The International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority



The International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority  

January 2014 Issue         



 “Sticking to the image” should not be taken to mean reading it in the light of how it appears to the everyday mind concerned with ordinary reality, with the factual. We are not to read it pragmatically with the utilitarian ego interests in survival, success, personal comfort, and profit in mind. No, we “should not judge dreams from realities,” but should rather see the “other picture” that “looms up” “behind the scenes,” “behind the impressions of daily life.” The soul has another, its own agenda. [This is an expression of the psychological difference.] Wolfgang Giegerich (2013), The Flight into the Unconscious, p. 142.


Dear Members,

Welcome to the first ISPDI newsletter of 2014. On behalf of all of us on the executive committee, I want to wish all of you the best for 2014.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the executive members for all the work they have done over the past year. As I'm sure you are aware, it takes a great deal of energy and time to provide the structure and organization that makes up an international society like the ISPDI. A few examples of their diligent work include: organizing the Toronto gathering, hosting and encouraging the online seminars, monitoring the website, publishing the newsletter, the networking, managing the finances, and so on. Not only are the executive members very good at what they do, they are a pleasure to work with. I'm grateful for their support and for work they offer to the society as a whole. I'm quite sure all members share this gratitude.

I want to also thank again our excellent Webmaster, Josef Kalicun. Josef volunteers his time for the society and is often up late into the night either solving website problems or anticipating them. He keeps the website running smoothly and ensures that it is aesthetically appealing. We are very thankful for his expertise and ongoing assistance.

While the time and energy we offer to the ISPDI is voluntary, we are rewarded with the opportunity to share with like-minded people our passion for psychology. And what has reignited this passion, what the foundation of our society rests upon, is the reformulation or refocusing of the entire concept of psychology; what for us is the movement into its truth or depth.

Wolfgang Giegerich, continuing his remarkably prolific writing has again provided groundbreaking material from which to continue the work of realizing (making real) this new understanding of psychology.. Following up on last year's What is Soul?, he has had two major works published in 2013: Volume 5 of his Collected English Papers: The Flight into the Unconscious, and the most recent: Neurosis, The Logic of a Metaphysical Illness. We are continually grateful to our honorary member Nancy Cater at Spring Journal Books for recognizing the value in publishing these important works. Unpacking the groundbreaking insights contained in them and other volumes of Giegerich's work will, as Dan Anderson put it, "...keep us busy for the next twenty years!"

 At the conference in Berlin we will be continuing the work of advancing towards the "spear" Giegerich has thrown, and I hope many of you will be able to attend. We have received some very interesting proposals and I look forward to the presentations, as well as to the discussions and questions they evoke. Thank you to members who put time and energy into submitting proposals.

And of course our time in Berlin is also a chance to spend time together socializing and sightseeing. I am grateful for the many friends I met last time and am looking forward to seeing many of you again, as well as meeting new members.

In conclusion, I want to extend a wish that 2014 be a healthy and satisfying year for all members, and that your psychological reflections and engagement with PDI in 2014 yield soulful insight and depth into all aspects of your lives.


Very best,

John Hoedl
ISPDI President

The Second Conference of The International Society for Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority


Berlin, July 19th -21st, 2014


Now Accepting bookings

Topic - "The Psychological Difference"

ISPDI Executive Committee
John Hoedl, President
Greg Mogenson, Vice President

Samina Salahuddin, Recording Secretary
John Robertson, Treasurer
Peter White, Web Discussion Moderator
Daniel Anderson, G-Mail Monitor
Colleen Hendrick, Teleconference Coordinator
Marco Heleno Barretto, Assistant Web Discussion Moderator


A note on ‘soul’, ‘man’, anthropology and psychology

Marco Heleno Barreto

Psychology as the discipline of interiority is grounded, as we know, on the notion of psychological difference, which may be expressed as the notional difference between the concepts of “man” (understood as “empirical ego”) and “soul” (understood as the logical interiority of a phenomenon). From this notional difference there follows a methodological difference: psychology with soul is constituted by the inwardization of given phenomena into themselves, according to the basic rule established by Jung: “Above all, don’t let anything from outside, that does not belong, get into it, for the fantasy-image has ‘everything it needs’ ” (CW 14, § 749). Let me insist here on the methodological nature of this rule, for it has a most important consequence in our understanding of our discipline: psychology as the discipline of interiority is just a particular way of approaching some phenomena present in reality, and not a general theory concerning the whole of reality. In other words: psychology is not metaphysics – and, accordingly, it should not be confused with German idealism, despite the many acknowledged debts it has with Hegel’s thought.

