The Search for the Psyche: A Human Science Perspective

Amedeo Giorgi. The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology: Leading Edges in Theory, Research, and Practice. Editor: Kirk J Schneider, James F T Bugental, J Fraser Pierson. Sage Publications, 2001.

The purpose of this chapter is to confront an intrinsically difficult and often bypassed question: What is the meaning of the psyche? I approach the question with modest ambitions. I do not expect to give a full answer; rather, I hope to revive and restore its legitimacy and perhaps move the discussion of it forward a bit. After all, the founders of our discipline were forced to answer the question because they were claiming to found a new science, and one can hardly make that claim without articulating, to some degree, what the new science is all about. The only trouble was that the founders of our discipline did not always agree on the subject matter, the approach to it, the methods to be employed, or even the value of the knowledge gained.

I am aware, of course, that the psyche, as the phenomenon to be explored by psychology, has been denied. The claim is made that the name represents an anachronism. Nevertheless, I do believe that the term has staying power and connotes a uniqueness not contained in its competitors—consciousness, the unconscious, behavior, and experience. Better yet, one way of responding to the challenge is to show how the term psyche can incorporate each of the four competing terms. The deeper challenge is to be able to discern accurately and articulate well the specific unique connotations of the psyche.

Biographical Roots of the “Search for the Psyche”

I was a graduate student during the 1950s, and I followed an experimental program. I was trained as a psychologist specializing in the field of visual perception. However, I would say that the guiding idea of my training was how to be scientific. Indeed, how to become a scientist was enforced more vigorously than was sensitivity to psychological manifestations. This fact, in and of itself, could have been a great benefit if the balance between scientific emphasis and psychological sensitivity was proportional or if the sense of science being pursued was more in tune with the nature of psychological reality. However, neither desideratum actually was experienced by me. To be excellently scientific was the alpha and omega of all of my psychological education.

Now, I have to state another personal fact. The reason that I chose psychology as a career was because I read William James. I read the Principles of Psychology (James, 1890/1950) primarily, and I was especially attracted to the chapters that described the major characteristics of consciousness— that it was like a stream with substantive and “fringelike” parts, that it always was personal and selective, that consciousness is changing constantly even though organized, and that it deals with objects that are independent of it. These were the issues that I was interested in exploring and this was why I chose psychology as a profession, and I was keenly interested in knowing how knowledge about such themes had developed during the roughly half century since James had penned those words.

Needless to say, none of those themes were touched on during my entire psychological training, nor were there specialists where I studied who could guide readings in those areas. However, that disappointment is only part of the story. After all, I was only a student, and there was much about humans that I did not know, so I tried to appropriate as much knowledge as I could, arguing to myself that it never hurts to have general background knowledge about humans. However, I was curious about how the understanding of psychology evolved. I did not know what the psyche was, and I was hoping that somebody would tell me so that I would have a better understanding of my own field.

Perhaps it was because I had this expectancy that I noticed something else about my education: It was dispersed and not unified. By this assertion, I mean something specific and concrete. If I wanted to know something more detailed about the stimulus that triggered off vision, then I went to the physics section of the library and read articles about the characteristics of light. If I wanted to know more about the receptor for vision, then I went to the biology or physiology section of the library to read about the anatomy of the eye or the retina. If I wanted some more nitty-gritty understanding of the visual process, then I also went to the chemistry section of the library to learn about the characteristics of rhodop-sin or iodopsin. If I wanted to become methodologically sophisticated and learn about statistics and probability theory, then I found myself in the mathematics section of the library. Finally, if I reverted to my original interest in consciousness, then I read philosophers because psychologists had basically ceased talking about it. The ultimate irony for me, then, was that I was preparing for a career in psychology but rarely was in the psychology section of the library. It seemed to me that I was confronting a certain void. Where was psychology? Why did it seem so hidden? It was imaginable, of course, that psychology could be spread across all of these disciplines, but should it not at least contribute a unifying perspective? There was none that I could see.

