Summary of A New Synthesis for Solving the Problem of Psychology

A New Synthesis for Solving the Problem of Psychology: Addressing the Enlightenment Gap (Henriques, 2022) has just been published. The book is part of the Palgrave Studies in the Theory and History of Psychology and is available here on Amazon and here from the publisher. This article provides an overview of the book and summarizes each chapter.


Mainstream academic psychology currently consists of an eclectic blend of overlapping, but incompatible schools of thought coupled to an empirical scientific epistemology that is grounded in the methods of behavioral science. The result is an endless array of research programs that vaguely intersect in the domain of the “science of behavior and mental processes” and function to produce a chaotic, fragmented body of knowledge that is not well-suited for cultivating wisdom.

A New Synthesis for Solving the Problem of Psychology offers a new vision for the field. Building on a long scholarly tradition (Henriques, 2003; 2004; 2008; 2011; 2019), it introduces the Unified Theory of Knowledge (UTOK), which illuminates the nature of the mental in both animals and humans. The difference between the standard “methodological behaviorism” adopted by mainstream psychology and the “mental behaviorism” delineated in the present work is that the former is a science based on epistemology and methods, whereas the latter is a science based on a clear naturalistic ontology that coherently and cogently clarifies what mental behaviors refer to in the world.

The implications of a psychological science grounded in a coherent ontology of the mental are profound. The conceptual confusions that have confounded psychology for over a century ultimately stem from an “Enlightenment Gap” in our knowledge regarding how to place matter and mind and scientific and social knowledge in proper relation. With a new vision for how we might solve this problem, a whole new picture for natural science, psychology, and the human condition in the 21st Century emerges.

See here for the links to all the chapters.


Chapter 1: A New Solution to the Problem of Psychology

A profound problem emerged in the wake of the scientific Enlightenment. No holistic philosophy could obtain the proper relations between matter and mind and the nature of scientific knowledge relative to social and subjective knowledge. The consequence of this failure can be seen both in the confusing debates in the philosophy of mind literature and in scientific psychology’s abject failure to effectively define its subject matter. This work introduces a new approach to scientific psychology called mental behaviorism, which is grounded in a new Unified Theory of Knowledge (UTOK). UTOK is structured in a way that resolves the Enlightenment Gap, and it clarifies the nature of science, behavior, and mental processes in a way that affords us cumulative knowledge oriented toward wisdom.

Section I: The Problem of Psychology

Chapter 2: Psychology, We Have a Problem

This chapter introduces the reader to the problem of psychology. It recounts my professional journey through various aspects of the field, and then narrows in on the problem of psychology. The problem is that there is no shared agreement regarding what is meant by the domain of “behavior and mental processes.” Specifically, for some, “the mind” refers to human self-conscious reflection and rationality, whereas for others the domain of the mental refers primarily to subjective conscious experiences, and still for others it refers to the neurocognitive processes of the nervous system. Adding to these discrepancies is the fact that there is a whole separate tradition, behaviorism, that defines mind in terms of animal behaviors that can be observed.

The chapter explains why the inability to define the field’s core concepts has profound consequences for how its knowledge production impacts society. Several real-life examples are given, including my experiences working with A. T. Beck running a randomized controlled clinical trial on cognitive psychotherapy for individuals who had recently attempted suicide. I explain how the paradigm of cognitive psychotherapy inadequately framed and restricted the interpretation of the work. The result was a profoundly distorted set of findings that buried what the empirical data actually showed. The general point is that when a paradigm is not up to the task of framing the topic and findings that emerge from the research, the result is a confusing tangle of partial truths that fail to afford authentic intelligibility.

Chapter 3: Modern Empirical Psychology and Its Inadequacies

This chapter explains how modern scientific psychology came to be defined by scientific empirical epistemology and instituted what has been characterized in the literature as “methodological behaviorism.” This refers to the fact that scientific psychology investigates its subject matter via the methods of behavioral science. This chapter shows how seeing the world via a scientific methodology divides it up into behaviors (which are available to the language of modern empirical science) and mental processes, which are inferred and modeled by the researcher.

Defining the domain of mind via the methods of science is deeply problematic, especially because it refers to radically different things in the world depending on the school of thought one is operating from. The chapter explains why and how the domain of the mental has been framed as: 1) observable behavioral activity of animals and humans; 2) neurocognitive processes that take place within the brain; 3) subjective conscious experiences that represent the first person perspective; and 4) language-based thought and self-conscious rationality.

