FECHNER’S SEELENFRAGE: THE PLACE OF THE SOUL IN PSYCHOLOGY

  • Riccardo Luccio

Abstract

The usage of the term “soul†was banned from the psychological dictionaries at least from Angell’s famous interdict (1911). However, in the last few years a renewed interest for it is risen, from two independent sources: 1. the “naive†concept of soul owned by laymen; 2. the concepts of life after death and (im)mortality in children. Bering (2006) proposes three cognitive mechanisms, producing “illusions of personal immortality, of teleological authorship in the design of individual souls, and of natural events as having symbolic meaningâ€, forming “an organized ‘system’†in the human evolution under selective pressures. What is missing is an adequate consideration of what the soul is in the different human cultures. 150 years the Seelenfrage posed by Fechner (1861) is still unsolved, One must question whether the “mindâ€, that replaced the soul, is i) better defined than “soulâ€; ii) is more able to capture the complexity of our psychological system.

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