Now, one could argue that perhaps my experiences were due to the subject matter that I chose to study—vision, a sensorial process heavily dependent on physical stimuli and the body. There is some truth to this, but it cannot be the whole story. That is because it never was made clear just how psychology unified the various perspectives. It seemed redundant. It was as though the visual experiences could be explained by an amalgamation of all of the other disciplines. I kept wondering why the consciousness that motivated me to become a psychologist was so assiduously avoided.

Bentley’s Lament

I tried to share my concerns about the gap in the center of the field with my peers, as well as with the few professors I knew well enough, but none seemed to share my concerns. Nevertheless, I carried these concerns with me throughout my studies and during my whole professional career. I read rather thoroughly in the history of psychology, and one day I came across a psychologist who saw exactly the same problem and, mirabile dictu, was even worried about it.

The psychologist was Madison Bentley, a student of Titchener who also taught at Cornell University. It is not surprising, perhaps, that he was sensitive to this issue given that his teacher was one of the psychologists most responsible for attempting to give psychology a unified definition, even in terms of consciousness. Bentley wrote an article titled “A Psychology for Psychologists” in 1930. Forgive me for using a long quotation from this article, but I do so because I do not think that the situation has changed today even though Bentley’s (1930) article was written more than 70 years ago. That is, the content is somewhat dated, but the dynamics that created Bentley’s lament still are alive and well.

So we add one more photographic presentation of our common array of psychological facts and objects, leaving the unfortunate reader to create his own clear perspective out of many limited and divergent views.

Our main and underlying contention will be that the present confusion of tongues, now widely deplored, is chiefly due to the fact that outside concerns and foreign interests have played too great a part in shaping and defining our field. The result is that we tend artificially to maintain our identity by virtue of the common label “psychology.” Really psychological points of view and interests have been made secondary to evolutionism, the doctrine of heredity, zoological hypotheses, clinical medicine, psychiatry, theory of knowledge, the training of infants, educational doctrines, sociology, anthropology, propaganda for “efficiency,” and amateurish conceits about “human nature.” Were you to hold to the light any one of the many proposals for a “new psychology” and to look steadily through it, you would almost certainly see the obscuring shadow of one or another of the extra-psychological subjects named in this long list. And the main reason why so many persons are now ambitious to wear the badge and to speak a dialect of psychology is that practically all men can thereby serve some extraneous interest. A few terms borrowed from one of these outside sources—such terms as conditioning, instinct and habit, mental evolution, original nature, reflexes, learning, the unconscious, introversion, inferiority, intelligence, social responses, primitive man, and achievement test—are enough to give [an] air of scientific sophistication and to suggest the epithet “psychology.” But practically all such terms are imports from without. Insofar as they are assimilated at all, they are assimilated not to psychology but to that particular brand of the subject which has derived from, and has been fashioned to serve, the context which the given term implies. It is inevitable, therefore, that we should now possess multiple psychologies reducible to no common denominator; psychologies pluralized not in the sense of many envisagements of one and the same universe of facts and principles but in the sense of a common name for many diverse and divergent undertakings. (pp. 95-96)

After this long description about external influences on psychology, Bentley (1930) reduced the number of primary determiners to three: biology, medicine, and education (p. 96). I would say that psychology still is being largely determined by outside factors, but the top three today would be medicine, neurology, and cognitive sciences. Of course, with practitioners, managed care also has emerged as a determining factor. But none of this would be possible, of course, if we had a clearer idea of what we meant by psyche, clearly demarcating its essence and variations and establishing a good sense of its boundaries. Until we do that, we really can only expect more of the same.

Another manifestation of the fragmentation of psychology can be seen in the number and types of divisions that the American Psychological Association sponsors. There now are 52 divisions reflecting psychological interests, but the relationship among the divisions is totally a “chance” one. It is a type of relationship that Gestalt psychologists called und-verbindungen or a mere side-by-sideness. It reflects the fact that psychology has grown more by proliferation and extensiveness than by depth of knowledge in terms of the reduction of multifarious facts to basic principles or theoretical organization.