The interrelations between these four areas of mental processes are framed as the “behavior-mind-mind-mind” or BM³ problem. The BM³ problem explicitly frames the subject matter confusions at the heart of the problem of psychology, and it sets the stage for a new vision for scientific psychology.

Section II: The Unified Theory of Knowledge and Its First Two Key Ideas

Chapter 4: The Unified Theory of Knowledge: A Metapsychology for the 21st Century

This chapter introduces the overarching framework that provides the new synthesis for solving the problem of psychology. The Unified Theory of Knowledge (UTOK) is an interlocking set of ideas that are woven together to provide a new synthetic philosophy and coherent metapsychology. More specifically, UTOK provides a descriptive metaphysical system that can effectively interrelate first person experience with our scientific knowledge of behavior in general.

The chapter explains why the framework is called the unified theory of knowledge. It has its lineages in E. O. Wilson’s consilience. However, unlike Wilson’s standard reliance on natural science, UTOK is positioned in relation to the core problem in our knowledge systems that stems from the Enlightenment. Specifically, no coherent philosophical framework emerged in wake of modern empirical natural science that afforded clarity in understanding the proper relations between (a) matter and mind and (b) scientific knowledge and social or subjective knowledge.

This lacuna is labeled the Enlightenment Gap and is clearly present in (a) the ubiquity of the so-called “mind-body problem” in science and philosophy, and (b) the deep-seated debates, conflicts, and confusions between modernist and postmodernist positions regarding the nature and place of scientific knowledge relative to social context and power dynamics. The chapter explains why the problem of psychology can be well-framed as an inevitable downstream consequence of the Enlightenment Gap. Moreover, the solution to the problem given by UTOK fills in the Enlightenment Gap, and, consequently, sets the stage for a new transformation in our knowledge writ large.

The UTOK metapsychology is then summarized. It is framed as consisting of eight key ideas and three core projects that are structured to address three core problems. The first four key ideas make up the unified theory of psychology. This is the core project that is structured to address the problem of psychology, and it is the focus of the present work. The second set of four ideas make up the unified approach to psychotherapy. This is the second core project that is structured to address the chaotic fragmentation associated with the problem of psychotherapy. The third core project delineates how the whole of the UTOK system affords us a new synthetic philosophy that can resolve the Enlightenment Gap. This book lays out a vision that focuses primarily on the first problem and project (i.e., solving the problem of psychology). In so doing, the stage is set for the other two projects to be effectively addressed.

This chapter proceeds to explicitly connect the current work to A New Unified Theory of Psychology (Henriques, 2011). It explains how that work was focused on the level of “metatheory” and how the four key ideas that make up the unified theory of psychology could assimilate and integrate the key insights from the major perspectives (i.e., behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological/evolutionary, and social systems perspectives).

The current work is a continuation of that project, but it is framed differently. It focuses on developing a proper “descriptive metaphysical system” that affords a clear delineation of the ontology of the mental. This, in turn, then works to specify the primary way the science of psychology should be framed and defined. As such, instead of emphasizing how the Unified Theory can assimilate and integrate key insights from the main schools of thought, this book explains how the UTOK metapsychology affords a new grammar to think about science, behavior, and mental processes. The result of this new formulation is that we can now shift from the current methodological behaviorism grounded in epistemology to a mental behaviorism grounded in a clear, coherent, naturalistic ontology.

The final portion of this chapter bridges the BM³ problem to the new vocabulary of the mental provided by UTOK. It introduces a table that organizes the three key domains of mental processes via their epistemological accessibility and ontological referent. The domain of neurocognitive functional activity that coordinates animal behavior is identified as the domain of “Mind¹”. It is available via the exterior empirical position, and consists of overt animal actions and neurocognitive activity. In contrast, subjective conscious experience is framed as the domain of “Mind²”. It is only directly available via the interior empirical position (i.e., the view of the subject). Finally, language-based reasoning and explicit self-conscious reason giving is the domain of “Mind³”. Propositional justifications flow freely between the interior and exterior positions, and thus can be thought of as being available via the intersubjective domain. This taxonomy of mental processes serves as an initial frame to ground the UTOK’s mental behaviorism and its ontological approach to scientific psychology.

The next two chapters in the system introduce the reader to the first two key ideas in UTOK, Justification Systems Theory (JUST) and the Tree of Knowledge (ToK) System.

