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Strategies for securing the unity of the self in Augustine and certain modern psychologists

Innes, Robert Neil (1995) Strategies for securing the unity of the self in Augustine and certain modern psychologists. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



My thesis explores what is involved in attaining an integrated sense of self, a question which is both interesting in its own right and which can also provide one enlightening means of comparing the disciplines of theology and psychology. The first two chapters establish the theological method to be followed and provide an ideological context. I describe why the relationship between theology and psychology is a particularly problematic one and outline why I think some of the methods so far proposed for relating them are unsatisfactory. I suggest instead that in some respects the two disciplines may be seen as providing alternative strategies for securing the unity of the self. With the aid of Charles Taylor's philosophy of personhood, I set out what I mean by the self and what constitutes the unity of the self. I describe how the modem self has developed historically through the relation of individuals to sources of value, and I suggest that theology and some forms of psychology can be understood as offering expressions of complementary sources of such value and hence can be related to one another. I consider postmodern attacks on the unified self and conclude that our contemporary context is one which demands less strongly ordered forms of integrating the self than those which have come down to us in the Western intellectual tradition. The next four chapters focus on the work of key representatives of the theological and psychological traditions. From the side of theology, I describe Augustine's conviction that an individual might move from a state of fragmentation to a state of wholeness through being remade in the image of the one God (chapter 3). From the psychological side, I consider Freud's methods for enabling us to move from a state of neurosis to limited self-mastery (chapter 4), and Jung's suggestion that wholeness is attained though discovery and acceptance of the natural realm lying within the psyche (chapter 5). 1 then review the proposals for uniting the self behind the project of self-actualisation that have been developed by the humanistic psychologists, in particular Fromm, Maslow and Rogers (chapter 6).In conclusion (chapter 7) 1 suggest some ways in which Augustine's theology needs to be revised if it is to be relevant to our contemporary self-understanding, and show how the most promising strategy for unifying the self is likely to arise from a combination of an Augustinian theistic outlook with the insights of these modem psychologists.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1995
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:51

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