What Does It Mean to Be a Person? Views From Psychology

What Does It Mean to Be a Person? Views From Psychology

Do psychologists think humans are just machines, computers, animals, or gene expressors? Is there evidence that such things as altruism, freedom and meaning are real, or just socially constructed strategies that humans evolved to enhance communal living and complex social systems? What do current trends in positive psychology tell us about what it is to be a human, and how should we understand concepts such as gratitude?

Dennis Gilbride, PhD recently retired from his position as professor in the Counseling and Psychology Services Department at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Prior to his position at GSU, he was a professor and department chair at Syracuse University. In this presentation, with a response by Rabbi Michael Fel, he discusses cognitive psychology, its religious predecessors, and the many thinkers that bridged them particularly within the last 150 years, offering a rebuttal to the machine-like determinism that predominated thinking about psychology for a large part of the 20th century.

(This post is part of Sinai and Synapses’ project Scientists in Synagogues, a grass-roots program to offer Jews opportunities to explore the most interesting and pressing questions surrounding Judaism and science. This presentation on February 26, 2023 was the last in a series of lectures at Temple Emanu-El exploring human existence and agency).

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