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PSYCHOLOGY, RELIGION, AND CRITICAL HERMENEUTICS: DON BROWNING AS “HORIZON ANALYST”

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Abstract.  Don Browning's career involved a deep exploration into the frequently hidden philosophical assumptions buried in various forms of psychotherapeutic healing. These healing methodologies were based on metaphors and metaphysical assumptions about both the meaning of human fulfillment and the ultimate context of our lives. All too easily, psychological theories put forward philosophical anthropologies while claiming to be operating within a modest, empirical approach. Browning does not fault or criticize these psychotherapeutic enterprises for making such claims because he thinks these claims are implicit in all discussions of psychological health. But he does fault these methodologies for not being more forthcoming about their shift from a narrow empirical investigation to a broad-ranging philosophical and even quasireligious orientation. Browning can be described as a “horizon analyst” who constantly pulled back the curtains and helped us see the deeper symbols, images, and metaphysical assumptions behind our psychological investigations.

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