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Matthew R.
Psy.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology
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Religious Studies
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Question:

What does a study of religion add to human life?

Matthew R.
Answer:

The study of religion can add much to our understanding of ourselves, and even if we don't believe in most or any of the claims of religion, the study of why religions even exist is a fascinating one. Some writers (i.e., Freud) have claimed that religion adds nothing to human existence, but has only served as a psychological "crutch" to cope with the vicissitudes of life. Others have argued that religion is the only really important subject in life, and that everything else pales in comparison to the questions and answers that religion offers. Between these two extremes lies a world of opinion, conviction, study, insight, and devotion. If understanding some of the oldest and most intriguing subjects in the history of humankind is your passion, then the study of religion could be a good place to start!

Philosophy
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Question:

What is the true source of human happiness?

Matthew R.
Answer:

Many thinkers have tried to tackle this question, and have often come to brand their thinking as so universal as to apply to all of humanity, when in fact, their theories may apply only to certain groups of people or certain time periods. This question may be the "holy grail" of philosophical thought, but the varieties of answers offered is astounding. Some thinkers locate it in the pursuit of the most pleasure, others trace it back to divine origins, and still others offer answers based upon the attainment of moral or ethical behavior. Given the vast differences within schools of thought and in history, the question is still an open one, and is one that each person seeks to answer throughout the course of their lives, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Psychology
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Question:

How has psychology as a science changed and developed throughout its history?

Matthew R.
Answer:

This is such a fascinating and broad question, but a few comments can highlight some of the important historical points in the development of psychology. The study of psychology officially began in 1897 in Leipzig, Germany with the opening of the first psychological laboratory. Since then, the discipline has expanded far and wide, and has delved into studying cognition, emotion, behavior, and other functions of the human mind. Contrasted with the empirical study of the mind, the practice of psychology originally developed with Sigmund Freud's amazing insights, and has indeed come a long way since its inception, although many of the original insights still impact clinicians today. The two major divisions of the history of psychology into empiricism and phenomenalism can be traced throughout its development as a science, and each body of knowledge contributes significantly to our understanding and appreciation of the complexity of human psychology.

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