A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Philosophers are becoming serious about what they can do: On Psychology

Lately very promising collaborations between philosophers, psychologists or/and psychoanalysts, and scientists have been emerging and establishing themselves at many Universities in Europe. Heidelberg has already a well-established tradition in Germany, due to Karl Jaspers, who submitted his Habilitation on General Psychopathology to the Department of Philosophy (the Jaspers position now held by the philosopher and psychiatrist Prof. Thomas Fuchs). To mention two excellent academic centers in Great Britain, which are currently on their best way to create a good tradition: Exeter University, at which Prof. Christopher Gill has gathered a group of philosophers and psychologists in order to fathom the relevance of Stoic philosophy for cognitive-behaviorist psychology and every day life, a very broad spectrum indeed, which is a good starter; and Oxford University, the summer school of which resulted in a volume of great scope and fruitful collaboration between (continental and analytic) philosophers on the one hand and psychologists/psychiatrists on the other (The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry). Some influence from the USA can be detected, especially in the current circles of cognitive-behaviorist psychology, in which experts are eager to embrace elements of Buddhistic origin and practice, following, above all, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn's therapeutic example (Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, University of Massachusetts Medical School). Against the background of my first psychology studies and ever since developing interests, and also due to the way I conceive the nature of philosophy, I can only warmly welcome this expanding movement, which will not be exhausted in a fleeting trend, to be soon replaced by the next ones.

I find the whole endeavour very important for both psychology and philosophy, and so I would like to welcome the new year with this post. The issues are complex, many of them extremely fascinating and highly controversial, because not only theories about soul but also the concrete influence on people's psychological states are under scrutiny and debate. I will delve into some aspects in the coming posts. One will concern the elements of the so characterized mind-fulness, which (cognitive-behaviorist) psychologists assimilate for their (good) purposes, and the philosophers' active role and contribution to this dialogue, as I see it. Not less is at stake thereby than the "cognitive" character of the psychological methods, which, ever since Aaron Beck, has been expanded and enriched, or criticized and even abandoned. The philosophers' contribution is, as it has ever been, invaluable, especially when certain tendencies become all too quickly very trendy in the contemporary market.

For now: Happy New Year!

PS: With regard to the still ongoing series of earthquakes (26.1.14 onwards) in the neighbourhood of Ithaca, Greece: My dear greetings and wishes to my dearest, courageous friends. May the earth soon calm down.