This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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Challenges of personality research in India today

Anand Paranjpe — Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

Assuming that all those attending this conference have awakened from the post-colonial slumber, the challenge we face in personality research is how to combine the best of both worlds in research on personality and self. The first thing is to affirm that the essence and greatest strength of the Indian approach to person and self is its spiritual focus; no apologies for the same. The main shortcomings of contemporary Western approaches are: their overemphasis on personality and individual differences and their measurement to the neglect of the person as knower, agent, and enjoyer/sufferer (or jiva as jnata, karta, bhokta). We need to overcome the current obsession with observational minutiae and focus on issues of the person as a whole. As to self, while we need accept and promote the recent Western research on the self-as-object and the social self, in keeping with the Indian tradition, we need to focus on the self-as-subject with a first-person perspective and the individual attempts to go beyond concerns for the social self and ego-identity toward deeper spiritual concerns. The general needs to strengthen our study of Indian classics whether in the original or English translations, face our Wesernized colleagues, and overcome the culture of “no work” are also discussed as part of the challenges to face.

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