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I only recently joined the AHP and look forward to building a broader  inter-disciplinary perspective about how to live an abundant life from my membership. I’m not a psychologist; rather, I am a management professor and consultant.

I am also a student and scholar of the work of the late philosopher Robert S. Hartman [1910-1973]. It seems that, in the ‘60s, when the ideas of humanistic psychology were first being formed, there was a greater openness to inter-disciplinary thought than I find to be the case today, at least in academia. This has led me to look for intersections of thought between the fields of philosophy and psychology. 

During some archival research conducted in 2018, a small team of us searched for correspondence between Robert Hartman and Abraham Maslow.  I had known that they were friends and colleagues; I had known that Maslow visited Hartman on several occasions at his home in Cuernavaca. I also knew that Maslow had written in a footnote in his book, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, that he credited his concept of “being cognition” to Hartman. We were digging for something richer than a footnote… some additional, thoughtful, perhaps pithy, written exchanges of ideas between Hartman and Maslow, but have not yet found any. Mostly, we found only correspondence about travel schedules and holiday best wishes, and so forth.

However, it appears that Maslow had given Hartman copies of several of his speeches, or addresses, which remain in the Hartman archives. One of those scripted speeches spoke deeply to me; perhaps, it is not well known to members of the AHP. I’d like to tell you about it.

I have a photocopy of a mimeographed copy of a document by Maslow, entitled, “A Philosophy of Psychology.” It is sub-headed, “Lecture to lay audience, Cooper Vernon, New York City, March 7, 1956.”

Maslow begins the lecture by saying how important psychology is and how fortunate he feels he is to be able to be a psychologist. He writes: “I think being a psychologist is the most fascinating life there is.” 

He continues, “We need psychology, and we need it more than anything else I can think of…more than physical health, more than new drugs, we need an improved human nature.” 

That would make me feel pretty good about myself, too, if only I were a psychologist. But I am not.

Fortunately, Maslow next throws a lifeline to outsiders like me. He writes:

Another point in this credo, a very important one…. By psychologists I mean all sorts of people, not just professors of psychology. I mean to include all the people who are interested in developing a truer, a clearer, a more empirical conception of human nature, and only such people. That excludes many professors of psychology and many psychiatrists. I would include some sociologists, anthropologists, educators, philosophers, artists, publicists, linguists, businessmen—anybody who is pointed in this direction; practically anybody who has taken upon his own shoulders this task that I consider so great and so important a task.

I began  to feel included. Maslow makes a number of pointed remarks about the sometimes mis-guided nature of the profession of psychology, then gets to this remark:

Psychology should turn more frequently to the study of philosophy, of science, of esthetics, but especially of ethics and values. I’m sorry that  psychology has officially cut itself off from philosophy because this means no more than giving up good philosophies for bad ones. Every man living has a philosophy, an uncriticized, uncorrectable, unimprovable, unconscious one. If you want to improve it, and make it more realistic, more useful, and more fruitful, you have to be conscious of it, and work with it, criticize it, improve it. This most people (including most psychologist) don’t do.

That observation surely would have resonated with Hartman. It surely resonates with me. Maslow then proceeds to call out philosophers for their own similar shortcomings.

He elaborates on this theme for what must have been another fifteen minutes. I won’t try to share it all here, but will end with the following remark by Maslow:

The trouble with many psychologists is that they are content to work with but a portion of the human being, indeed, even to make a virtue and a desirable thing out of it. They forget that ultimately their task is to give us a unified, empirically based conception of the whole human being, of human nature in general, i.e., a philosophy of human nature. 

Hartman sought the same end. So, in the spirit of the inter-disciplinary orientation of both Maslow and Hartman, on behalf of the Robert S. Hartman Institute,  [or RSHI of which I am a board member] we would like to invite all members of the AHP to join us for the third and final virtual session of the 2020 annual conference of the Hartman Institute on November 10th. Registration is normally $75, but we want to offer it FREE to AHP members. 

Will you join us? 

This year, in response to COVID, our conference is being hosted virtually, via Zoom. 

The conference is comprised of three sessions, over three months, three hours at a time. We’ve already held the first and second sessions, with record attendance. Our third session is coming up on November 10th, from 11 am to 2 pm Eastern time. I’ve posted it on the Events Calendar but will repeat here how AHP members can sign up for FREE.

Here’s a complimentary code for members of the AHP.  AHP2020RSHI

  • Here’s the Agenda and Full Conference Program.  Next session,  3 of 3 is November 10.**
    • **If AHP Members register they will get access to all three recordings – nine hours of recordings.**
  • To REGISTER – Go to this link:
    • Click Register
    • Will see an option to Join as a Member – $75.  (Click “No Thank You” – if not interested.)
    • Next is conference registration – Click – Non-Member – enter in your contact information
    • AT THE END – ENTER IN THIS CODE: AHP2020RSHI   (Conference will be at no cost to you.)

I look forward to continuing inter-disciplinary explorations with all of you about what it means to be human and to live lives of vitality, energy, and as Hartman would have said, in pursuit of “the good.“

Cliff Hurst 

Authored by Clifford G.  Hurst, PhD. AHP Member and VP for Research of the Robert S. Hartman Institute for Formal and Applied Axiology

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