Quest for the Good and Truth

Michael K. Choi
Psychology 402 (WI)
Dr. Leon James
April 27, 1993

PART A: Birth of Psychology

Religion & Love

The core of Western civilization is constructed based on one very strict religion, Christianity. Psychology existed in the past, but in different forms. Early psychology was studied by scientists, mathematicians, priests, philosophers and so on. However, the influence of religion on the development of psychology was predominant in the early period of psychology. A seventeenth century rationalist Nicholas de Malebranche believed when something happened to the body, God caused the corresponding mental experience. If Malebranche was right, human love can never be separated from God because it is the work of God. Since God is almighty, there can be no mistake in matching mind and body action. Can love always be so religious, or isn't love such a simple matter at all?

Dualism in Psychology

When the Vatican had the mighty authority, Descartes had no choice but to invent dualism for his survival. There was exactly the same problem when Sigmund Freud invented the psychoanalytic theories; Nazis banned his books, and Freud had to leave his country. Was B. F. Skinner, one exceptional psychologist who didn't have to bother with any social pressure? As time goes by, everything that once was so great becomes no good, but the word of God. According to today's scientific knowledge, Descartes and Freud was only good guessers because they couldn't prove many things objectively. However, Skinner's behaviorism although it is not true scientific psychology, but the philosophy of psychology, is still used in many parts of society. Does it make Skinner's behaviorism the all mighty psychology? Today's psychological journals are flooded with criticism against Skinner. Are these new breed of psychologists speaking nothing but truth, or are they just trying to co-opt to the world? Endless fights, good vs. evil, science vs. mysticism, nature vs. nurture, and dualism vs. monism will be continued by psychologists who live today and psychologists who will come in future.

Nature vs. Nurture

One of the toughest fight that is still going on is the nature vs. nurture argument. This is like saying: "Which is the first, egg or chicken?" Nobody can answer such a question easily. Are humans born with the characters to become humans, or are they born with so called instincts to become humans? The significant examples of those human instincts are Eros and Thanatos. For Freud, Eros was the energy of life. People's attitudes toward the sensual and sexual nature of human beings have been always negative, so as Freud's. He himself couldn't fix his own bad habit, smoking. Probably, he hated his habit and even himself. I understand that because I cannot quit smoking myself. I hate it, and I admit what I hate is a part of me. The negative instinct of human beings caused people to disobey, deny, and even insult God. Nonetheless, I myself crave some sensual and sexual experiences all the time. The dominant authority was always there to hammer such a wicked human nature. The dominant authority exists in each individual as superego in Freud's term. It is this part of me that splits my mind. Dualism is real, but today's psychologists tries to ignore them for convenience. Physiologically the human brain has two parts, the left hemisphere and right hemisphere. According to Dr. Blanchard who teaches biopsychology in the University of Hawaii, some people are born with no connections between two brains. Are we born to suffer with such a painful dichotomy? According to Genesis 1:26-27, it, probably, is not true: "And God said let us make man in our image, after our likeness." As Dr. James says, humans might have a whole single brain in the early years, but their sins made them to have two split brains, I don't know.

Environment & Spirit

In the middle age Europe, to give absence a name, God always has existed. The true authorities was in the hands of priests and aristocrats. True science was the only way to regain the faith in true God, but people were persecuted for such a good cause. Human beings are indeed sinful, but they are not born to be that way. It was the environment and their deeds that made them wicked. Can we avoid such an unfortunate destiny to become wicked? Can't we gain freedom to follow the absolute good and truth? Skinner said:
Man's struggle for freedom is not due to a will to be free, but to certain behavioral processes characteristic of the human organism, the chief effect of which is the avoidance of or escape from so-called "aversive" features of the environment (1971, p. 39).

First of all, Skinner wasn't right for using the word "man," he became a sexiest for using such a word. According to Dr. Hatfield who teaches social psychologist in the University of Hawaii, such a sexiest idea can no longer accepted by Western society, but there still is hardly acceptable discrimination against woman because of the historical discrimination against woman in the cross-cultural society. I believe exactly the opposite can happen as well, but it is true that the current social climate facilitates the discrimination against woman. I basically agree with Skinner's idea about environment being the essence of human behavior. However, there are many criticizers of Skinner's philosophy. For instance, a recent research done by the psychologists in the college of William and Mary refutes Skinner's pragmatic argument against the concepts of freedom and intrinsic dignity. Their studies prove that Skinner is correct in assuming human behaviors are reinforced by various social phenomena, but refute Skinner's false lead toward a mechanism for possible social change through denying freedom and dignity (Harcum, Rosen, & Burijon, 1989, p. 266). Since these studies totally depend upon honesty of College students who study psychology, I'm not sure how much validity these studies have. Someday these studies will be refuted by some future psychologists, but so far it stands strong. I hate to say, but starting with Chomsky, Skinner's criticizers, whether their researches are validated or not, are enjoying the such a climate that facilitates the criticism against one dead psychologist. Is there any way to put this endless cycles of criticism that discourages all psychologists? How about spirit? How about love?

