Human Excellence and an Ecological Conception of the Psyche

By John Hanwell Riker

Subjects: Ethics
Paperback : 9780791405192, 239 pages, July 1991
Hardcover : 9780791405185, 239 pages, July 1991

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Table of contents


1. Introduction: How Are We To Do Ethics?

Part I: Memory

2. Happiness
3. Death of a Psyche
4. Ideals

Part II: Psyche

5. Basic Needs
6. Emotions, Capacities, Character
7. The Making of Psyche

Part III: Excellence

8. Ecological Thinking
9. Ecological Speaking
10. Ecological Dwelling
11. Heroines and Heroes of the Future




This book explores the possibility of grounding the idea of human excellence, which has traditionally been associated with hierarchical systems, on an ecological structuring of the psyche. Riker bases his concept on recent work in psychoanalytic theory, emotion theory, sociobiology, ethnogenic social psychology, and feminism, as well as on the insights of such philosophers as Aristotle, Nietzsche, Whitehead, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein.

John H. Riker is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at The Colorado College, Colorado Springs.


"This book has the power to change lives. It speaks to urgent present concerns, yet very effectively draws upon ancient wisdom. In our bureaucratized 'organizational America,' it convincingly awakens the reader to his/her individual worth and dignity by focusing (as did the ancient Greeks) on the problem that every person is to himself or herself.

"It is a significant contribution to the recent and growing interest among philosophers in what has come to be called 'virtue ethics,' as distinct from the orthodox 'ethics of duty. ' Riker is the first to see clearly that the foundational problem, in this perspective, is integrity. He is original in proposing ecological organization as the solution against ancient Greek hierarchical ordering. This aligns him with some of the best recent feminist thinking (e. g., Gilligan, Nel Noddings). " — David L. Norton, University of Delaware