Monday, December 08, 2014

Funny Classroom Postings - Lisa Feldman Barrett and Ayurvedic Psychology

I just found another interesting article by Marzenna Jakubczak, who discusses the concept of an ego-maker in classical Samkhya and Yoga in the light of the mind-body problem. Comparing the two, a distinction between a mind-body problem (western philosophy) and a mind-consciousness problem (eastern philosophy) can be made (2008 p.240).
When discussing the one-ness of substratums for body and mind, Jakubzak mentions that Isvarakrsna, the author of one of the basic Samkhya texts, introduced the Vedic gunas (sattvarajasand tamas) to the ego principle. Those gunas are thought to be basic constituents of every phenomenon, and their mix causes the characteristics how the phenomenon expresses itself. Sattva stands for the mental, rajas for the energetical and tamas for the passive qualities. They form the basis for Indian Ayurveda as the Five Elements form the basis for Traditional Chinese Medicine. (Jakubczak, 2008, p.246)
This immediately reminded me of Lisa Feldman Barrett's mix of psychological primitives, which result in mental states that are characterized as seeingthinking or feeling. There may be some coupling between the ideas of sattva and thinking, rajas and feeling, as well as tamas and seeing. So in a sense one could argue Barrett is trying to introduce the Vedas to western psychology. (Barrett, 2010, p. 331)
Personally, however, I would rather recommend the Five Elements to her, as they constitute a closed loop network consisting of five nodes and two forward loops (one productive and one repressive). This model is a basic primitive for the investigation of complex dynamics that can characterize typical imbalances of such systems, whereas the Vedic component mix does not contribute to the understanding of complex dynamics. That's my critique of the recipe theory. However, arguing that scientifically makes a paper for itself (which I am currently working on). It definitely will exceed the length of a discussion posting.
Best wishes


Barrett, L. F. (2010). The future of psychology: Connecting mind to brain. Perspectives in Psychological Science4(4), 326-339. Retrieved from
Jakubczak, M. (2008)- The sense of ego-maker in classical Samkhya and Yoga: Reconsideration of ahamkara with reference to the mind-body problem. Cracow Indological Studies, X, 235-253.