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1983 - Volume 4, Number 3, Summer

Von Osten’s Horse, Hamlet’s Question, and the Mechanistic View of Causality: Implications for a Post-Crisis Social Psychology

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, Number 3, Pages 319–337, ISSN 0271–0137

Every science subsumes within it hidden assumptions that, while not empirical in nature, give meaning to empirical relations. Social psychology has borne the brunt of attacks regarding previously hidden assumptions about the mechanistic paradigm of empirical science. It appears that the field is undergoing a gradual shift in orientation , in part as a result of an erosion of confidence in the old paradigm. This paper attempts to review aspects of the attacks in order to show how they provoked a reappraisal, still under way, of the nature of empirical social psychology and the limits of sociopsychological knowledge. The question is raised as to whether such a reappraisal might lead to a profoundly pluralistic social psychology consistent with a more liberalized definition of empirical science.

Requests for reprints should be sent to R.L. Rosnow, Department of Psychology, Temple University, 517 Weiss Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122.

Functionalism and the Definition of Theoretical Terms

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, Number 3, Pages 339–351, ISSN 0271–0137

Advocates of the philosophical thesis known as “functionalism” have recently proposed a solution to the problem of defining theoretical terms in behavioral science. They claim that such terms are functionally defined, or defined in terms of the functional role that the term specifies within the theory. This paper examines two versions of functional definition for theoretical terms. One version is sown to imply that some of the propositions in a theory are true a priori, solely in virtue of the meaning of the terms within them. Since no part of a theory can claim such independence from empirical test, that implication is shown to be unacceptable. An alternative account of functional definition is proposed. It allows one to define theoretical terms without stipulating that any of the propositions within the theory are true independently of evidence, or true in virtue of the meanings of their terms. This second account is shown to accord better with features of scientific practice.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Austen Clark, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, University of Tulsa, 600 South College Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104.

The Theory of “Formative Causation” and its Implications for Archetypes, Parallel Inventions, and the “Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon”

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, Number 3, Pages 353–367, ISSN 0271–0137

The theory of “formative causation,” proposed by plant physiologist Rupert Sheldrake (1981b) has implications and explanatory power for a number of hitherto unexplained phenomena: Jung’s concepts of archetypes, synchronicity and the collective unconscious; the phenomenon of parallel inventions; the resonant effect of group meditations; Watson’s (1979) “Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon”; the learning of new behavior in untrained animals; and a host of other physical and biological anomalies. The “formative causation” hypothesis proposes that all systems are regulated not only by known energy and material factors but also by invisible organizing matrices (termed “morphogenetic fields”). The structures of these fields are derived from the morphogenetic fields associated with previous similar systems; that is, the morphogenetic fields of past systems influence subsequent similar systems by a process called “morphic resonance.” Thus this hypothesis proposes that the characteristic organization of systems depends on influences that lead to a repetition of the form and patterns of previous systems. It enables some regularities of nature to be regarded more as habits than as products of chance, neo-Darwinian evolution, or Lamarckism. An exposition of the theory is herein presented and the author attempts to demonstrate the intrinsic compatibility of the hypothesis with three important, comprehensive, and ascendent models of reality.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Carolin S. Keutzer, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-1227.

Synthesizing the Everyday World

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, Number 3, Pages 369–387, ISSN 0271–0137

James, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty have pointed out the derivative character of the categories of subject and object into which Western thought has split the primordial singleness of experience. Taking its lead from these thinkers, but also from Husserl and Kohler, and proceeding by example-based description, this investigation explores the place of experience in the forming of the everyday world. Insight into this world – a complex, autonomous, and organized world – is a behavior of discriminating in which parts are brought to organization as worldly wholes. Such insightful synthesizing occurs on experience’s own level. The world is not outside experience – formed objects do no exist of and by themselves; and experience is not inside a subject – the organism is beyond itself in contact with the world itself. Insight, while a present self-accomplishing, is historically conditioned both by n ongoing temporal context, and by former experiences of world-synthesizing: insight is interpreting. In brief, the everyday world comes to organization in its autonomy and its complexity in a historically shaped, organizing vision that of necessity occurs on the level of experience.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Andrew R. Fuller, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology, College of Staten Island, City University of New York, 715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island, New York 10301.

On the Nature of Relationships Involving the Observer and the Observed Phenomenon in Psychology and Physics

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, Number 3, Pages 389–400, ISSN 0271–0137

A framework for psychology and physics is developed with the construct of situation – based on the indivisible and immediate relationship between an observed phenomenon and the observer of this phenomenon – as its foundation. Particular expressions of the objective view, the strength of which is reflected in the traditional assumption of a fundamental isolation between psychology and physics, are discussed. Contemporary dilemmas arising from the maintenance of this view are presented. These dilemmas are resolved by a thoroughly related structure in which situations are themselves related to one another, most importantly, in a simultaneous manner. It is proposed that empirical study in physics and psychology inherently involves theoretical circumstances that must be explicitly understood.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Douglas M. Snyder, Ph.D., P.O. Box 228, Berkeley, California 94701.

Homeopathy and Psychiatry

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, Number 3, Pages 401–410, ISSN 0271–0137

Homeopathy, though unfamiliar to most mainstream psychiatrists, has relevance to conventional medicine. It is widely practiced, has a long tradition of research, and offers one alternative to conventional medicine for disaffected patients. There are points of potential congruence between homeopathy and allopathy. Although data supporting efficacy of homeopathic treatments for mental disorders are limited to clinical reports and series, this situation obtains for many interventions used routinely in conventional practice as well. The allopath may do well to become familiar with such an alternative modality, and to apply scientific principles in assessing claims for its efficacy.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Daphna Slonim, M.D., Ward 52A, Psychiatry Department, UCLA-Sepulveda, VA Medical Center, 16111 Plummer Street, Sepulveda, California 91343.

