A sunny day. People walk across Circular Quay park. An inflatable tiger is lying down. Tall buildings of Sydney CBD in the far background

The purpose of psychology by Paul Valery

An open field with a road stretching into the distance. A person walks in the background. Quote at the top, by Paul Valery. "The purpose of psychology"
– Paul Valery

“The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.” – Paul Valéry, philosopher and poet.

See the quote in context below, first in English and then French.


The purpose of psychology (English)

The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.

Becoming surprised over habits; to consider the surprise as probable.

To create an image of the relations of images; to define the relationships of images…

To make me myself; and relate “Me” to all the “non Me”

All the Danaides* at work.

[*The 50 daughters of Danaus. In Metamorphoses by Ovid, they were supposed to marry the 50 sons of Danaus’ twin brother Aegyptus (mythical king of Egypt), but instead, they murdered them They were punished in Hades by having to pour water perpetually into a jar with a hole in the bottom. This has come to represent a futile task that can never be accomplished]

Objet de la psychologie

L’objet de la psychologie est de nous donner une idee toute autre des choses que nous connaissons le mieux.

Arriver a s’etonner des habitudes; a considerer la surprise comme probable.

Se faire une image des relations d’images; definir nos images des relations…

Se faire du Moi un mon-Moi; et rapporter a un Moi tout le non-Moi –

Toutes les Danaïdes au travail

Te Quel (1944: 279).

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