Raskolnikov's Rebirth: Psychology and the Understanding of Good and Evil

By İlham Dİlman | Go to book overview

Summary of the Book's
Argument

The book begins by asking: What is knowledge of human beings and can it be acquired by scientific methods? Thus Chapter 1 is a critique of experimental psychology. It argues that, insofar as psychology is a discipline aiming to understand people as individuals, it cannot be an experimental science. Insofar as it persists in its scientific pretensions, however, it cannot contribute to an understanding of individual behaviour and motivation. That is not to say that there are not questions within psychology, in a broad sense, that are amenable to experimental study. There are. But they are concerned with the constants behind individual behaviour in its variations. These are, however, on the peripheries of psychology as a study of individual human beings. Psychology as a discipline belongs to the humanities and has many more affinities with the arts than with the sciences. Section 1.2 considers a few examples from experimental psychology to substantiate its criticisms.

Chapter 2 extends the critique of experimental, scientific psychology into its study of moral behaviour. Considering a variety of examples reviewed in Derek Wright's The Psychology of Moral Behaviour, I argue that, inevitably, the psychological explanations offered by scientific psychologists are all of false or corrupt forms of moral behaviour and that in this sense there is no such thing as 'the psychology of moral behaviour'. The reason is that it is not a person's psychology which determines and explains his moral behaviour when it is genuine; it is he who determines it in the autonomy he has acquired in coming to own a morality. The question 'what makes a person moral?' calls for reflection and clarity on what is meant or understood by morality. When such clarity is

-xvii-

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Raskolnikov's Rebirth: Psychology and the Understanding of Good and Evil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Brief Contents vii
  • Detailed Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Summary of the Book's Argument xvii
  • 1: Science and Psychology 1
  • 2: 'the Psychology of Moral Behaviour' 23
  • 3: Psychology and Morality 45
  • 4: Self-Knowledge and Change in Psycho-Analytic Therapy 65
  • 5: Happiness 79
  • 6: Psycho-Analysis and Ethics 93
  • 7: Good and Evil 121
  • 8: Love and Hate 151
  • 9: Must Psycho-Analysis Explain Religion Away? 163
  • 10: Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov 187
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 211
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