Prophetic Words for Psychologists: Particularity, Ethics and Peace

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Abstract

This essay seeks to consider the implications of the prophetic voice of Abraham Joshua Heschel. We argue that Heschel's work offers important correctives to some of modern psychologies' universalizing and reductive assumptions and activities. Specifically, we show that Heschel argues for an anthropology characterized by particularity, with a unique emphasis on the person's standing in relation to God. Relatedly, we show how Heschel's understanding challenges us to recognize that ethics is to precede ontology. Lastly, this primacy of ethics leads to a prophetic challenge toward becoming people of peace, systemically as well as individually. We conclude by applying Heschel's admonishment to recent, specific activities of injustice and violence within the field of psychology. Heschel's arguments are reviewed in a spirit of ecumenism, to pursue the ends of peace as a profession and as a society.

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