n+2th go ~ reply ~ what is psychology?
"What is the nature of consciousness?"
And, what is the study of the nature of consciousness. Is this an aspect of psychology?
I'm not sure that it is?
I'm not sure because, from what I can make out, I don't really see that there is any great interest in the question of the nature of consciousness coming from within the field of psychology. If this is true it would suggest that the study of psychology is the study of something else (other than the study of the nature of consciousness), and also, that the investigation into the nature of consciousness is something else (other than the study of psychology).
If one agrees with this, then fair enough. I'd be interested to hear any definitions as to what psychology is (or should be). And also whether the investigation of the nature of consciousness overlaps at all with the study psychology; whether it would be (or should be) better be treated as a discipline in it's own right.
My disillusionment with psychology stems from not being able to get good enough answers to questions like these. In 'Food of the Gods' Terence McKenna suggests that the field of psychology has been satisfying itself with behaviourist theory making for the last 30 years, - and thereby doing humanity its greatest disservice.
Meanwhile it has been left to enthusiasts in other fields such as botany and anthropology to make the real discoveries at the frontier of consciousness research. McKenna says 30 years because this was about the time that psychedelics were withdrawn as a legal research tools. Not much could be done about it then, one might argue, but also he, and others I have read since, make the point that the discipline of psychology as a whole did not put up much of a fight in surrendering the use of LSD and other substances. Generally the faculty pretty much 'rolled over'.
There are two explanations for this. One is that people are generally too frightened to bite the hand that feeds. The other is that even within the fields of psychology and of psychiatric research, there was controversy and disagreement about the use of these substances.
The internal controversy was fuelled by those who did not think that psychedelics were reliable tools, those who wanted to maintain the status quo, by and large (I maintain), the behaviourist theory makers. Their reasons are obvious. The substances undermine their theories. Even under the most controlled and clinical of circumstances, where 'patients' were receiving 'treatment', paranormal phenomena such as experiences of a 'spiritual' or 'transcendent' nature were manifesting themselves. This must have been particularly embarrassing to the reductionists.
This, coupled with the external controversy, makes me question the notion of ever being able to do any meaningful research that might have paradigm shifting outcomes when one is (in effect) working for the establishment.