Relativism and its relevance for psychology

Kundan Singh

California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. USA

It is quite apparent that different psychological theories are relative with respect to psychologists, time, and culture, though the authors of all these numerous theories have claimed scientific objectivity. This paper narrates a personal journey, an endeavour toward understanding the underlying cause of relativism encompassing the different psychological theories by examining the very foundations of the scientific paradigm that all these theorists claim to adhere to. The analysis resulted in an understanding where the notion of the Truth, which is at the foundation of any scientific enterprise including psychology, is relative and absolute simultaneously a position very difficult for the logical and discursive mind to understand and make sense of. This intellectual understanding opens for us a mystical mode of inquiry into the human nature, for according to the different Indian mystical traditions, the truths of human existence and behaviour cannot be understood by the logical and the discursive mind. This paper, which draws substantially from the writings of Sri Aurobindo, talks about a kind of psychology which will be made possible by making a mystical exploration into the nature of Reality where forces invisible to the ordinary human eye, which nevertheless determine human behaviour, will be observed and known.

This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002