The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 6 May 2018 - Page 3

The second lecture is entitled “Post Kantianism and the History of Psychology” and it is taken from the second volume of the trilogy series “The World Explored, the World Suffered”. The short little lecture is inspired by the volume “History of Psychology written by Professor Brett and edited by R S Peters. It opens with a retrospective look at Kant’s achievement in the field of Psychology: “Kant rightly declared that the mind must be regarded as a structure regulated by principles which are ultimately its own activities. Before Kant's time, the psychologist was not unlike the physiologist who tried to explain digestion without any reference to the organism, as a process by which various foods introduced into the stomach analyzed themselves and distributed themselves conscientiously to their appropriate places in the organism. It was Kant who first saw that such a procedure was wrong and that we must start from the mind to explain the ideas not from ideas to explain the mind.”(History of psychology, Brett) Kant was, then responsible for convincing psychologists that consciousness was a unity, an active thinking unity possessing the powers of reason and action: “Brett accuses Kant of being the propagator of the view that the higher regions of the mind or thinking processes alone organize conscious life but quickly admits that the Categories of the understanding, according to Kant, are the indispensable “preliminary activities of consciousness”.These categories obviously play the role that the forms did in Aristotle’s hylomorphism” The lecture then moves on to discuss Herbart the first of the post-Kantians. Herbart was a mathematician and scientist determined to bring the empirical attitude back into the field of psychology. His aim was to “reduce consciousness to simple elements and their combinations”. Herbart maintains, however, the Kantian position that the soul is not the place where things just happen but rather the place where things are done. He departs markedly from the Kantian account when he claims that the soul is the meeting point and unifier of our knowledge and feelings. Schopenhauer is the next historical figure discussed and Brett claims that the idea of the will presented is unacceptable to psychologists because of its biological and metaphysical connotations. He concedes that the concept does remind one of the Aristotelian idea of conation : “persisting through the scale of organic life variously combined with and modified by corresponding degrees of conscious realization.”