Chapter 5: Justification Systems Theory

This chapter summarizes Justification Systems Theory (JUST), which I developed back in 1996. It provides the metatheoretical architecture that explains how we went from hominid primates who behaved in ways that were quite like other great apes a few million years ago to being transformed into human persons who operate on a whole new complex adaptive landscape over the past 100,000 years. More specifically, JUST is a metatheory that ties together three different broad domains of human psychology: 1) the evolution of propositional language and the new adaptive problem it generated, which is called the problem of justification; 2) the major domains of human consciousness and the structure and function of Mind³ (i.e., egoic justifying functions); and 3) the unique aspects of human culture and the evolution of the Culture-Person Plane of existence.

This chapter reviews the literature on JUST, and how it gives rise to a new, integrative model of human consciousness called the Updated Tripartite Model. This consists of three domains. The first is the experiential self, which can be framed as being Mind². The other domains are the private egoic narrating self (which is the private portion of Mind³) and the public persona (the overt speech or other verbalizations that others have access to; the public portion of Mind³). The chapter also explores how human propositional thought can be structurally and functionally described as systems of justification and that these systems of justification represent a novel, complex adaptive plane of existence that fundamentally separates humans as persons from other primates. This dividing line or “joint point” between the Animal-Mental and Person-Culture dimensions would set the stage for and become reified by the next key insight in UTOK, the Tree of Knowledge System.

Chapter 6: The Tree of Knowledge System

The ToK System can be considered the primary idea in UTOK, as it provides a descriptive metaphysical framework for a coherent, scientific naturalistic ontology that is up to the task of delineating the proper subject matter for psychology and sorting out its ontological and epistemological issues. This chapter begins by sharing the original ToK System diagram that appeared in a flash of insight in 1997. It uses that to delineate how the ToK frames the cosmic evolution of behavioral complexification from Energy to Matter to Life to Mind to Culture as planes of existence linked by theoretical joint points.

The original ToK, which emerged in a flash of insight in 1997

The chapter explains how the ToK System updates the historical great chain of being and gives rise to a new theory of reality and our scientific knowledge of it. Specifically, it delineates how the ToK maps the “real ontic layers” of Matter, Life, Mind, and Culture and aligns them with our scientific onto-epistemological theories that emerge as systems of justification out of culture (i.e., the physical, biological, psychological and social sciences).

The standard depiction of the ToK System

The chapter ends with a review of the work that has been done on how the ToK System provides a new theory for organizing psychology’s subject matter and its institution. However, that work has not been sufficient precisely because the core difference between the scientific worldview given by the ToK System and the existing conception of science has not been elaborated. This is accomplished in the next section, which provides the groundwork for why the ToK System affords us a new way to conceptualize scientific knowledge and the reality it maps.

Section III: A Descriptive Metaphysical System for Modern Empirical Natural Science

Chapter 7: A New and Better Map of Big History

This chapter provides an overview of the current natural scientific worldview. It begins with a review of “reductive physicalism,” which is an old interpretation of materialism that emerged in the wake of the modern science revolution. It is the idea that everything is just matter in motion. Although no longer the dominant mainstream stance, it remains an important point of view to be aware of. The current mainstream perspective in science is a nonreductive physicalism or emergent naturalism. One of the most well-known emergent naturalistic visions is an interdisciplinary project called Big History.

Big History is presented and reviewed, as it shares much in common with UTOK and the Tree of Knowledge System. However, despite some significant overlap, there are important differences. Big History does not provide a clear naturalistic ontology that can address the problem of psychology. For example, it does not include the emergence of the Animal-Mind dimension. Big History also fails to make the key and necessary distinction between emergence processes that take place within the dimensions versus emergences that give rise to whole new planes of existence. This difference is essential to obtain a clear picture of the major “joint points” in nature and effectively map its basic ontological structure. The ToK System gives a new and better map of Big History. In making this claim, questions arise as to how to understand the ontological picture that has emerged from a natural science viewpoint. This is taken up in the next chapter, which moves from natural science into philosophy, and what is meant by a descriptive metaphysics that connects the ontological layers with the domains of science.

Chapter 8: Toward a Coherent Naturalistic Scientific Ontology

A central aspect of the new vision being offered is that the Enlightenment failed to produce a clear and coherent naturalistic scientific ontology that afforded clear and proper relations between matter and mind. This chapter shifts the focus from natural science to natural philosophy. It begins with the work of Nicholi Hartmann, who was a well-known philosopher in the 20th Century who developed a long and sustained argument for the claim that nature could be divided into four ontological layers of the inanimate, animate, psyche and human. The obvious correspondences between his layers and the dimensions of Matter, Life, Mind, and Culture on the ToK are noted.

