Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

3-15-2015

Graduate Advisor

Jon McGinnis

Committee

Berit Brogaard

David Griesedieck

Abstract

The field of psychology has historically been fragmented in terms of what the discipline takes to be the ontological makeup of psychological phenomena, resulting in an unsatisfactory disunity within the discipline’s intra/interdisciplinary cohesiveness as a science of mental health/illness.2 The present project argues that this disunity can framed within the implacable empirical debate between naturalists and non-naturalists concerning the metaphysical status of consciousness (the very thing that experiences such phenomena). In offering a way past this explanatory impasse, I contend that a path towards discerning a unified ontology for psychology can be discerned in understanding consciousness’s ontological status as a philosophical antinomy. The notion of an antinomy is given to us by the philosopher Immanuel Kant, wherein it denotes a rationally paradoxical conclusion that emerges in explanation wherever there is an opposition of facts (or beliefs) between which the respective opposites are both simultaneously true even though their opposition makes them prima facie incompatible. Kant understood such antinomies as inevitable within our understanding of the world, and upon reflecting on the logic of how antinomies are produced and persist, Kant argued that we disclose a deeper logic within the dialectal schema of meaning and knowledge that can meaningfully explain and conceptually reconcile such paradoxes. It is in framing the naturalism vs. non-naturalism debate over consciousness as antinomic from which I aim to argue that a logically unified ontology for psychology can be discerned beyond the field’s present state of fragmentation that unreflectively pits empirical hypothesis against empirical hypothesis without assessing the underlying conceptual scheme within which psychological hypotheses and data can be said to have meaning. Such a dialectical approach ultimately indicates us towards a rethinking of modern psychological theory, to which I advocate psychology’s application of the dialectical strategies of Georg Hegel as a guide to understanding the logical geography in which our theories of mental health and dysfunction inform therapy methods within a unified ontological understanding of psychology’s content.

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