According to various contemporary psychological schools, the question of the soul —or “psyche”— is no longer relevant to Psychology’s field of expertise. It seems fashionable (more empirico-rational ?) to probe the mind —or “nous”— or even simply the brain. As a result, one can dare to ask if such a discipline ought not to be called a “noology.” Furthermore, the psychological expertise is generally focused on the study and classification of illnesses and corresponding therapies. It is properly speaking a nosology that is constantly in danger of giving up the attempt to understand the “healthy” individual.
On the other hand, speculative philosophy remains, by definition, the science (the “episteme”) of the psyche : it continues to be a gnosiological adventure in all the dimensions of the human’s being in the world. Here dwells, de jure and de facto, the concept of psyche. Furthermore, the very concept of “expertise” is here bypassed to allow a focus on healthy individuals. It is a genuine “hygiology.”
This being stated, it is obvious that philosophy so often lacks the pragmatic standpoint —or even interest— in applicability. In Whitehead’s terms, it is more focused on logical consistency and/or on the unreachable ideal that is adequacy. On the other hand, psychology, precisely for the sake of its direct applicability, usually cannot afford to question, again and again, its foundations. Immediate therapeutical impact or even quick results packaged for publication may often be the primary goal.
There is, in other words, not only room, but urgent need of a philosophy informed by psychology, and of a psychology that is philosophically sound. This evidence is far from being new (let’s us think, e.g., of Husserl, James, Merleau-Ponty and of the contemporary pioneering work of K. W. M. Fulford) ; we would like to question it from the vantage point of the imaginative generalizations of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947).
From that perspective, the debated question becomes mainly twofold : on the one hand, to assess the present state of Whiteheadian scholarship and of the psychological field —their achievements, hopes and deficiencies— ; on the other hand, to define what could be expected from a synergy with Whitehead —a puzzle that asks not only how psychology’s trajectory could be inflected by the gravitation of Whitehead’s categoreal framework, but also how the latter could be improved in light of such an interaction.
The Whitehead Psychology Nexus is an international open forum dedicated to the cross-examination of Alfred North Whitehead’s “organic” or “process” philosophy and the various facets of the contemporary psychological field. It seeks to encourage psychology in a Whiteheadian atmosphere and Whiteheadian scholarship informed by psychology. Bold speculations balanced by “complete humility before logic, and before fact” are especially valued. “It is a disease of philosophy —stresses Whitehead— when it is neither bold nor humble, but merely a reflection of the temperamental presuppositions of exceptional personalities.” (ANW, Process and Reality, p. 17) Openness means here —at the very least— two things. With regard to the focus of the evoked cross-elucidation : no philosophical or psychological system of thought is a priori excluded, provided that they allow discussion in a Whiteheadian spirit.
With regard to the membership : ideologies and other forms of dogmatism are the sole contra-indications known at this hour. The Nexus’ initial structure is minimalist in order to allow complete freedom of becoming. There will however be a distinction between “active members” and “inactive members”. The former commit themselves to (i) write a paper per year (3000-9000 words) on a topic relevant to the domain of scholarship defined and to (ii) lead discussions on the submitted papers. The latter do not make such commitments ; they are kept aware of the Nexus’ activities and participate according to their own agenda. A rather comprehensive understanding of at least one of the two targeted fields —Whiteheadian philosophy and/or a given current in psychology— is expected from the members. The coordinators and the secretary are active members choosing to especially invest themselves in the successful achievement of the purpose of the Nexus. They are two ; their number and identity might fluctuate with time. A private mailing list is the main vector of communication ; conferences and publications are expected in the near future. There are no duties besides those stated above. There is no membership fee. The working language of the Nexus is English.
See as well the “wpn retrospect and prospect” paper.
Dr Michael W. Katzko (Nijmegen) [Department of Cultural and Personality Psychology, University of Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands] Dr Michel Weber (Louvain-la-Neuve) Dr Anderson Weekes (New York) [c/o M. Weber, ISP, Louvain-la-Neuve]
Harald Atmanspacher (Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene e.V., Freiburg) – Germany Renaud Barbaras (Philosophie, Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne) – France Mark H. Bickhard (Cognitive Science, Lehigh University) – USA Jason W. Brown (Neurology, New York University Medical Center) – USA Dr Michael W. Katzko (Department of Cultural and Personality Psychology, University of Nijmegen) – The Netherlands Marcel Kinsbourne (Cognitive Studies, Tufts University & Psychology, New School University, New York) – USA Detlef Linke (Neurology, Bonn Universität) – Germany B. Duncan MacQueen (Neurolinguistics, Medical Academy of Bydgoszcz and Comparative Literature, University of Silesia) – Poland Maria Pachalska (Medical Rehabilitation, Cracow Rehabilitation Center) – Poland Nicholas Rescher (Philosophy, Pittsburgh University) – USA Pierre Rodrigo (Philosophie, Université de Bourgogne) – France Clive Sherlock (Psychiatry/Psychology, Clare Hall, Cambridge, U.K.) – UK Gudmund Smith (Psychology, Lunds Universitet) – Sweden Timothy L. S. Sprigge (Philosophy, Edinburgh University) – UK Michel Weber (Philosophy, Université de Louvain-la-Neuve) – Belgium Anderson Weekes (Philosophy, New York) – USA