The chapter then shifts to a more recent argument by the philosopher and metaphysician Lawrence Cahoone. In his 2013 book, The Orders of Nature, he argues that since the Enlightenment, philosophy has made a major error with its dichotomy of mind and matter. He argues that natural science suggests that the natural world comes in different “orders,” which he calls the physical, material, living/biological, mental and cultural. This also aligns directly with the ToK, whereby Cahoone’s “physical” corresponds to the “Energy” that resides beneath the Matter dimension.

Cahoone identifies the physical, material, biological, mental, and cultural orders of nature, which aligns directly with ToK’s Energy, Matter, Life, Mind, Culture

This chapter ends by reviewing Roy Bhaskar’s critical realism and showing how his critique of the epistemic fallacy and his picture of scientific/natural ontology also directly aligns with the ToK. The conclusion of the two chapters in this section is that the ToK System gives rise to a new naturalistic scientific ontology that clarifies both the emergence of science as a kind of justification system and how it can be framed as generating a map of the ontic reality consisting of four different dimensions of Matter, Life, Mind and Culture. With the big picture view of science framed as such, the shift turns to link science to behavior and then to mental processes.

Section IV: Defining Behavior and Clarifying Its Relation to Natural Science

Chapter 9: Behavior: The Central Concept in Science

According to UTOK, behavior is one of the most confusing and convoluted words in psychology. The term behavior has many layers and meanings, including both a general meaning (i.e., change in object-field relationships) and a narrower meaning (e.g., observable actions of animals and humans). This chapter begins by deconstructing behavior and tracing its history. The concept largely emerged with Watson, but has proceeded to spread throughout the scientific community, such that physics is often characterized as the science of how the universe behaves across the smallest, quantum scales and largest cosmic scales.

This chapter builds from this analysis and the way the ToK System maps reality and science to make the novel claim that behavior is perhaps the central concept in all of natural science. That is, natural science can be framed by the concept of behavior (a) metaphysically (i.e., entities, fields and change are the concepts and categories that make up behavior); (b) epistemologically (i.e., natural science is an exterior empirical stance that observes and measures behavioral change in the world) and (c) ontologically (i.e., natural science develops structural maps of entities and their patterns of behavior across stratified dimensions of complexification). This analysis thus answers why (a) the term behavior spread throughout the scientific world; (b) why behaviors become the scientific aspect of mental processes that are accessible via the lens of science; and (c) why behavior in general is not the proper category for psychology. Instead, this analysis demonstrates that psychologists are interested in a particular kind of behavior, namely mental behaviors.

The natural sciences frame reality in terms of entities, fields, and change that can be “observed”.

Chapter 10: The Periodic Table of Behavior: Mapping the Levels and Dimensions in Nature

This chapter picks up the argument that behavior is central to science and extends it via a new taxonomy based on the ToK System called the Periodic Table of Behavior. Specifically, the ToK System suggests that science maps behaviors in nature both within the dimensions of complexification and between them. This gives rise to a 3 levels (part, whole, group) x 4 dimensions (Matter, Life, Mind, Culture) table of behavioral patterns in nature that is presented to classify the different domains of science and the kinds of behaviors they function to model. The Periodic Table of Behavior functions to extend the ToK System’s map to generate a richer and more detailed correspondence between reality and science.

A summary of each of the 12 floors of science is reviewed, starting with particle physics at floor 1 into atomic physics and the Periodic Table of the Elements at floor 2 and chemistry at floor 3. This corresponds to the argument that the primary unit at the Matter dimension is the atom, and there are particles below this level and molecules (groups of atoms) above it. There is also the issue of material systems across scales and contexts, which is included as extensions of these primary levels. Floor 4 represents the shift into the biological sciences and consists of genetics (part) and molecular biology. Floor 5 is cytology (cells are the primary units) and Floor 6 consists of botany and mycology (multi-celled organisms, groups). Floor 7 shifts into the Animal-Mind dimension and consists of neuroscience. Floor 8 is animal behavioral science (ethology or “basic-comparative psychology in UTOK) and floor 9 is sociobiology (science of animal groups). Floor 10 shifts to the Person-Culture dimension and consists of human cognitive science. Floor 11 is human psychology (i.e., developmental, personality, social into cultural) and floor 12 bridges into cultural anthropology and the rest of the social sciences.

The chapter concludes on demonstrating how the PTB can effectively classify different kinds of behavior and how it can function to provide individual with a natural behavioral scientific lens from which to view the world. It also clarifies why mental behaviors are a particular kind of behavior in the world and how to differentiate them from material, living, and cultural behavioral patterns.

