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Posted on August 19th, 2012, by

The close relationship between philosophy and personality influences consistently not only the development of an individual’s personality but also the development of science and the perception of the surrounding world by an individual. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the development of philosophy influenced consistently development of psychology, which attempted to interpret the development of personality from the scientific point of view. In this regard, it is possible to speak about the clash of science and philosophy in the context of personality development and interpretation of human personality, actions, emotions and personal philosophy.

As the matter of fact, on researching the relationship between philosophy and personality, it is possible to dwell upon existentialism and humanistic psychology which reveal quite different views on personality and open different philosophical perspective on the personality and human self. In fact, existentialism focuses on the conditions of existence of an individual and his or her emotions, feelings, thoughts and responsibilities, whereas humanistic psychology combines behaviorist and humanistic approaches to the research and understanding of personality but both approaches help consistently to understand the diversity of existing philosophical and scientific views on personality and their impact on the formation of an individual’s personality.

The development of humanistic psychology was, to a significant extent, influenced by works of outstanding psychologists, among which it is possible to single out Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and William James. In actuality, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and William James lived and worked in the same epoch. Basically, it is possible to estimate that they were pioneers in the development of psychology as a science and their ideas proved to be innovative and very prospective since they are still relevant and highly influential. The fact that the four psychologists lived in the same time probably influenced their views and beliefs in regard to psychology that, to certain extent, determined similarity in their views. However, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and William James developed their own unique views and ideas which distinguished them from other psychologists. It is due to the originality of their ideas they have managed to become prominent figures in the history of psychology, while their contribution in the development of psychology as a science can hardly be underestimated. Their ideas and theoretical developments laid the foundation to the modern psychology and psychoanalysis.

Speaking about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and William James, it is necessary to stress the fact that they developed quite progressive ideas for their time, which often challenged traditional views and beliefs (Armesto, 2005). At the same time, all of the four psychologists focused on the concept of self and they attempted to understand an individual psychology through understanding of an individual self, how it is formed and what it is influenced by. This is probably the major similarity in their work, although either psychologist had developed his own, original view on self and psychology at large.

In this respect, the work of Sigmund Freud had played probably the most important role in the development of the modern psychology because his psychoanalysis and theoretical developments, to a significant extent, revolutionized psychology and contributed to its transformation into a true, respectable science, while before it used to be severely criticized as a false science or the field of study which had nothing to do with science. Ideas of Freud turned out to be quite different from traditional views of psychologists on an individual, personality and psychological development of an individual at large. Freud focuses on the psychoanalysis, which included the analysis of an individual’s ego, unconscious and internal inclinations which were hidden from the social environment of an individual and his or her own consciousness (Harvey, 1995). Freud believed that through understanding of unconscious it is possible to understand an individual’s self and personality. He used his ideas in treatment of patients who suffered from psychological problems. In fact, he developed a new technique which is used today and its modifications are very popular among psychoanalysts. This technique is based on talking cure. This is a technique when a patient is talked through his or her problems. Dream analysis is a technique based on the analysis of dreams of patients and their interpretation from a psychological point of view (Zimbardo, 2005, p. 185). Free associations is a technique when patients free associations are interpreted to describe his or her psychological state and character, identify major psychological problems. Hypnosis is a technique when the patient is cured while being in a trance-like state. Id, ego and superego are closely intertwined. The Id comprises the unorganized part of the personality structure that constraints the basic drives (Zimbardo, 2005, p.206). The ego comprises that organized part of the personality structure, while the super ego comprises that organized part of the personality structure, but not entire unconscious. in such a way, through understanding of unconscious, it is possible to uncover internal inclinations of an individual and his or her psychological problems.

Carl Jung also focuses on the understanding of unconscious and he stresses the importance of depth psychology in terms of understanding of an individual, his or her character and inclinations ((Zimbardo, 2005, p.211). At the same time, he attempted to classify personality types, according to his scale and this was a new trend compared to Freud, who focused on each individual without any attempts to classify or group them somehow. In this respect, Alfred Adler is similar to Sigmund Freud since he also stresses the difference in an individual psychology. In contrast to Freud and Adler, Jung believes in the possibility of systematization or grouping of personality types according to major traits of character and personal inclinations. He defines his personality types on the basis of apprehension and integration of the depth psychology and motivations. Jung believes that motivations plays an important role in the development of an individual and in the formation of his or her personality.

