Background. The question about nature and essence of psyche and psychical form of reflection till now is opened in spite of effort of many scientists. As a result the problem of scientific definition of psyche and its nature is being one of the most fundamental problems in psychology.
The Objective of the research is to show: a) where the complexity of solving the problem of psyche lies; b) what logic options of solving this problem that are offered in national psychology, particularly in the works of А.N. Leontev and N.I. Chuprikova, can be adduced and why they are insolvent; c) how it is possible to solve the problem of psyche and mental form of reflection using the major concepts of the reflection theory and adequacy concept of behaviour in constantly changing conditions of reality.
Design. The term “psyche” as a theoretical concept is introduced to explain the ability of living organism (opposed to lifeless) to react to external impact by various activity. Critical analysis of natural-scientific definitions of psyche in the works of А. N. Leontiev and N.I. Chuprikova is presented.
Their discrepancy and insufficient scientific background are shown. Main assumptions of the reflection theory are coined, and further definitions of non-mental forms of reflection (e.g. biochemical, physiological, neurophysiological) and also essence of psyche and specific features of psychical forms of reflection are shown. The paper presents a model that reverberates the author’s idea about the dynamics of the evolving psyche and mental processes (e.g. cognitive, emotional, volitionary) due to which mental forms of reflection and of behaviour regulation are fulfilled.
Results. The analysis of natural-scientific definitions of psyche and mental form of reflection that the national psychology dwells upon show their inconsistency and scientific insolvency. The author's version of solving the problem of psyche and determining specific features of mental form of reflection are given an account based on the major concepts of the reflection theory and the need for behaviour adequacy.
Conclusions. In order to shape the essence of psyche, specific features of mental form of reflection and features of mental processes it is necessary to distinguish forms of reflection, allocation of their functions and constraints. Reflection which can be attributed to non-mental (e.g. biochemical, physiological, neurophysiological) form, does not allow to provide behaviour adequacy in a rapidly changing conditions of reality. Based on reflection, behavior always occurs with certain delay in time. If eliminated, this drawback is provided by occurrence of a brain and a property named “psyche”, which provides mental form of reflection as reflection of the near future of objective reality.
The paper analyzes the problem of the origin of the human psyche. Some assumptions about the nature of human psyche are introduced, the main element of the latter to be deemed as subjective sensory experience, which is carrying out a role of a building material to generate an image of subject conditions of behavioral space of the acting agent and the role of the sensual language by which the subject describes his/her environment. The features of the physical, biological and psychological reflection and behaviour management based on the physical, biological and psychological processes are given particular analysis. Mental reflection is deemed as the subject discovering his/her reflection of his/her behavioural space (his field of adaptive behaviour). The impossibility of constructing the image of objective conditions of the field of action as a result of transformation of primary traces the interaction of the environment and the receiving system (analyzer) of a living being is shown. The role of perceiving the subject’s activity in constructing the image of the object and the feeling of the adequate perception of the environment is emphasized.
The notion of “consciousness” is analyzed. First of all, consciousness is understood as a special form of psyche which occurs only to humans. The second interpretation is most common in Soviet psychology, within which consciousness is considered a product of human social life. The third meaning consists in understanding consciousness as cognitive and transformative (constructive) human activity that creates new conditions of life.
Herewith consciousness is the highest level of world cognition, whereas a person is an ideal (i.e. perfect) subject of cognition and transforming activity.
The soul concept has been forbidden to use in the academic psychological literature for over a hundred years. It was replaced (suppressed) by the concept of “psyche”, “consciousness”, “self-esteem”, etc. The paper raises the issue of the need to reconsider the concept of human soul as the fundamental basis of human mental activity. We emphasize the multidimensional concept of soul, a number of traditional fields of theoretical and applied psychology the directly being attributed to it, for example, the study of thinking, memory, perception, sensations, emotions, etc. We discovered that among the accepted meanings of the soul (more than ten listed in the paper) only one is known to fall out of the academic and psychological requirements, namely understanding the soul in terms of “spiritual part of human beings”. The fundamental conclusion consists in the fact that the soul properly never escaped the issues of academic psychology. On the contrary, it has been in the focus of scholars. In order to differentiate between the competence of psychology and theology we propose a distinction between “inner” and “outer” psychic manifestations. Within such a divide, the “outer” side will face the entire material world almost directly and entirely meet the requirements of the subject matter of science, whereas the “inner” side is connected with psychology through the reality, habitually referred to as spirituality, which in addition to theological interpretations can be deemed in terms of moral and philosophical value sphere and intelligible reason of human existence.
This approach allowed us to consider the issue of “spiritual” and “personal” relations, to establish relationships between personality psychology and the religious and secular approaches. It is shown that without taking into account the methodological correlation with these approaches the psychological category is reduced to simply identifying personal individual features, and motivational and volitional performance.
The author explores the issue: What does psychology study? Does it study the human psyche? He argues about the product of mental activity. Different views on the subject of scientific psychology, the human psyche and its manifestations are considered.