We are accustomed to thinking another difference that stems from the notion of psychological difference, namely, the distinction between psychology, which is methodologically constituted by the “soul” side of the psychological difference, and anthropology, which is rooted in the concept of “man”. However, I would like to examine more closely this distinction, in order to better differentiate anthropology from psychology. As I see it, the specifically psychological distinction should mainly be thought of in terms of the difference between two types of psychological approach: the personalistic standpoint (ego psychology) and the soul standpoint (psychology as the discipline of interiority), so that the borderline between the psychological approach and a broadly anthropological standpoint could be more clearly traced. That is the main purpose of this brief paper. My strategy here will consist in examining the two concepts constitutive of the psychological difference: “soul” and “man”.

To begin with, let us remark that “soul” has a generic sense and a specific one. In its generic sense, “soul” means the realm of shared meanings and logical negativity: “the generation and entertaining of meanings, of the words of language, of values, ideas, fantasies, laws, institutions, works of poetry, music, art, and so on”, comprising “consciousness as such as well as the world as a whole” (What is Soul?, p. 74). “Soul” is here coextensive with “communal cultural mind”, with existence as mindedness. Hence, the generic sense of “soul” is correlative of the “human mode of being-in-the-world”, and as such it has high anthropological relevance – if we bear in mind that philosophical anthropology is defined as an ontology of the human mode of being, of “Man” (Anthropos) signifying the whole human circumscription within the realm of being, and not just “man as empirical ego” (N.B.: “Soul” here does not mean a subsisting “part” that human being has, but the contra naturam essence of human being’s entire world-relation. It is in this sense that “soul” is correlative to the fundamental philosophic-anthropologic object: the human mode of being.)

This does not mean that we are blurring the distinction between psychology and anthropology: first, because psychology refers not to the generic sense of “soul”, but to the specific one; second, because philosophic anthropology is precisely an ontology, and thus takes “soul” ontologically. This means that for anthropology “soul” refers explicitly to the human “region” of the real, whereas psychology, despite the obvious fact that it presupposes the human mode of being, is constituted by what may be called a methodological nominalism. “Methodological nominalism” means that all images and concepts in psychology are from the outset taken as self-referential, without taking into account any reference to a reality outside themselves, even if this reality is necessarily presupposed as a condition of possibility of the very existence of psychology. Briefly: psychology is not an ontology. Psychological reality is the interiorization of the realism presupposed in any reference to things in empirical (or metaphysical) reality outside soul itself. This takes us to the next point.

The specific sense of “soul”, proper to psychology, is absolute negativity, which means that it is constituted through the negation of every determinate referential content of “soul” in the first generic sense: “The negativity of the soul has therewith become interiorized into the concept of soul itself, and through this interiorization the general concept of soul (…) has turned into the truly psychological one” (What is Soul?, p. 86). “Soul”, in the truly and specifically psychological sense, is “the negation of what the soul itself [in the generic sense] posited, what itself produced” (What is Soul?, p. 81). In other words: we enter the psychological dimension through the logical inwardization of certain generically soul phenomena. This is why not every soul phenomenon is psychologically relevant, but only those which, having psychological quality (inner depth), are negated in their referential structure and thus interiorized into themselves (see What is Soul?, p. 85-86). This means that “the psychological sense of soul is only a methodological one, a way of looking at things brought to bear on given phenomena or material. It is not in any way an ontological one” (What is Soul?, p. 83).

The generic sense of “soul” may guide us into anthropology provided we take it from an ontological viewpoint, whereas the specific notion necessarily leads to psychology proper. Let me insist on this: on the one hand, psychology presupposes the ontological object of anthropology – since there is no soul phenomenon outside the human realm, in a free-floating state – or, the other way around, anthropology includes (indeterminately) psychology (as a specifically human endeavor – there is no psychology in the natural kingdom); on the other hand, as the specific notion of “soul” constitutive of the whole field of psychology is the result of the dialectical negation of the generic sense constitutive of the broader field of anthropology, psychology results from the negation of anthropology. We reach “soul” in its specific sense through the crossing from ontology (anthropology) to logic (psychology).

