The Judeo-Christian Legacy

- Monotheism

- Humans and the world as God's creation

- The LAW (obedience, sin)

- "Other-worldly" emphasis

Note: differences between Hellenic &

Hebraic views of human beings

(similarities and differences with "Eastern" approaches)

See Paranjpe (1998). Self and Identity in Indian and

Modern Psychology

The Jesus Movement:

- The importance of intentions

(rather than behaviour per se )

- The GOOD Life:

- pleasing God

- cultivating virtues: humility,

forgiveness, charity, faith, ...

-Contrast the above with:

- Plato & Aristotle

- the credo of "science"

Plotinus (204-270 A.D.)

- Neoplatonic philosopher

- Passionate search for truth

- Mystical experience:

- Not sensory, non-rational

- Truth-bearing

- Union with the Absolute, the "One"

- Plotinus' character:

- serene, tranquil

- trustee for children

- Contact with the East

- Influence on West: Augustine and

the Christian mystical tradition

Implication for psych.:

Mystical experience:

a phenomenon noted in most societies

throughout history--yet a neglected &

misuderstood psychological phenomenon


Institutionalization of the Jesus Movement

- Apostolic teachings

- Need for EXEGESIS: interpretation

of the religious texts

- Construing a consistent, authoritative worldview

Heresy vs. Orthodoxy

- Gnostic heresy:

Salvation through knowledge, or faith?

(an opinion of Greek origin)

- Manichean heresy:

If Evil is Satan's doing, is God's power limited?

(Mani declared himself prophet in 242 C.E.)

- Arian heresy:

God as One or Trinity?

(Arius, c 256-336 C.E.)

- Pelagian heresy:

Who is responsible for Evil if God is omnipotent etc.?

(Pelagius 355-425 C.E.)

Implications of controversies over the "heresies":

- Note: attempts to develop internally

consistent world views

- Origin of heresies in "cognitive dissonance"

- Polarization among adherents of rival doctrines

- Seeds of Conflict: Faith vs. Reason

- eventually leading to the bitter conflict
between "Church" & "Science"


St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

(Ref: Jones, The Medieval Mind;Watson, Great Psychologists )

Important works: Confessions, City of God

- His deep sense of Sin

- His lack of interest in the physical world

- Conversion: influence of St. Paul

- Polemic against Academicians:

- "For if I am deceived, I am"

- " the inward parts of man

dwelleth the truth..."

- Polemic against Manicheans

- God is not the cause of evil

- "Man himself would sin; if he

wills not, he sins not."

Note: Doctrine of "free will" implied;

yet, Augustine believed that

everything is determined by God

- Attitude toward science:

- Avoid "impious pride" (e.g., from

ability to predict eclipses, & etc.)

Lust of the Eyes:

Curiosity and pleasure of the body, sight!

Augustine: Implications for psych.

- The subjectivist legacy

- Affirmed free will & tried to

reconcile it with determinism

- Anticipates the spirit of existential

approach to psychology


The Medieval period

(From fall of Roman Empire to about the 15th century!)

The Early Middle Ages

(about 476 -1000A.D.)

- The "Dark age"

--Subdued intellectual inquiry

- Missing works of Aristotle

- Dominance of Church: the rise of Papacy

- The rise of Islam

-- Founded by the Prophet Mohammad (570-632)

~c. 622 C.E.

The High Middle Ages

(about 1000-1300A.D.)

- The gradual recovery of Greek texts

- often from Arabic translations

(e.g., in Toledo, Spain, in 12th cent.)

- The revival of rational inquiry

- The problem of reconciling the

Hellenic world-view (guided by reason)

to the Hebraic one (informed by faith)

- e.g.,Controversy over Universals

The Problem of Universals

Start with PLATO...





| |

Only particulars Only universals

are Real: are Real:

| |


| |

If this position is If this position is

right, then: right, then:

- Father, Son & - Forms are general;

Holy Spirit are more general forms

all real are more real,

God being the most real.

- There are 3 -So, God is at

Gods, not 1! the pinnacle of a

hierarchy, suggesting


Both nominalism and realism led to

conclusions unacceptable to the Church,

which led to a bitter controversy

over nature of universals

Relevance to psychology of the

Nominalism/Realism distinction:


- Emphasis on particular, concrete,

observable entities

- e.g., S-R, symptoms (not "disease")


- Emphasis on general, abstract,

unobservable entities

- e.g., "disease", not symptoms; on

"traits," "factors," or "personality" etc.

Note: Today this debate stands between behaviourists and essentialist. Wittgenstien and ordinary lanuguage debate also stand as conceptualist synthetic but offering relative concepts that emerge in time across social worlds.

The Contemporary Debate

The variety of Medieval solutions to the

the Faith vs. Reason conflict

1. Reason over faith

e.g.: Peter Abelard (1079-1142 A.D.)

- Admires Aristotle ("our prince")

- Position on universals: conceptualism:

universal are CONCEPTS arising in the

process of generalization.

- Authors "Yes and No", demonstrating

for and against a variety of issues

- Uses reason to show how very often

Church fathers contradict the Scriptures

- Convicted of Heresy

2. Faith over reason

e.g.: St. Bernard of Clairvaux

(1091-1153 A.D.)

- Truth is not only revealed, it is


- Philosophy is not only unnecessary

but also dangerous

Contrast with Plotinus, who was NOT against reason

3. Keep Faith separate from Reason

e.g.: Siger of Babrant (fl. 1260-1277)

- Proposed the "Doctrine of Two Truths":

- One truth of the material world,

another of the supernatural world

Compare: Descartes's two "worlds":

of matter and soul

Note: implied separation of science

and religion, separation of

matter & mind/soul as in Descartes


4. Integrate Faith and Reason, e.g.,

St. Thomas Aquinas's attempt at the

integration of Aristotalian and Christian



St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Attempted reconciliation of Faith

& Reason (Theos + logos):

- Suggested reason leads to same

truths as revelation

e.g., God as creator (Bible) and

God as prime-mover (Aristotle)

- "Theo-logy" uses reason like all

sciences, but it is superior to all

sciences due to its superior subject


- Also, faith necessary in all sciences:

the basic assumptions of science

(i.e., axioms) must be accepted

without proof (i.e., "on faith")

- Accepted unity of body & soul

Accepted Aristotle's scala naturae

i.e., the continuity of plants,

animals & humans


- Adopted ibn Sina's elaboration of

Aristotle's concept of:

a. Vegetative soul..........plants (a)

b. Sensitive soul............animals (a+b)

c. Rational soul.............humans (a+b+c)

- While accepting a continuity of animals

and humans, Aquinas emphasized the

difference due to rationality: Humans,

but not animals, can judge between right

and wrong.

Note: Human-animal differences still discussed.

- Aquinas tried to reconcile Faith & Reason by

admitting the use of reason in knowing God

--by rationally understanding His

WORKS (the world), and his

WORDS (the Bible)


(Newton did the same later by discovering

laws that God gave Nature)

- But Aquinas denied direct knowledge of

God through mystical experience.


Transition from Medieval to Modern Times

(14th-16th centuries)

Renaissance, Reformation, Rise of Science

Renaissance - Revival of the Greek tradition

(philosophy, art, & etc.)

- Exploration

- Commerce - The Medici family

- Art: from Byzantine to Renaissance forms

- Nationalism in Europe

Reformation - Response to abuse/decline of Papacy

- Luther (1483-1546)

- no need of Pope to mediate between

individual & God

- "individualism"

- Calvin (1509-1564)

- asceticism & Protestant (work) ethic