Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and Humans as Moral Agents

The following is a description about morality and philosophy in relation to the ideas of psychiatrist Thomas Szasz (who was a professor emeritus of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University).

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy, and studying the epistemology and history of medicine and psychiatry is incredibly useful (at least some would agree).

Ethics is a branch or type of philosophy. If I am remembering correctly, in the book The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement, psychiatrist Thomas Szasz indicates that some individuals attempt sort of medicalize and de-philosophise morality (ethics and philosophy), so rather than human behavior being in the realm of morality and philosophy (or theology), human behavior is completely in the realm of medicine and science (physics, genetics, biochemistry, neuroscience).

It is pure reductionism and absolute positivism. So to de-philosophise illegal violence has unintended consequences, at least according to Szasz (as I understand his writings).

According to psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, humans are “moral agents”. If this is true, then human behavior can and should be analyzed through the lens of ethics and morality (which involves philosophy). So if philosophy is no good, then humans must not be moral agents, since philosophy is useless, and analyzing the moral behavior of humans is pointless (since really behavior is just a byproduct of impersonal mechanistic biology, genetics, biochemistry, and so forth).

If humans are moral agents, and all behavior is either morally good, morally bad, or morally neutral, then to consider philosophy as useless (or no good), is extremely dehumanizing.

However, if humans are not moral agents, and are in fact only mechanistic biological machines totally driven by deterministic biochemistry, genetics, and physics, then sure, philosophy is useless and no good.

If philosophy is no good, then analyzing human behavior in terms of ethics and morality (areas of philosophy) seems pointless.

By studying the ideas of psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, one can become Szaszian (influenced by the ideas of psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. Just like one might speak of Newtonian physics, one could speak of Szaszian ethics. Thomas Szasz did write a book entitled The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: The Theory & Method of Autonomous Psychotherapy after all. Another example, would be someone who might be referred to as a “Freudian psychoanalyst”. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz also did write quite a bit about Sigmund Freud, should that be a topic for further examination within the realm of Szaszian studies.