Monday, October 31, 2011

Mental and Moral Science

I just finished reading an obituary for the Jungian psychologist James Hillman who -- with Robert Bly and Michael Meade -- was a key figure in the "men's movement" of the 1990s. Two interesting points worth pondering today:

1) Hillman took seriously our "demons," urging that thoughts of death and suicide be thought of not as symptoms of mental "illness" to be cured, but as philosophical longings to be explored and understood. Parents who were trying to "manage" a mentally troubled son would be well-advised to to begin by NOT trying to change him. Counterintuitive? Surely but oh so sensible. This brought to mind thoughts of R.D. Laing's thesis in The Politics of Experience that insanity was just a sane response to an insane world. Why is THAT rolling around my psyche right about now?

2) Hillman graduated from Trinity College in Dublin with a degree in "mental and moral science," a phrase and a concept Dewey might have a good time with. Where could one study such things today?

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