Rational Psychology (Metaphysics of Mind)

In Christian Wolff 's division of metaphysics, Rational Psychology (philosophy of mind) is a sub-division of Metaphysics (along with ontology, cosmology and rational theology). Its subject-matter is the soul or mind , and its major tasks to prove the immortality of the soul and to affirm the free will. In contrast to modern empirical psychology, which is based on observation and experiment, rational psychology is purely speculative.

Psychology deals throughout not with the actual experiences of reality, but with “sense-data” obtained by the artificial manipulation and transformation of actual experience into an “idea” pervaded by certain subjective interests and purposes.

A considerable prominence has been attained by a branch of philosophy of mind known as Epistemology, or the Theory of Knowledge. Epistemology is primarily concerned with the question of the conditions upon which the validity of our thinking, as a body of knowledge about reality, depends. Since Epistemology confines its attention to the most general and ultimate conditions under which valid thinking is possible, Some of its problems are considered to be metaphysical in their nature, especially the question like "Is Intellect Immaterial?".
WHAT IS AN IDEA?     Consciousness And Its Objects     The Intellect and the Senses     Is Intellect Immaterial?    

The discussion of the implication of knowledge is only one part of the philosopher’s task. The truly real is not only the knowable, it is also that which, if we can obtain it, realizes our aspirations and satisfies our emotions. Hence the theory of the real must deal with the ultimate implications of ethics and esthetics as well as those of knowledge. Thus, the Good and the Beautiful, no less than the True, are topics of philosophical and metaphysical studies; and free will, moral freedom and ethics are commonly included in the section of rational psychology.


What is RATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY? An approach in psychology emphasizing philosophy, deductive reasoning and logic as insightful sources into the underlying principles of the mind. Psychology Dictionary: What is RATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY? definition of RATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY (Psychology Dictionary) KantPsychology.pdf

Freedom and Free Will

Free will -- The meanings of “freedom” and “free will” have been and are under debate, and the debate is confused because there is no generally accepted definition of either “freedom” or “free will.” “Freedom” and “free will” are often treated together because “free will” is commonly used as synonymous with “freedom".
Three meanings of freedom -- Adler’s “Institute for Philosophical Research” spent ten years studying the “idea of freedom” as the word was used by hundreds of authors who have discussed and disputed freedom. The study was published in 1958 as Volume One of The Idea of Freedom, sub-titled A Dialectical Examination of the Idea of Freedom with subsequent comments in Adler's Philosophical Dictionary. Adler’s study concluded that a delineation of three kinds of freedom is necessary for clarity on the subject. These three kinds of freedom were delineated as follows:
1. “Circumstantial freedom” denotes “freedom from coercion or restraint,” a freedom that allows us “to do as we please.” Thus, circumstantial freedom was also called the “freedom of self-realization.” It has been observed that this is the kind of freedom that Thomas Hobbes and David Hume thought was compatible with determinism.
2. “Natural freedom” denotes “freedom of a free will” or “free choice.” It is the freedom to determine one’s own decisions or plans. This freedom exists in everyone as a “natural endowment.” It is, according to Adler, “(i) inherent in all men, (ii) regardless of the circumstances under which they live and (iii) without regard to any state of mind or character which they may or may not acquire in the course of their lives.”
3. “Acquired freedom” (also called “moral freedom”) is the freedom “to live as [one] ought to live.” In his description of acquired freedom, Adler sometimes used freedom’s synonym “ability.” Thus, Adler described acquired freedom as “the ability to will as we ought to will” and the ability to act as we ought to act. This kind of freedom/ability is not inherent: it must be acquired. To live as one ought requires “a change or development” whereby a person acquires “a state of mind, or character, or personality” that can be described by such qualities as “good, wise, virtuous, righteous, holy, healthy, sound, flexible, etc.”
As Adler’s interest in religion and theology increased, he made references to the Bible and the need to test its articles of faith for compatibility with certainties from fields of natural knowledge such as science and philosophy. The article Theodicy and the Bible demonstrates the compatibility between Adler’s three kinds of freedom and the Bible.
(Project Gutenburg)

Mistaken view of Free Will

The Denial of Free Will - The philosophical defect here is not so much a demonstrable philosophical error as a manifest misunderstanding of the issue itself. That misunderstanding lies mainly on the side of philosophers and scientists who are determinists. They do not correctly understand the premises upon which an affirmation of freedom of choice rests. The determinists held that all the phenomena of nature are governed by causal laws through the operation of which effects are necessitated by their causes. Nothing happens by chance. What the determinists who deny freedom of choice fail to understand is that the exponents of free choice place the action of the will outside the domain of the physical phenomena. The will, as they conceive it, is an intellectual faculty. The intellect and the will, being immaterial, do not act in accordance with the physical principles and laws.
Mistaken view of Free Will


St. Augustine’s proof of the existence of the Soul

For Augustine the soul comprises the entire personality of the living individual, who becomes aware through self-consciousness, not only that he is a real integrated existing person but also that he knows with absolute certainty his own activities and powers of memory, intellect, and will.
Hence the three aspects of the human soul (or personality) may be described as sources of idea, judgment, and will; or as activities of being, knowing, and willing. Note the corresponding three aspects in Augustine’s view of God’s personality, namely, omnipotence (all-powerful), omniscience (all-knowing), and absolute goodness (highest good).
The most important aspect of the soul is will, the faculty which enables man to live, make his salvation possible, and is responsible for having brought the world into existence ex nihilo (out of nothing).
The Augustinian concept of the soul as a self-conscious unity of the total personality anticipated a fundamental idea in modern philosophy. That concept assigned to the human soul a higher role and function than those which either Aristotle or the Neo-Platonists had suggested.

