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Philosophy and psychology: differences and similarities

diferencia entre psicologia y filosofia

Philosophy and psychology have notable differences and similarities that are evident when the historical study of these disciplines is approached.

Psychology keeps its origin in the tradition of philosophy and thinkers of antiquity. Indeed, the word “psychology” already denotes that it is the study of the soul, a notion that was approached by philosophers in ancient Greece. For example, Aristotle devoted an entire treatise to the study of this question, the Peri Psyche . So, for centuries, psychology was a branch of philosophy.

In fact, until the end of the 19th century, some concepts, both in psychology and philosophy, were interconnected, with little interest in elucidating the differences that existed between one branch and the other.

It was from the work of experimentalists such as Fechner , Helmholtz and Wundt that psychology was able to establish itself as a discipline with its own objectives, as well as with its own particular methods.

>> Related article: The myth of psyche: history of the symbol of psychology Ψ

Similarities between philosophy and psychology

Among the similarities that philosophy and psychology still have today, are the following:

  • They share some study topics: such as perception, sensations, intelligence, memory, will, mind and relationships with others, despite the fact that the language between both branches is usually different.
  • They discuss the problem of the relationship between the mind and the body: throughout history, it has been the philosophers who have proposed theories and explanations to understand the distinction between the body and the soul. From there arises the debate between monism and dualism, which psychology has inherited, but now focusing on new methodologies.
  • Philosophy lends categories for psychology to work with: for example, the idea of man as a rational animal with volitional control over feelings and moods, despite the fact that this way of conceiving man is more typical of psychoanalysis, while neuroscientists are a bit far from it. The category of will is also of philosophical heritage and much has been discussed about what could happen if the human brain received orders from a control center.
  • Interdependence between philosophy and psychology: both branches today study the notion of embodied cognition, so the philosophy of mind tries to keep up with the research of psychologists and neuroscientists .
  • They can have therapeutic purposes: many philosophical schools have been concerned with man and that he reaches a state of harmony, happiness or imperturbability, controlling his thoughts and moods. Proof of this are the Stoic and Epicurean schools. In addition, there is also the branch of logotherapy, focused on the search for meaning in the life of man. In the area of psychology, its clinical application is well known. Psychology and logotherapy can sometimes be applied together.

Differences between philosophy and psychology

Some differences between philosophy and psychology are as follows:

  • At the conceptual level: in a general way, psychology can be defined as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes; On the other hand, philosophy is a set of knowledge that, through reason, seeks to establish the principles by which the knowledge of reality and the meaning of human action are oriented.
  • The objects of study of psychology are defined: that is, they are mental processes and behavior. Philosophy integrates a broader field of study objects.
  • The topics of philosophy are more abstract: and they are also broader than those of psychology. Philosophy is interested in the meaning of life, existence, morality, knowledge, truth, among others, while the topics of psychology are more delimited, in this case, how mental processes occur and how they influence in behavior. In addition, he is interested in memory, volition and personality.
  • Psychology must start from a notion established in reality: like the experimental sciences, while philosophy seeks to understand reality from interpretation.
  • The methods of psychology are experimental: to study concrete psychological phenomena. But, philosophy is not governed by the scientific method in a rigid way, despite the fact that it analyzes how said method is applied in the other sciences.
  • Philosophy should not be verifiable: nor does it require a consensus on the part of the study communities, but is based on discussion, argumentation and debate, but psychology is based on contrasting hypotheses in order to establish conclusions. There is no room for speculation and much less in practice.
  • Psychology is a scientific discipline: interested in concrete solutions to specific conflicts, while, in the case of philosophy, the approach is often more interesting than the solution.
  • Psychology seeks answers: while philosophy seeks to generate new questions.

In addition to these differences, psychology has a clinical, experimental and even criminological aspect, while philosophy points more to epistemology and logic.

Since the 20th century, behavioral psychologists, such as Watson, proposed that psychology and philosophy should break the connection that existed between them, especially so that psychology abandons introspection and focuses on the experimental and objective method, typical of psychology. natural Sciences.

However, in the 1950s, cooperation between both branches arose again, due to the common interest they had in the subject of cognitive science.

Currently, each of these branches has its marked differences, but they continue to use some categories to achieve a better understanding of the human being and his way of acting or relating to the world in which he is immersed.'

Isbelia Farías

Isbelia Farías, filósofa, formada en Logoterapia

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