Personality Psychology Exam 3: Chapter 12 Humanistic Psychology

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Humanistic Psychology

The psychological study of awareness, free will, happiness, and the many related aspects of the mind that are uniquely human and give life meaning.

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8 Elements of Humanistic Psychology





Real Life




Overcome the paradox of studying humans, who have internal drives, by addressing the ways in which psychology is unique because it studies the minds of humans who are aware and know they are being studied.

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Phenomenology: Central Insight

- At the center of humanity

Phenomenology is psychologically more important than the world itself

* Basis of free will

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An individual's particular experience of the world

- Everyone is different

- Forms the basis of how you live your life

- Free will is achieved by choosing your construal


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Implications of self-awareness in Humanistic Psychology

address the phenomenon of awareness and the uniquely human phenomena awareness results in, including free will, willpower, mindfulness, imagination, self-criticism, and more

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Phenomenology Definition

one's conscious experience of the world; everything a person hears, feels, and thinks.

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Central Insight of Humanistic Psychology

according to some, awareness is all that matters; reality exists, but it has to be perceived to matter.

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Basis of Free Will

the realization that only one's present experience matters; the past is gone, the future is not here yet, so we can CHOOSE what to think, feel, and do.

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Introspection Definition

observation of one's own perceptions and thought processes; used in the first psychological laboratory

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A broad philosophical movement that began in the mid 1800s.

A reaction against rationalism, science, and the industrial revolution: rationalism had gone too far in attempts to account for everything; all had lost touch with human experience.

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Existentialism Key Questions (3)

1. What is the nature of existence?

2. How does it feel?

3. And what does it mean?

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3 Parts of Experience

- Biological Experience

- Social Experience

- Psychological Experience

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Biological Experience (Umwelt)

the sensations you feel by virtue of being a biological organism, including pleasure, heat, cold, and so on

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Social Experience (Mitwelt)

what you think and feel as a social being; emotions and thoughts about other people and emotions and thoughts directed at you

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Psychological Experience (Eigenwelt)

the experience of experience itself and of introspection; how you feel and think when you try to understand yourself, your mind, and your existence; includes introspection

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Thrown-ness Definition

the time, place, and circumstances into which you happened to be born.

- An important basis of your experience

- Being thrown into modern society is particularly difficult

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Thrown-ness (Modern Society)

Being thrown into modern society is particularly difficult: because the world seems to have no overarching meaning or purpose; religion plays a small role in creating meaning and purpose (compared to in the past); modern substitutes for religion (science, art, philosophy) have failed to provide an alternate worldview that can tell us why we are here and what we should do

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Angst Definition

the unpleasant feeling caused by contemplating the meaning of life and how one should spend one's time; also called existential anxiety

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3 Sensations of Angst




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Everyone feels this because choices are never perfect and lead to both good and bad outcomes.

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(desolate, lonely, sad, forsaken): because each person must make his own choices

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because of the awareness that many outcomes are beyond control

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Bad Faith: Our Moral Imperative

Face thrown-ness and angst directly and seek purpose for existence in spite of these.

- requires existential courage or optimistic toughness

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Bad Faith: Optimistic Toughness

Optimistic toughness definition: the courage it takes to follow the moral imperative

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Bad Faith: Can be avoided

This can be avoided: Don't worry about the meaning of life, don't try to think for yourself, don't examine your life; do what society, convention, peers, and so on tell you to do

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Living in Bad Faith Definition

Living in bad faith definition: ignoring the existential questions and our moral imperative.

- avoiding moral imperative

- Don't worry about the meaning of life

Don't try to think for yourself

Don't examine your life

Do what society, convention, peers tell you to do

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Bad Faith: Creates 3 Problems

- Living a Cowardly Lie

- Unhappiness

- It is impossible

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Living a Cowardly Lie

this is immoral; you might as well not be alive if you are not going to examine your life; it's important not to waste the time you have to be alive and aware of this fact; does not allow us to realize how fortunate we are to be alive and aware (example of lucky mud)

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Bad Faith: Unhappiness

Focusing on material comforts does not make people happy.

