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KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOUL YVES R. SIMON Translated by Ralph Nelson University of Windsor Windsor, Ontario Translator's Forword IN THE RECENTLY published The Definition of Moral Virtue, based on 1leotures Yves Simon gave a:t the University of Chicago in 1957, there is a passage which helps us understand 1the place this essay has in Simon's work as 'a philosopher. Let us admit that psychology is a very poorly organized discipline and one whose disorderliness does not seem to be diminishing. Were I a little young·er, I would consider dedicating my life to improving the situation, because the science of the soul is so important for morality. But sometimes I wonder if it is not already too late.1 1 This essay on the epistemological nature of psychology, which appeared in Gants du Ciel in 1944, pmvides an intmdiuction to that project envisaged hy Simon hut never compJeted . It is a starting point. It is not a constitutive epistemology rin cthe Kantian sense ibut ,a i!.'eftective one, that is, it surveys the state of the discipline in order to clarify the pl'oblems , eliminate false 1 leads, identify the areas requiring further development, and, finally, point out the interconnections. Simon's 1 essay is timely in the 1 ahsence of an undisputed and unified science of psychology commanding 1 the support of competent persons. lit is not dated, ,because he 1 sticks to tihe issues and does not dwell on personalities. There are no references to 1 Yves R. Simon, The Definition of Morai Virtue, ed. Vukan Kuic (New York: Fordham University Press, 1989), p. 94. ~69 270 YVES R. SIMON twentieth century psychologists. However, it is easy to supply topical references to illustrate a point, whether it be Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, or B. F. Skinner. Take, for instance, the attack on philosophical psychology. In Freud's case, there was a constant effort completely to divorce ps;)"chology from philosophy , which he distrusted, even though some would say that there is an implicit or disguised Freudian philosophy. In Piaget's case, there is a vehement polemic against philosophicaJ psychology in his hook Sagesse et illusions de la philosophie (1965). It seems quite clear that Piaget would not acknowledge any positive contribution to psychology in the writings of Maine de Biran, Bergson, Sartre, or Th1erleau-Ponty, to mention just the better known. Philosophy might be "wisdom" in Piaget's sense, but that is far from being a compliment since" wisdom" is not" science." In the case of B. F. Skinner and his efforts to go beyond freedom .and dignity, there is a perfect exemplification of that technology extended to man so aptly described by Simon. Yet in spite of scientistic confidence , the identity crisis psychology persists. If one is neither to reject philosophical psychology out of hand nor to dismiss the claims of positive psychology, 1 it is necessary to rmak:e 1 appropria,te distinctions, such as the distinction between theoretical and practical psychology and between applied psychology and moml psychology. Yet, having done that, Simon shows rbhat an analysis of individual cases reveals that 1 applied and moral psychology a:re complementary, Simon's contribution to the task of "improving the situation ,,. ·did not end with the epistemological essay. It is important to note his treatment of moral psychology. I recall years ago reading St. Thomas's examination of human acts in the Summa Theologica. 1and thinking tha:t this was a kind of moral ps;)"ohology. However, that was not then, nor is it now, a.·Common term. In Rarwls's A Theory of Justice, there is a section on moi'al psychology which seems to be about moral learning. A recent study by an English philosopher, N. J. H. Dent, The Moral Psychology of the Vi1·tues (1984) , seems KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOUL move to the point; following G. E. M. Anseombe and analytic phifosophy, it examines psycho1ogical concepts particularly relevrant to ethics. Now Simon had not only talked about morial psychology but also developed a number of concepts which are characteristic of it, such as the notion of practical reasoning, free ohoice, knowledge by inolination, and virtue (based on the important...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 269-291
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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