Between closure and opennes. The notion of the self in humanist counselling and in Simone Weil, examined against the background of Charles Taylor's analyses of modern culture

  • A. Damen

Student thesis: Master's Thesis: Humanistic Studies


Objective: In humanist counselling the self takes a central place. Consequently one should expect a clear articulation of what this self entails in the theories of humanist counselling of two important authors in this field: Jan Hein Mooren and Ton Jorna. They thereby have to position their notions of the self in the continuous debate on the relationship of humanism to immanence and transcendence, that is to the question of whether humanism should include or exclude forces or states of being that rise above or surpass the self. To clarify their positions on this matter, three steps will be taken: (a) a thorough investigation of the notions of the self developed in the theories of humanist counselling by Mooren and Jorna, (b) a comparison of these notions with the mystical notion of the self of Weil, and (c) a framing of all three notions with reference to Taylor’s buffered and porous self. Method: A philosophical analysis of relevant literature. Analysis: Mooren, Jorna and Weil draft a notion of the self that has to work on itself to become itself, it is characterized by a paradox between being and becoming. Within these three notions we can see that immanence and transcendence are intrinsically intertwined. Taylor proves with his notion of the buffered and porous self this intertwining to be a typical feature of the modern self. Within different notions of the self however one side if often preferred: Mooren puts emphasis on immanence, whereas Jorna and Weil stress transcendence. Conclusions: Immanence and transcendence mustn't be understood as opposites but as constitutive of each other within the modern self. In their dynamic the self becomes manifest. Humanist counselling should therefore value both sides of the debate: immanence as well as transcendence to do justice to the human existential condition.
Date of Award1 Jan 2016
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorL. ten Kate (Supervisor) & A. C. Suransky (Supervisor)

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