Now let us state without fear this obvious fact: psychology necessarily presupposes humankind (or: humankind as correlative of “existence as mindedness” is a necessary condition for psychology). Furthermore, psychology needs a psychologist, understood as a function of soul itself, the function produced by soul in order to render possible the activity of making psychology, and to be concretely actualized this function – obviously! – needs to be performed by very concrete and empirical human beings (who must even have some special talents, such as a developed feeling function – and, I would add, the peculiarity of having been seduced by soul, made pregnant of soul by soul itself). We are accustomed to thinking of psychology as being soul’s opus, according to what is required by the psychological difference, but sometimes (nay, very often) we tend to hide from ourselves the obvious necessary presence of a human agent in order to perform the making of psychology, as if bringing any sign of human presence into our understanding of psychology-making would ipso facto throw us back into the personalistic notion of psychology, ego-psychology. This is a gross misunderstanding. Where does it come from?

I think the answer is to be found in a certain form of understanding the concept of “man” = “ego” = empirical “civil man”, which is the dialectical opposite of “soul” in one of the formulations of the psychological difference – “man”/”ego” is what must be negated in order to open up the psychological dimension and render psychology as the discipline of interiority possible. “Ego” means “a mode of perceiving, a style of thinking, not to be confused with the I” (What is Soul?, p. 296.). How should we understand this?

The soul as subject is I. However, the I or subject is within itself the dialectical unity and difference between itself as that function primarily oriented towards “survival” in the most general sense, in other words, the pragmatic, technical I (in the sense of the one side of the subject-object opposition), on the one hand, and the internal not-I as the subject of true knowing, the organ of truth and of the syntactical or logical form, on the other. The latter is “not-I” because it is the objective subject, experienced by the ego-personality as an internal other with an intentionality (and often impelling necessity) of its own. We could also say an autonomous other, however one that despite its otherness is nevertheless also I (me). (…) The I as the internal not-I is thus not self-identical and self-enclosed like an entity, and not enclosed in the human individual. (…) The soul is the whole relation (the entire psychological difference, homo totus) and at the same time the one relatum of this relation or the one moment of this difference, namely the not-I part, the organ of truth and true knowing, in contradistinction to the other moment, the pragmatic I, the egoic type of knowing and understanding. (What is Soul?, p. 298-300)

The gross misunderstanding that I have pointed out above comes from an undialectical understanding of the psychological difference, which takes the constitutive terms of the difference (“man” and “soul”) as simple opposites, excluding one another. We should not forget that “soul” designates both the dialectical unity between “ego” (or “empirical man”, the “pragmatic, technical I”) and the internal not-I that is also I. Soul as subject, encompassing the dialectical identity of identity and difference of “soul” and “ego” – the “entire psychological difference” – is equivalent to homo totus. The I (soul) as the internal not-I while particularly realized as the subject who makes psychology is called the psychological I (cf. What is Soul?, p. 300), and it should not be confused with the human individual, equated with the empirical subject as such, as an existing positivity in the world. The psychological I is soul. On the other hand, as I have said before, the psychological I requires necessarily a human individual in order to concretely perform its function – namely, the function of soul-making.

(It occurred to me, at this juncture, to make a remark: the “pragmatic, technical I”, usually called “ego”, should also not be confused simply with the human individual, because it is also a function, a mode of knowing, understanding and acting. As this function is oriented towards the survival of the human individual, or of the human community, we are led to identify it with the concrete individual, but a function is not an entity. We tend to – at least implicitly, subliminally – substantialize the function, the ego. It would be better to distinguish concrete individual from “ego” in this sense, because it is the very same concrete individual who, while ordinarily performing the predominant function of “pragmatic, technical I” in the everyday life, may shift (or be shifted…) to the other function of “psychological I” and become a psychologist, as long as he/she performs the psychological difference within him/herself and “tunes in to” the soul mode of consciousness, leaving momentarily the prevalent ego mode aside. We do not have two different sources of consciousness, but only one, which can be exerted through two modes: the pragmatic and the psychological. Another way of putting it would be: both ego and the psychological I are soul itself, though in different modes.)

