HOLISM IN THE HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY OF MASLOW: A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE (INTEGRATION)

BASTIN J PARANGIMALIL, Marquette University

Abstract

Various psychological systems in the past took either a holistic or reductionistic outlook. Holism here implies that there is an inner nature in man, which is his principle of unity. Reductionism is antithetical to holism. The former regards an organism to be the sum of its constitutitive elements, neglecting an inner principle of unity. The hylomorphic theory of St. Thomas Aquinas is holistic. The rational soul is the inner principle which makes the substantial unit that man is. Until recently, modern psychology, tended to be reductionistic or anti-holistic. In the 1960s, however, Abraham Maslow added momentum to the "march toward" holism in psychology. According to Maslowian holism, mans essential inner nature consists of biologically based instinctoid need-hierarchy. Some scholars regarded Maslow's psychology to be not fully holistic. Hence we have the problem: On the one hand, Maslow's system seems to have furthered the cause of holism in psychology; on the other his system appears to some to be not fully holistic. The main methodology used to determine the holistic characteristics of Maslow's positions was a critical analysis of Maslow's writings. They were compared and contrasted with the holistic positions of the Catholic Church. Historical methods and interviews were used to obtain the relevant data. The results of this study may be summarized as follows: There are three kinds of holism, namely, preventive, descriptive, and integral. Preventive holism consists in avoiding characteristics which are opposed to holism. Descriptive holism is more positive in its explanation of human nature, but it stopped short of satisfactorily explaining the essential nature of man. Integral holism is identical with Thomistic holism or Catholic humanism. Catholic humanism is founded on the "Incarnational Event." The holistic nature of man was fragmented by sin. Christ's incarnation restored man to his lost integrity. While Maslow fought against certain characteristics opposed to holism, he espoused some others. Hence Maslowian holism does not fully deserve the title of integral holism. His holism, however, leaves room for adaptation and perfection in the Catholic context.

Recommended Citation

BASTIN J PARANGIMALIL, "HOLISM IN THE HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY OF MASLOW: A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE (INTEGRATION)" (January 1, 1984). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8422829.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8422829

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