As for Adler, he worked together with Freud and he naturally developed similar views on the unconscious and psychodynamics (Elliot, 1992). However, in the course of time, he broke up with psychoanalysis and focused on depth psychology and psychodynamic. Unlike, Freud, who stressed the superiority of internal world and inclinations of an individual, Adler stressed the impact of the social environment on the formation of an individual’s psychology and unconscious.

As for William James, he also paid a lot of attention to self and unconscious, but, unlike other psychologists mentioned above, James mainly focused on emotions as key factors that determined behavior and internal inclinations of an individual. Along with Lange, James developed the James-Lange theory of emotions, according to which emotion is the mind’s perception of the physiological conditions that result from some stimulus (Frosh, 1991). In such a way, unlike other psychologists he stressed the interdependence between physiology and psychology of an individual. At the same time, he agreed that unconscious plays an important role in the behavior of an individual.

At the same time, the development of humanistic psychology is closely intertwined with the development of behaviorist approach to psychology. In fact, the humanistic psychology is a combination of behaviorist and humanist approaches. Some specialists (Gagne, 1995) point out that “some may accept many humanistic beliefs but work for organizations that require the employment of training approaches that are primary behaviorist by nature”¯ (76). In other words, the use of humanistic approach solely to the personal development is not always applicable and needs the behaviorist back-up. In such a way, the com bination of humanist and behaviorist approaches gave rise to the humanistic psychology. In this respect, it is possible to name outstanding representatives of the behaviorist approach, such as Albert Bandura, Hans Eysenck, and others, and humanist approach such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, George Kelly and others. In actuality, the humanistic psychology has incorporated the major strengths and advantages of both behaviorist and humanist approach that contributed to the better understanding of the personal development and the concept of personality and self.

In this respect, it should be said that the milestone of the behaviorist approach is “a careful observation of behavior and environment and their relations”¯ (Gagne, 1995, p.143). Behaviorists focus mainly on quantitative and experimental methods of analysis. Behaviorists pay a lot of attention to the person’s experience and, at this point, they are close to humanists, who also stand on the ground that human experience is of the utmost importance. In fact, this is one of the fundamental concepts of the humanistic psychology which draws it closer to the existentialism. The latter focuses the attention of philosophers on the conditions of existence of an individual but it rather extends the humanistic views on personality and conditions of existence because the existentialism emphasizes the importance of emotions, actions, responsibilities and thoughts (Frosh, 1991). Such a combination is of the utmost importance for the overall understanding of an individual’s personality and conditions of his or her existence at large.

Returning to the humanistic psychology, it is possible to single out three fundamental principles which define the understanding of the personality and personal development in terms of humanistic psychology: first, behavior positively reinforced will reoccur, furthermore, intermittent reinforcement is particularly effective; second, in the course of the personal development, information should be presented in small amounts so that responses could be reinforced; third, reinforcements will generalize across similar stimuli producing secondary conditioning (Gagne, 1995). In such a way, the process of the formation of an individual’s personality occurs, according to the humanistic approach.

At the same time, the development of the humanistic psychology influenced consistently the formation of philosophical views on the personality and personal development. In this regard, the emergence of existentialism was, to a certain extent, influenced by the humanistic psychology. As it has been already mentioned above, both the humanistic approach and existentialism pay a lot of attention to human experience which is crucial for the formation of his or her personality. The existentialism stresses the significance and influence of conditions of living on human self and personality. In other words, the existentialism implies that the formation of an individual personality occurs under the impact of the conditions of living. In this respect, it is possible to trace parallels related to the humanistic psychology, which also views human experience as a crucial factor influencing the personal development.

