Good Critical Thinking About Revisiting A Contrasting Thought Between Descartes And Spinoza In Light Of Psychotherapy
Type of paper: Critical Thinking
Topic: Psychology, Education, Knowledge, Nursing, Descartes, Understanding, Psychotherapy, Enlightenment
Philosophy and Psychology
Often, patients visit psychologists because of an existent psychological distress and hence the need for psychotherapy, a phenomenon that explains the supposed presence of an effect with the lack thereof of the exact cause. It is because they are seeking a solution to their problem, the cause, that they seek psychotherapy. Descartes theory will therefore be analyzed in relationship to the different four case scenarios of patients seeking psychotherapy treatments. The first example presented for example of the lady who had no idea of what was causing her distress is a clear example of an inadequate knowledge which can be related to Spinoza’s theory.
Descartes relies on a perfect explanation through the standard process of deductive and logical reasoning of all the initial causes and premises till the final acquisition of a valid conclusion and universal truth. The sequence will therefore begin with a distinct and clear understanding of the psychological problem the patient is experiencing followed by the effect to be proved from the psychotherapy treatment. In his theory lies the concept of a perfect explanation for a perfect understanding (Cheung, 1999). This is as compared to Spinoza’s adequate explanation for adequate understanding. Descartes insistence on a concrete cause is therefore seen as a clear way to gain a solid and cohesive understanding of the existence of the psychological problem. He therefore insists on the fact that for patients to certainly state that they must be suffering from a certain kind of disorder, then they ought to have gone through a concise stage of logical and intellectual enquiry rather that the empirical and adequate knowledge as in the case of the type three fictional patient, that according to him is insufficient for a comprehensive analysis of a psychological distress. The cause can therefore help to better understand the psychological distress.
However, on a closer look at the case, there is still some weakness to Descartes claim as is seen from the fact that since the patient exhibits a clear knowledge and understanding on the existence of a problem with their mental state, then they ought to have a similarly clear understanding of the cause of their mental ailment during psychotherapy (Cheung, 1999). This is illustrated by the fourth patient who is represented by a small percentage of the general population and hence indicating some inconsistence in Descartes theory. This is empirical knowledge that is based on senses rather than a logical knowledge similar to that which is advocated for by proponents like Descartes. Descartes does not agree with such a kind of vague knowledge, especially since it does not account for a vivid explanation of the causal factors of the present situation.
Spinoza’s argument on the other hand is much more difficult to understand especially since according to him, there is a general presumption that an adequate knowledge of a psychological distress is enough for patients. The significant question that grows from the debate therefore is whether or not it is important for patients to have a clear or vague understanding of their mental state before and during psychotherapy treatments. It is nevertheless important to note that most people rely on such a kind of vague reasoning and knowledge of their health status largely from our own emotions, prior knowledge, imagination, habits, testimony and even ignorance. It is this confusion in humanity that Spinoza is interestingly enlightening on so as to help people understand the necessity of gaining a universal form of adequate reasoning, which is supposedly better than a mixture of different thoughts and ideas from different people (Kenneth, 2014). Once, they are able to acquire this form of adequate knowledge then it will be easier to gain a better understanding of the causes of their distress.
The general conclusion from the debate can therefore be drawn with a universal acceptance that there must be a cause and a reason for the existence or non-existence of anything, an appreciation of the fact that the world is causal. There is therefore the need for sufficient reasoning and logical deductive reasoning even in the psychotherapy field both before and during treatment.
Bennet, J. (1984). A Study of Spinoza’s Ethics. New York: Hackett Publishing Company.
Cheung, M, C. (1999). Revisiting a Contrasting Thought between Descartes and Spinoza in light of Psychotherapy. Counseling Psychology Quarterly. 12(1): 49-56.
Kenneth, C. (2014). The Causation Debate in Modern Philosophy, 1637-1739.New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.