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Mullan, H. (1988). Horney's Contribution to a Rational Approach to Morals. Am. J. Psychoanal., 48(2):127-137.

(1988). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 48(2):127-137

Horney's Contribution to a Rational Approach to Morals

Hugh Mullan, M.D.

Pryde, the general root of all harmes; for of this root springen… Ire, Envye, Accidie, or Sloth, Avarice, Glotonye, and Lecherye.

Chaucer, The Parson's Tale

And to go to the root of the matter—why are you so positively convinced that not to act against his real normal interests as guaranteed by the conclusions of reason and arithmetic is certainly always advantageous for man, and must always be a law for mankind?

Dostoyevsky, Notes From the Underground

The purpose of this paper is threefold: (1) to describe some distinctions between psychology and philosophy and the resulting tensions; (2) to argue that a moral philosophy must be founded upon a particular image of man; and (3) to suggest that a system of psychoanalysis, not as treatment, but as a method for understanding mental processes, might be used in moral philosophy to make its findings relevant and practical for the moral agent. The absence of an interpretation of man's nature in the writings of moral philosophers is an obstacle to their being understood not alone by the psychologist but, as well, by the general reader. The writings of some current moral philosophers are examined. Karen Horney's seminal psychoanalytic ideas,1 which are found to harmonize to a degree with those of these philosophers, are used for psychological grounding throughout this essay.


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