Other Cultural Influences
While psychology as a field was largely developed out of Western philosophy, Eastern philosophers during this time were also exploring concepts related to the mind, knowledge, and ethics.
Confucius, who lived between 551 and 479 B.C.E., wrote about the ideal life as one following the principle of ethics and order.
He described the need to understand one’s place in society and the obligations that come with that position. He argued that people should perform their obligations with integrity and without the need for prompting or supervision.
Later, in contrast to the rigidity of Confuscianism, Taoism focused on finding a balance between nature, the body, and the spirit. The universe is believed to have a natural rhythm, and happiness comes from spontaneity and living in sync with that natural flow of life.
Buddhism also focused on how to live ethically and in harmony with the universe. Buddhism explored the concept of self, arguing that the self does not exist outside of others.
For some schools of Buddhism, that means people must give up their ego and personality in order to eventually live in harmony with the universe. For others, that means that the self does not exist separately from anything, and everything that exists is actually part of one whole.
Buddhism also focuses on ethics based on a defined set of beliefs. These beliefs include the Four Noble Truths, which essentially state that suffering exists, suffering has a cause, there is a way to end suffering, and there is a specific path of ethical behaviors and thoughts that can end suffering.
We will see as we move through this course that the questions asked by many of these philosophers gave a foundation for questions that are still being asked today.