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The word psychosophy has etymological roots in the Greek words ψυχή (psychē) and σοφίᾱ (sophiā), which are often interpreted as "soul" and "wisdom," respectively. It was used in a wide variety of contexts from 1743 to the 1920s but fell out of use in the 20th century.
There are several distinct contexts in which the word has been employed, including:
- Early historical uses
- Theosophical and neo-theosophical and Anthroposophical
- The contemporary school of psychology founded by the American teacher, Scott Hamilton.
Early historical usages and references
- Antonio Genovesi (1713–1769) was an Italian writer on philosophy and political economy. His first works were Elementa Melaphysicae (1743) and Lógica (1745). The former is divided into four parts: Ontosophy, Cosmosophy, Theosophy, and Psychosophy, and is supplemented by a treatise on ethics and a dissertation on first causes.
- In 1913, the term was employed by the American philosopher and developmental psychologist James Mark Baldwin in his book History of Psychology: A Sketch and Interpretation (Volume I, Chapter II). Baldwin referenced the use of the word psychosophy in the 17th to 18th century as a "catch-all" term for early pre-scientific approaches to exploring the psyche (i.e., magic and mythic approaches preceding the rise of Western psychology as a formal scientific discipline). The term was similarly referenced in multiple subsequent psychological texts (e.g., Jared Sparks Moore's "Foundations of Psychology") in the '10s and early '20s, presumably employing the word in a manner similar to that of Baldwin.
- A History of Psychology, by Otto Klemm, Emil Carl Wilm, Rudolf Pintner, translated by Emil Carl Wilm, Rudolf Pintner, published by C. Scribner's Sons, 1914, original from the University of Michigan, digitized Oct 3, 2006, 380 pages, Psychosophy reference on p. 147:
The word psychology does not occur previous to the sixteenth century. Melanchthon employed the term as a title of academic lectures. R. Gockel used it in 1590 as a collective title for the works of various authors. The term became generally known through Christian Wolff (1679–1754), who did so much for the establishment of philosophical terminology. Up to Wolff's time the term psychosophy, apparently introduced by J. J. Becker, seems to have been in use. The term pneumatology is also found in the writings of Leibniz.
According to the philosopher Julio Ozan Lavoisier, Psychosophy: "it is a knowledge of the first causes, which aims at the plenitude of human beings and their integration in the World through the unification of the mind". A basic principle of this discipline is that "psychic balance and moral balance are consecutive." Nevertheless, it does not deal with personal or subjective problems, as it may only bloom in mature spirits. Therefore, "psychosophy starts where psychology ends." "Psychosophy starts from an essential perspective (for which the author has developed a theory of perspective within his theory of knowledge), not from what has been revealed but from what is revealing" (Op. Cit.).
Eleven years later, Ozan Lavoisier published Psychosophy. Psycho-philosophical research on the nature of human beings, a thick volume in which he elaborates upon his method of knowledge in detail. He make clear that his discipline is not in search of news, but "perennial truths found in ancient traditions." It is essentially "a philosophy that makes use of transcendental psychology in order to provide grounds for a metaphysics, ethics, esthetics, a theory of knowledge and a philosophy of history, that is to say, a philosophical system." This system has been developed in the following treatises:
- RETURN TO THE SOURCES (Ed. Rueda, Madrid 1993)
- PSYCOSOPHY. Psycho-philosophical research on Human nature (Dunken, Bs.As. 2004)
- ORIGIN AND DESTINY OF MAN (Dunken, Bs. As. 2008)
- THE EVOLUTION OF SPIRIT (Dunken, Bs. As. 2009)
- THE SPIRIT IN HISTORY (Dunken, Bs. As.)
- THE SENSE OF HISTORY The author's next book.
Therefore, the concept of Psychosophy, according to Ozán Lavoisier, should be interpreted in the contex of this system, independetly of other views or schools that have adopted this concept.
Theosophical and neo-theosophical
The word psychosophy was utilized in several articles published in the Theosophical journal The Theosophist:
- The Philosophy of Spirit – Hierosophy, Theosophy & Psychosophy (1), William Oxley, an index to The Theosophist, September, 1882, v3, p298
- The Philosophy of Spirit – Hierosophy, Theosophy & Psychosophy (2), T Subba Row, an index to The Theosophist, October, 1882 v4, p18
The term was also used by William Wilberforce Juvenal Colville in an obscure 1914 publication entitled "The New Psychosophy." The following year, in 1915, Cora L.V. (Scott) Richmond employed the word as the title of her 436-page book exploring various metaphysical subjects. These two writings are examples of the approach that could broadly be considered neo-theosophical.
The term was used by the Austrian philosopher and scholar Rudolf Steiner in a three part series of twelve lectures given in Berlin in 1910, two years before he left the Theosophical Society, but was not apparently used again in Steiner's extensive published works. The lectures lay almost dormant for nearly 90 years until their publication. The four lectures on psychosophy discuss Steiner's perspective on the primary aspects of the human soul, the activities and interactions of various soul forces, the dynamics of love and hate, and the process of judging. Steiner distinguished psychosophy from anthroposophy (wisdom of the human being) and pneumatosophy (wisdom of the spirit).
Steiner states; "Psychosophy is to be a deliberation on the human soul, beginning with the soul's experiences here in the physical world. It then rises to higher realms to demonstrate that whatever we encounter in the physical as the manifest soul-life leads to the perspective where the light of Theosophy comes to meet us." He continues; "every aspect of the soul is either a making of judgments or a life in love or hate. Basically, these are the only concepts that pertain to the soul; all others refer to a vehicle for something coming into the soul, either from without through the body, or (due to causes we will learn later) from the spirit within. Thus, on the one hand, we have judgment, and, on the other, love and hate ... My characterization is not about logic, but about the psychosophic nature – strictly from the perspective of inner activity, or soul processes – of judging. Everything you can learn about judgment through logic is ruled out. I am not speaking of 'judgment' but of judging, the activity of judging, using the word as a verb."
The American teacher Scott Hamilton has trademarked the United States for his contemporary school of psychology offering coaching, consulting and education and synthesizes psychology, philosophy, spirituality, growth technology, and creative actualization. The synthesis unites common elements of past schools of psychology with new research methodology and models of human nature, development, relationships, creativity, coaching, consulting and education. Placing these in causal sequence, psychosophy can be viewed as:
- A new interior research method generating
- An experimentally verified model of inner human nature, which leads to
- A new understanding of human development,
- A new understanding of human relationships, and
- A new understanding of human creativity, all of which are integrated into
- New coaching, consulting and educational systems
Hamilton began developing and sharing the central principles and techniques underlying psychosophy in 1987, following a vision experience of the project. In 1994 he combined the first part of psychology with the second part of philosophy to create the term psychosophy. It was only years later that he discovered that the term had been used in a variety of other contexts in the early 20th and prior centuries. In 1999 Hamilton began formally offering Psychosophy Coaching and Consulting Services. He trained the first group of Psychosophy coaches and consultants from 2005–10, all of whom have launched private practices. In 2008 peer-reviewed research into one of psychosophy's foundational practices—Holding Loving Space—was conducted by Nicholas Hedlund and published in Ken Wilber's and Sean Esbjörn-Hargens' Journal of Integral Theory and Practice. In 2010 psychosophy's model of human consciousness, the Consciousness Coordinate System, was presented at the Integral Theory Conference at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California.
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