In researching the ancient roots of international psychology, I found that I gravitated with special interest to the ancient roots of Greek, Chinese and Indian psychology. In this research, I found myself replaying a statement I read when learning about the hypothesis regarding the history of psychology. This statement is “ It may be possible that parts of history have indeed been chaotic whereas other parts have been linear and progressive and still others have been cyclical” (King, Viney and Woody, 2009, p.9).
Ancient Roots of Greek psychology
Greek influences appear to have the most presence in Western psychology. Greeks placed a heavy emphasis on intellect. “Many Greek thinkers of antiquity were obsessed with finding the fundamental stuff of the universe” (King, Viney and Woody, 2009, p.46). In early Greek years, there was a acknowledgement of the gods attributing to human strengths and weakness, which was later challenged (King, Viney and Wood). Greek philosophers were progressive and influential. Greeks developed many theories rooted in psychology such as: healing treatments, dreams, rationalism vs empiricism, being vs becoming, atomic, illness, basic elements, relativism and many more. I was surprised to learn from King, Viney and Woody the following;
The decay was illustrated by a new emphasis on narrow practical concerns such as how to be happy and how to maximize personal Gains There was a loss of interest in the pursuit of wisdom for its own sake and a growing demand for knowledge that results in immediate gratification. Investigation of great questions in science and metaphysics was replaced by self-centered concerns and there was a consequent decline in the generation of new ideas. For a long period after the Golden Age of Greece, philosophy was largely derivative. (2009, p.66)
Even with the decrease of wisdom philosophies, ancient Greek theories and philosophies are clearly associated Western psychology.
Ancient Roots of psychology in China
China has ancient roots in psychology originating with a philosophy that has shaped the culture of China. I was impressed to learn how far back the thinking of psychology was present in China as described by Jing and Fu:
Psychological thinking in China originated 2000 years ago when Chinese philosophers debated about the goodness and evil- ness of human nature. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Jesuit missionaries introduced the Catholic scholastic psychology into China. Modern Chinese psychology was mainly introduced from Germany, America, and Japan in the early 20th century. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese psychology tried to stage a reform by taking the psychology of the Soviet Union as its model. During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) psychology was abandoned due to its Western roots. In the late 1970s psychology was rehabilitated and new fields were opened up for study. Currently, Chinese psychology is adopting a...