Everyman's psychology - PDF by John Adams

Everyman's psychology

Everyman's psychology
Everyman's psychology 

Excerpt from the introduction:

Common honesty demands that a book of this kind should have a descriptive title to warn off people who want totally different psychology from that presented here, and it has struck me that it would not be a bad way of introducing this volume to talk over in an unceremonious way the various titles that have passed through my mind, and my reasons for finally adopting what you find on the title page

I have long had the inclination to write on psychology in a less solemn strain than convention seems to demand. The science itself is interesting enough, and occasionally a genius like William James has the courage to make it interesting in print, though he himself suffered just a trifle in reputation among his less intelligent readers because he was so deplorably clear that even they could see at once what his pages meant. 

Time was, and that not so long ago, when psychology held a rather precarious place among the sciences. Perhaps at that time, a little elaboration of terminology might be pardoned as a means of self-defence. There is sound sense in the advice of the old Scotch professor of divinity who used to say to his class of young men just leaving the university to take up their life work as clergymen: “Noo, lads, take my advice and preach since a peace a year, and oftener—a sermon that naebody in the congregation can understand.” 

But psychology has now gotten past the stage at which tricks of this kind are necessary to bolster up its reputation. Secret societies used to have quite a formidable array of mysterious words and signs—all the more awesome under their Latin name of arcana —and certain academic subjects have an equivalent supply of sesquipedalian words that used to be thought useful in inspiring respect among the outsiders. But arcana are no longer needed in psychology. 

Indeed the honest teacher of this subject finds one of his chief difficulties to be in making clear to his pupils the exact meaning of the enormous list of technical words that make up an essential part of his teaching vocabulary.

 With most of these terms, the ordinary public has nothing whatever to do, any more than they have with the complicated appaiatus and laboratory appliances to be found in the rooms where modern psychology does its research work. 

The actual things done in dissecting rooms and chemical laboratories are no concern of the ordinary citizen, though no doubt none of us is so ordinary as not to have an interest in the ultimate results of the research carried on in these mysterious places. 

In all deep studies, there is a more or less clearly marked off body of people who have made the subject their own, and who therefore speak of all other people as outsiders, or, when they do not wish to be rude, laymen. Since this book makes its appeal to just these laymen it might reasonably be entitled The Layman s Psychology; only unfortunately one particularly powerful group of men have used the word so prominently that it has acquired a very special meaning. 

This powerful organization is of course the church, and so familiar is the contrast between the churchman and the layman that any use of the term laymen would suggest that the book was intended in some way to eliminate clergymen from its circle of readers, whereas in reality clergymen are likely to benefit especially from what we have to say on the subject. 

So our first hopeful title must go into the discard. In many erudite subjects we not only have a body of specialists who regard all outsiders as laymen, but within that body, we have two groups, an inner and an outer. 

The members of the first group are called esoterics, and the second exoterics. The innermost circle is made up of the select few who know the most profound depths of their subject; they make up a kind of holy of holies.

 The exoterics are a sort of good journeymen special¬ ists who know the subject thoroughly in what may be called a professional way that raises them far above the common herd of outsiders, without admitting them to the innermost secrets. 

The word herd came quite naturally to my pen, and thus without my thinking of it brings out the attitude of the specialists toward the outsiders. In a famous sentence, Horace tells us that he despises the vulgar crowd and does his best to ward them off. His attitude is too often imitated by the esoterics toward the exoterics, and in a much more marked way by the joint esoterics and exoterics toward the general public.

The author said in his introduction that this book is for the layman or the general reader as an introduction to psychology.

the book details :
  • Author: John Adams
  • Publication date: 1929
  • Company: London: University of London Press - 

  • Download Everyman's psychology - PDF - 35.6 MB

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