Psychology and Subjectivity

A Truncated Analysis
  • Edward E. Sampson
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


Two general approaches to knowledge have varied in their dominance throughout Western history. The first, associated with idealism, adopts a skepticism about matter and so locates the ground for whatever certainty of knowledge is possible within human reason and mental events. The second, associated with materialism, adopts a skepticism toward reason and emphasizes the difference between the objects of mentation and the objects of reality; it grounds certainty in the material reality from which mental processes are said to develop. The idealist position sees “the notion” to be first and reality second; the materialist position reverses this ordering, seeing reality to have dominance over the notion (see Colletti, 1979). Where idealism emphasizes the spontaneity of human thought, materialism emphasizes its receptivity to external determination.


Human Subjectivity Social Character Dialectical Process Technical Mastery Ontological Primacy 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward E. Sampson
    • 1
  1. 1.Wright InstituteBerkeleyUSA

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