Contemporary Examples of Bentley’s Lament

I now demonstrate that Bentley’s perspicacious point about how psychology is driven by external factors still persists today. Many books concerning the mind and/or therapy were published during the 1990s that have stirred the popular imagination to some extent, and I use these more popular books to indicate the cultural expectations that currently exist, although psychologists’ works are heavily referenced in all of these publications. The three books I have chosen as examples, all of which were reviewed in prestigious sources, are as follows: The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, by Tor Norretranders, a Danish science journalist (Norretranders, 1991); How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist (Pinker, 1997); and The Talking Cure: The Science Behind Psychotherapy, by Susan Vaughan, a psychiatrist (Vaughan, 1997). First I cite some of the claims and statements made by these authors, and then I comment on them.

Pinker’s (1997) book was written in such a way that one could easily believe that it was written to exemplify Bentley’s point. Pinker states that he believes that the problems of the mind can be solved through the twin perspectives of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. His strategy is to use “reverse engineering, i.e., the attempt to discover the functions of organs,” with Pinker arguing that this “is what one should be doing to the human mind” (p. 165). Natural selection is used as a basic metaphysical principle; it explains “the appearance of design without a designer, using ordinary forward causation as it applies to replication” (p. 157). However, “the original molecule was not a product of natural selection (for that would lead to an infinite regress) but [rather] of the laws of physics and chemistry. Nevertheless, these replicators are wont to multiply, and over time, changes that are for the better will be accumulated” (p. 158). Pinker admits that “natural selection is not the only process that changes organisms over time, but it is the only process that seemingly designs organisms over time” (p. 158). An organism, for Pinker, is a “replicator with a well-engineered body” (p. 158). Indeed, Pinker writes that “organisms are not just cohesive blobs or pretty spirals or orderly grids. They are machines, and their‘complexity’ is functional adaptive design: complexity in the service of accomplishing some interesting outcome” (pp. 161–162). Pinker asserts that the study of the modern mind is being accomplished by cognitive science. “What makes humans unusual, in addition to upright posture and precision manipulation, is our behavior and our mental programs that organize it” (p. 187).

As Bentley stated, the external interests are dominant here. Mind will be understood by cognitive science, and psychology will be understood in terms of the principles of evolution. In this scenario, does psychology have the right to make a discovery that might challenge its framework? Will the framework allow it?

Vaughan’s (1997) approach is different, but the consequences for psychology are similar. She is a practicing psychoanalyst, but she feels compelled to ground psychoanalysis scientifically through neurology.

In this book, I present evidence that shows how psychotherapy literally changes the structure of your brain. It actually can alter the web of interconnecting neural cells found in the gray matter of the cerebral cortex. Taken together over time, these physical changes in how neurons are connected help us to produce new internal representations of self and other, changing the ingrained neural patterns about relationships that were laid down during early childhood development. The techniques of psychodynamic psychotherapy—from the use of free association and the exploration of dreams to the probing of the evolving patient-therapist relationship itself—make sense in neuronal terms. I believe that the new evidence explains how and why the “talking cure” works at the cellular level. I hope to put neuron back into neurosis. (pp. 4–5)

Throughout the book, Vaughan (1997) first describes her relationship to a client and presents some of the dialogue, and then she departs from the level of experience and behavior to give interpretations of brain activity that could account for why the client was experiencing things or behaving the way in which he or she was behaving. It is as though understanding the experience or behavior itself was not sufficient and that only understanding pathologies in terms of neural activity could truly matter. Indeed, the talking cure is not reliable in and of itself; the scientific basis for its workability has to be established, and that comes from the activity of the brain.

