POLITICS AND INNOCENCE: A Humanistic Debate by Rollo & Others May


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Some of the leading lights of humanistic psychology attempt to apply their experience to political issues. Even though they disagree strenuously on questions like the nature of evil, they remain polite, although the strain is evident. When the humanists choose up sides, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow say humans are basically good; Rollo May says they are not. Each man, naturally enough, builds his theories on his own emotional makeup and experience. May is depressed by Nixon, the hostage crisis and nuclear peril. He says man is evil, as Voltaire did some 200 years before. The contributors do no always recognize their own biases. And so credulous of experiments are they that the humanist Carl Rogers cites a study of rats as if it related directly to human behavior. Caught off guard, Rogers admits that his theory of the good ""person of tomorrow"" is based not on evidence, but on his intuition. Another writer, Maurice Friedman, errs in a different way. He believes everything said by great men is true. He quotes Martin Buber's misdiagnosis of Einstein's fatal illness as if it were gospel, then devotes the rest of his piece to citing his own books. There may be some value to the humanistic psychologist's approach, but it is not conveyed clearly enough in this collection of informal, impermanent essays.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1986
Publisher: Saybrook--dist. by Norton