Immortality and Ethics
Augustine held that the soul, which is immaterial, did not exist prior to the birth of the individual human being, but that, subsequent to his birth, it possesses an immortal nature, living on into eternity.
Its immortality arises from the fact that it shares in the immutable truths of the universe and thus unites its essence with the eternal processes 0f reason and life.
Because sin impairs these natural processes, it must be regarded as evil which is attributable to the will of mankind.
Because God created all things out of nothing; therefore all natural things, based upon the divine decree, are necessarily good, while any impairment of the natural processes is evil.
Evil has a deficient cause (not an efficient cause), for evil is merely the absence of good, a negative condition of privation or, in other words, a loss of good, of virtue, of beauty, of happiness. Consequently, evil cannot exist without violation of a corresponding moral good, for it is a concomitant of good. An absolute good could conceivably be achieved, but an absolute evil – evil without good – is an impossibility. Augustine’s view of the relationship between good and evil can be illustrated by examples from everyday experience. Thus, injury to a person’s healthy arm would be an evil event, but such evil could not exist without the previous existence of a healthy, uninjured arm; and after the limb has been restored to its natural state of health - goodness – then the evil state disappears; it does not shift to another place but ceases to exist.
Sin made its first appearance in the world when Adam, impelled by his own evil will and free choice, disobeyed the commandments of God. With Adam’s fall from grace, his sin became the sin of all later ages of humanity.
This inherited corruption of human nature therefore called for remedial action to effect the redemption of man. Divine justice demands that all mankind be punished for original sin, but God in his inscrutable wisdom, mercy, and grace has elected some men to everlasting blessedness and other men to everlasting suffering. Without the aid of God’s grace, man is unable to progress toward the good, for all good issues from God alone. Thus, as a result of Adam’s disobedience of God’s command (which occurred through the foreknowledge of God, yet was effected solely by the will of Adam), man became subject to death as his just and merited punishment. Augustine asserted, however, that there are two kinds of death: physical death when the soul abandons its body, and death of the soul when God abandons it; evil-doers must face not only physical death but death of the soul as well. Augustine’s conception of immortality includes both physical resurrection and eternal life for the soul. In his infinite wisdom, God has given man a free will which man so misused as to place him in his present predicament. The proper exercise of his free will makes it impossible for men to sin and constitutes the highest form of freedom enjoyed by the elect who have been granted salvation.

Augustine’s doctrine of freedom of the will and his doctrine of predestination are viewed by some to be contradictory and irreconcilable.

God and Free Will

David Hume Quote
David Hume Quote
Image source: izquotes.com  

God and Free Will One of the age-old enigmas that has had theologians and laymen alike scratching their heads is this: If God is all knowing and all-powerful, how does this gibe with the notion of free will and the existence of evil in the world? If God knows in advance what people will do and allows it to happen, then God allows evil to exist and people should not be held responsible for their actions, for those actions existed in the mind of God eons before they were born.

Augustine suggests that time, as we measure it, is meaningless to God. God exists in an Eternal realm where linear time has no meaning. There is no past and no future. There is only an Eternal Present, the Big Now.

In today’s hectic world, it is fashionable for the New Age sages to exhort us to “live in the moment”. People often try in vain to stay in the now. Yesterday is history, and tomorrow is a mystery, the old adage tells us. According to Augustine, this is God’s natural state. Linear time is an illusion and a limitation that does not afflict God. God’s infinite wisdom and omniscience has no bearing on our free will. Personal responsibility still rules the human condition. Yet God is there to guide us if we seek Him out.

Again, the big question is this: If a perfect and perfect good God created the world, how can such rampant naughtiness flourish? Augustine espoused that evil is not a diabolical force ravaging the souls of the sinful, but rather the absence of God.

Not every Christian agrees with this idea. Even today, depending whom you talk to, modern Christians still maintain that Hell is either the fire-and-brimstone inferno of legend or merely the absence of God. The inability to bask in the warmth and love of God for eternity is in itself a terrifying and abysmal prospect to men and women of faith. We have the free will to embrace the light, and if we eschew its beacon and skulk in the darkness of sin and despond, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Such is the price of free will. Just as goodness is its own reward, sin is its own punishment – a descent into maelstrom of nothingness – because according to Augustine, sin, the absence of good, is a terrible void. The sinner is more harmed than anyone he may afflict through his actions, and it is only through God’s grace that we can be saved.