Grow toward self-realization

Whatever the conditions under which a child grows up, he will, if not mentally defective, learn to cope with others in one way or another and he will probably acquire some skills. But there are also forces in him which he cannot acquire or even develop by learning. You need not, and in fact cannot, teach an acorn to grow into an oak tree, but when given a chance, its intrinsic potentialities will develop. Similarly, the human individual, given a chance, tends to develop his particular human potentialities. He will develop then the unique alive forces of his real self: the clarity and depth of his own feelings, thoughts, wishes, interests; the ability to tap his own resources, the strength of his will power; the special capacities or gifts he may have; the faculty to express himself, and to relate himself to others with his spontaneous feelings. All this will in time enable him to find his set of values and his aims in life. In short, he will grow, substantially undiverted, toward self-realization.

Karen Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization (New York: W. W. Norton, 1950), 17.

The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy

I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation.

James Gustave Speth, quoted by Daniel Crocket in Huffington Post (22 August, 2014).

Consciousness and the world are given at one stroke

Husserl persistently affirmed that one cannot dissolve things in consciousness. You see this tree, to be sure. But you see it just where it is: at the side of the road, in the midst of the dust, alone and writhing in the heat, eight miles from the Mediterranean coast. It could not enter into your consciousness, for it is not of the same nature as consciousness. One is perhaps reminded of Bergson and the first chapter of Matter and Memory. But Husserl is not a realist: this tree on its bit of parched earth is not an absolute which would subsequently enter into communication with us. Consciousness and the world are given at one stroke: essentially external to consciousness, the world is nevertheless essentially relative to consciousness. Husserl sees consciousness as an irreducible fact which no physical image can account for.

Jean-Paul Sartre, »Intentionality: A Fundamental Idea of Husserl’s Phenomenology«, övers. Joseph P. Fell, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 1, nr 2 (1970): 4–5, .

Materialism reveals itself as a form of idealism

The natural sciences have enjoyed an immense progress and there is no reason to doubt their accomplishments, but eventually one has to engage with the fundamental epistemological questions, and when doing so, Lange argued, one will come to the realization that the realism of the materialists is mistaken. The physiological investigation of our sense organs might seem to offer a thoroughly materialist account of knowledge acquisition, but in truth it undermines our belief in material, self-subsistent, objects, which is why materialism, when thought through sufficiently radically, reveals itself as a form of idealism.

Dan Zahavi, »Brain, Mind, World: Predictive Coding, Neo-Kantianism, and Transcendental Idealism,« Husserl Studies 34 (2018): 34, .

People who dismiss the unemployed...

People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as »parasites« fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.

Jason Read

The world of modernity is a disenchanted world

According to Weber, what was salient about the culture of modernity was the large and increasing extent to which its values were those of instrumental rationality. Certain ends are taken as given and rationality is taken to consist in calculation as to the most efficient means to achieve those ends. Instrumentality rationality is socially embodied in the bureaucratic structures both of private corporations and of governments. And the public social world increasingly becomes one in which there is no place for any other values, in which the domination of nature and the remaking of society through the exercise of technical intelligence provide the taken for granted ends to be achieved by bureaucratic and technological means. Within such a culture little place in left for what Weber called ›sacred values‹, for that which had given to life in premodern cultures a magical or enchanted quality. The world of modernity is a disenchanted world in which only in certain limited areas of the private lives of individuals does there remain any place for values that escape disenchantment, whether values surviving from traditional religion or, increasingly for those educated into modernity, the values of art.

Alasdair MacIntyre, Edith Stein: A Philosophical Prologue 1913–1922 (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), 156.

Psychology and the character of science

What defines the very character of science is not the mechanical application of one or another method, but a much larger narrative in which methods are chosen because of their transparent relevance to a widely perceived problem. The methods adopted by Archimedes in ancient Greece, Newton in seventeenth-century England, Darwin in the middle of the nineteenth century, and Einstein early in the twentieth have very little in common at the descriptive level. In a word, there is no single scientific method at all. There is, however, a quite systematic relationship between the identification of a problem of scientific consequence and the subsequent choice from among available methods of observation and measurement. What establishes this relationship is a theory rich in ontological or in explicative possibilities. A theory rich in ontological possibilities is one which, when found to be valid, clarifies and may even reduce the domain of really existing entities. We no longer believe that heated objects rise because, as a result of heating, they take on a substance called »levity.« We no longer explain phenomena by referring to the properties of phlogiston.