Seeing the world via the lens of the Periodic Table of Behavior

Section V: Defining Mental Processes and Grounding the Domains in Metatheory

Chapter 11: Mental Behaviors and the Map of Mind

This chapter builds from the PTB to delineate the key elements that go into exemplars of mental behaviors. Mental behaviors can be framed as exhibiting the property of “mindedness.” Mindedness corresponds to the Mind dimension on the ToK. Mental behaviors are behaviors of animals with brains and complex active bodies that produce a functional effect on the animal environment relationship. These kinds of complex adaptive behavioral patterns (i.e., patterns that exhibit mindedness) emerged during the Cambrian Explosion and are seen in the animal phyla of arthropods (e.g., insects and crabs), cephalopods (e.g., octopus and squid), and vertebrates.

With mental behaviors and mindedness framed as such, a general framework for the domain of Mind¹ is developed. This enables us to begin to more explicitly address the BM³ problem. Specifically, the analysis of mental behavior affords clarity regarding how to understand both mind as behavior and mind as neurocognitive activity. It also makes clear that the domain of Mind² (i.e., subjective conscious experience), emerges out of Mind¹. However, it is not epistemologically accessible via the exterior epistemology of modern science’s system of justification.

This grounding sets the stage for the Map of Mind to be introduced. It depicts the domains of mental processes into the following areas: Mind1a refers to the neurocognitive activity instantiated within the brain and nervous system; Mind1b refers to the overt activity of the animal as a whole; Mind¹ refers to the subjective conscious experience of being available from the interior position; Mind³ refers to the private egoic narrator and Mind3b refers to the public persona and shared narration. Framed as such, the Map of Mind gives a descriptive metaphysical system for delineating the various domains of human mental behavior that is up to the task of addressing the BM³ problem.

The next task is to describe and explain how the domains are interrelated. The chapter explains that their interrelations can be framed in terms of “informational interface.” For example, the nervous system translates its informational form into overt muscular movements. This sets the stage for tying together these domains via the metatheoretical ideas provided by UTOK in the form of Behavioral Investment Theory, the Influence Matrix, and Justification Systems Theory.

Chapter 12: A Metatheory for Mind¹

Behavioral Investment Theory, the third key idea in UTOK, and the Life-to-Mind joint point on the ToK System, is given as a metatheoretical framework that frame Mind¹ and the general domain of mental behaviors or mindedness. BIT’s six core principles are reviewed and their connections to physics and chemistry, evolution and genetics, neuroscience, behavioral-learning, ethology, cognitive science, and developmental systems theory are spelled out.

The prediction is made that BIT’s principles can frame animal behavioral research. This is tested by applying the frame to articles in what was at the time of writing the most recent edition of the journal Animal Behavior. The review shows how the principles do in fact work to frame the way scientists study and interpret animal behavior.

The chapter then shows how BIT frames mental behavioral evolution in terms of four basic steps moving from: 1) reacting into 2) learning into 3) thinking into 4) talking in humans. These four steps are mirrored in the computational control structure in the nervous system of animals, including humans. The chapter concludes by reviewing how this architecture can be used to map human neurocognitive processes by corresponding it with research in human intelligence and memory. The conclusion is that BIT provides a coherent framework for understanding the neurocognitive functionalist view of mental behavior, framed by the domain of Mind¹.

Chapter 13: Mind²: Subjective Conscious Experience in Animals and Humans

This chapter shifts the focus to Mind², explaining why subjective conscious experience in animals is so difficult to study scientifically. It starts by analyzing the historical confusion that has surrounded the concept. To illustrate this confusion, the perspectives of Rene Descartes and George Romanes are explored. These scholars are normally seen as having diametrically opposed views on the question of animal consciousness. However, with the right vocabulary we can see that, in fact, they were far closer in their understanding that is normally realized. The reason for the confusion is that both used the term consciousness in different ways. Descartes was primarily anchored to the domain of Mind3; in contrast, for Romanes, consciousness was the base of Mind².

The chapter then shifts to understanding Mind² and suggests it can be thought of as emerging in a two-step process. First, early in the emergence of Mind¹ there is the appearance of “valence qualia” (i.e., pleasure and pain). These are flashes of experience that integrate sensory inputs with interoceptive states to coordinate and guide animals toward resources or away from stressful or toxic stimuli in such a way that enables flexible learning. Then, in step 2, a more extended global workspace emerges that affords subjective conscious experiences that can be stored in working memory, access and accumulated in a manner that results in a sense of self. It is plausible that the shift to land may have resulted in some adaptive pressures that increased the mental capacities in animals, as birds and mammals generally have substantially advanced capacities. The chapter ends with a summary of two major approaches to consciousness, Integrated Information Theory and Global Workspace Theory and shows how the current approach frames and interrelates them.

