Psychology Home at The University of West Georgia

Assorted Writings & Deliveries of Mike Arons

"If Reader's Digest ever asks me for an article on 'The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met,' my choice would be easy. I think everyone who knows Mike Arons well would choose him without a second thought. Mike is Socrates and Zorba, Apollo and Dionysus, an elf and a wizard. He is ever-ready to encounter life, to embrace alterity, replete with dialectical contradictories, available to every possibility, every nuance. Where others would meet with disaster, Mike's openness discloses unforeseen opportunity." - Chris Aanstoosphoto

"I had shaped the habits of my life according to what I thought others wanted from me. I had hammered myself into a mold, an object, called wife-mother. Mike Arons was the first human contact I made at West Georgia. He had a frustratingly insiduous way of opening you to the possibility that you are more than you thought you were, and responsible for the way you chose to perceive and handle the events around you. His questions were not the hippy-dippy New Ageism genre; Mike haunted you with questions like 'Is truth absolute or relative?'; 'Is naivete the prerequisite to experience?' These questions all reflected upon the meaning of human experience. I began to reconstitute much of my experience in terms of its significance as a human transaction. I began to see the context of my life and the relative and absolute meaning others contributed in that context. [He helped] me find the experience I needed in order to seek what I wanted." - Becky Phrydas

Creativity, Consciousness, and Culture

Creativity, Humanistic Psychology, and the Emerging American Consciousness (1972)
"A basic contribution of the emerging consciousness, which I believe will have a lasting effect, is the transcendence of the subject-object dichotomy - recognized in the studies on creativity, the development of Humanistic psychology, and through major contributions from phenomenology and Oriental philosophy. The turn inward - which characterizes the new consciousness - is, at the same time, a new turn outward. . . . This shift is clearly leading to a new sense of value priorities, with the focus much more on the intrinsic than on the extrinsic. The world is being experienced for itself, and not so much for its utility to future salvation. And so that world, in itself, has gained enormous value - leading to the emphasis on ecology, for instance, over supersonic jets. The shift from the extrinsic (utility) to the intrinsic (fulfillment) creates the value whereby a much more authentic sort of responsibility can be engendered, the responsibility of care."

Transformations of Science & Religion through Humanistic Psychology (1976)
"Humanistic psychology and the values associated with it - and with the new consciousness in general - have been helping to transcend the historical opposition between science and religion. In this process humanistic psychology has been helping to restore a basis of authenticity to both. . . . Our sense of ourselves, our sense of historical potential, our sense of what is important is due also to change in this process. Our science seems in process of becoming more value-centered, but also infused with the energy of a subjectivity hitherto denied [while] our religion should come to see itself in terms of enlightenment rather than in terms of blindness, as in the sense of ‘blind faith.’ Self-discovery - personal or finite awareness and realization - should be seen as not incompatible with Divine communion. Furthermore, the stress on process already accepted as necessary in the sciences has also been centering the humanistic movement, but here relative to personal development. It is this notion of process orientation along with stress on the unfolding of consciousness which could restore a freshness to religion."

Growth and Potential in Education

The Future of Humanistic Education at the Heart of Crisis (1977)
"American education has paid lip service to the humanities - but this even as it has never recognized the existential conflict which centers those humanities. How much of our literature or history or math or social sciences has been taught with the Delphic “Who am I?” in mind as the central goal of education? By valuing science as we have, presuming that it holds the ultimate answers in its method, we have devalued the humanities to the level of mere “pre-science.” By valuing technology, which directs our lives or serves it, we have presumed that the “higher self” is that which is infinitely adaptable to the changes this technology brings. In other words, self is defined and known via technology - as we now come to know our cognitive selves through computer simulation - or how we knew ourselves previously by the mechanistic idiom of past sci-tech. . . . [On the other hand], humanistic psychologists and educators presume that each individual has a higher or greater self which - even and especially at the level of the child - can be addressed and honored as that which he or she shares with the best of our humanness. To ignore, deny, or demean that dimension of the child - especially in education - and not to address questions most significant to that greater self in all of us is to deny that child’s and our own most precious birthright."

