Human dignity and humanistic values

Humanistic psychology, after Kant, is an approach to psychology that recognizes the ontological dignity common to all human beings by reason of their nature or being. This is why humanistic psychology is suspicious of all kinds of reductionism which attempt to reduce human beings to the properties of things. This is why we refuse to permit the narrowing of the meaning of a person to a label such as a mental health diagnosis. This is why humanistic psychology is drawn to wholistic approaches which understand the person to be more than the sum of his or her cognitive, behavioral, and anatomical parts. This is why we understand that the person, while situated always within an interpersonal context, is not reducible to mere social meanings – no person is just-nothing-but a social construction. The person transcends reductionistic labels and simple categories by virtue of her dignity. To relate to the other person as a person of dignity is to engage with her in an I-Thou encounter, as opposed to an I-It encounter, as Martin Buber (1958/1937) described; it is to encounter her as a person rather than a thing.

From Contemplation to Action

Having contemplated via phenomenology the eidetic structure of the humanistic tradition, I am using these insights to guide my decisions during my year as President. From these insights, a number of initiatives flow.

Both the annual conference and SHP’s program for the APA Convention will feature the theme of “Human Dignity and Humanistic Values.” Presenters who submitted proposals were strongly encouraged to find ways to integrate these themes into their presentations at the two annual events.

As Program Chair for SHP’s program at the APA Convention, Richard Bargdill has been working hard to help facilitate interdivisional collaboration on a number of exciting events with themes that include Martin Luther King, Jr’s 1967 address to the APA Convention, the DSM-5 and the future of mental health diagnosis, the problems of the good life in psychology, humanistic critiques of positive psychology, and human rights.

1 2 3 4 5 6