Medieval Psychology

Medieval Psychology

Medieval Psychology

Medieval Psychology

Synopsis

This book describes the psychological ideas current in medieval Europe. It aims partly to correct misperceptions about the nature of psychology in the Middle Ages; an important theme is the surprising unity and coherence of medieval psychology. Kemp outlines two major influences on medieval psychology: Christian beliefs and the views of classical philosophers and physicians. He outlines medieval views on the nature of the soul and spirit, deals with medieval theories of perception, covers cognition and memory, and considers and evaluates Thomas Aquinas' account of emotion and will.

Excerpt

A book that attempts to depict the state of medieval psychology should ideally be written by someone who commands the skills and knowledge of a psychologist, a philosopher, an historian, a classicist, and a theologian. I am not that person. My background is in academic psychology, and I make no claim to anything remotely approaching the skills of, say, the professional historian or philosopher. I wish I had their abilities and apologize for the liberties I have taken with their subjects. I comfort myself a little by reflecting, first, that the ideal writer of this book probably does not exist and, second, that the approach of a present-day psychologist may perhaps have its own strengths as well as limitations.

I am grateful to a number of people, particularly Garth Fletcher, Oyvind Norderval, Evan Rogerson, and Colleen Ward for stimulating discussions on aspects of medieval psychology. I am particularly thankful to Martine Eller, Ken Strongman, and Leonard Zusne, each of whom read at least one draft of the entire book and provided me with numerous helpful suggestions for its improvement. I am also grateful to Martine and Ken for their encouragement and interest throughout the entire project. My thanks are due to Robin Phillips for preparing the figures and to Lynley Clarke, Lynette Stewart, and Vivienne Silcock for their expert typing.

Finally, I should like to thank my wife, Cora, and daughter, Alice, for their continuing support and enthusiasm for the project.

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