DISCOVERING FREE WILL AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY by Joseph F. Rychlak

DISCOVERING FREE WILL AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Does Hegel live? Certainly in psychologist Joseph Rychlak (Purdue) he has a strong spokesman, who argues persuasively for a dialectical approach to human thought and behavior. We are naturally given to polarities, he says, to seeing an opposite alternative while entertaining one point of view. In contrast, the dominant paradigm of contemporary psychology is mechanistic, by which Rychlak means linear and one-directional in the tradition of Locke and British empiricism. To further his argument, he takes the scholarly route, examining traditions East and West, and tracing ideas of causality from Aristotle through the Christian thinkers, the rise of rationalism, and the pioneers of psychology. To bring this off requires a neat juggling of scholarly exposition with lay explanations, and there are problems. Prolix phrases like "". . . then we can see the additional employment of demonstrative changes taking place in overt events as an instrumentality to the hoped-for attainment. . ."" vie with colloquialisms. And, inevitably, there are facile summations of whole bodies of thought--Freud, Adler, Jung--likely to rankle experts. Where Rychlak is very good, however, is in his critique of behaviorism and schools of therapy based on behavior modification, and he rightly proclaims the importance of intention and individual motivation in bringing about change. Toward the end he also introduces some telling analyses of current self-help therapies (est, TA, etc.). In sum, a heroic and in some respects salutary effort.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press