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Bad Faith: It is Impossible

Deciding to ignore existential issues and surrendering your choice to external authorities is still a choice.

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Authentic Existence definition

coming to terms with existence; being honest, insightful, and morally correct.

- alternative to bad faith

- coming to terms with existence

- being insightful honest and morally correct

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Authentic Existence: No relief

Will not relieve loneliness and unhappiness.

- because every person is alone and doomed

- life has no meaning beyond what you give it (And any apparent meaning it might seem to have is an illusion) The essence of the human experience: understanding that you must die.

- Allows us to be aware of our freedom; this gives us dignity

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The Existential Challenge

Do all you can to better the human condition, even in the face of life's uncertainties.

- Ask: What does life want from me? (Instead of, "what do I want from life?")

* Strive to better the human condition

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The Eastern Alternative

Existentialism is Europeans, Western, and focused on the individual.

- exact opposite of other existentialists

- Existentialism is fundamentally wrong

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Anatta Definition

nonself, the idea that the independent, singular self you sense inside your mind is an illusion; there is no unchanging soul at the center of each person.

- Illusion of a separate and independent self is harmful

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Anatta: Illusion = Harmful

This illusion of a separate and independent self is harmful: leads to feelings of isolation and too much concern with "me" and "mine"

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Eastern Alternative: True Nature of Reality

True nature of reality: Everything and everyone are connected now and across time; there is nothing special about an individual's experience of the present moment.

- ppl are interconnected

- Immorality

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The Eastern Alternative: Ppl Interconnected

All people are interconnected: You are part of the universe, and it is part of you.

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The Eastern Alternative: Immorality

Immortality: People are part of something larger that will last forever.

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Anicca: idea that all things must pass; it is best to accept this fact instead of repressing or fighting it; all moments (past, present, and future) have equal status.

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Enlightenment definition: caring for others the same as for yourself

- Achieved by understanding anicca and that the well-being of others matters as much as your own

- Leads to universal compassion

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a serene, selfless state; the result of enlightenment

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Optimistic Humanism: Existential Assumptions

Began with existential assumptions

- phenomenology is central

- People have free will

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Optimistic Humanism: Crucial Idea

People are basically good

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Optimistic Humanism: People are Basically Good

People are basically good: They seek to relate closely with one another, and they have an innate need to improve themselves and the world; however, there is no proof for this assumption.

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Self-Actualization: Rogers

People have one basic tendency and striving to actualize, maintain, and enhance their own experience.

- phenomenal field

- actualization

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Phenomenal Field Definition

The entire panorama of conscious experience.

- People can be understood only from the perspective of their phenomenal field.

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Actualization Definition

The basic need to maintain and enhance life.

- Goal of existence is to satisfy this need

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Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow (Assumption)

Basic Assumption: The ultimate need or motive is to self-actualize

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Hierarchy of Needs

How human motivation is characterized.

- Lower needs must be met first before you can reach higher needs

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Maslow's Ultimate Need

Maslow's ultimate need: same as Rogers's but only active when the more basic needs have been met (unlike Rogers's)

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Hierarchy of Needs: Practical Applications (3)

- Career choice: What needs does the career need to meet (security versus self-expression)?

- Employee motivation: Employees must feel secure before they will show initiative and imagination; secure employees want to express themselves through their work by contributing to the organization's goals.

- Understand happiness in different cultures: Financial and economic status is more important in poorer countries (r = .28) than in richer countries (r = .10) (correlations based on a meta-analysis)

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Maslow's Hierarchy: Evolutionary Theory

Parenting (reproducing) is the ultimate goal at the top of the pyramid.

Not consistent with the humanistic emphasis that humans are different from animals

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Fully Functioning Person Definition

Fully functioning person definition: Someone who perceives the world accurately and without neurotic distortion, takes responsibility for his choices, and is happy.

- Be clearly aware of reality and yourself

- Face the world without fear, self-doubt, or neurotic defenses

- Life is rich in emotion and self-discovery, reflectiveness, spontaneity, etc.

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Fully Functioning Person: Unconditional Positive Regard

Importance of unconditional positive regard: Rogers thought this was necessary to be fully functioning; Maslow disagreed and thought anyone could become fully functioning.