Norretranders’s (1991) perspective is that of science and technology, and by taking an objective perspective toward persons, he argues that the reality that consciousness gives us is much less than what the body as a whole receives. He places great stock in unconscious processing and believes that it is a source of richness that too often is discarded in contemporary culture. Thus, he speaks of our consciousness as a “user illusion,” the term coming from computer design technology whereby the user of a computer is led to believe that the computer functions in terms of the symbols on the screen, whereas the engineer knows that a sequence of binary choices are being processed. In Norretranders’s own words,

The user illusion, then, is the picture the user has of the machine. [The computer designers] realized that it does not really matter whether this picture is accurate or complete, just as long as it is coherent and appropriate. So, what matters is not explaining to the user how the computer works but [rather] the creation of a myth that is consistent and appropriate—and is based on the user, not the computer. (p. pp. 291)

From this understanding, Norretranders (1991) goes on to make a series of significant statements:

  • “The I experiences that it is the I that acts; that it is the I that senses; that it is the I that thinks. But it is the ME that does so. I am my user illusion of myself” (p. 292).
  • “Just as the computer contains loads of bits that a user is not interested in, the ME contains loads of bits [that] the I is not interested in” (p. 292).
  • “But it is not only the I experienced as our personal identity and active subject that is an illusion. Even what we actually experience is a user illusion. The world we see, mark, feel, and experience is an illusion” (p. 293).
  • “There are no colors, sounds, or smells out there in the world. They are things we experience. This does not mean that there is no world, for indeed there is. The world just is. It has no properties until it is experienced. At any rate, not properties like color, smell, and sound” (p. 293)
  • “I see a panorama, a field of vision, but it is not identical with what arrives at my senses. It is a reconstruction, a simulation, a presentation of what my senses receive. An interpretation, a hypothesis!” (p. 293).

As one commentator put it,

Seizing on the importance of discarded information as his reigning metaphor, [Norretranders] moves from physics to psychology, steadily whittling down consciousness. It is estimated that of the millions of bits of information flooding through the senses at any moment, most [are] thrown away, and only a tiny fraction enter into human awareness. From this thin stream of data (engineers call it a low-bandwidth signal), the brain creates a picture—a simulation that we mistake for reality. (Johnson, 1998, p. 35)

Note how all three authors share a common theme, that which is the basis of Bentley’s lament. Norretranders (1991) approaches the understanding of persons from the perspective of the physical sciences, computer design, and technology. He grants that there is consciousness, but it is simply brain activity, and it is not even as good as brain activity given that the brain receives so much more than consciousness apparently can appropriate. Vaughan (1997) practices psychoanalysis but, as a psychiatrist, believes that experiential-behavioral pathologies can be scientifically understood only in terms of neural processes. Because neural activity apparently participates in some of the dynamics of our experiential, meaningful world, one can use it to explain why we experience what we do. Finally, Pinker (1997) is a cognitive scientist who believes that principles of software design, plus principles of evolution, can totally account for human behavior. He grants that this total understanding is a long way off, but comprehension eventually will yield to those principles. So, physical science, neurology, evolutionary theory, and cognitive science can basically do the job that psychology was called to do. My argument is that this is not possible. But as Bentley said, there are psychologists who lend their labels to such external views. However, they are looking for the psyche in all the wrong places. Do they not realize that they are in the process of undermining their own field?

Now, specifically with respect to the point that Norretranders (1991) makes about consciousness, it is in a way ironic that he tries to diminish consciousness and sees its narrowness as a limitation and it as illusory. After all, it is this so-called illusory consciousness that has established the effectiveness of the unconscious achievements. All science, after all, is performed with waking consciousness. Second, there is a strong metaphysical assumption that the world is organized according to our understanding of physical nature, that the “really real” is all that information that arrives in bits. Yet, when Norretranders calls our consciousness illusory, he really is acknowledging that conscious awareness does not follow the bits in any literal way. As Gestalt psychology showed long ago, consciousness organizes and thematizes what it receives and makes a contribution to awareness. Thus, the assumption that consciousness should follow the inputs of bits in a passive way is not at all in accord with our experience of the world. Finally, Norretranders seems not to take seriously the fact that the unconscious is a mode of consciousness and, therefore, may well begin the transformation processes that he calls illusory and that we would call phenomenal.

