Defining Psychology & Its Nature

March 26th, 2008 by Jashodhara Purkayastha

The word Psychology has been defined in different ways. The term is derived from the words Psyche, which means soul and logos means discourse (science).

Thus psychology means the science of soul – Aristotle defines soul as an entity which realizes an idea not separable from body and its abode in the human heart. Many psychologist feel that it (soul) does not have physical existence and  can’t be seen or heard. The nature of soul cannot be defined . Hence the meaning of soul was rejected.

Psychology as the Science of MIND:
The German philosopher criticized psychology as a science of soul and said that it is the study of mind. The term was considered better as it included mental phenomena such as perceiving, reasoning etc  but some psychologists said that mind is not an organ of the body like the brain or the heart.
Charak, the court physician of King Kanishka considered human heart to be the seat of the human mind. The word mind is not clear enough to accept as science.

Psychology as the Science of CONSCIOUSNESS:
Some psychologists defined psychology as the science of consciousness. The term consciousness means awareness. Consciousness makes us more aware of the situation or things around us. Later on Freid put forward the concept of unconsciousness. He said there are two minds, one conscious and the other is unconscious. If this definition is accepted then the unaware mind is neglected. So this definition has been rejected.

Psychology as the Science of BEHAVIOR:
The latest and the modern concept of psychology is the term behavior. It is the science of human and animal behavior. The term behavior is used in a very broad sense. It expresses the entire life of an individual’s behavior including all activities like walking, playing, digging (motor) and other activities like perceiving, imagining, remembering, thinking or reasoning. It includes emotional activities like happiness, sadness, anger etc. Behavior of the learner is understood in the environment or the situation. Behavior depends on the stimulus response. E.g. A pin prick makes us jump. The pin prick is the stimulus and jumping is the response. Thus, behavior includes the behavior of animals as well as human beings and behavior of the normal as well as abnormal human beings.

Nature of Psychology:
It is an accepted reality that the nature of psychology is quite scientific. This fact has been properly realized by many psychologists and thinkers. In general, we may term a subject scientific if it:

  1. Possess a body of facts which can be supported through universal laws and principles.
  2. Emphasizes the search for truth.
  3. Doesn’t believe in hearsay, stereotypes or superstition.
  4. Believes in cause and effect relationship.
  5. Adopts the method of objectives, investigations, systematic and controlled observation and a scientific approach.
  6. Stands for the generalization, verification, modification of the observed result or deduced phenomenon.
  7. Helps in predicting future development.
  8. Is able to turn its theory into practice by having an applied aspect.

Posted in Psychology | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. Swapan Purkayastha Says:

    Study of Abstract is not possible with machine as it involves senses. So it has to be indirect.
    We can conclude Psychology leads to Philosophy.

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