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1987 - Volume 8, Number 2, Spring: Teleology and Cognitive Science (Special Issue) by Joseph F. Rychlak (Editor), Loyola University of Chicago


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 179–184 ISSN 0271-0137

A series of articles is introduced which question the prevailing assumption that cognitive psychology has introduced a new paradigm for the study of human behavior. The proposition is forwarded that only a teleological psychology, grounded in empirical studies of the dialectical processes of cognition, can legitimately make such a claim. This argument is furthered by the ensuing articles and examples of experimental studies of dialectical cognitive functioning.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 185–194 ISSN 0271-0137

The association of ideas as interpreted by Greek philosophy is contrasted with the interpretation advanced by British philosophy. Thanks to their acceptance of dialectical as well as demonstrative modes of thought, the Greeks found it possible to account for agency. Thought in Graecian philosophy is not under the unidirectional thrusts of past associations. British philosophy dropped dialectical cognitive processing from consideration, and consequently lost an opportunity to describe human agency. It is shown how modern psychological theories based on artificial intelligence fall short of a proper teleological accounting of cognition. An alternative teleological formation of learning and behavior is mentioned and some research findings in its support are cited.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 195–208 ISSN 0271-0137

Metacognitive functions are those mental abilities that are considered beyond or “meta” to conventional conceptions of cognitive abilities. As defined here, metacognition would include consciousness funtions, such as self-awareness and knowing about knowing, and executive functions, such as self-regulation and control processes. These functions are crucial to the cognitive movement in psychology because they provide the means by which cognition can be a source of influence apart from the passive storage and retrieval of environmental influences. Current explanations of metacognitive functions are examined and found inadequate. It is contended that these explanations all assume a demonstrative form of human reasoning that is insufficient, in principle, to account for metacognitive functions. Alternate assumptions that emphasize dialectical reasoning are preferred as a possible means of accounting for metacognitive phenomena.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 209–222 ISSN 0271-0137

The cognitive movement which has risen to preeminence in psychology has been interpreted in two contradictory ways: as a significant break from mechanism and behaviorism, and as the most sophisticated brand of the same. This paper examines the philosophical assumptions upon which the cognitive psychology rests and argues that it differs from behaviorism chiefly in its vocabulary and its willingness to deal with complex human phenomena. The cognitive approach is not capable of giving an adequate account of meaningful human action because of its grounding in meaningless mechanism. The fundamental starting point of cognitive theory eschews genuine agency and possibility while meaningful human action requires them.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 223–244 ISSN 0271-0137