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Fully Functioning Person: Conditions of Worth

Conditions of worth: from thinking that people value you only if you are good enough.

- limit your freedom to act and think

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How to Deal with Existential Anxiety?


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Psychotherapy: Goal

Help client become fully functioning person.

- Allow insight

- remove conditions of worth

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Psychotherapy: Method

The therapist develops a genuine and caring relationship with the client and provides unconditional positive regard.

- If you listen to people and accept them with out judgement they can accept the things they are hung up on and move on

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Psychotherapy: Job of Therapist

- Help client perceive own thoughts and feelings

- Make client feel appreciated

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Psychotherapy: Results

- very time consuming

- real and ideal self-perceptions became more closely aligned for clients after therapy

Real and ideal self-perceptions became more closely aligned after therapy: but not as close as for those who did not seek therapy

Achieving closely aligned real and ideal selves is not always a good measure of psychological adjustment; for example, paranoid schizophrenics described themselves as close to ideal, as would narcissists.

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Psychotherapy: Criticism of Research

- Both real and ideal selves change with therapy

- Having closely aligned real and ideal selves is not always a good measure of psychological adjustment

- may have just lowered standard of ideal self so real self could align with it

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Personal Constructs (Kelly) Definition

the individual theories of each person based on how their construal's are assembled; bipolar dimensions along which people or objects can be arranged.

- Based on how one's cognitive system assembles various construal's of the world into individually held theories

- helps to determine how new experiences are construed

- Each person has a unique set

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Personal Constructs: Role Construct Repertory (Rep) test

- Identify 3 important ppl and then identify how 2 of them are similar and different from the 3rd

- Repeat with ideas, traits, and so on

- How things are discriminated reveals person's constructs

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Chronically Accessible Constructs Definition

Chronically accessible constructs definition: those that are more easily brought to mind; an individual difference.

- Sources of constructs: your chosen interpretation of past experiences

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Personal Construct System

framework for perceptions and thoughts about the world; determined by interpretation of past experiences

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Sociality Corollary

Understanding another person means understanding her personal construct system.

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Constructive Alternativism Definition

the view that any pattern of experience can lead to numerous construal's and people choose which construal's they use; your personal reality is constructed in your mind, and you can choose to construct it differently.

- Your personal reality is constructed in your mind; you can choose to reconstruct it differently.

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Personal Constructs (Kelly): Implications for Science

- Scientific paradigms are frameworks for construing the meaning of data: Choosing one does not mean it is right and the others are wrong, but that the chosen one best addresses the topic of interest.

- Researchers choose which paradigm to use: and therefore what to focus on and what to ignore

- Importance of being aware that other paradigms exist and are equally plausible

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Maximizers Definition

people who believe one should always seek to get as much as one possibly can

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Satisficers Definition

people who believe that some outcomes are good enough

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Maximizers v. Satisficers

Satisficers are happier, more optimistic, and have higher life satisfaction; maximizers are prone to perfectionism, depression, and regret

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Positive Psychology

- Health means more than absence of disease

- traditional Psychology overemphasizes psychopathology and malfunction

- Focuses on positive phenomenon

- rebirth of humanistic psychology

- True happiness comes from overcoming important challanges, a notion similar to hardiness, optimistic toughness, and eudaimonic happiness

- Most people find life meaningful

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Positive Phenomenon

Positive subjective experience, individual traits, and institutions

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It is difficult to identify virtues for everyone because this involves making value judgments that go beyond science, so look for attributes that have been considered to be virtues in all cultures across time.

- Also called character strengths

- Problem: deciding how people should behave

- look for attributes viewed as virtues in all cultures

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Core Virtues Identified by Positive Psychology

- courage

- Justice

- Humanity

- temperance

- Wisdom

- Transcendence

* justice and humanity are explicitly mentioned in all cultural traditions

* difficult to identify virtues for everyone

* maybe evolutionarily based

* but not everyone has them all

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Mindfulness Definition

Being alert and aware of every thought, sensation, and experience.

