Psychological Reflection, Thought and Imagination as Epistemic Skills

  • Miika VähämaaEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 141)


Psychological reflection is a fundamental element of interpersonal psychological communication that builds on common sense and shared, or commonly understood, word meanings. In Psycho-logic Jan Smedslund (1988), states that without these two key elements of communication the following occurs: misunderstandings and disorderliness in psychological interactions increases. This chapter posits that the loss of common sense and language are happening. This diminishes our ability to reason psychologically valid thoughts concerning the self and others. As a solution, I propose an increased reliance on imaginative processes in psychological reflection, conceptualized as synthetic thinking.

The loss of common sense is largely due to the media which ‘narrow-cast’ meanings to small groups of like-minded individuals. Therefore, rhetoric is increasingly and understandably focused on desirable actions and meanings aligned with our groups and affiliations. This allows the decay of the common sense, or the κοινὴ αἴσθησις, of the ancient Greeks. Such a loss is a particular problem of emotionally driven group-settings such as psychological practices and familial contexts, where loss of shared language cause people to ‘talk past’ one another.

Since “common sense” and a priori psychological knowledge seem to be insufficient sources for continued understandable psychological communication, we need to incorporate “idiosyncratic sense” in psychological reflection as an epistemic skill. Such synthetic thinking gives imagination credibility as a source of psychological knowledge. Also, synthetic thinking can enable the regeneration of language. If we become good at reflecting and understanding flexible word meanings and the co-existence of imaginative interpretations, we enable newfound interpersonal meanings.


Psychological reflection Synthetic thinking Psycho-logic Epistemic skills Imaginative processes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politics, Media and Communication Faculty of Social Science, University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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