Originally published in 1983, this title is a determined attack on personality theories current at the time. It critically examines their basic motivational constructs and rejects any that invoke goal-seeking as being inescapably teleological and therefore unacceptable as natural science. Dr Maze argues the necessity for an unqualified determinism in psychology, yet one that incorporates the role of cognitive processes in the formation of behaviour. However, action theories which profess to offer a causal account of apparently goal-seeking or voluntarist behaviour by reference to the internal states of desire for a goal and a belief about how to get it are also dismissed. For the concept of belief as an internal state is argued to be a relativistic one, defined as being intrinsically related to its object. This is an incoherent notion and one which cannot specify anything acceptable as a causal state.
The one motivational theory in dynamic psychology which offered a solution to these problems was Sigmund Freud’s formulation of his instinctual drive concept, defined as an innate physiological driving mechanism with preformed consummatory behaviours: his ‘specific actions’. But his hydraulic models have been patronisingly dismissed by modern neurologists, arguing that there are no ‘flush-toilets’ in the central nervous system. This book argues that such a glib dismissal is shallow minded, and that a reformulation of Freud’s concept in terms of modern neuroscience is readily available, though the problem of identifying the relevant structures remains formidable.
The book is of immediate interest to all those seriously concerned with the springs and meanings of human behaviour, whether they be psychologists, psychoanalysts, philosophers or those generally interested in social and ethical theory.