Humanising forces: phenomenology in science; psychotherapy in technological culture.
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Authors: Todres, L.
Journal: Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology
One of the concerns of the existential-phenomenological tradition has been to examine the human implications of living in a world of proliferating technology. The pressure to become more specialised and efficient has become a powerful value and quest. Both contemporary culture and science enables a view of human identity which focuses our 'parts' and the compartmentalisation of our lives into specialised 'bits'. This is kind of abstraction which Psychology has also, at times, taken in its concern to mimic the Natural Sciences. As such it may inconsciously collude with a cultural trend to view humans as objects like other objects and so, fit 'normatively' into the emerging world of specialised and efficient systems.
The present paper examines how the findings of a phenomenological study of psychotherapy reflects a movement by people in psychotherapy to recover their sense of human identity in ways that always transcend any form of objectification. Their human complexity is somewhat restored as they move back towards the concrete detais of their lives where the human order has its life.
In addition to considering the implication of these findings for restoring the uniquely human dimensions of human identity, the paper will also consider the methodological role that an existential-phenomenological approach can play in supporting a broader view of science. In wishing to be faithful to the human order, it champions the value of the human individual as a starting point in human science and this includes a return to concrete experiences, the balance between unique variations and the ground that we share, and the movement from the particular to the general. As such, a phenomenologically-oriented psychology may have an important role to play in helping the broader sciences remember the 'human scale' of things.