Neuroscience vs. humanistic psychology

Zach N. pfhyde at sprynet.com
Wed Jun 28 01:16:45 EST 2000

In article <3959AD7E.1E27A234 at nospam.net>, rh <rh at nospam.net> wrote:

> I'm trying to figure out how a humanistic/phenomonological
> philosopher or psychologist approaches the findings of neuroscience
> and neuropsychology.  From what I can tell, phenomenologists
> regard empirical psychological findings with suspicion.
> Can someone explain this position to me?

There are "neurophilosophers" out there. My personal take on it is
that phenomenology and neuroscience are not incompatible or
oppositional--phenomenology will always be a "level" of explanation,
and it will evolve relative to findings in neuroscience. I doubt
we'll ever--so long as we retain our human consciousness as it is
now--explain our everyday experiences in purely biological terms, 
e.g., using the discourse of neurophysiology to explain our 
feelings of jealousy or fear. My main interest in neuroscience is
related to affectivity, yet I'm not expressing my most intimate 
emotions and moods in terms of neuropeptides, electrophysiology,
changes in genetics, etc. Being that we're cognitively enmeshed 
with our environment, and our memories are interfaced with our
emotions, it is necessary to speak in terms of our semantic 
context as human beings--how I feel "about" someone or something.
This is a complex issue, to be sure, and it requires a great deal
of input from all academic disciplines, especially humanistic 
and phenomenological philosophy (or any other tradition of 
philosophy). What we should be more concerned about is religious
dogma and how neuroscience will affect the institutions that
depend on it. If some facet of culture (ideology/sociology/
memetics) cannot evolve, it will die or revolt. 

Z. N.

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