 Within the context of research on impression formation, questions are rised in the present article concerning the adequacy of theoretical conceptions of cognitive prototypes as syntheses (e.g. mental averages) of previously experienced displays of specified attributes or characteristics of persons. An alternative perspective is offered, according to which cognitive prototypes are regarded as dialectically generated negations of present displays of specified attributes or characteristics. Empirical support for this alternative view is presented, and in the light thereof it is argued that there is a need for a decidedly more humanistic conception of human cognition than can be found in currently prevailing mediational accounts.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 245–248 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] For anyone who is interested in the theoretical aspects of psychology this group papers is of the highest importance. The dominance of behaviorism has ended; cognitive research is seen by many as a corrective for all of behaviorism’s deficiencies. Are we now on the high road to progress, in a position to generate theories that will account for the full complexity of human nature? Into this chorus of complacency the participants in this symposium have introduced some disturbing notes. They are convinced that we need a more drastic change in the direction of our efforts than the shift from mechanistic behaviorism to cognitive science involves. Indeed they contended that cognitive research is as mechanistic in its basic assumptions as behaviorism is. It does not constitute a humanistic alternative.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 249–254 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] In offering a casual explanation of events it is appropriate to take into account not only the kind of thing involved, but what stands in an extensive casual net are the most important. By making intentional ascription simply a placeholder for things that are beyond awareness (e.g. scripts and excitation patterns), the current orthodoxy in cognitive psychology has apparently made the meshes in its net so big that the human element has managed to slip unceremoniously through. No longer is the person the cause of what comes to pass, rather s/he is the product of mediational structures with problem solving strategies and goal-states of their own.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 255–260 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] I applaud the effort behind this symposium. I agree that teleology is, and has long been, a hidden, but important — even crucial — problem for psychology. I also agree with the spirit of the symposium that the cognitive psychology, or at least the information processing version of cognitive psychology, is not significantly different from behaviorism on this, as on many issues. However, I believe that the symposiasts have oversimplified the problem of purpose  of psychology by misrepresenting their historical opponents, resulting in a severely constricted vision of how purpose fits, or does not fit, into the scientific scheme of things. I have organized my remarks under three headings: misrepresentations of British philosophical psychology, misrepresentations of behaviorism and cognitive psychology, and failure to grasp the logical problem of explaining purpose. Along the way, I try to offer alternatives to the treatments of purpose and meaning offered in the symposium.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 261–268 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] The authors of this series of articles argue that cognitive psychology is not really a new paradigm but merely a disguised version if behaviorism. In large part, I agree with them on this point. A good recent example of the interchangeability of cognitive and behavioristic explanations is Rachlin, Rague, Gibbon, and Frankel’s (1986) treatment of choice behavior. One, incidentally, comes away from their article with the impression that the cognitive “disguise” really sets back rather than furthers our understanding. The cognitive interpretation is easier to understand on subjective level, but it is less precise and does not account for as much as the behavioristic explanation. An intuitive sense of understanding is substituted for a more rigorous and scientific understanding. However, cognitive psychology is not simply behaviorism with mind stuck in between stimulus and response. Unfortunately, most cognitive psychologists forget to include in their theories a few “details” — e.g., motivation, incentive — that the behaviorists had covertly inserted between stimulus and response.   It could just as well be argued that at least some types of cognitive psychology are partial reinstatements of the Wundtian or structuralist paradigm (Blumenthal, 1975). In this view, cognitive psychology has recovered much of the historical subject matter of psychology. Unfortunately, again, most cognitive psychologists forget to include phenomena — e.g., affect, intention — that the structuralists knew to be important.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 269–280 ISSN 0271-0137

To take an example, if so-called cognitive approaches are mistaken — and they are — the experimental analyst of behavior should be sufficiently well equipped to know (i) what such approaches entail, (ii) why they have been so influencial in recent years, (iii) what are the scientific problems they address, (iv) why they are mistaken, and (v) how the experimental analysis of behavior can better address those questions (EAHB Programs, 1983, p. 4, emphasis added).


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 281–290 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] When I was asked to write a comment on this group of papers, I mentioned it to a colleague, and described the papers. He replied, “It sounds interesting, but the trick is not to be too constrained by the papers. In his advice he offered me a guide, a heuristic; but it was a negative one. He did not suggest anything that I could do, should do, or must do; only what I should not do. It was up to me to accept or reject the warning, and if I accepted it, it was up to me to decide what would be an appropriate alternative to being “too constrained by the papers.” In turn, I found his advice “interesting,” I did accept it, and I spent some time casting about for an alternative which would contrast with being “too constrained by the papers.” I entertained several, rejected several, ultimately selected one, and proceeded to act for the sake of the goal. Subsequently, as the project developed, I changed the goal for the sake of which I was acting, not once, but twice.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 291–316 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] The articles by Tageson, Rychlak, Slife, Williams, and Lamiell and Durbeck in this special issue on teleological approaches to cognitive psychology make an important contribution. They raise questions about current affairs to study human cognition that cannot be ignored. I agree with the contributors’ challenge of contemporary cognitive psychology, but I support their criticisms on the basis of a very different perspective from the one that guides their critique. In what fallows, I will present this alternative point of view and discuss its implications. These implications include a critical view of contemporary cognitive psychology that shares much in common with the one offered by the contributors, but the perspective I will present also leads to a challenge of the key aspects of the teleological approach.  It involves a different way of conceptualizing purpose and agency as well as a picture of the nature of knowing that departs from how cognition is conceptualized in both cognitive psychology and the teleological approach. The differences between my positions and the teleological approach reflect a basic shift of focus. Whereas the teleological approach directs attention to a cognitive dialectic within the subject, the focus of the alternative perspective I will map out is on the dialog between the person and the social world.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 317–324 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] The papers in the symposium presented in this issue concentrated on questions of agency, meaning, and judgment from what we have offered as a general “telic” perspective. The responses to the papers were thoughtful and varied, ranging from a contention that we have not departed far enough from cognitive psychology, to a contention that we have gone too far, creating a straw man. The responses do afford opportunity to clarify, and illustrate the case we have attempted to make against the “cognitive tradition.”


