Like many people, I was first introduced to author Jostein Gaarder through his most famous book Sophie’s World. I’ve since read a few of his books, most recently Maya and The Castle In The Pyrenees. Reading these two stories so close together made the similarities and shared foundations across his books incredibly visible, and gave me a new perspective of what an author might intend from their stories.
First, an introduction. Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian author of novels which focus on philosophical exploration and dialogue. Most novels centre on a singular character (or a reconnecting pair) forced to reconcile their past and present, and to question their past decisions.
As I mentioned last week
, Humanistic Psychology is based on aspects of life specific to humans, which borrows from Christian thoughts about the uniqueness of humans. The main areas of study include personal responsibility, values, and freedom, and it also studies the process of conscious experience (known as phenomenology, which is a very fun word to pronounce).
The Humanist psychologists believed that people were basically good, and everybody naturally wanted to be the best person they could. Rogers named this best version the “real self”, but later Humanists had different terms for it. For Rogers, people already have the ability to grow and solve their problems, they just need to be made aware of that. Related to that, he believed psychological problems weren’t inbuilt in a person but were caused by incongruence– the gap between their real self’s “I am…” and their learned views of “I should be…”.
In the last 200 years the dominant views in psychology have changed, and gradually became more complex and comprehensive. Despite this, many would argue that they are all flawed, because they only use one thing to explain behaviour. E.g in behavioural psychology every behaviour is a learned association, in psychodynamic psychology almost every behaviour can be explained by unconscious conflicts.
In my opinion, reducing human behaviour down to one function means that a theory can never completely explain how we behave, as we are too complicated for that. Luckily, philosophy got to that conclusion years before I did.