Chapter 14: “Mind To Be”: Implicit Intersubjectivity and the Relational World

This chapter bridges from focusing primarily the “agent arena” environment into the self-other relational world. Apropos of relationality, it begins by summarizing the emerging synergy between UTOK and the cognitive scientist and philosopher John Vervaeke’s metatheory of cognitive process called recursive relevance realization. Vervaeke’s work provides a much deeper and richer analysis of the functional processes involved in neurocognitive activity and adds richness to UTOK’s analysis of Mind² and the emergence of the experiential self in the animal world. This is demonstrated in two educational cognitive science series that correspond Vervaeke’s vision with UTOK. This chapter then adds the “relational” aspect to recursive relevance realization by positing that the evolution of parenting and attachment and long-standing social relationships in the animal kingdom set the stage for the emergence of a “relationship system” that tracks relevant self-other processes.

A recent diagram of Vervaeke’s work circulating on Twitter

This brings us to the fourth key idea in UTOK, the Influence Matrix, which is a metatheoretical formulation that assimilates and integrates many key ideas in interpersonal and social psychology to map human social motivation and emotion. This chapter summarizes the Influence Matrix and argues that it, together with Vervaeke’s work on the nature of the self and self-modeling, provide a strong model for the human “experiential self,” which is a key domain of nonverbal consciousness mapped by the Updated Tripartite Model.

A depiction of how Vervaeke’s recursive relevance realization metatheory is synergistic with UTOK

The chapter ends with a literature review of Tomasello’s work on the implicit intersubjective “we” space that humans generate and how we can consider that “we” space a kind of “Mind2b”.

Chapter 15: Mind³ and the Evolution of the Culture-Person Plane of Existence

This chapter picks up on where the book’s journey into UTOK started, which was with Justification Systems Theory. Specifically, this chapter explicates how the emergence of an implicit “we” space afforded the shared cognitive capacity for greater cooperation and symbol exchange and finally propositional speech, which preceded the rise of the problem of justification. This allows us to put human mental behavior in a coherent metatheoretical frame called “JII Dynamics” which stands for justification, investment and influence. JII Dynamics afford us a bridge into folk psychology, which is framed in terms of beliefs, desires, and actions.

In addition, this chapter explores the emergence and evolution of cultural consciousness from the oral indigenous into traditional civilizations into modernity and finally into postmodernity, which is the current state. This trajectory is suggestive that we may be phasing into a new, metamodern cultural sensibility. The chapter also explores the literature on personhood and explains why the self-conscious justification on the social stage is the defining feature of behaving as persons. Finally, the relationship between human Culture, as framed by the ToK, and the larger concept of society is addressed. This affords a clear placement of human psychology, as framed by the UTOK, in relation to the social sciences, like economics and sociology.

Part VI: Conclusion

Chapter 15: A New Vision of Mind and Psychology that Transcends the Enlightenment Gap

The problem of psychology emerged within a few decades of the field attempting to define itself as a branch of modern, empirical, natural science. It was never solved, and what emerged was a field that was defined by the methods and epistemology of science rather than a coherent subject matter. The reason was the Enlightenment Gap. The UTOK affords a new vision that can potentially resolve the Enlightenment Gap and solve the problem of psychology.

The combination of JUST and the ToK System generates a new map of both reality and science as an onto-epistemological system of justification that maps that reality. This gives the insight that behavior is the key concept in science, and that reality can be modeled as an unfolding wave of complexification across different dimensions and levels of analysis. This gives rise to a naturalistic ontology that can properly address the BM³ problem and frame the mental as behaviors, neurocomputational processes, subjective conscious experiences, and self-conscious justificatory processes. The result is a comprehensive philosophical picture of science, behaviors in nature, and mental processes in animals and humans. The implications of such a consilient system of knowledge are substantial and contribute to the emergence of a new way to orient toward wisdom in the 21st century.



The Unified Theory of Knowledge (UTOK) a new consilient vision of natural science, psychology, psychotherapy, and philosophy that is oriented toward the cultivation of wisdom.

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Gregg Henriques

Professor Henriques is a scholar, clinician and theorist at James Madison University.