by Joffre Denis (JD) Meyer, B. A. Texas A&M University
Chairman of Graduate Committee: Dr. William R. Nash
The thesis is an effort to bring Neo-Confucian insights to modern cognitive- behavioral and existential therapy. The adaptability of Neo-Confucianism is illustrated through the growth-system inherent in its concepts. Frequently, Neo-Confucian sages and modern psychologists used virtually identical statements. Moreover, humanity faces the same basic issues while the particularizations vary. The importance of reason, manners, appropriate behavior and self-actualization remains constant. However, the methods of their attainment change with time. The history of the Confucian/Neo-Confucian tradition is filled with such conceptual modifications.
Neo-Confucianism is a syncretic philosophy that utilized elements of Zen, Taoism, and Legalism within Confucian teachings. This adaptation increased the sages’ ability to communicate with a wider range of people. In effect, the Neo-Confucian movement was perhaps the earliest practice of eclectic counseling. Neo-Confucianism itself has undergone development from its eleventh-century origins to the present-day scholarly journals.
The researcher does not believe the key issue in inter- disciplinary studies is whether psychology is being applied to philosophy or vice-versa. Neo-Confucianism pragmatically asserts that the true test of a philosophy rests in its ability to help the individual. Mere intellectual exercise contradicts the unity of knowledge and action.
The thesis has five chapters. The existential therapy chapter uses a predominantly Western psychology format while the cognitive-behavioral therapy chapter uses Wang Yang-ming’s Four Axiom Teaching as an outline.
The thesis also includes Neo-Confucian cognitive-moral development observations reminiscent of Lawrence Kohlberg’s stage theories. Neo-Confucianism could be described as an education in evolving from preconventional to principled reasoning. Occasional parallels are drawn between process philosophy and Neo-Confucianism as well.
There is also a chapter in which Confucian commentaries are provided to actual case studies faced by Albert Ellis and Maxie Maultsby. A Chinese glossary is provided at the end of the introduction. There are five figures in the text, two of which are summarizing models in the conclusion.