The Aspect of Subjectivity in Scientific Thinking—Where Did It Actually Come From?

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Sven Hroar Klempe

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: history of psychology; humanism; reformation; metaphysics; empirical psychology

Subjectivity has always been a part of philosophical speculations. However, Immanuel Kant is mentioned as the main figure to bring in subjectivity in modern philosophy by comparing the Critique of Pure Reason with the Copernican revolution. We might include Descartes as well, and not least the followers of Kant, like Fichte and Hegel. Yet none of these end up with subjectivity as the only premise for thinking, but rather combine it with objectivity. Hence, subjectivity has appeared as a stranger in philosophy and yet not fully accepted. In this paper, I try to pursue the aspect of subjectivity by not looking at philosophy, but rather at psychology. The appearance of the term can be dated back to 1520 when the Croatian humanist Marcus Marulus published the thesis entitled “Psychology, the Nature of the Soul”. This thesis is lost, but by pursuing the appearance of the term, four different movements seem to contribute with and highlight an aspect of subjectivity. One is Humanism, the other is Reformation, the third is a focus on the empirical aspects of science and the fourth is the dissemination of folk culture to academics and aristocracy by means of the art of printing. The finding, therefore, is that psychology is not to be regarded as a discipline that grows out of philosophy, but rather as a discipline that conflicts philosophy, but nevertheless intervenes it and makes it progress.

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