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Free Will, Neuroethics, Psychology and Theology
Geran F. Dodson, University of North Georgia
Availability: In stock
170pp. ¦ $60 £50 €57
The topic of human free will has received more attention in the past several years due to the important discoveries of neuroscience but no consensus of opinion is evident in related disciplines. The traditional approach to understanding free will in philosophy employs conceptual analysis to determine whether humans have freedom of choice. Theology affirms that every person has free choice although God is somehow behind all human decisions. Evolutionary psychology points to human behavior as the product of biological processes and antecedent events. And neuroethics attempts to define what it means to be a thinking moral agent by investigating how neurons in the brain and chemical interactions combine to produce conscious actions. An assessment and evaluation of these various positions is given in light of the evidence. The issue of whether a person can be held morally responsible for their actions hinges on whether those actions originate from free will or are the result of determinism. Theology makes assumptions of the existence of an absolute deity that has a hand in human decision making, but there is no agreement regarding the nature of that intervention. Recent scientific discoveries confront traditionally held religious beliefs and necessitate the creation of a new theology and articles of faith.
Self-Preservation at the Center of Personality
Superego and Ego Ideal in the Regulation of SafetyNovember 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-103-9
Availability: In stock
184pp. ¦ $45 £35 €42
The book discusses personality as a unified set of evolved and culturally developed structures that serves a single and definable purpose, to maintain the individual’s safety, in the context of dyadic relationships, group processes and more abstract and fluid social configurations. The infant-mother relationship remains the blueprint for modes of relating to the social surround, at whatever level of complexity, and for approximating the sense of safety originally provided by the mother. The personality is organized around the need to maintain self-esteem, thereby preserving the individual’s sense of safety and warding off deep-seated paranoid anxiety, which signals the potential of annihilation of the self. Paranoid anxiety is the counterpart of intraspecific aggression and the potential of the group as a whole to attack and annihilate the individual. Paranoid anxiety, which was recognized by Melanie Klein as playing a critical role in infant development, is not overcome as development proceeds but remains latent, buried under layers of personality organization that are essentially concerned with sourcing recognition and approval from the social environment, thereby inhibiting others’ aggression and guarding against annihilation of the self. The book adds to self psychology (Kohut) by showing how the principle of self-preservation underpins all aspects of normal and abnormal character dynamics. It integrates self psychology with other branches psychoanalytic theory and revives the link between psychoanalysis and ethology. Ethology (Lorenz, Hass, Eibl-Eibesfeldt) has provided insights into how interrelated intraspecific aggression and appeasement gestures are critically important for the evolution of social behavior in higher animals as well as for cultural evolution in humans, insights that allow, more generally, for a bridging of the gap between psychoanalysis and the biology of social behavior. Furthermore, an evolutionary approach to character dynamics and related social phenomena will have important implications for understanding psychopathological vulnerabilities and self-perpetuating processes in mental illness.