The Growth of Awareness and Introspection in History. Mystical Interpretations of Mental Activities and of Social or Physical Incidents
- 1 Karlsruhe Institute for Sociology, Germany
- 2 Philosophy, KIT, Germany
- 3 University of Witten-Herdecke, Germany
Published On: 5 August 2020
Copyright: © 2020 Georg W. Oesterdiekhoff, Jörn Rüsen and Helmut Spinner. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Historians, philologists and scholars of antiquity have described how people in pre-modern societies tend to see their own thought processes, decisions and actions as being influenced and made by external forces. It was recognized early on that this mystical interpretation of actions could be an indication of a different structuring of the archaic psyche. It was claimed that this psyche was characterized by a lower reflexivity. Modern cross-cultural psychology has the experimental methods and theoretical concepts to test these bold theses of historians. In particular, Piagetian psychology has carried out countless experiments on people from pre-modern societies, which have served to test the level of reflexivity. Pre-operational thinking is characterized by irreversibility, i.e., by the lack of ability to grasp the starting and end points of actions and the transformations of objects that occur in perception. This corresponds to a lack of introspection and reflexivity. It is therefore possible to connect the merely descriptive procedures of historians and social scientists with the experimental test methods of psychologists. One arrives at surprising results that go so far as to better understand the internal psychology of the people depicted in the Homeric epics.
- Psychological Stages
- Pre-Modern Society
- Ancient Culture