Philosophical Psychology

The image of man posited by Thomas Hobbes as an egoistic man (homo homini lupus) has become dominant in our materialistic society. It is directly opposed to the altruistic view of man defended by the maieutics school (see previous section). According to this school, the ego or I-consciousness is certainly not meaningless, but neither should it be absolutized. This is a primary theme for philosophical psychology. The research question therefore focuses on the proper relationship between ego and charity. Moreover, true self-love is by no means the same as egoism. Egoism is characterized precisely by a lack of self-love and is essentially an inadequate, indeed sabotaging, because unloving compensation for true self-love. If one loves oneself in a healthy way, then one is essentially enough of oneself. One does not first ‘need’ the other or others, but one loves them without the demand for reci-procity.

The founder of philosophical anthropology Max Scheler (1874-1928) already designed a phenomenology of emotions (Wikimedia Commons).

A second important theme for philosophical psychology is the elaboration of a phenome-nology of the emotions, in which unconditional love – as an essential characteristic of humans – is the starting point. All emotions should be analyzed and described in relation to unconditional love in order thereby to trace the actual meaning of the rich palette of emotions. This theoretical exercise may make it possible to better understand and manage the practical emotional life and may consequent-ly produce therapeutic effects.

A third theme for philosophical psychology is the potentially tense relationship between lust and love. If we allow ourselves to be driven by the former, we make different choices than if we allow ourselves to be driven by the latter. To what extent can our freedom of will help us here? People with a totality experience emphasize the existence of this freedom of will. If we consciously choose to stop the sometimes selfish lust, for example in the area of fast food, drink and sex, then we may also have the choice to subsequently choose love. Note: this is certainly not a one-sided denial of lust, only a rela-tivization of its dominant and possibly sabotaging significance in one’s life. After all, not physical lust, but love is our very being.

Martin Seligman (Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, this. In psychotherapy, there is currently ordinary psychology and what is known as positive psychology. The first form we have known for decades and focuses on psychological problems. The second form, however, is not so old and focuses on a person’s strengths rather than faults and weaknesses. Positive psychology – an impor-tant name here is Martin E.P. Seligman – focuses on a person’s talents, abilities and a particular purpose in life. Thus it tries to reconnect the client, despite psychological obstacles, with his authentic sense of happiness. From a philosophical-psychological point of view it would be interesting to examine whether and to what extent positive psychology in particular connects with the philosophy of love to be propagated by the maieutics school. This could also be of importance for the coaching initiated by this school (see Core Task III).