Thursday, November 6, 2014
Post # XXII - IMPEACHING INDIVIDUALISM: THE 'PTOLEMAIC' FOUNDATION OF CONTEMPORARY PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE
The astronomical implications of Copernicus' revolutionary concept of the Solar System are described in Thomas S. Kuhn's The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought (copyright 1957 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College Eleventh Printing - 1981 - ISBN 0-674-17103--9)
Thus, (p.1) "In 1543, Nicholas Copernicus proposed to increase the accuracy and simplicity of astronomical theory by transferring to the sun many astronomical functions previously attributed to the earth. Before his proposal the earth had been the fixed center about which astronomers computed the motions of stars and planets. A century later the sun had, at least in astronomy, replaced earth as the center of planetary motions, and the earth had lost its unique astronomical status, becoming one of a number of moving planets. Many of modern astronomy's principal achievements depend upon this transposition. A reform in the fundamental concepts of astronomy is therefore the first of the Copernican Revolution's meanings."
In contemporary Western culture and its social sciences, free-standing and independent INDIVIDUALISM has become the central organizing principle and goal of mature human functioning - not unlike how the GEOCENTRIC organizing principle was accepted by astronomers before Copernicus.
Yet, the English word 'nature' is related etymologically to the concept of birth-giving that, at least in all higher life forms, is a consequence of non-independent and non-individualistic male-female procreational interaction.
Could human functioning be better understood by perceiving and studying a mature man as a half-individual and a woman as a complementary half-individual? [The formula of marriage would then be 'the two halves become one'.]
Neither a man nor a woman can make a new life or a new reality alone. Both new life and new realities require procreational interaction between one male and one female.
Certainly, male(s) and female(s), individually or in groups, can build, construct and create a myriad of new things, situations, art, etc. - but a new life or a new reality results only from interaction between one male and one female who relate to each other as two complementary halves of a procreative process.
SO -- this blogger proposes that male-female procreative interaction rather than the individual become the focus of such scientific endeavors as psychology, sociology and psychiatry.
Of course, in the same way that most people in Copernicus' time proffered that it was obvious that the Earth stands still, most men (not so much females) will currently declare that it is obvious that each person is essentially a whole individual rather than a half-individual.
Kuhn (p.2) "Initiated as a narrowly technical, highly mathematical revision of classical astronomy, the Copernican theory became one focus for the tremendous controversies in religion, in philosophy, and in social theory which, during the two centuries following the discovery of America, set the tenor of the modern mind. Men who believed that their terrestrial home was only a planet circulating blindly about one of an infinity of stars evaluated their place in the cosmic scheme quite differently than had their predecessors who saw the earth as the unique and focal center of God's creation. The Copernican Revolution was therefore also part of a transition in Western man's sense of values."
And, if the mature human being is perceived and studied as a half-individual in terms of procreating both new life and new realities* and a man considers that he is "an image or God" [this blogger believes that a woman is not restricted to being an image of anything] it suggests that God also is not a 'free-standing' whole individual - but half of a process!
* an overt indication about the presence of a new reality is the sense that "the earth has moved" consequent to male-female sexual intercourse. Less flagrantly, new realities produced by male-female communicative interaction are common-place.
As critiques of Professionalistic Individualism, I note: W. Epstein, Psychotherapy as Religion: The Civil Divine in America; J. Hillman, We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy: And the World is Getting Worse; and Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Psychotherapy
And, of course, my "half-individual" concept challenges the Christian tradition that each person will appear before God as an Individual at Judgement Day at the end of time,