a more modest approach whereby the mind itself has traditionally been examined regardless, although not in spite of, scientific information gathered about the brain. In this way the philosophy of mind has gathered scant real knowledge (but some understanding) about the mind. - It cannot claim otherwise. On the other hand, psychology has derived no deductive knowledge that can be formally noted, but claims to know an enormous quantity about the mind, and prescribes/judges accordingly as it sees fit.

In a scientific respect, there is no equation which holds firm in the language of psychology, such as there is in physics or chemistry or maths. Philosophy has no advantage in the matter in this respect. What philosophy doesn't have is the disadvantage of a deeply entrenched claim to be able to understand the mind through analysing the brain (which is based on the assumption that the mind is a material effect, an observable reflection of the physical operations of the brain). This, it seems, would be the reason there are few psychologists who enjoy an open belief in the existence of a soul, or a god - because if there is something immaterial in a human being, such as a soul, then an exhaustive study of the brain will not account for the whole kit and caboodle of human existence, and in that case the concept of psychology as the last word on the mind will go to pieces, at least in any scientific degree, since it will deny the scope of psychology from reaching the farthest corners of the psyche and making observations and deductive reasonings thereof. Being a serious psychologist, as many societies and the discipline itself presently define the profession, is inconsistent with spiritual belief or faith in a god. If you believe the human mind is not constituted by anything other than physical materials, you cannot subscribe to the existence of the transcendental in human experience. Science is compatible with faith, so long as the scientific exploration doesn't pretend to know its way around the mysteries of the psyche. Psychology the science has a contradiction at its very core.

The logic of philosophy, on the other hand, is and has always been perfectly well posed to advance understanding about the mind, by avoiding contradictions, making simple connections between consciousness and existence, discussing perception and the subjectivity (and the possibility of objectivity) of human experience. Our relationship with the world and the nature of reality is vastly better comprehended through philosophers' analysis and the evolution of explanatorily powerful linguistic terminology over the centuries. The only setback is, we don't fully understand the mind. This is where philosophical logic and psychological science clash. Fortunately, we don't need to, logically cannot, and don't realistically want to fully understand the human mind, not least because it is the instrument as well as the focus of the investigation, but also, because no mystery whatsoever would remain to our existence if we did, and, as many philosophers have pointed out, wonder is what makes life interesting.




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