Renaturalizing Humanist Spiritual Counselling.

  • N. Kulling

Student thesis: Master's Thesis: Humanistic Studies


In this thesis, I propose a renaturalization of humanist spiritual counselling through Spinoza’s naturalism. I argue that humanism faces problems concerning its anthropology. The anthropocentric character of humanism together with the ecological crisis creates a conceptual helplessness within humanism as a worldview that humanists want to overcome. This problem is linked to humanist anthropology not being fully explicated. Humanists do not want to propose universal principles. This creates a weak foundation for its worldview and core values. Part of viewing human beings as standing at the centre of the world is that they are equipped with exclusively human features: rationality, consciousness and autonomy are viewed as part of human nature. Because of the special place it assigns to human beings, humanist anthropology shows traits of rationalism, a one-sided focus on consciousness, anthropocentrism and individualism. I argue that because of these problems, humanism falls short as a source for inspiration, exploring or deepening perspectives or visions. This is problematic because humanist spiritual counsellors focus precisely on these elements within their counselling practice. They support clients in finding inspiration, meaning and articulating their worldview. Reflecting on the humanist anthropological presuppositions through Spinoza’s naturalism could be of value for humanist spiritual counselling, as it provides perspectives on how to surpass the problems humanist anthropology faces. By proposing a world in which God, Nature and substance are one and everything exists and acts by virtue of the natural laws of cause and effect, human beings are positioned amongst non-human beings. This can be understood as the renaturalization of human beings: the strategic reversal of human exceptionalism.
Date of Award1 Jan 2018
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorH. Laceulle (Supervisor) & H. Bosma (Supervisor)

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