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Psychology - 01

St Augustine : Augustinian novices Sorong, Papua Indonesia
Augustinian novices
Sorong, Papua

Augustine was easily the best - if not also the very first - psychologist in the ancient world.
He is an essential source for both contemporary depth psychology and existentialist philosophy.
The observations and descriptions of Augustine about human motives and emotions, his depth analyses of will and thought in their interaction, and his exploration of the inner nature of the human self have established one of the main traditions in European conceptions of human nature.
And this remains true even to our own era, which is a great achievement for somebody who lived as long ago as the fifth century.
His descriptions of subjective events (e.g., the will, experienced freedom of the will, the self) began the tradition of inner thought (introspection) and phenomenology in psychology.
Augustine discussed the perception of time and concluded that time is an inner experience, i.e., it is psychological.
His psychological ideas were first published in Confessions, one of the earliest great revelations of self.
By writing this unique book during the three years after he became Bishop of Hippo, Augustine took a spiritual and psychological assessment of himself and his past thoughts and behaviour.
In that book, Augustine explored the psychology of conversion and expressed the conviction that God had transformed his soul.                     
He described his spiritual unease (restlessness) as an example of that inner movement towards God that he believed as characterizing human life.
What Augustine there described as a motion towards unity or wholeness, psychology today terms as "congruency" (i.e., various factors coming together in harmony.)
In the Confessions Augustine addresses such consequential issues as family relations, memory, conversion, mystical realities, the place of sexual renunciation in religion, time and death.
In introducing such weighty subject matter, Augustine certainly did not want readers to treat his Confessions lightly.
They might be attracted to pick up the book out of curiosity or interest (and, both skilled in rhetoric and the psychology of human nature, he knew how best to entice them to do so).
(Continued on the next page.)

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