Book Reviews

Names For Things: A Study of Human Learning
Book Author:

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, Number 3, Pages 411–418, ISSN 0271–0137

[Note: Early paragraph, no abstract available.] So far psychologists have failed to deal with what strikes me as the very real complexities of name learning. “The aspects that seem most neglected may be surprising when just listed: reference, meaning hierarchical relations among meanings, the grammatical category to which names belong (noun) and its subdivision, proper and common names.” (p. vii) To address these issues Macnamara approaches name learning by synthesizing ideas from philosophy, linguistics, and psychology with the records of Kieran Macnamara’s language development and with his (and others’) empirical testing of children’s language development. His use of this data helps give some unity to a work which, by its very nature, is broad in scope and unrefined in its theory. This is not, however, a fault; rather it is an asset. For while often too much material and too many ideas are being thrown at the reader, and while these ideas are frequently not tied one to another, they do present the reader with a rich vein of information from which to speculate. And it is from speculation that all great theories derive.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Michal R. Hughes, The Institute of Mind and Behavior, PO Box 522, Village Station, New York City, New York 10014.

Journey Through the Dark Woods
Book Author:

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, number 3, Pages 413–418 ISSN 0271–0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Good teachers of constant threats: to peace of mind, innocence, morality, good taste, proper behavior, religion, democracy, war efforts, “our way of life,” university budgets, administrators, bad teachers, authority. Especially authority. Good teachers are generally ignored, usually underpaid, often denied tenure, frequently denied promotion, occasionally vilified, now and then attacked outright, and too often driven out of education. To the discredit of American education, a number of great and original thinkers have been ousted from teaching posts – or denied appointments – because they were intellectual boat-rockers: Albert Einstein, Thorstein Veblen, Bertrand Russell, Ezra Pound, and Theodore Roethke, to name but a handful. Little wonder “the crisis in American education” is a prase always with us; no wonder so much big money is spent on paper: constant reports from perpetual commissions, studies upon studies. American education isin continual crisis. Administrators multiply; mediocrity is rewarded and encouraged; good teachers dwindle. Idiotic solutions to miseducation are not only taken seriously but applauded – Indiana’s governor recently proposed lengthening the school year for high school students, as if by extending the inmates’ sentences, as if by increasing the number of days of bored incarceration and angry rebellion, the inmates could be magically transformed into scholars; perhaps kisses will turn them into royalty. No, the crisis in American education won’t be solved quickly, because few politicians and few administrators (to say nothing of parents) care for a solution that threatens their equilibrium: simply tolerating good teachers, intellectual boat-rockers, and perhaps eventually rewarding them.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Steven E. Connelly, Ph.D., Department of English, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809.

Literacy and Social Development in the West: A Reader
Book Author:

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, number 3, Pages 419–427 ISSN 0271–0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] People nowadays seem irritated when the word “literacy” enters conversation. It feels as if you’ve stumbled over one of those unwieldy words, like sex or culture or power, that barely contain the incomplete historical conflicts they have been made to carry.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Tom Morris, Ph.D., Department of English, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Mental Images and Their Transformations
Book Authors:

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, number 3, Pages 429–430 ISSN 0271–0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Starting in the late 1960’s, studies of mental imagery and mental rotation of those images carried out by Roger Shepard and his colleagues have probably done more than anything else to make the study of such internal mental phenomena, once again, a respectable pursuit for psychologists One example of an elegant study conducted in this area comes from Cooper and Shepard (1973). Subjects were shown a single capital letter in block print. They had to decide whether the letter was in the normal orientation or reversed in mirror-image fashion. In addition to being normal or reversed, the stimulus could be presented tilted at various angles off the vertical. Reaction time for the normal vs. reversed decision was the dependent measure. The basic finding, since verified in other studies, was that as the stimulus was tilted more from the vertical, reaction time increased. Thus, for example, it took longer to respond to an “R” tilted 120 degrees from the vertical than to make the identical response to one tilted only 60 degrees from the vertical. In addition, when the tilt was greater than 180 degrees, reaction time decrease as the tilt approached 360 degrees. That is, reaction time was faster for an “R” tilted 300 degrees than one tilted 240 degrees.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Terence Hines, Ph.D., Psychology Department, Pace University, Pleasantville, New York 10570.

Dichotomies of Mind
Book Authors:

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Summer 1983, Volume 4, number 3, Pages 431–432 ISSN 0271–0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.]The basic thesis of this book is that there are “at least 16 types of people. Each type of personality has definite preferences for processing information: (p. 4). The model presented consists of 1 “capacities,” or basic building blocks, each of which “represents a larger cluster of cooperating brain cells that, when working together, carry out information-processing functions.” Examples of some “capacities” are “signal,” “sign,” “harmony,” and “logic.” As might be expected, with 16 “capacities” and the opportunity for various groupings of these capacities and interactions between capacities and groups thereof, the model quickly becomes quite complex. However, the complexity does little to hide one fundamental point: the model is an absurdity. The 16 capacities have apparently been made up almost totally out of whole cloth by the author, based on nothing other than subjective experience. No empirical evidence whatsoever is presented to argue for the reality of the individual capacities or, in fact, for any aspect of the model. Astonishingly, the author explicitly belittles the use of evidence to support his model: “I offer no validation of the correctness of the model. Correlation studies bore me and I leave those to others” (p.4).

Correspondance concerning this review should be addressed to Terence Hines, Ph.D., Psychology Department, Pace University, Pleasantville, New York 10570.

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