Humanistic Psychology - Philosophical Foundations

Humanistic Psychology - Philosophical Foundations - Psych...

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Psych. 2000 -- Humanistic Psychology Basic definition and approach Humanistic psychology is NON-REDUCTIVE, NON-DETERMINISTIC and NON-ATOMISTIC school of psychological thought. That is, humanistic psychology is the opposite of: ATOMISM (where human psychology is understood as the product of some most elemental set of forces and/or substances). DETERMINISM (where human psychology is viewed as being completely controlled by some set of external forces or factors). REDUCTIONISM (where human psychology can be simplified to some part or aspect of human existence). For humanistic psychologists, one problem inherent in most other schools of psychology is that they easily fall prey to reductionistic tendencies. For instance… Biological psychology often seems to want to simplify psychological phenomena to somatic factors, such as nervous system functions. Behaviorism often seems to want to reduce behavior to combinations of different kinds of conditioning. But why is this tendency so prevalent? The reason is that reductionism offers the promise of simplicity . The will to achieve simple explanations is a value encoded into all Western scientific inquiry in the form of: OCCAM’S RAZOR -- which says to prefer the simple explanation over the complex one. However, for humanistic psychologists, human existence is inherently COMPLEX, not simple.
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-- human existence is full of contradictions and paradoxes -- human beings defy absolute general principles (there’s always an exception to every rule) -- human existence is largely irrational, illogical and inconsistent So, to reflect the reality of human existence accurately, psychology should seek to embrace and illuminate these complexities, not reduce or simplify them. Applying Occam’s Razor to human existence invariably results in a diminishment of human existence -- usually at the level of experience, meaning and/or freedom. NATURAL SCIENCE PSYCHOLOGY includes those schools of psychological thought modeled on the natural sciences (and hence on Occam’s Razor). In contrast, humanistic psychology proceeds HOLISTICALLY (also spelled WHOLISTICALLY). There are two basic aspects to this view: -- it sees human beings in terms of ALL that we are -- our minds, feelings, bodies, souls, histories, relationships, social statuses, experiences, meanings, values, freedoms, responsibilities and more. -- it sees human beings as being inextricably connected to the many CONTEXTS in which we find ourselves -- immediate contexts such as family, friends, community, as well as large contexts such as USA, world -- and even the universe as a whole. In a holistic view, a human being can’t be reduced to any of its parts or contexts . Nor to the sum of any parts, because human existence is always more than the sum of its component parts (an idea from Gestalt psychology). According to a holistic view, you can’t understand a person’s feelings without
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Humanistic Psychology - Philosophical Foundations - Psych...

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