Abstract and Keywords
This introductory chapter discusses the meaning of the human essence in psychology and the potential impact of answers to the question of what is the human essence can have on the field. It highlights key perspectives on “the human essence” presented in the volume, with particular emphasis on the reciprocal relationships among individuality, sociality, and cultural embeddedness. The chapter explains how the evolution of humans’ cognitive abilities produced both unique individual capacities, such as powers of reflexivity, and social adaptations, such as the development of culture. It also discusses individuality as a human essence, which is a view expressed in in several chapters of the volume that draw insights from work on existential psychology, meaning, free will, self-evaluation, goals, and basic physiological processes. Another common theme it identifies across several chapters is that the capacity for change and growth through the pursuit of truth, beyond individual self-interest, represents the human essence. The chapter concludes with an overview of organization and the content of the other chapters in the volume.
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