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Human nature Christian Theories. Problem of the will zPlato -> Augustine zAristotle -> Aquinas zChristianity: Human nature = Sinful zFaculties of the.

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Presentation on theme: "Human nature Christian Theories. Problem of the will zPlato -> Augustine zAristotle -> Aquinas zChristianity: Human nature = Sinful zFaculties of the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Human nature Christian Theories

2 Problem of the will zPlato -> Augustine zAristotle -> Aquinas zChristianity: Human nature = Sinful zFaculties of the soul (intellect, memory, will) zWhat is more important: Intellect or will (medieval discussions: primacy of will versus primacy of intellect)?

3 Will is significant because: zAdam had a deficient will zFreedom of the will is necessary for the concept of sin. zOnly the will can control the passions. zHistorical continuity in current contexts: yPsychology: What is more important for success? IQ or motivation? yEducation: Should sex education focus on the will (“Just say no”), on the intellect (information) or on emotions (scare techniques). yPolitics: Bush versus Kerry?

4 Augustine ( ) zBorn and died in North Africa (now Algeria). zBishop. zOne of the most influential theologians in the Christian religion. zThe last great classical philosopher and the first great Christian philosopher.

5 Augustine’s philosophy zNeoplatonist. zKnowledge of the empirical world: Lowest form of human activity. zNatural philosophy (science): Subordinate to theology. zTrue knowledge only occurred through religious contemplation. zThe function of the mind was limited to inferior, sensory processing and was inferior to faith in God. zThe source of ideas is in God. zGod is the great cause. zPromised eternal life to the faithful.

6 The body zThe body is at war with the soul. zThe soul should control the body. zThe animalistic human body is prone to control by Satan. zIllness: The soul looses partial control of the body. zDeath: Total loss of control. zSexual arousal (“concupiscence”) and the sexual members (genitalia) were inherently sinful. zSexual passion is not subject to reason (importance of the will). zOnly sex without lust is guided by the soul. zGod created women to be subordinate to men’s power and control. zMen should fear women’s sexuality.

7 Confessions zAugustine was one of the first persons in European culture to write from the perspective of the “I.” zDescribes the ascent of the soul to God. From body to sense, to inner sense, to the disregard of self. zAugustine praises God, blames himself, and confesses his faith. zCleansing himself of the desires of the flesh, renunciation of sexuality and embracing a life of chastity. zCritique of Manichaeism (founded by Mani) a dualistic religion/sect. (There is one soul fluctuating between conflicting wills) zCynical: Meditations by a middle-aged man.

8 The role of introspection zAugustine promoted “introspection” as the best way of finding and knowing God. zPersonal communion with God: Transcends Plato’s highest stage of “Knowing the Good.” zIntrospection as inspired by the Holy Spirit: Highest form of human activity. zWill: People have an internal sense of virtue or guilt that is fundamental to humans’ psychology (free will).

9 Thomas Aquinas ( ) zAquinas reformed the Augustinian framework (based on Plato), by uniting it with the teachings of Aristotle and Avicenna, the Islamic scholar. zAquinas made the study of nature respectable for Christians. Reliability of sensory knowledge. zStill: Primacy is God, not nature. zThe individual needed to contain her or his passions through the exercise of reason and the will. zIt was the faculty of the will that enabled individuals to apprehend through reason the eternal truths. zThe soul subordinates the intellect to the will, which is motivated to seek goodness. zThus, will was primary in Thomistic psychology.

10 Contemporary psychologies based on Christian theories zRanging from conservative to progressive. zExample of a progressive Christian theory of the human condition: Ignacio Martín-Baró. zNot individuals are necessary sinful but social conditions that produce inequality, oppression and poverty. zIndividuals who do not change oppressive conditions are sinful.

11 Liberation theology z“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) zPopular in Latin America. zGod speaks through the poor. zBible can be understood only when seen from the perspective of the poor.

12 Ignacio Martín-Baró zJesuit priest and liberation psychologist. zMurdered by Salvadoran military in 1989 on the campus of University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador for his support of the poor and his publications.

13 Martín-Baró’s liberation psychology z"Affirmation that the object of Christian faith is a God of life and, therefore, that a Christian must accept the promotion of life as his or her primordial religious task. yPoverty is a sin. z"True practice has primacy over true theory" z"Christian faith calls for a preferential option for the poor."

14 A new horizon zThe objective need of the majority of the people of Latin America consists in their historical liberation from the social structures that oppress them. zPsychology must focus its concern and energy on that issue.

15 A new epistemology zPsychology must begin with the liberation needs of the people of Latin America. zNew ways of seeking knowledge. zTruth: Learning from the oppressed. zLook at psychosocial processes from the perspective of the dominated, educational psychology from the perspective of the illiterate, industrial psychology from the perspective of the unemployed, clinical psychology from the perspective of the marginalized. zWhat is mental health from the place of a tenant farmer, maturity from someone who lives in the town dump, motivation from a woman who sells on the street?

16 A new praxis zTo acquire new psychological knowledge it is not enough to place ourselves in the perspective of the people. zIt is necessary to involve psychologists in a new praxis. zPraxis: An activity of transforming reality that will let us know not only about what is but also about what is not, and by which we may try to orient ourselves toward what ought to be. zParticipatory action research. zTaking an ethical stand while still maintaining objectivity.


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