European psychology and its rooting in the interiority of Christian Middle Ages

“Understanding European psychology”

European psychology and its rooting in the interiority of Christian Middle Ages

Keywords: introversion, locus of control, Islam, Middle Ages, history of science, cultural clashes

Read my article here:

Mats Winther

I enjoyed your article very much.
I am totally in agreement with you.
People forget that the Middle Ages were an age of great civilization, for the monks had arrived to change the swords for plows and instead of wars to have tournaments. Of course, fighting back the Muslims was another must-do, for it was in self-defense (the North of Africa being totally christian in 400 aD).
I agree with you in regards to Augustin who said: “God, our heart was made for you and only can be happy in You”. Yes, introspective labor is essential for it is there that is God, the source of happiness.
Moreover, modern psychology many times gives emphasis to the encounter with oneself as the source for peace and enlightenment. Without God.
The problem is that if you encounter yourself without God you encounter an empty bag.
Only being-the-other, that is with-the-encounter-with-God we can encounter-ourselves.
That is contradictory but Jesus Christ stated it carefully: “You must lose your life to encounter it”.

Nice. But, I was a bit confused with your reference to Japanese Middle Ages, were you talking about the Middle Age (note capital M and A, which most commonly denotes the era in European history prior to the rise of Early Modern Europe)?

The Japanese middle ages (if you mean the middle ages of Japanese culture and civilization from antiquity to present) would be a quite different time frame than you discuss in your essay, hence it could detract from your thesis, instead of supporting it.

If you meant Japanese culture at the same period as the Middle Ages (i.e., European Middle Ages), then it was supportive of you claims.

I know its a pretty minor point, but, its the kind of thing a historian would fixate on!


Thanks. I have today improved the article, added citations and links, and corrected references. There has certainly been a tension between faith and science in Christian history, but the notion of warfare against knowledge is false. Interestingly, Augustine expressed dismay at the ignorance of some Christians:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. (Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, translation by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982)

There is a Wikipedia article about the ‘Conflict thesis’ of religion and science, here:

Mats Winther

The Japanese Middle Ages is defined as 12th-16th AD. It starts later and ends later, but I was thinking more on lines of the “period of interiority”, regardless of time-frame, when the Zen schools flourished, and the tea ceremony, the archery ceremony, and ceremonial gardening were developed. They all, somehow, represent the inner, or spiritual, experience of human life.


Actually, Japanese middle ages are better defined as 8th-12th century. Many of the cultural developments you allude to came about during the Nara Period (710-794) and The Heian Period (794-1185). The timeframe of the European Middle Ages was the Japanese Feudal Period, which might by some accounts be consider “dark ages” (although, I am in agreement with what seems to be your contention that European Middle Ages, because of cultural development, is unfairly referred to as the “dark ages”.

If that’s the case, then I think of the Middle Ages in terms of “the era prior to modern times”. Anyway, it isn’t important to the gist of my argument. The reader presumably understands what I mean, namely traditional Japan.


Great quote of my favorite writer.

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