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Title: Of the soul and emotions : conceptualizing 'the Ottoman individual' through psychology
Author: Afacan, Seyma
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 4592
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines late Ottoman discourses on the soul and emotions as reflected by a large corpus of psychological literature under the umbrella of ilm-i ahval-i ruh (the science of the states of the soul, psychology) in relation to the rise of the rhetoric concerning the 'new man' - an imaginary 'Ottoman individual' educated in 'new schools' to be in complete harmony with Ottoman modernization. It posits that the 'new man' was subjected to a process of design as a producing unit whether in possession of a soul or not, while the conceptual framework of the 'individual' was being formulated. The secondary literature on Ottoman modernization has illustrated intellectual efforts for designing the 'new man' in relation to the formation of national identity. In doing so it has focused on the process of indoctrination and the dissemination of normative accounts. Drawing on that literature, this thesis intends to complicate the picture and look beyond the normative accounts. By approaching the debate between materialism and spiritualism as a psychological argument and revolving the story around the metaphors of 'man as machine' and 'man as animal', it aims to display the influence of the scientific and technological changes that shaped the material as well as the intellectual culture these authors experienced. In an attempt to go beyond what lies beneath the national and religious underpinnings of the imagined 'new man', this thesis maintains a tight focus on the psychological writings of four intellectuals - all of whom gave serious thought to the debate about the soul: Abdullah Cevdet, Filibeli Ahmed Hilmi, Baha Tevfik, and Mustafa Şekip Tunç. By shifting the centre of focus of the rhetoric about the 'new man' from national or religious identity formation to the pressing concerns about economic and technological progress, it shows an Ottoman entanglement with science and technology and a deeper Ottoman inquiry into the conceptual framework of the individual. Accordingly it argues that the psychological literature on the soul and emotions bears testimony to the acute concern for how to integrate individuals into the frenzy of progressive discourses in the late Ottoman Empire. This concern constituted common ground among intellectuals from different backgrounds. Yet they held different understandings of the notion of progress and often gave different answers to deeper philosophical questions pertaining to the new man's soul, emotions, will, and relations with collective units. Such complexity demonstrates that multiple trajectories were possible before national identity formation took concrete forms in a much later context, and that transnational patterns of 'constructing the subjects' through psychological studies played an equally important role.
Supervisor: Mahone, Sloan C. ; Harrison, Mark ; Mignon, Laurent J. N. Sponsor: Ministry of Education ; Republic of Turkey
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ottoman intellectual history ; History of Psychology ; Late Ottoman modernization ; materialism ; spiritualism