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Professor Riker’s New Book Explores ‘Life of the Soul’

Colorado College Professor of Philosophy John Riker has published a new book, “Exploring the Life of the Soul.” In the book, Riker develops and expands the conceptual framework of self-psychology in order to offer contemporary readers a naturalistic ground for adopting an ethical way of being in the world.

Subtitled “Philosophical Reflections on Psychoanalysis and Self Psychology,” the book argues for a notion of central and ethical selfhood brought to life in self-psychological psychoanalysis. In it, Riker stresses the need to find a balance between mature narcissism and ethics, to address and understand differences among people, and to reconceive social justice as based on the development of individual self.

The book, published this month by Lexington Books, explores the philosophical basis of the work of Heinz Kohut, an important figure in contemporary psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Kohut’s work, Riker argues, connects with the philosophical inquiry into meaning stretching back to Plato and into the modern era via Emerson and others. Notes one reviewer, “This human and humane book is a must read for anyone interested in psychoanalytic and philosophic perspectives about the human condition.”

Riker has taught philosophy at Colorado College since 1968. He chaired the department for 15 years and was named the Judson Bemis Professor of the Humanities. Riker has been awarded teacher of the year four times, advisor of the year twice, received the Riley Award from CC in 2013, and was the initial recipient of the Victor Nelson-Cisneros Award, awarded to the person most involved with aiding diversity on campus. He was the Kohut Professor at the University of Chicago during the fall semester, 2003.

Riker’s areas of interest in philosophy are ethics, history of philosophy, Greek philosophy, psychoanalysis, American philosophy, and metaphysics.  His research interests center on the intersection of a psychoanalytic understanding of human nature with ethics.