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The Soul and its Mechanism - Introduction
Chapter I

The Problem of Psychology - Introduction

Three desires prompt the writing of this book: the desire to bring together the materialistic or external psychology and the introspective or internal psychology, and, secondly, looking past scientific psychology to the larger realm of race thought and race psychology, the desire to harmonize the materialistic West and the introspective East, and finally to show that all these conflicting aspects are but facets of the one truth and that, together, they constitute the one Reality.

These desires grow out of the present position of psychological teaching in the world. There are today two dominant types of psychology, and Will Durant, in "The Mansions of Philosophy," has well summarized them as follows:

"There are, as we have seen, two ways of studying man. One begins outside with the environment, and [14] considers man as a mechanism of adjustment; it reduces thought to things and 'mind' to 'matter,' and issues in the disguised materialism of Spencer and the behaviorism of Watson... The other way begins within; it looks upon man as a system of needs, impulses, and desires impelling him to study, to use, and to master his environment; it would love to reduce things to thought, and matter to mind; it starts with the 'entelechy' of Aristotle (who held that an inner purpose determines every form), and issues in the vitalism of Bergson and the pragmatism of William James."
- Durant, Will, The Mansions of Philosophy, p. 257.

Dr. W. B. Pillsbury believes this twofold system involves a needless duplication:

"If the behavioristic theory is retained it means that we must have two psychologies, an external and an internal, a psychology viewed from the outside and one viewed from the inside. This seems at the best an unnecessary complication."
- Pillsbury, W. B., Dr., The History of Psychology, p. 298.

Recognizing this duplex situation, and agreeing with Dr. Pillsbury that two lines of interpretation are unnecessary, I am convinced of the possibility of fusing the two into a third, a single unit. I seek, therefore, to present an hypothesis to prove the correctness of the mechanistic school, and the equally correct position of the school of introspectionists, and I seek also to show that both schools are necessary to account for all the facts, and that each is really complementary to the other. Thus we may establish a third or composite school, [15] based upon the exact knowledge of the Occident and the introspective wisdom of the Orient.

In considering these two schools of psychology, it is evident that modern psychology is largely materialistic and the most popular school entirely so. A study of the latest books on psychology, emanating from the many and varied schools in Europe and America, shows that the majority are primarily concerned with endorsing or rejecting the mechanistic philosophy of the Behavioristic School. If they are not thus occupied they are presenting another form of a materialist psychology. Dr. Wolfgang Köhler in Gestalt Psychology says, for instance:

"It is the layman's belief that in general, he himself directly feels why at one time he has one attitude, and later on another; also that, for the most part, he knows and understands directly why he is inclined to do one thing in a certain particular situation and why a definitely different thing under subsequent different conditions. In his view, then, he is experiencing directly and truly much of that dynamical context, the development of which constitutes mental life. Opposed to this belief and altogether foreign to it, we have the view of most learned psychologists at the present time. From their viewpoint, one is inclined to do one thing now and then another, because, in the first instance, certain nerve paths are most available, and, in the second instance, certain other paths are most open. Fortunate those people in whom the most permeable nerve paths in practice are usually the right and appropriate ones!
- Köhler, Wolfgang, Gestalt Psychology, p. 349. [16]

All is, however, in a state of confusion, and, as has been said by Will Durant:

"Psychology has hardly begun to comprehend, much less to control, human conduct and desire; it is mingled with mysticism and metaphysics, with psychoanalysis, behaviorism, glandular mythology and other diseases of adolescence."
- Durant, W., Mansions of Philosophy, p. 376.

Psychology is wandering in that borderland of the unseen which we dignify with the words energy - whether nervous, atomic or vital, - force, etheric vibrations, and electric currents and charges and the freely floating force of the psychologists, to which has been given the name libido. All the sciences seem to be converging on this same no-man's land, on the indefinable. Perhaps the veil, when lifted, will reveal to us the promised land of man's dreams and aspirations. A spirit of uncertainty and expectancy is paralleling the certainties and cold facts of modern science. It is almost as if mankind were standing before the curtain in a cosmic proscenium, waiting for it to rise and reveal the next act, in which humanity can participate intelligently. It is a humanity with a long past, much gained experience and accumulated knowledge, which stands thus waiting, but it is also a humanity which realizes that it may be called upon to take part in a revelation and a development wholly unexpected, and for which its present equipment and understanding of life may prove inadequate. [17]

Meanwhile in this cosmic proscenium, and in the approach to truth through various lines, science has arranged the known facts and is deducing the next possible development and is proceeding in its many branches and activities upon hypotheses which, correct or incorrect, merit experiment and test. Voicing what should be the attitude of mind for students in all fields of human knowledge, Bertrand Russell says:

"What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite."
- Russell, Bertrand, Sceptical Essays, p. 157.

The best type of mind to cope with this scientific situation today is that which is sceptical, yet willing to be convinced; agnostic, yet determined to investigate fairly; questioning, yet open to conviction when supposed facts are proved to be favorable of demonstration; and above all broadminded, realizing that only in the formulated truths of the many can the one Truth be known. Only the small mind, the little man, is atheistical, dogmatic, destructive in criticism, static, with back turned to the light, and to the new day.

This searching, enquiring, scientific type of mind and of investigation is especially appropriate in psychology, the oldest branch of knowledge in the world, and yet the youngest to enter the realm of true scientific study. Only a willingness to consider the field as a whole, and not a particular school alone, only by reserving opinion until more is known, will the investigator avoid the dangers [18] of one whose vision is limited, who sees only isolated points but never the panorama in which they lie, and who deals in fractions and decimals without ever achieving an integral unit.

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