Thursday, October 4, 2012

Consilience in Psychology (updated)

We have broached the topic of Whewellian-Wilsonian consilience in general,

and of mathematical consilience in particular:

And now we shall rather wander from the main path, to notice the role such notions have played in the history of analytic psychology.   They are scarcely central to its development;  we allude to the matter  merely with a view to rounding out -- and consilience is about nothing  if not   rounding out...

Once again, time presses -- We actually do have a day-job, you know -- so instead of a proper essay, we shall simply type out some quotes from books that need to go back to the library soon, so as not to lose them.   Perhaps later these may serve  as pegs whereon to hang an essay, if reader interest warrants.

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The time in which Freud worked  was already alive to the possibilities of disciplinary cross-connections:

In 1912, Freud was invited by Scientia, an important international periodical  published in Italy and devoted to the study of the relationships between the different branches of science.
-- Ernest Jones, Freud: Years of Maturity (1955), p. 214

Freud’s pupil Fenichel suggests that, so far from psychology being ignominiously reduced to physics, historically there is a touch of the other-way-round:

The idea of looking at mental phenomena as a result of interacting forces  certainly was not derived merely by transferring the concept of energy from the other natural sciences to psychology.  Originally  it happened the other way around:  the everyday assumption that one understands metnal reactions when one understands their motives  has been transferred to physics.
-- Otto Fenichel,  The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1945), p. 11

Cf. the historical precedence of philology over biology, in the matter of branching taxonomy.

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Re the ancient theory that dreams came to us through either the Gates of Ivory, or the Gates of Horn:

Diese vorwissenschaftliche Traumauffassung der Alten  stand sicherlich im vollsten Einklange mit ihrer gesamten Weltanschauung, welche  als Realität in die Außenwelt zu projitzieren pflegte,  was nur innerhalb des Seelenlebens  Realität hatte.
-- Sigmund Freud, Die Traumdeutung (1900), ch. I

(Einklang:  roughly, Consilience.)

Physical physiology … overthrew this philosophy [viz. Naturphilosophie].  … The conquerer introjected the emotionalism of the victim.  Unity of science” … “physical forces”  were not merely directing ideas  or hypotheses of scientific endeavor:  they became almost objects of worship.  They were more than methods of research -- they became a Weltanschauung.
-- Ernest Jones, Freud: the Formative Years (1953), p. 43

The study of animal behavior with its Innate Releasing Mechanisms  can be seen as a sort of dual to Jung’s endeavors:

Ethology and Jungian psychology can be viewed as two sides of the same coin:  it is as if ethologists have been engaged in an extraverted exploration of the archetype, and Jungians in an introverted examination of the IRM.
-- Anthony Stevens, Jung: A Very Short Introduction (1994), p.  5

The following is as lame as Dawkins’ analogizing of ‘memes’ to genes;  but we cite it by way of examining the hypothesis of Consilience, not by way of defending it:

What Jung was proposing  was no less than a fundamental concept  on which the whole science of psychology could be built.  Potentially, it is of comparable importance to quantum theory …Just as the physicist investigates particles and waves,  and the biologist  genes,  so  Jung held it  to be the business of the psychologist  to investigate the collective unconscious  and the functional units  of which it is composed -- the archetypes.
-- Anthony Stevens, Jung: A Very Short Introduction (1994), p.  47

According to his associate Jones, Freud made

a half-serious prediction that, in time to come, it should be possible to sure hysteria by administering a chemical drug, without any psychological.  On the other hand, he used to insist that one should first explore psychology to its limits, while waiting patiently for the suitable advance in biochemistry, and would warn his pupils against “flirting with endocrinology”.
-- Ernest Jones, Freud: the Formative Years (1953), p. 43

Here Freud was prescient about Prozac and its tribe, while warning against premature horizontal consilience.

To the objection, “der Mensch habe noch andere Interessen als die sexuellen”, Freud replies:

Das haben wir keinen Augenblick lang vergesssen oder verleugnet.  Unsere Einseitigkeit ist wie die des Chemikers, der alle Konstitutionen auf die Kraft der chemischen Attraktion zurückführt.  Er leugnet darum die Schwerkraft nicht, er überläßt ihre Würdigung  dem Physiker.
-- Sigmund Freud, “Eine Schwierigkeit der Psychoanalyse” (1917)

Theodor Reik,  a colleague of Sigmund Freud for thirty years, reports:  “He insisted that psychoanalysis, as a science, should adhere to its own methos, and he tried to keep it free of the methods of other sciences.”  (The Search Within (1956), p. 13).

After the Fliess period, one notices a diminishing tendency on Freud’s part  to physiologize -- or, at any rate, to promise eventually to physiologize -- the new discoveries.
-- Philip Rieff, Freud: The Mind of the Moralist (1959), p. 7

Jung never disagreed with Freud’s view that personal experience is of crucial significance for the development of each individual, but he denied that this development occurred in an unstructured personality.  For Jung, the role of personal experience  was to develop what is already there.
-- Anthony Stevens, Jung: A Very Short Introduction (1994), p. 48

This exactly parallels the central tenet of Chomsky.

Chomsky-Halle binarism; ctr. Jungian tetradism:

The categories into which these [characterological] typologies are divided  are commonly four in number.  It is as if the mind has a natural propensity to orientate itself through a tetrad of pair oppositions.  The magnetic compass  is a case in point.
-- Anthony Stevens, Jung: A Very Short Introduction (1994).

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