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 325–332 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] The replies to our original symposium papers are thoughtful and scholarly, but also diverse and complex. I empathize with most readers as they attempt to draw conclusions from this abstract and intricate discussion. It is with this in mind that I wish to cast off the “chaff” of our discussion — much of it my own — and examine more carefully what I see as the remaining “grains” of special importance.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 333–338 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Among the authors of the commentaries on the symposium, Professor Leahey did not refer at all to the Lamiell and Durbeck papers, while the remarks by Professors Martindale, Tyler, and Westcott were all relatively positive. Professor Chaplin and Westerman, on the other hand, have been rather more critical. Accordingly, and in consideration of the space constrains imposed on the symposiasts’ rejoinders, I will restrict myself in this article to the papers by Chaplin and Westerman.


The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 339–350 ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] I would like to thank the panel of commentators. They have greatly enriched the presentation of our topic, and to do complete justice to their viewpoints would demand another symposium. In the interests of space I will confine my reactions to the questions of just what we mean what we refer to a mediational theory of behavior, particularly since this point is central to the teleologist’s case — at least, to “this” teleologist’s case. I will begin with some of the philosophical issues raised, and then focus more specifically on the current practices of cognitive science.

Book Reviews

Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving
Book Authors: William H. Masters, Spring E. Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1986
Reviewed by William L. Benzon, Troy, New York
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 351–356, ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving is clearly intended to be a general guidebook on sexuality and love relationships. As such it merits consideration from two points of view. On the one hand, it does provide an impressive range of information , including discussions on sexual anatomy. physiology, dysfunction, and technique, infant and childhood sexuality, gender roles, sexual fantasies, love, intimacy and communication (including advice on how better to communicate), paraphilias, sexually transmitted diseases (including, of course, AIDS), and more. On the other hand, this rich compendium of information and advice is organized accordingly to a paradigm which excludes consideration of important aspects of sexual and emotional experience and which therefore bears examination, not the least because this book has behind it the authority which comes from the very considerable reputation of Masters and Johnson.

The Dream: 4,000 Years of Theory and Practice
Book Authors: Nancy Parsifal-Charles. West Cornwall, Connecticut: Locus Hill Press, 2 vols., 1986
Reviewed by Matthew C. Brennan, Indiana State University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 357–358, ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Unlike most reference-works — however useful and well-prepared — The Dream by Nancy Parsival-Charles never makes for tedious reading; in fact, the 700-plus entries of this “Critical, and Encyclopedic Bibliography” are so fascinating that most readers will wish even the longest reviews — generally less than three pages — were longer. The stated purpose of The Dream is ambitious: to present the first “single comprehensive volume on the body of knowledge relating to the many approaches to dreams and dream interpretation.” But Parsifal-Charles goes far in filling the void she identifies, admirably using her academic background in comparative literature to consolidate the isolated disciplines that study dreams. However, because The Dream intends to interest both lay and professional readers, it is unfortunate that she failed to append a glossary of significant terms. Still, she does sometimes defines key terms — such as “oneric” and “dream incubation” — and the subject index lists both dream dictionaries and dream handbooks. Because she organizes her material alphabetically, another flaw is the lack of cross-referencing; nevertheless, as Parsifal-Charles intends, the thorough, careful, and imaginative subject index truly “serves as the key to this bibliography,” and achieves much the same effect as cross-referencing. In no way, then, these minor shortcomings undermine the impressive scope of this insightful, freshly written work, which ranges from literary and critical works to theoretical and practical studies to up-to-date scientific research.  

A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis
Book Authors: Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter and Fred Plaut. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986
Reviewed by Victor H. Jones, Indiana State University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1987, Vol. 8, No. 2, Pages 359–363, ISSN 0271-0137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] Recognizing that each discipline takes on its own characteristic jargon and that such jargon may reduce access to the meaning behind the words, Samuels, Shorter, and Plaut offer a critical handbook of Jungian terms to people in the help professions, students preparing to enter such professioons, and people with a more general interest in Jung. Basically, the three authors bring together, summarize, and translate into their own words some 180 terms that are otherwise dispersed throughout the works of Jung and the works of those who have responded to his efforts. The authors hope that “by explaining the meaning imprisoned in the jargon, the terminology will take on life.”


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