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Differences between Psychology and Philosophy

Differences between Psychology and Philosophy

September 12, 2022

The main differences between Psychology and Philosophy

It is easy to confuse them psychology Y philosophy , perhaps because both can be applied in a wide variety of areas and address issues that go beyond what is material and constant over time. There is a vague notion that from both you can issue advice and propose rules, behavior guidelines and life lessons, but knowing where the field of study begins and where the other one ends is not so simple.

However, that does not mean that there are not clear lines that separate each of its realms of research and application . Here I propose six differences between psychology and philosophy that can be used to guide you better in these types of issues.

Philosophy and psychology: different realities, different modes of study

1. They learn differently

The teaching of psychology is based on methodologies in which very specific tools are embedded and which go far beyond the careful reading of texts: experimentation with volunteers, observation of body parts with a microscope, use of statistical programs, etc.

Philosophy, although it can also use certain instruments such as those named, does not have such a broad consensus on what methodologies to follow .

2. They are investigated with different methodologies

One of the main differences between psychology and philosophy is found in the methodology used in each one. Philosophy is independent of the scientific method , since it works more with the conceptual categories and the relationship established between them, and therefore can use practically any instrument and method for their research. The psychology , instead, relies on empiricism to develop hypotheses about behavior and perception of the human being Therefore, quantitative research (especially experimental) and statistics are of great importance in psychological research, which means that taking small steps in the knowledge of the psyche is expensive and involves many people.

3. Their objectives are different

Classically, philosophy has had intellectual purposes , and its main goal has been the creation of philosophical categories and systems that serve to explain reality (or realities) in the best possible way. Philosophy tends to study a whole, rather than specific components of reality. It can also serve as a tool of collective emancipation, as proposed by some philosophical currents heir to Marxism, and therefore addresses the usefulness of certain cultural and interpretive frameworks to understand reality.

Psychology, despite having many applications, limits a object of study more specific: human behavior and its emotional and subjective dimension . Therefore, their hypotheses and theories always start from the human body or the subjectivity of people, either alone or in relation to each other. It almost never addresses the search for a reality totally alien to the existence of people, something that historically has been given in some philosophical proposals.

4. They use different languages

Much of psychology consists of research through the scientific method, and therefore seeks empirical bases that help her to propose theoretical models well received by the scientific community. As a result, we are constantly seeking agreement on the meaning of the words, to speed up research in certain areas and that several researchers from various areas of the world can collaborate in the same line of research.

Philosophy, on the other hand, can be found in philosophical systems formulated by a single person . That is why the main personalities in philosophy use a personal and idiosyncratic language, not consensual with others, and the same word or expression can mean very different things depending on the philosopher or philosopher who formulates them. Philosophy students need to dedicate a lot of study time to each of the authors before coming to understand what they are referring to in each case.

5. Philosophy soaks everything, psychology is specific

Philosophy provides all sciences with the analytical categories from which to study reality, whereas it does not have to be affected by scientific discoveries. But philosophy goes beyond science and began to exist before this. In fact, in writing this text I am doing something more like philosophy than psychology , because I am deciding from which perspective to address each of the concepts, which aspects to highlight and which to omit.

The scientific psychology , as part of one of the different layers of science, is crossed by these philosophical debates that do not have to be part of the subject that aims to study.

6. Philosophy addresses morality, psychology does not

Philosophy wants to explain everything that can be explained, and this includes the study of the correct ways of behaving. That is why many of the great thinking minds of this discipline have offered their ways of understanding the categories of "good" and "bad".

Psychology stays out of this type of debate and, in any case, will give information about what kind of behaviors can be useful to approach a goal . In addition, it is possible for a researcher to investigate the psychological foundations behind different types of morals in different cultures, but he will not study morality itself but its origins. In addition, contributions from psychology can be used to propose the establishment of ethical scales and theories of morality.

If you are curious to know how Psychology and Philosophy are alike , we recommend you take a look at this article

The Interface between Philosophy and Psychology (September 2022).

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