Hermeneutics, authenticity and the aims of psychology

The contribution hermeneutic philosophy can make to reflection on issues in psychology is shown through a critique of the "positive psychology" movements inaugurated in the special issue of the American Psychologist edited by M. Seligman and M. Csikszentmihalyi in 2000. Drawing on the broad historical sense advocated by hermeneutics, it is shown that the conceptions of the good life defended by the contributors to the special issue might turn out to be limited to the rather narrow range of questionable and shallow ideals of contemporary Western consumerist economy. In particular, the attempt made by S. E. Taylor, et al to show that "positive illusions" are conducive to a good life is shown to rest on dubious conceptions about what is genuinely worthwhile in life. As an alternative to the somewhat arid conception of human existence presupposed by the authors contributing to the special issue, M. Heidegger's conception of authentic existence is put forward as a hermeneutically inspired basis for rethinking what constitutes the richest and most fulfilling life for humans. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords hermeneutic philosophy   psychology   psychological theories   positive psychology   quality of life   well-being   authentic existence   authenticity
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DOI 10.1037/h0091216
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