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The key difficulty facing psychology

It seems incontestable that the key difficulty facing psychology ever since it chose to become a science is that of being able to treat in an adequate manner the phenomena of human reality. The great division in psychology’s perennial debate on this matter is between those who make a commitment to science first, and then turn to their phenomena of interest armed with the criteria of science as filters, or those who make a primary commitment of fidelity to human phenomena, and then try to find rigorous (scientific) ways of interrogating them.

Amedeo Giorgi, »Issues Relating to the Meaning of Psychology as a Science«, in Contemporary Philosophy: A New Survey, ed. Guttorm Fløistad, vol. 2 (Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982), 322.

How psychology makes itself true – or false

Psychology is not only the study of human thinking, feeling, acting, and interacting: it has itself – like the other human sciences – brought into being new ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and interacting. We ordinary people whom the psychologist studies have turned out to be not quite the same ordinary people that we were before such extraordinary people as William James and Freud and Kohler and Piaget. Psychologists have had varying (sometimes striking) success in interpreting the human world; but they have been systematically successful in changing it.

Alasdair MacIntyre, »How Psychology Makes Itself True – or False«, in A Century of Psychology as Science, ed. Sigmund Koch and David Leary (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985), 897, doi: 10.1037/10117-055.

Man is essentially a story-telling animal

A central thesis then begins to emerge: man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through his history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question »What am I to do?« if I can answer the prior question »Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?« We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters – roles into which we have been drafted – and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are apt to be construed. It is through hearing stories about wicked step-mothers, lost children, good but misguided kings, wolves that suckle twin boys, youngest sons who receive no inheritance but must make their own way in the world and eldest sons who waste their inheritance on riotous living and go into exile to live with the swine, that children learn or mislearn both what a child and what a parent is, what the cast of characters may be in the drama into which they have been born and what the ways of the world are. Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious stutterers in their actions as in their words. Hence there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resources. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. Vico was right and so was Joyce. And so too of course is that moral tradition from heroic society to its medieval heirs according to which the telling of stories has a key part in educating us into the virtues.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (University of Notre Dame, 1981), 216.

Studies of depression

The essential problem with nearly all studies of depression is that we hear the voices of a battalion of mental health experts (doctors, nurses, social workers, sociologists, psychologists, therapists) and never the voices of depressed people themselves. We do not hear what depression feels like, what it means to receive an »official« diagnosis, or what depressed individuals think of therapeutic experts. Nor do we learn the meanings that patients attach to taking psychotropic medications, whether they accept illness metaphors in assessing their condition, how they establish coping mechanisms, how they understand depression to affect their intimate relationships, or how depression influences their occupational strategies and career aspirations.

David A. Karp, Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 11–12.

The Western conception of the person

The Western conception of the person as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgment, and action organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively both against such wholes and against its social and natural background, is, however incorrigible it may seem to us, a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world’s cultures.

Clifford Geertz, Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 59.

God filosofi

God filosofi är den som förstår att den är det, dålig filosofi är den som framträder som vetenskaplig objektivitet eller fungerar som implicit förutsättning för den vetenskapliga diskussionen.

Umberto Eco, Den frånvarande strukturen: introduktion till den semiotiska forskningen (Staffanstorp: Bo Cavefors, 1971), 345–46.

The unity of human life

In what does the unity of an individual life consist? The answer is that its unity is the unity of a narrative embodied in a single life. To ask ›What is the good for me?‹ is to ask how best I might live out that unity and bring it to completion. To ask ›What is the good for man?‹ is to ask what all answers to the former question must have in common. But now it is important to emphasize that it is the systematic asking of these two questions and the attempt to answer them in deed as well as in word which provide the moral life with its unity. The unity of a human life is the unity of a narrative quest.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (University of Notre Dame, 1981), 219.

How science progresses

Progress in science is won by the application of an informed imagination to a problem of genuine consequence; not by the habitual application of some formulaic mode of inquiry to a set of quasi-problems chosen chiefly because of their compatibility with the adopted method.

Daniel N. Robinson, »Paradigms and ›the Myth of Framework‹: How Science progresses«, Theory & Psychology 10, nr 1 (2000): 41, .

Om att gå vilse bland siffror

Once upon a time, statisticans only explored. Then they learned to confirm exactly—to confirm a few things exactly, each under very specific circumstances. As they emphasized exact confirmation, their techniques with past insights became less flexible. The connection of the most used techniques with past insights was weakened. Anything to which a confirmatory procedure was not explicitly attached was decried as »mere descriptive statistics«, no matter how much we had learned from it.

John Wilder Tukey, Exploratory Data Analysis (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1977).