The Humanistic Orientation at West Georgia (1978)
"Development of a humanistic orientation at West Georgia was but one expression of fundamental social changes in America which had been gaining momentum for some time. Relative economic and technological success had not brought with it concomitant progress towards the personal or collective experience of fulfillment. The very attitudes which accompanied victory in the battle at the survival level were proving inadequate or inappropriate in discovering means for greater personal and social realization. Humanistic or '3rd Force' Psychology focused attention on assumptions and methods which promised to move beyond previously limiting conceptions of human potential without, however, denying to those conceptions their value within appropriate contexts. Not antagonistic towards the two dominant forces in psychology - Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis - representatives of the '3rd Force' Psychology rather saw themselves as naturally emerging from them."

The Group Oral: An Exam Which is Not Inhuman (1977)
"When the exam goes well, . . . the entire consciousness of the group moves more towards the underlying principles which link the questions from below - the substrata of assumptions - and towards the implications, extensions, and ramifications which new insight and understanding now opens up. Wasn’t that the real goal of education, at least its most far reaching goal? Isn’t it the goal of the course? Then why should this not be the goal of the examination?"

The Value of the Arts for Special Populations (1978)
"I wonder sometimes at the way we handle those whom we do call our special populations - among them the behavior disorders, the dyslexics, the autistic, the retarded, and a variety of racial and ethnic groups. From our lofty perch in modern reason, we assume that if these persons cannot function adaptively they most certainly cannot operate at the so-called higher human planes. Note how we make these planes of universal understanding special. We are charged with using on them special methods (special education) towards the sole aim of functional adaptation. Even the arts - music, dance, play, and paint - are used instrumentally, as means to get the pill of functional adaptability down the child’s gullet, not for their own sake. We rarely stretch our own search to find the artist in the child. . . . If these universal forms are inaccessible to most in our modern education factories, we must then see its human products as the special population which is out of touch with that which is inherently human - even if this group constitutes the large majority of us."

Resacrilizing Hermeneutics

Hermeneutic of a Complementarity Between Energy and Meaning in Freud and Implications for Psychology (1982)
"If instinct is the fundamental reality, where does it lead? It leads to consciousness. The instincts in the form of desire seek expression through symbols in consciousness. Ironically, then, although Freud doesn’t explicitly take consciousness seriously, those instincts which to him are unsurpassable, most certainly do. The movement of the instincts is progressive, out towards the world, both as desire for gratification but, therefore, desire to transcend the slavery of desire and death. The symbols of these mixed discourses are by this fact multi- or overdetermined. They speak to the frustration with reality and yet, also, to the possibility of transcendence through reality - not only in terms of substitute gratification but in terms of self-consciousness through the consciousness of other, including that absolute other to the life instinct: Death. Art and the works of man, then, are like texts which gain autonomy beyond their author’s intentions through this participating in the deeper human reality, a mixed discourse, a discourse of energy and meaning, one which is not exhausted in explanation nor in understanding alone."

Connecting the Discontinuous

The Legacy of Maslow and Rogers (1988)
"It is not at all certain for me that the task of knowing ourselves in the future is more difficult than understanding ourselves in the past. In fact, unless we can contextualize and embrace our past we will flail about blindly into our future."

Intuition and the Intimacy of Instinct and Consciousness (1990)
"Intuition is available to us through our limited natures to imaginatively carry out those limits for all they are worth and, as well - and sometimes in this process - to complete the game of hide and seek, to recognize in and through the specifics the greater symphonic harmony, which can take any number of variations. . . . That is how I can imagine naturalistic, existential, humanistic, and transpersonal views of intuition being quite compatible. But this is only a working hypothesis."

Standing Up for Humanity: The Backbone of Creativity (2003)
"Creativity and discovery are two sides of the same coin. Instead of spinning new webs like a spider, why not venture to spin a new tale? That is, sometimes it's wiser not to cover your tail, or get rid of it as we humans did. Still, maybe at our best and wisest we traded that balancing body part in for the ability to create and the Wisdom of Insecurity - Not a simple back and forth or sideways balance, but one that balances by pushing forward and deeper in."