Beyond natural-scientific psychology: The relevance of the psychological humanities for a general theory of subjectivity

This paper emphasizes the relevance of the psychological humanities by reclaiming subjectivity as a core issue for psychology. To advance a general theory of subjectivity, the psychological humanities use, apply, and rely on a variety of disciplines, and reconstruct, integrate, and develop psychological knowledge. In suggesting that a topic such as subjectivity requires an interrogation from the perspective of the humanities, the arts, and the concept-driven social sciences, the intellectual gaze shifts from disciplinarity to transdisciplinarity, from empirical to reflexive work, and from hypothesis-testing to asking questions about mental life.  Philosophical thinking provides conceptual clarifications and guidelines for integrating research on subjectivity; historical work reconstructs the trajectory of (epistemic) subjectivity and its subdivisions;  political and social theories debate the process of subjectification, the ways in which history, society and culture contribute to the construction of a subject; indigenous, cultural and postcolonial studies show that Western theories of subjectivity cannot be applied unquestioned to contexts outside of the West; the arts corroborate that subjectivity is core to the aesthetic project; and science and technology studies point to recent developments in genetic science and information technology that compel transformations in subjectivities. It is argued that the psychological humanities contribute to a broader understanding of subjectivity that cannot be gained alone through the psychological sciences. Consequences for the theories and practices of the psy-disciplines are discussed.

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