With respect to Vaughan (1997), it is not at all clear why a demonstration that neurons can do what the organization of experience or behavior already does is an advantage for understanding neuroses or even more severe pathologies. It is not at all clear why remaining at the level of experience or behavior is less satisfying. We find in Vaughan passages such as the following:

But Alice’s networks, with their built-in association, have been organized since early childhood in the absence of this information. Once she learns about Max, it is too late for her to go back and reorganize all those interconnected themes on her own. Her networks already have evolved in a particular way. The new information gets stuck onto Alice’s networks the way a wad of chewing gum is stuck to the theater seat….

Part of our task in psychotherapy is to reach into Alice’s adult networks and disconnect those neurons that link growing up with sadness. This reexamination and reshaping of networks laid down in early life is probably the neurobiological equivalent of what analysis terms “working through.” (pp. 45-46)

If the neural dynamics are merely equivalent to the experiential ones, then what is the gain? Is it really more empirical to speak about sad neurons than about sad persons? Do we really feel more enlightened if we know that the reconnecting of neural patterns is the basis of working through? Why is this redundancy in physical terms necessary? And is the neural explanation not dependent on the experiential given that it is only through consciousness (experience) that changes announce themselves? Is it not psychology’s task to develop the understanding of those experiential-behavioral patterns?

With respect to Pinker’s (1997) work, one can easily grant that cognitive science might account for cognition, but are psychological experiences and cognitive experiences identical? Is it not true that affects and desires cannot be exhausted by a cognitive approach even if we grant some cognitive dimensions of those experiences? And there are many criticisms of natural selection as a universal principle of selection even if it is partially successful.

So, let us ask the key question: Why is psychology so prone to be externally driven? For one thing, because there is a lack of clarity with respect to the meaning of the psyche, many pretenders are quite eager to rush in. The “void” invites all sorts of analogical speculation. In addition, psychology’s desire to be and look scientific is a big factor. One way in which a person can demonstrate that he or she is scientific is by using the language of science or terms that are in harmony with it. (Of course, when I use the term science without qualifiers, I mean natural science.) This motivates a type of languaging that could be detrimental to the clarification of psychological reality. Here, I need to make an additional point regarding psychological perspectives. We have heard that the cognitive perspective brought about a revolution in psychology from its behavioral past. However, from my perspective, the shift to the cognitive perspective is only a shift in content and not a true revolution. Indeed, I would argue that cognitive psychology is doing precisely what it is necessary to do so as to preserve the natural science paradigm in psychology and study cognitive processes. Moreover, its advance undoubtedly was aided by the development of the computer and various software programs.

This leads me to another critical point. Psychology seems to be fascinated by technology and pragmatism. Roback (1952) noted long ago that psychology in the United States, as opposed to that in Germany, was practical and technical. This certainly was true of the behavioristic era. Skinner admitted not only that he did not know what behavior was but also that he did not care. What he wanted to do was shape it. Much of cognitive psychology seems to be inspired along the same lines. Questions about cognition often are couched in terms that make certain practical functions possible rather than intrinsic questions about the phenomena as such. All of these factors tend to keep our languaging of the psyche away from essential description.

