The Illusion of Maturation in an Age of Decline

  • Richard Lichtman
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)


Psychology is the dominant ideological paradigm of our age. It is the prism through which the reality of society is transformed into the mythology of individualism. Two striking instances of this tendency appeared at the beginning of the century. James Ward’s classic Psychological Principles (1920) set down the following methodological pronouncement: “Taking individual experience as defining the scope of psychology, we began our study with our own experience, since other experience can be intelligible only in these terms” (p. 361). And William James introduced his influential The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) with the following prescription: “If the inquiry be psychological, not religious institutions, but rather religious feelings and religious impulses must be its subject, and I must confine myself to those more developed subjective phenomena recorded in literature produced by articulate and fully self-conscious men, in works of piety and autobiography” (p. 4). It is not the focus on mind that distinguishes twentieth-century bourgeois thought from earlier historical reflections; it is, rather, the separation of mind from the social institutions in which it is embodied.


Religious Experience Stage Theory Middle Adulthood Capitalist Legitimation Contemporary Life 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Lichtman
    • 1
  1. 1.Wright InstituteBerkeleyUSA

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