Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Friday, 12 June 2009
It is now official: from July on, Ma Ying-jeou will add to the position of President of Taiwan, that of Chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT). The move is hardly surprising: Ma has difficulties in controlling his own party; he needs stronger leverage over the parliamentary group, to impose nominees during the next elections, and to make his policies prevail, notably when it comes to relationships with China. Furthermore, presiding over the KMT should allow him, eventually, to meet with Hu Jintao – and such a meeting will be one between two party chiefs, thus putting aside many embarrassing questions about protocol and Taiwan’s international status.

This might be a smart political move – but hardly a laudable one. It shows how resilient remains the model of the Party-State in Taiwan – a stain in an otherwise democratic political culture. Both the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party structures were shaped according to the Leninist model, which draws out a way of controlling and monopolizing power, independently from any ideological content. The Party-State model has even inspired the party that was founded to oppose the Kuomintang’s dominant position, i.e. the DPP. During the time of the Chen Shui-bian‘s presidency, Chen was sometimes the party’s chairman, and sometimes not, according to circumstances. Also, the DPP showed some disquieting signs of trying to substitute itself to the control of the State apparatus as was done previously held by the KMT. Due to the minority position of its internal division on the Legislative Yuan it was prevented from doing so. Its revival and moral status as an opposition party will largely depend on its capacity to fully modernize its political outlook and to further contribute to Taiwan’s democratization. There is no “providential man (or woman)” who will save the DPP and Taiwan by concentrating all powers between their hands, as some supporters still seem inclined to believe.

In a fully democratic culture, a Chief of State should not preside over a political party (though of course he often unofficially retains ultimate control over the one from which he comes.) The Chief of State has to keep the moral capacity of being a referee in times of troubles or national division. Conversely, in a parliamentary regime, the Prime Minister can be the chief of the party holding the majority: a Chief of State, who only enjoys limited powers, still incarnates the State’s legitimacy. This might sound like a formal requirement, but it has profound significance, and the fact that Taiwan’s Presidents are still prone to double-up as party chiefs, is a sad remanent from the political past of the country.

There is another reason to lament the taking-over of the KMT’s chairmanship by Ma Ying-jeou: Clearly, China is in favor of developing party-to-party negotiations. The reconstitution of a Party-State structure, even if mitigated by Taiwan’s otherwise democratic institutions, makes it easier for China to engage Taiwan in a political agreement on its own terms. Should Taiwan play its hand by mimicking the Party-State structure that is at the core of China’s system, or should it remain faithful to the spirit that has made it the most vibrant Asian democracy, and thus continuing to offer to China the insight that comes from its political experiment?

Clearly, the new atmosphere that reigns between China and Taiwan has many beneficial aspects, and is conducive to changes not only for the nature of the cross-strait relationship but also, potentially, on China’s political system. However, there is a question mark about the course on which Taiwan is ready to embark further smoothen the relationship and about the nature of the concessions it is ready to make to that effect. The fact that the Chief of State will become once again Chairman of the KMT is bringing back a strong stench of the past, and is sending the wrong signal.

(Drawing by Li Jinyuan)


There have always been psychologists who have felt that academic psychology, as embodied in its curriculum and its textbooks, was not adequately reflecting the whole range of human experience. Due to its too rigid paradigm, which originally was borrowed from the natural sciences, academic psychology still tends to overlook or even arbitrarily discard some areas which in all cultures - in the East as well as in the West - have always been considered as essential or, at least, as very important parts of human life.

Since the 1940’s, the demand for an expansion of the psychological paradigm became ever more insistent and widespread, giving birth to the humanistic revolution in psychology. For nearly three decades, Maslow was one of the pillars of that movement. In 1968, Maslow was elected President of the American Psychological Association. He then realized that even humanistic psychology was not enough, and that there was a need for a still further expansion of the psychological paradigm. He then became a co-founder of transpersonal psychology, which he described as “transhumanistic psychology”, “transcendental psychology”, or “height psychology”. While still incorporating and confirming all the positive contributions of behavioristic psychology, Freudian psychology and humanistic psychology, it adds the spiritual dimension (“spiritual” in a broad sense, i.e. either in a religious sense or not) as an essential part of the human potential: an insight already found in all cultures

For the past thirty years, I have continually observed the growth of the transpersonal movement. While reading numerous books and articles on this new development, I became interested in accumulating relevant references, i.e., those usually listed at the end of scholarly books as well as those found at the end of relevant articles in various journals of psychology. As the bibliography kept growing, I was amazed at the tremendous abundance of psychological materials dealing with transpersonal or spiritual themes, even though these writings do not always appear expressly under a “transpersonal” label, and even though some of the writers would not necessarily call themselves “transpersonal” psychologists.

The compilation work, just described above, led me to a second discovery: namely, academic psychology, as it is transmitted to students through its curriculum and textbooks, not only fails to faithfully reflect the whole range of human experience (as I have already remarked) but, ironically, it even fails to reflect the wealth of psychological literature itself. As a result, we are faced with two partially different psychologies: the psychology found in many textbooks (with a few exceptions), and the much more comprehensive, human and meaningful psychology found in the psychological literature.

While I was accumulating and classifying this huge amount of materials, I constantly had in mind graduate students in psychology and in other closely related fields. To them this bibliography on transpersonal psychology is especially offered as a source of suggestions for their term papers, master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, and other research projects. They will find in it a variety of “new” areas which might attract their curiosity and interest, and challenge their intellectual abilities. Besides, within each of these areas, they will also find many meaningful research topics together with a considerable amount of references to relevant documentation. I also hope that they will get acquainted with the new methods presented in the section on methodology, and that they will be bold enough to use some of them in their research projects.

Download here the pdf version of the bibliography 

(Drawing by Li Jinyuan)

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