On translating the term psychism I

Hello Aaron.

The task you are involved with is no doubt an interesting one. This search for a term that is not confused with psyche etc has been no doubt considered by many, especially the translators of Silo’s teachings. I don’t think you’ll find it surprising that over the years there has been a lot of discussion about the translation of psiquismo, much of which revolves exactly around that point.

I didn’t have an interchange with N about this. I had several that touched on this point over a number of years. In part this was because there was a lot of people who felt that translating psiquismo as psychism for the English version was an error.  In general they felt (feel) the correct translation was psyche. The same people often point out that the term psychism is more often used to mean something like the opposite of “materialism”, i.e. as something like “mentalism”. 

Of course that’s only part of the story. If previous usage was our only criterion we could point to the historical (and occasional) use of the term in some obscure phenomenological literature. There is much more that could be added but what is most important was N’s increasingly “forceful” response: he insisted, in no uncertain terms, that psyche was incorrect and the correct term is psychism. 

The notable thing to me was his explanation that the two terms represent two totally different conceptual systems. Once I started to think about that I recalled that psyche is rooted in the idea of a breath/soul and opposed to the body, the soma. The psychism as you know includes the body (consisting as it does of sense organs, centers of response, along with consciousness, memory, and all the circuitry. And of course it’s origin from, and as part of, a material matrix is explained in detail in the first part of Psychology Notes 1. 

Is there a pre-existing term in Hebrew that translates it correctly? I don’t know. Perhaps it is psychism? I would think that Hebrew like most (not all) languages adopts technical terms from other languages. I don’t know if any of that is of use but l I don’t think there’s anything else I can offer. If you think there’s any thing else I can help with please just ask. Meanwhile I look forward to hearing how you work this out.

Shalom, un gran abrazo, and of course my warmest greetings.


PS If I can find any notes or emails from the time about this subject I’ll post them to our list.