What is not Meant by my Comments

I have been making some strong assertions, and precisely because they are strong, I want to be sure that I am clearly understood. First, I am not saying that neurology, cognitive science, and evolutionary biology are not legitimate sciences. They are. I am only saying that they are not psychology. Second, I am not arguing against interdisciplinary studies such as neuropsychology and psychopharmacological analyses. What I am arguing is that there should be stronger psychological contributions to such studies and that psychology should not be riding on the coattails of the disciplines with which it is dialoguing. Third, I am not saying that a person who was trained as a psychologist cannot change interests and begin to function as another type of scientist. Clearly, one can, but then the psychological training may be incidental to the new effort, and that should be made clear. Fourth, I am not saying that there cannot be an applied psychology. I am only saying that the clearer we are about what is unique about the psychological approach, the better the applications will be. Fifth, I am not saying that analogical models for psychological phenomena cannot be used. I am only saying that we should remember that fact and not take them literally. Every analogy has unlike characteristics as well as like ones. Finally, to argue for a unique perspective for psychology is not to make it unique science in any special sense but only in the ordinary sense that every science has an irreducible perspective. Otherwise, it should not exist as a separate science.

Toward the Meaning of the Psyche

I do not pretend to have solved all of the problems surrounding the discrimination of psychical processes (Giorgi, 1982, 1986), but I would like to see in psychology types of thinking other than the type that I have been criticizing. My own perspective depends on the phenomenological approach, and the few things I say here depend on scholars writing within that approach (Giorgi, 1981).

The first thing that one can say is that the psyche does offer special problems for investigators because our subject matter is not clearly and noncontroversially delineated. This fact immediately forces the issue of perspective. One cannot say that the whole person—or the whole organism— purely and simply is what psychology seeks, for one can adopt many perspectives toward persons. Moreover, neither can one say that it is the person as such that is the subject matter of psychology (i.e., from the skin inward) because the person must relate to the environment or to his or her situation. And of course, this interaction is dialectical. That is, what is important for whatever we call psychology is the fact that the environment impinges on a person, and the human person initiates actions toward the world. Again, however, many disciplines take into account this double interaction, so the issue of perspective comes up again. How do we delineate the content to be called psychology? What phenomenon presents itself to the consciousness of the psychologist when he or she looks for psychological reality?

One way in which to look at this issue is to see what the quality of entities is like. We know that there are physical things without consciousness, and we also know that there are entities with the dimension of life. The latter are the subject matter of biology. What quality is added to “bios” for the psyche to appear? Following Straus (1956/ 1963), I would say worlds. Worlds are correlated with entities—or organisms—that have sensoriness and motility. That is, psychology emerges with beings that are capable of receiving impingement from the world and move about in it. So far, then, the psyche would refer to a functioning that would include worlds, and here I would add a further restriction: Psychology has to do with individuated worlds, although these could be generalized into types such as the world of the rat, the world of the pigeon, and the differentiated worlds of humans (e.g., entertainment, finance).

If there is a psyche, then it always is attached to an entity that has bios or an organism. Psyches never appear isolatedly, nor do they attach themselves to physical things. That is why a mechanistic approach to a human or to psychological reality, understood literally, always falsifies. Mechanistic thought can be applied to the human psyche only analogically. That is why a computer model of mind can, at best, be only an analogy. The basic practical proof is the fact that any machine made by humans can be taken apart, the parts all can be laid down side by side, they then can be put back together, and the machine can function again. No attempt to keep the entity alive is necessary, as with organisms. That is because a machine is grounded by the principle of partes extra partes, that is, by external relations. Entities manifesting life have different organizing principles, and so would entities capable of bearing psychological life.

I have argued that the psyche extends bios by establishing relationships with a world within which it can act and react, against which it can resist, or with which it can harmonize. But how does it do this? We have to answer through consciousness and bodies. I offer the suggestion that the psyche refers to a level of integration of mind and body with horizontal relations to the world and vertical relations with itself. However, psychology would be interested in only a certain level of integration of consciousness-body. Not every relation between consciousness and body would be psychological, and this thought again implies perspective. That is, there are certain levels of conscious functioning that would not be of interest to psychology, such as logical and mathematical thinking. Similarly, there would be aspects of the body that would not be of direct interest to psychology, such as anatomy and neurology. Rather, psychology would be directed toward the integrated functioning of consciousness-body that we could call subjectivity. This calls for a little elaboration.