Furthermore, the existentialism views the conditions of existence of an individual in broad terms, including not only his or her social environment but also and mainly his or her emotions, actions, responsibilities and thoughts. In such a way, the existentialism implies that the personal development occurs in the course of the interaction of an individual with his or her environment and through the development of personal traits through experience of different emotions and feelings. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the existentialism views the development of personality combines the close interaction between emotions and feelings of an individual, on the one hand, and his or her actions and responsibilities, on the other. As a result an individual develops thoughts that shape his or her ideals, beliefs and personal philosophy at large (Elliot, 1992). In such a way, the process of the personal development of an individual and the formation of his or her identity is very complicated and determined by the interaction between the internal world of an individual and his or her environment, i.e. the external world.

However, it is worth mentioning the fact that views of existentialists varied consistently. Some of them (Hollis, 1991) focused on the emotional sphere of human life as the major contributor to the personal development. As a result, the personal development was viewed as the externalization of the emotional development of an individual because the emotions and feelings an individual experienced shaped his or her personal philosophy and defined his or her personal development and, thus, the relationships with other people. Other representatives of existentialism (Armesto, 2006) stood on the ground that human actions and responsibilities play the dominant role in the course of the formation of an individual’s personality and personal development.

At the same time, the existentialism is closely intertwined with the humanistic psychology. Even though it is possible to trace substantial differences in the existentialism and humanistic philosophy, there are still significant similarities that make them close to each other, especially in regard to the personality and personal development. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the major difference between the existentialism and the humanistic psychology is that the existentialism is a philosophical approach focused on the development of philosophical concepts and philosophical interpretation of personality and the personal development of an individual, whereas the humanistic psychology stands on the scientific ground and researches the development of a personality in scientific, psychological terms.

In other words, the existentialism is inclined to philosophical interpretations and concepts which cannot be always scientifically grounded or justified. In stark contrast, the humanistic psychology is inclined to scientific studies of human behavior and personal development in order to lay the scientific, theoretical foundation to concepts and interpretations developed in terms of the humanistic psychology. As a result, the humanistic psychology is oriented on experiments and empirical study of human behavior which influence the personal development. As for the existentialism, this philosophical approach is mainly related to the development of the theoretical concepts, which cannot always be tested empirically.

Nevertheless, the existentialism and the humanistic philosophy have significant similarities in regard to the experience and the impact of the environment of an individual on his or her personal development and personality at large. In this respect, it is possible to speak about the existence of the internal and external factors that influence the personal development of an individual (Harvey, 1995). The existentialism and the humanistic psychology tend to certain internalization of the personal development stressing the impact of internal factors, such as human feelings, emotions, thoughts, actions and behavior, whereas the impact of external factors, such as social environment, socioeconomic conditions, and other factors, is often underestimated. In such a situation, it is very important to lay emphasis on the fact that the analysis of the existentialism and the humanistic psychology can complement each other and they help to understand the actual impact of internal factors on the personal development and an individual’s personality.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the psychologists and philosophers discussed above had had a profound impact on the development of psychology and philosophy. They stressed the importance of unconscious and focused on the research of self, but they developed quite different views and psychological approaches. Freud focuses on the analysis and understanding of unconscious. Jung focuses on apprehension and integration of depth psychology and motivations. Adler lays emphasis on difference of individuals. James stressed the importance of emotions in the behavior and psychology of an individual revealing close interdependence between physiology and psychology. At the same time, they contributed to the development of the existentialism and the humanistic psychology, which, in their turn, contributed to the detailed research of an individual’s personality and the process of the personal development. In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the existentialism and the humanistic psychology are closely intertwined in regard to the development of an individual’s personality and the interpretation of the concept of personality. On the other hand, it is important to distinguish the major difference between the existentialism and the humanistic psychology. The existentialism is a philosophical movement which has a solid theoretical developments but it has poor empirical implications because theoretical assumptions developed by existentialists cannot always be tested. In stark contrast, the humanistic psychology, which actually combines the behaviorist and humanist approaches to psychology, has a solid scientific ground and its developments in regard to the personality are grounded on scientifically reliable and valid researches.

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