Richard Kearney’s Relevance for Psychology: A Review Essay

In: Journal of Phenomenological Psychology
Neal DeRoo Associate Professor of Philosophy, The King's University Alberta Canada

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This essay argues that Richard Kearney’s philosophical work has something important to say to phenomenological psychology and, in turn, has something important to learn from it. It begins by highlighting a movement of return after deconstruction, consistent throughout Kearney’s oeuvre, that emerges clearly in the recently published Imagination Now collection—which contains some of Kearney’s most important writings. It then shows how this movement is a fundamentally therapeutic endeavor. A quick review of several recent volumes about Kearney’s work makes clear how his philosophy suggests an embodied and not simply a linguistic approach to therapy. As such, a certain phenomenological psychology is revealed as being implicitly operative in Kearney’s work. The essay then ends by highlighting three possible benefits of having phenomenological psychologists engage with Kearney’s work: a revaluation of the non-cognitive aspects of subjective constitution, a renewed look at the role of both the narrative and carnal dimensions in psychological research and psychotherapy, and an even more enhanced socio-cultural role for phenomenological psychology.

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