Should We Make Every Choice Scientifically?

Psychology, the science of mental events, has grappled from the start with a critical question of moral neutrality. The science of psychology with its ideal of the impassive observer began as a branch of philosophy in the latter decades of the 19th century. In the United States William James, philosopher and close friend of Charles Peirce, was recognized as an originator of psychology. But philosophy including that of James and Peirce raises questions of value-choices.

Are human thought and behavior best defined from a position of scientific neutrality? It should come as no surprise that psychology took just such a value-neutral turn in 20th century modernity. Continue reading “Should We Make Every Choice Scientifically?”

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Gilbert Ryle, Reconnecting Mind and Body

Just after World War II and near the halfway mark of the 20th century, philosopher Gilbert Ryle published The Concept of Mind, a book widely credited with ending the philosophical division between physical and mental realms of reality. Continue reading “Gilbert Ryle, Reconnecting Mind and Body”

The Anthropic Principle

Since the dawn of human intelligence two things have evoked puzzlement and wonder: the physical universe and the inner testimony of will that connects existence with responsibility.[1]

Placing these apprehensions side by side, I cannot help repeating an age-old question: Is the physical world connected somehow with responsibility? Has the world been created? Has some kind of super-intelligence – God – brought all of this into being? Continue reading “The Anthropic Principle”

Schopenhauer. 2. From Starting Point to One GSOT, or Two?

In a search for GSOT, choosing a starting point is crucial. As we examine the pivotal philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, we need to ask: What was his starting point?

But is it really necessary to get back to a starting point? Can’t we just make decisions as we have done for decades, and our parents and grandparents before? Life is hard enough to figure out. Most of us are no longer teenagers searching for identity, and we don’t have the time to examine the beginnings of traditions and convictions by which we live. Continue reading “Schopenhauer. 2. From Starting Point to One GSOT, or Two?”

The Meaning of Persons – Paul Tournier

“Science knows nothing of the unique fact; it can deduce laws only from facts which recur again and again…. We can understand then how it is that the person always eludes objective investigation, that it is only the personage that one finds.”

Another author writing in French, the Swiss physician and psychiatrist Paul Tournier, shaped my early search for GSOT even more than Albert Camus.  Tournier wrote from a dual perspective of science and religious faith.[1] His medical training imbued respect for science, but he developed a clinical approach called médicine de la personne that moved beyond science to promote holistic healing in the person who sought his help. Continue reading “The Meaning of Persons – Paul Tournier”

Growing Up – the Sixties in Mississippi

The beginning years of the 1960s marked the end of my childhood and disclosed an outside world looming with conflict. I really didn’t want to face that world directly during my teen years. Continue reading “Growing Up – the Sixties in Mississippi”

The Will – Circa 1911

Victorian educators gave great attention to developing “the will” in students. By the early 20th century, “the will” began to disappear. The fledgling science of psychology demanded reproducible, publicly demonstrable effects, which do not fit the idea of will that periodically must “break these rules.” Continue reading “The Will – Circa 1911”