Socratic Political Psychology

The ancient study of the soul is a part of politics or political science (Plato, Laws, I), and was then yet without the name “Psychology,” though our word psyche is from the Greek. In Plato’s Republic, the study of the soul and the regimes is based on a common form, while our studies so named are far more separate. John Keats notes that Psyche is the latest born and lovliest far of all Olympos faded heirarchy,” noting the fact thaty psyche was attended later even than bacchus, otherwise last. Google notes the first use of the word :

The first use of the term “psychology” is often attributed to the German scholastic philosopher Rudolf Göckel (1547–1628), often known under the Latin form Rodolphus Goclenius), who published the Psychologia hoc est: de hominis perfectione, animo et imprimis ortu hujus… in Marburg in 1590.

Kant addresses the structure of reason and self awareness as psychology, and then of course

Kant addresses the structure of reason, and some anomalies of self awareness as “psychology,” and of course Freud and Janet led to the popularization of the psychology of the unconscious and the medical model of doctors and healing and such. Jung writes that we have a psychology today because the unconscious is not projected, as a usual set of beliefs and images that make up our fundamental opinions. Hence, libido or psychic energy, channeled as along a natural gradient, festers int he unconscious psyche. Health is attained by the integration of archtypes, parts and levels pertaining to human wholeness, and we say the contents of knowledge asleep within the soul. But in the Ethics of Aristotle, the health of the soul is theoretical and practical wisdom, and once one has this, he has ethical virtue as well.

The pre-Socratic thinkers turned to nature in the attempt to understand causes, away from the mythic accounts according to which the gods are the causes of all things that occur. The turn to nature undermines the traditions regarding justice, and Socrates, recognizing human ignorance regarding fundamental causes, turns back to consider the human things, yet while preserving crucial elements of philosophy, in the quest for the nature and causes regarding man. The emphasis on seeing for oneself as opposed to hearsay is preserved, along with the distinction of the good from the ancestral. On this basis, when he founds political philosophy, Socrates also founds scientific psychology. In Plato’s Republic, the regime and its three parts replaces the images of poetry for the imagination of the noble young scholars. The best regime- a city that cannot be anywhere- provides an image of the healthy soul, for those who can see. This is the health of the soul, the first principle of any genuine scientific psych-iatry.

We have tried to invent or discover the “Philosophy of Psychology” and the “Philosophy of Psychiatry,” called critical psychiatry in the UK ad the history of Psychology in America…

Socratic psychology is not a new technae or art, a new instrument to be used toward unexamined purposes, as are the common spawn of every modern psychology. It is rather the turning of psychology as a whole to the serious theoretical pursuit of the causes in nature regarding the human soul. By this psychology as a science is different from every one of the customary ways based on a tradition or law- the various manies which so confuse both our relativists and absolutists. Psychology depends upon an objective ethics, but the quest recognizes that we do not possess knowledge of this, the health of the soul, as would be required, and is in truth assumed by every one of the psychological systems of arts by which men try to treat the soul. It is philosophical psychology in just that sense- an incomplete yet most profitable quest for the knowledge of the soul. In practice, the efforts of every thinker and even many thinkers collected will be merely partial, as is obvious from the infinity of comprehensive thoughts through which this nature and its good can be addressed. We say that the knowledge of the soul is in a sense contained in the soul, and that the archetypes are knowledges, making it possible in each age and generation to take up the questions anew.

There are a few Socratic teachings or maxims- though- about 6- that we can collect and discuss briefly at the start, beginning with the teaching that the unexamined like is not worth living, and the Delpic injunction to know thyself. One suspects that everything in Freudian psychology that does work is based upon the self knowing accessible for example in the “talking cure,” or the free association surrounding dreams, developed into “amplification” as a method by Carl Jung. Self knowledge is held to be a natural end of the soul, whether one knows it or not- as it most evident in tragedy and the recognition that is as if sought by nature for the tragic hero.

Another maxim is the paradox that virtue is knowledge and happiness- a paradox when combined with the Socratic claim of ignorance. One might ask, “What? You do not know that…” regarding the most common- sense opinions of the human things- things we have as opinions that are likely true, and can have as thoughts, but which are not knowledge. What if justice is, or at least is necessary to the health of the soul? What if it is in truth the most important thing? How does the clinician treat or even address the unjust soul whose injustice is the course of his inner division and misery? And yet if this proposition is simply true, how can we have a psychology which fails to address the most important thing about the soul? We cannot.

Our psychiatry has avoided in practice the value free science assumed in the social sciences, in part due no doubt to its subjects being less remote or abstract than the subjects of sociology. Faced with a genuine”psychopath,” it may not occur to the clinician to question the existence of evil, while the sociologist might ignore Nazi Germany, since the poutcome of the second world war was favorable. But how will our psychiatry treat, for example, fascism as it arises through the transformations of the soul?

Science in the Socratic sense is episteme, and we will suggest that while the human things cannot be known scientifically or taught ion a program at the university, the genuine science does exist and is possible to pursue. Its genuine pursuit will make ALL the difference for psychology, if at first by moderating the practice. Our psychology literally does not know what it is doing when it drugs people, and cannot demonstrate that its prescriptions are more likely to help rather than harm the souls. We have a psychology practical psychology not because we know that we are doing, but because it is necessary. Hence the prescription of philosophy that our psychiatrists be allowed only to use drugs as a last resort. There is a marked and pronounced kinship between our psychology and Greek Sophistry, to which Socratic philosophy is an answer. The Sophists are called peddlars of goods for the soul. The legal profession, too, where the any cause just or unjust is taken up for a fee- is of course moth obviously similar. The worldly rewards and reputation derived from psychiatric punditry are to be a continual danger to the profession and its reputation. Socrates refused to take money for his discussions on the grounds that his knowledge was not his possession, and our psychiatry should follow suit- as should our education- if this were practical, though it is not.

That a genuine psychology, pursues the knowledge of the nature of the soul in whatever means are best suited to this pursuit. This may include empirical or as they say, “evidence based” studies, but this will be a small part compared to the lifelong pursuit of the knowledge of the natures and nature of the soul and functions of the psyche. Clinical experience will obviously be most important, but the quest of Socratic philosophy begins in common sense.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s