Love in Psychology
Spiritual Love & Physical Love

Spiritual Love

According to Dr. James, when two persons meet on earth and become a couple, they are also a couple in heaven after their death only if their marriage is an internal one. Dr. James uses terms such as "external appearance of truth" and "essential spiritual truth" to show the options we can choose from. Former is Physical love within which is no spiritual love and later is physical love within which there is spiritual love. Humans have two sorts of bodies. One is the physical body and the other is the spiritual body. The question arises: "How the spiritual body differ with physical body?" Before I answer this question, I have clarify whether this is relevant to psychology or mysticism. Psychology is the science of behavior. Behaviorism itself is not science of behavior, but is philosophy of psychology. Michael Mahoney says in Scientific Psychology and Radical Behaviorism: Important distinctions based in scientism and objectivism, that naive objectivism is a misguided and misguiding ideal in modern science, and scientism is dogmatic form of myopia which is decidedly unscientific in in the true sense. His opinion is: "The time has come to transform ideological swords into conceptual plowshares and to risk trusting in the harvest of open dialectical exchange ( 1989, p. 1376)." This is what should happen to behaviorism. Swedenborgianism may not be science, but it is philosophy that seeks good and truth. It is indeed have a similar purpose with behaviorism, and in addition, it is helpful to learn how to reason. Thus, I conclude the physical body is what today's biological psychologists believe that is everything, and the spiritual body is what future psychologists will study and prove its structure.

Structures of Physical Body and Spiritual Body

If there is such as a spiritual body, the body must have a structure; otherwise, there will be no function. According to Dr. James, when a couple dies, they have spiritual bodies in heaven, and they can even make love if they want. The spiritual body consists of good and truth which are the main sources of everything in heaven, and its beauty never perishes. Heaven must be one most desirable destiny although I can't get there unless I die. I can see there is a strong connection between the reality and the free will of a person in heavenly state. I afraid Skinner is right at least while we are in physical state. Skinner believed that the amount of credit a person receives was related in a curious way to the visibility of the causes of his behavior (1971, p. 42). But, he ignored the spiritual world, and it was that his philosophy crippled. According to Swedenborg's idea while humans are on earth, spirit guides physical body; the correspondence is obvious. In Skinnerian idea, there is no spirit involved at all. Skinner believed that religion was a strong reinforcement, and there was no further discussion. Descartes thought this way: "I think therefore I am." But, for Skinner thinking was only a byproduct of behavior. Is spiritual love more important than physical love or what if the antithesis of the first hypothesis is true? Measurement of Love Current Research Designs

It is true that we are more accessible to the current situation than the past situation because we are able to measure the current situation. However, there are some problems to measure the current situation. Dr. James says that reality becomes the captive of technology because people tries to measure what they don't know. Current research designs lack the large portion of what is really important because researchers don't recognize that people have the inner freedom that is the strong component of idea which is strong force in history. It is easy to make a hypothesis, test, and observation; however, the results of test, or theories that are generated from the results are not necessarily important, but only significant since there are many ignored factors such as the internal components like dreams or spirits. Anything that can be observed or measured can be tied to the theoretical terms, but psychologists can also make scientific inferences. Machines cannot make such inferences, but only humans can. Because psychologists are human beings, and thus are able to make observations. Today's psychologists tend to observe behavior in a situation where mental events can be ignored or minimized, but how can that be possible if researchers want to make a valid research design? The spiritual world and the subjectivity are not to be ignore unless the research is just to satisfy the notion of current science. They can develop new hypotheses from the observation, and tests and observations can go on and on forever and ever; however, the reliability of the research result will be followed by errors and unawareness of a researcher unless God use the researcher as an instrument for showing God's own power. Isn't human love like this too changing over and over again? But, without God's intervention how can anything happen?

Love in Scientific Sense

Love in scientific sense and love in religious sense can be very different. Science is not a monopoly on truth. Scientific objectivity can be discarded. Theory, in general, is a constant change of what is validated as true; there is no fact or meaning without theory. Can love be explained with theories, or is love just holy as what Martin Luther saying "individual faith in Christ?" Or, does charity come before faith? Dr. James explains this in two different views, one in religious view and the other in psychological view (See the diagram 1 & 2).

It is hard to comprehend things on earth if I try to pursue one specific belief, and assume that everything is constant. Once Swedenborg traveled to the southern quarter of the spiritual world, and talked to a man because he got sudden desire to know how people could do good from God, and yet do it altogether as if of themselves. The man who talked to Swedenborg said: "Man can think, indeed, that the good he does is from God, and can say that it is essentially God's; but still that it is so we do not comprehend." But, Swedenborg said: "Man is not life in himself, but an organ receptive of life. The Lord is life in Himself...(Swedenborg, 1965, p. 581)." Like the man in the southern quarter of the spiritual world and Skinner, people make many common assumptions about physical world every day life without thinking or knowing of what is meant by the spiritual correspondence. Skinner couldn't perpetuate his philosophy no matter how much he tried although it was true that he was a great professor while he was in the physical world, but he didn't know what really guided him. It was the spirit from God that made him to discover and to teach psychology to millions of people, but he couldn't figure out how to measure it.

Page 2


A Personal View On Swedenborg's Divine Love and Wisdom
Human Behaviors and Human Spirits: Quest for the Good and Truth
Function Without Structure
Rationalism. Topic: Do We Have Free Will or Not?
Heaven Is A Place On Earth: A Religious Self-Examination Experiment
Topical Index
Dr. James' Homepage