Now, if we concentrate on the psychological difference as being in itself a psychological difference, then we may see in the two terms constitutive of the difference two distinct modes of conceiving and doing psychology: ego psychology and psychology as the discipline of interiority. And so, if we refrain from challenging or contesting the status of psychology attributed to ego psychology, we have two definitions of psychology: one that takes the psychic material in its reference to the human individual (aiming at understanding the problems, predicaments, sufferings in the personal sphere), and other that takes the same material without that reference (envisaging it as soul’s pure self-manifestation). Survival purposefulness (in the broadest sense) versus sheer self-expression of soul. In the first case, the individual is the ultimate concern; in the second, only soul’s processes matter. To sum up: ego-psychology may even start from the notional difference of “soul” and “man”/”ego”, but then it subordinates the former to the latter, at bottom reverting to the everyday attitude, and in this way “soul” is reduced to “psychic events”, and the dialectical strength of the psychological difference is lost; psychology as the discipline of interiority leaves behind “man”/”ego” and sticks to soul’s processes taken strictly in themselves, and thus discloses what we are used to calling the truly psychological dimension.

However, there is a riddle here: the first form of psychology – ego-psychology – poses no problem, inasmuch as it follows the same line of interests belonging to “ego”; but what leads one to choose doing psychology in the second sense, given that its telos is indifferent to those interests and needs, and can even be contrary to them? What is the secret of one’s inclination to it? Speaking mythologically: how does soul seduce one into its service, the service of soul-making? For it is not self-evident why one would momentarily abandon the natural/spontaneous concern with one’s own vital needs and interests in order to dedicate oneself to performing the function of the psychological I. Quite on the contrary: it is highly unlikely – not to say impossible – that one would willingly sacrifice one’s needs in order to follow soul’s intimations, unless one is touched in such a manner that somehow doing psychology converts itself into a one-of-a-kind vital personal need. Maybe this is an aspect of the “cunning of soul”: it touches “man” (here meaning our empirical-personal being) so that in some point of our personal structure arises a desire for soul-making. A desire – we all know – is a psychic phenomenon, and it has no psychological relevance except for its necessary instrumental role in rendering soul-making possible and actual, in our case. Let us read a testimony of this confluence of the personal and the not-personal, of “man” and “soul”, in a statement from Wolfgang Giegerich: “I do not confuse myself as private individual, as ‘civil man’, with the psychologist that (I hope) I am” (What is Soul?, p. 316, my italics). The hope to be a psychologist is precisely a personal desire of the private individual. It is the sign of the pregnancy by soul, which makes a psychologist in the first place. It is as if “soul” incarnates in “man” and leaves there the seed of itself, a seed that feeds a desire and makes it possible (and, within limits, desirable) for the private individual to shift from “civil man” (practical technical I) to “psychologist” (psychological I). This desire is the dynamic force inside the actual soul-making. The “psychologist” needs “soul nourishment”, and this need, created by soul, becomes one of the many diverse needs operative on the personal individual level. It is one-of-a-kind because empirically it is indistinguishably personal and soul-made – it belongs to “man” and also to “soul”, and is responsible for the momentary abandonment of the whole “man” dimension in favor of “soul-making”.

Now, how should we understand this apparent suppression of the psychological difference, or its apparent return to an ego-psychological position?

It is of course possible that the event of a successful truly psychological interpretation creates in the person having performed it a feeling of being deeply moved or an emotion of joy and thus a ‘spark’. But this is precisely not itself psychological. Rather, it is a psychic event in view of and occasioned by an actual happening of psychology, which itself, however, remains averted, averted even from the subject doing psychology. (What is Soul?, p. 86 note 53)

There is no suppression of the psychological difference inasmuch as soul (as psychology) remains averted “even from the subject doing psychology”. And this means that the “subject doing psychology” is not intended by the soul process, being only its instrument. His/her “humanitarian” personal gain is only that emotion of joy and that feeling of being deeply moved. And that is fair and enough - at least to me. And in a truly dialectical way, we can say that “soul” is inside “man” as that self-contradictory point which makes possible the self-negation of the ego mode of consciousness (the everyday attitude) and the consequent shift to the truly psychological mode of consciousness. Uroborically, soul creates the desire for itself – it is the desire and its nourishment at once. Adapting some words from Augustine for my purposes: tu autem ad ipsam quaerendo venisti non locorum spatio sed mentis affectu (De Vera Religione XXXIX, 72) – “you came to [soul] searching, not wandering through space, but by the desire of your spirit”.

(I would like to express my deep gratitude to John Robertson, for his patient reading, commenting and discussing the ideas presented in this note. He also helped to correct my English shortcomings.)



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