General Introduction to Philosophical Psychology

by Dr. Raphael Waters

Sometimes we hear someone say: ‘No one has the truth;’ or, ‘There is no truth;’ or, ‘Do you think that you have the truth?’ Or, ‘Truth is only relative’ (Whatever that means). I have not heard any of them question the truth of their own statement.

If you are one of these, and are unwilling to learn that you might be wrong, then it is questionable as to whether you ought to be in any school. Such a de-educated mind is often quite difficult to deal with because the will is in control more than the intellect. This anti-intellectual attitude can only be overcome by the development of a good will. Thus, virtue is a necessity for true scholarship. For the ability to learn, that is, teachableness, is a virtue with the name of `docility.’ This is not the same as stupidity or gullibility. It simply means that you are willing to hear an argument, think about it, reflect over it, and then consent to whatever truth there might be in the argument. Then, and only then, should one consider the same truth in comparison with other claims, which might seem to oppose that truth. That is the truly critical method.

On the other hand, there is a vice currently in use. This is called ‘curiosity,’ but should be replaced with ‘studiosity,’ which is a virtue. Many teachers of philosophy—perhaps, I should say most of them—offer courses which pick out bits and pieces of the history of philosophy and hope that the students will find their own philosophy. We shall be presenting the traditional philosophy which has been examined thoroughly, tested, and its truths proven by the best philosophers of the past 26 centuries.

As Aristotle showed, it belongs to the same treatise to critically evaluate as it does to make a presentation. The mere presentation of someone’s teaching without examining it to discover whether it is true or not is foolish. St. Thomas, the prince of philosophers, said that a judge has to see both sides of a question in order to discover where justice lies. (P.Aq. p.89) St. Thomas certainly set a good example for there are more objections to his own teaching presented by him than I have seen in any work outside the Aristotelico-Thomistic tradition.

In the fourth century, B. C.,
Aristotle summed up all the teachings of those who went before him and showed the truth or error in their teachings. Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, that is, about 1700 years later, in a similar way, drew upon the whole history of Western thinking before his time and then erected their teaching into a new and higher synthesis. Most people, even many scholars, know this tradition from hearsay, not from examining the works themselves. Many, who think they have studied some of his teaching, have studied conclusions very often with little attention to the evidence. These are called ‘Peeping Thomists.’ We must never forget that evidence alone counts in philosophy—not authority.

Therefore, we should start this course withholding judgment with each issue until we have understood that issue and then, resolved any apparent difficulties. This should be done for each issue one at a time. Brainwashing or indoctrination, which is practiced by television, consists in the formation of a habit in the will to which the intellect becomes obedient. This anti-intellectualism is typical of the twentieth century and it results in a poorly formed public opinion, which gives greater intensity to the indoctrination forced on men, women, and children. The particular doctrine, which expresses this blind faith, is called `political correctness.’

There is an unfortunate impediment to true learning forced on us, namely, the amount of time we have to develop this course. It takes a whole year to properly develop what we are about to study. However, we shall exploit what time we do have.

In spite of all I have said, there are any amount of people who reject what we study, what is critically evaluated, and what has been justified by utterly certain scientific proofs developed throughout twenty- five centuries by the wisest men. There are many amateur philosophers who will not study what we teach and certainly will not discuss it with us. They continue to wallow in their errors. Remember: evidence alone counts in philosophy. Evidence alone gives strength to our arguments. We argue from principles, which we have shown in the two sciences of metaphysics and philosophical psychology to be utterly certain.

However, we little philosophers will examine the arguments of great minds and yes, even some of the puny philosophers such as Mill, Bentham, and Kant. Above all, we shall examine the profound arguments and their conclusions by the greatest of all philosophers, for example, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Maritain, Woodbury, and others. Their scientific arguments have been set out in true systematic form by such scholars as Cajetan, Bannez, Jean Poinsot, Fagothey, Higgins, Cox, and a host of others. These present the matter in a form suited to the contemporary mind.

Please remember, understanding is the desired purpose of our studies, not mere memorizing. We need to develop the habit of the science so that we can make judgments of particular cases for ourselves. We do not want to see you leave, possessing so many opinions which you can repeat in suitable situations. This would be a mindless activity just like someone who has been indoctrinated. We must be formed so that we can make intelligent judgments, draw intelligent conclusions in our practical lives with sound reasoning.

Why Study Philosophy?

1. It gives you a chance to examine the whole of reality and to make sense of it all.
2. It makes you better in any other science.
3. It gives you a better sense of values.
4. You cannot be perfect in any study without the corresponding part of philosophy: e.g. geology, botany, zoology; psychology; political science; languages; law; Mathematics; medicine; the arts; etc. Thus, the philosophy of geology, the philosophy of botany and so on.
5. Philosophy develops your power of thinking.

Unfortunately, there is more fashion among philosophers than among people with their fashions in clothing. Consider at the present time, for example, the following current problems:

1. Atheism is on the rise. But many, even men like Dawkins, know nothing about the scientific proofs that there is a God. They set up false argumentation and then they knock that down.
2. The contenders for the presidency of the US appear to know little if anything, about the measure of taxation that a government can morally charge a people. There is a specific measure of this.
3. Does man have free will?
4. What is a right? How do you determine whether something is a right?
5. How do we measure justice?
6. Can we justify socialism or capitalism? What exactly are these?
7. Is there life after death?
8. Can we be certain of anything? Some say death and taxes but they should be saying death, taxes and ‘shipping and handling.’

Please remember that philosophy is not theology with which it is sometimes confused, by people who have never studied philosophy. This is because philosophy deals with ultimate questions such as freedom of the will. We prove that there is life after death and some of what this consists in. It is based on careful reasoning, as we will discover in our course. - RW

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