It is important to bear in mind that in the phenomenological tradition, the essence of consciousness is intentionality, not awareness. Intentionality means that consciousness always is directed to an object that transcends the act in which it appears. Basically, this means that consciousness is a principle of openness. By means of it, we are open to a world. The body shares the intentionality of consciousness. It partakes of the directedness toward the world, and so does the unconscious, only awareness often does not accompany this directedness. Nevertheless, all those achievements that Norretranders (1991) speaks about that he assigned to a “ME” still are achievements of what we call consciousness, but they are not accompanied by awareness. However, reflection on such unaware achievements also belong to consciousness, so some access to them is possible. The point here is that the body as a subjectivity directed toward the world is the sense of the psychological body. But in this sense, the body shares subjectivity with a series of conscious acts that are not necessarily acted out bodily.

Psychology, then, is interested in a subjectivity engaged with a world in an individualistic way and with the interpreted sense-makings of the world as constituted by individuals. Because the body acts, behavior is involved, and because of impingements from and openness to the world, experience is included. Because of bodily engagements with the world and others without awareness, the unconscious is included, and because of spontaneity and acts of deliberate initiative, consciousness is included. The psyche then would be a certain perspective on the integrated functioning of all of them. But psychology does not exhaust those four topics. There always is some remainder that belongs to each of them that offers itself for analysis for other disciplines.

So far as the scientific study of the psyche is concerned, another degree of complexity enters, a complexity articulated best by the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Merleau-Ponty (1942/1963) pointed out that Western scholarly traditions have been very good with two types of objects: Philosophers developed expertise in dealing with ideas, and scientists developed expertise in dealing with things. Merleau-Ponty made the point that behavior (and I would say the psyche) is neither thing nor idea, and that is one reason why we have problems delineating and comprehending it. Moreover, behavior and the psyche present themselves primarily to perceptual consciousness, which is a level of consciousness that is nontransparent. So, the opacity of the psyche is offered to nontransparent perceptual consciousness, and this relationship does not fall neatly into the traditional categories of knowledge. That is another reason why psychological reality has eluded sharp analyses and why progress within psychology has been slow.

Certain other characteristics of the psyche need to be mentioned even though the context does not allow sufficient time for me to provide arguments. An argument can be made that the psyche is guided primarily by interests rather than truths or, in other words, by “truths for me.” Its structures are primarily para-rational or para-logical. The norms it produces are contingent norms (Giorgi, 1993). That is, they could be other than what they are. The objects constituted by the psyche are para-objective, and this also implies that a level of intentional functioning has to be discerned that is other than that of the objective intentionality articulated by Husserl. Indeed, psychic life is a contingent life. It is a life of making sense of many situations that are not of our making, which is why access to the psychological should be through the meanings lived by engaged embodied subjectivities.

If what I am saying about the psyche is at least partially true, then what is called for—what these phenomena demand—are genuinely new rigorous approaches to study them. We are encountering qualities and types of phenomena that are not directly confronted by other disciplines. We certainly can benefit from past scientific achievements, but we also must learn how to discern and respect the uniqueness of our own phenomena. However, an original approach can emerge only if psychology dares to break from the natural scientific tradition and its technological offshoots. Rather, philosophers of science concerned about psychological science should be asking what framework is required for psychological science given its ambivalent phenomena. We should be asking what would do for psychology that technology does for natural science instead of seeking technological solutions to problems of psychology. Let us not be afraid to depart from the known realities of physical nature or things to deal with the psyche, for the psyche offers scientific consciousness peculiar characteristics not found in nature or ideas such as intentionality and meanings. Let us not be afraid to pursue phenomena and modes of understanding that might upset the status quo. I do not mean anything exotic by the latter statement. I simply mean the pursuit of “psycho-logic” to wherever it leads. Let us seek the psyche where it lives, with the human—or other organism—in its lived relationship with others and the world.