- origins in Buddhist philosophy

- Can help reduce stress, enhance creativity, improve memory, and free people from disturbing, recurring thoughts

- Reduce overreacting to bad events

- It's impossible to be mindful all of the time

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Flow Definition

the subjective experience of an autotelic activity; the enjoyment itself.

-Autotelic Activities

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Autotelic activities definition

Autotelic activities definition: ones that are enjoyable for their own sake; this is the best way to spend one's time.

The secret for enhancing your quality of life: spend as much time in flow as possible; become good at something you find worthwhile and enjoyable.

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Flow: Not for everyone?

But flow does not work for everyone and is solitary: Only people high in locus of control benefit from activities meant to promote flow; it is difficult to interact with someone who is in flow.

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Flow: Influence of Ppl

•Tremendous concentration, total lack of distractibility, thoughts concerning only the activity at hand

•Mood is slightly elevated.

•Time seems to pass very quickly.

•When challenge matches skill

•The secret for enhancing your quality of life

•Flow does not work for everyone and is solitary.

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when individuals encounter an entity that is vast and challenges their worldview.

- Some people are more prone to experience awe: more humble

- leads to a balanced view of one's strengths and weaknesses

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Components of Happiness

- Overall satisfaction with life

- Satisfaction with how things are going in particular life domains

- High levels of positive emotion and low levels of negative emotion

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Happiness: The Meaning may Change

The meaning may change with age: associated with ecstatic and giddy for people in their teens and twenties, and with content, satisfied, and relaxed for people in their 40s and 50s

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Hedonic Well-Being Definition

seek to maximize pleasure and minimize pain

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Eudaimonic well-being definition

Eudaimonic well-being definition: seeking a meaningful life

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Hedonic v. Eudaimonic Well-Being

Crucial Distinction:

hedonia leads to excluding other goals; eudaimonia leads to finding and seeking goals that are valuable in their own right

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Happiness is just Happiness

A study found few differences between people high is hedonic vs. eudaimonic well-being.

Individual set point: accounts for a large extent of happiness, appears to be genetically influenced and based in part on extraversion and neuroticism

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Happiness: Objective life Circumstances

smaller influence on happiness than set point; includes age, amount of education, marital status, income

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Happiness: Intentional Activity

looking on the bright side, making time for things that matter, working on important life goals, seeing life as long and easy rather than short and hard, spend money on experiences rather than things, etc.

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Various Interventions for Increasing Happiness

listing things you are thankful for, expressing gratitude, doing kind acts for others

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Consequences of Happiness

•Good health, occupational success, supportive relationships

•More confident, optimistic, likeable, sociable, and energetic

This is correlational, not causal so we don't know what the driving force is (happiness leads to success or success leads to happiness)

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Potential Dark Side of too Much Happiness

•Potential dark sides of too much happiness

•Failure to recognize risky situations

•Pouring excessive energy into unproductive pursuits

•Happiness felt at the wrong time can make it harder to make things better.

•Trying to be happy can lead to disappointment if one fails.

•Harm to others

•May lead to the individual's downfall

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Happiness: Broaden and Build

use happiness as a foundation for creating and maintaining better life circumstances

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Humanistic and Positive Psychology

- Should we always try to expect the best?

Optimistic people are less fearful, more willing to take risks, and relatively happy, but may also take foolish risks or fail to anticipate problems.

- Positive psychology is not a complete rebirth of humanism: does not address existential anxiety or the dilemmas that arise from free will

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The Mystery of Experience

It cannot be explained by science and is difficult to describe in words; this is a problem when it is assumed to not be important or science proceeds as if it did not exist, or when consciousness is treated as an interesting form of information processing.

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What is vital to understand another person

To understand another person, you must understand his construals: This discourages judgmental attitudes; if you could see the world through the eyes of others, you would realize that their actions and attitudes are the natural consequences of their understanding of reality; it is a mistake to assume others interpret the world the same way you do or that there is only one correct perspective.

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Consequence of understanding Consturals

Cultural and moral relativism

- Idea that there is no objective reality, or if there is, there is no way to know what it is

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Review Question 1:

The alternative to bad faith is?

living and authentic existence

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Review Question 2:

According to optimistic humanism, the goal of life is to

self actualize, or maintain and enhance life

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