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1999 - Volume 20, Number 1, Winter

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Psychological Science: Embracing and Transcending Psychology’s Positivist Tradition 
Robert F. Bornstein, Fordham University

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, Pages 1–16 ISSN 0271-0137

Scientific psychology’s positivist roots have led researchers to strive for disinterested objectivity in all phases of the research process. However, scrutiny of a six-stage model of psychological science reveals that subjectivity is unavoidable during certain stages of this process, due to: (a) the ways that people process information and solve problems; and (b) the formal and informal safeguards against fraud and bias implemented by scientists. During some stages of the research process, subjectivity can actually foster knowledge acquisition and theory-building. Thus, it may be time to modify the assumptions underlying psychology’s empirical approach so that subjectivity in psychological science can be used productively, rather than being denigrated or denied.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert F. Bornstein, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Fordham University–Lincoln Center, 113 West 60th Street, New York, New York 10023.

A Rediscovery of Presence
Thomas Natsoulas, University of California, Davis
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, Pages 17–42 ISSN 0271-0137

When we see Wilfrid Sellars’s favorite object, an ice cube pink through and through, we see the very pinkness of it. Inner awareness of our visual experience finds the ice cube to be experientially present, not merely representationally present to our consciousness. Its pinkness and other properties are present not merely metaphorically, not merely in the sense that the experience represents or is an occurrent belief in the ice cube’s being there before us. Despite his behavioristic inclinations, Sellars acknowledges experiential presence and gives an account of it in terms of a perceptual experienceís having two intrinsic components, a sensation and a conceptual response to the sensation that ultimately refers to the sensation although it normally takes the sensation for the environmental item that produced it. Problems with Sellars’s account include the inadequacy of the causal and referential relations postulated between the two components of a perceptual experience, and the experimentally demonstrated fact (Michotte, Thinès and Crabbé, 1964/1991) that, although sensations may be necessary for perceptual experience, experiential presence of a particular environmental property does not always require corresponding sensations. If someone with Sellars’s extraordinary philosophical sophistication could not avoid rediscovering experiential presence, what chance do others have who travel the same theoretical path as he did.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616-8686. Email: tnatsoulas@ucdavis.edu

Goedel’s Theorem and Models of the Brain: Possible Hemispheric Basis for Kant’s Psychological Ideas
Uri Fidelman, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, Pages 43–56 ISSN 02710137

Penrose proved that a computational or formalizable theory of the brain’s cognitive functioning is impossible, but suggested that a physical non-computational and non-formalizable one may be viable. Arguments as to why Penrose’s program is unrealizable are presented. The main argument is that a non-formalizable theory should be verbal. However, verbal paradoxes based on Cantor’s diagonal processes show the impossibility of a consistent verbal theory of the brain comprising its arithmetical cognition. It is suggested that comprehensive theories of the human brain and of physical experience are Kantian rather than Platonic ideas. This suggestion is likewise based on arguments related to diagonal processes.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Uri Fidelman, Department of General Studies, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel.

Human Survival and the Self-Destruction Paradox: An Integrated Theoretical Model
Glenn D. Walters, Federal Correctional Institution, Schuylkill
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, Pages 57–78 ISSN 02710137

Borrowing from evolutionary biology, existentialism, developmental psychology, and social learning theory, an integrated model of human behavior is applied to several forms of self-destructive behavior, to include anorexia nervosa, suicide, substance abuse, and pathological gambling. It is argued that self-destructive behavior is a function of how the individual psychologically construes survival and copes with perceptions of isolation and separation from the environment. The paradox of self-destructive behavior in organisms motivated by self-preservation is resolved by taking note of the fact that self-destruction stems from people’s efforts to survive psychologically and resolve the subject–object duality, even when this places their physical well-being in jeopardy.

Requests for reprints should be addressed to Glenn D. Walters, Ph.D., Psychology Services, Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 700, Minersville, Pennsylvania 179540700.

William James and Gestalt Psychology
William Douglas Woody, Colorado State University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, Pages 79–92 ISSN 02710137

To date, there have been only two scholarly papers devoted to a comparison of Gestalt psychology with the psychology of William James. An early paper by Mary Whiton Calkins called attention to numerous similarities between these two schools of thought. However, a more recent paper by Mary Henle argues that the ideas of William James, as presented in The Principles of Psychology, are irrelevant to Gestalt psychology. In what follows, this claim is evaluated both in terms of The Principles and James’s larger vision as set forth in his mature philosophical works. Although there are important differences between James and the Gestalt psychologists, there are also striking similarities particularly when the two schools are examined in the light of James’s mature philosophical perspectives.

Requests for reprints should be sent to William Douglas Woody, Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523. Email: woody@lamar.colostate.edu

Book Review

Words from the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative
Book Author: Stuart Sovatsky. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1998
Reviewed by Seth Farber, Network Against Coercive Psychiatry
The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, Pages 93–102 ISSN 02710137

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] This is no ordinary book. Despite its modest title, and its unassuming scholarly exterior and format, this brilliant book is a wide-ranging but skillfully targeted attack both on the dominant model in psychology — which Dr. Sovatsky believes is primarily psychoanalytic — and on the Zeitgeist of modern Western civilization (with which the former is allied). Drawing from Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Foucault, Kierkegaard, Buddhism, Indian yoga and his twenty-five years experience as a psychotherapist, the author has written a ground breaking work. Unlike other critics of psychoanalysis (e.g., Masson, 1985) who have demonstrated that some of the empirical assumptions (or putative facts) upon which psychoanalysis is based are false, Sovatsky goes further and argues that its basic a priori philosophical orientation–faith-less, hope-less, retro-spective, methodologically suspicious — is itself at fault (see also Farber [1998]; as well as Webster [1995] from a secular position.) Furthermore, Sovatsky provides readers with a new paradigm for psychology based on a radically non-reductionistic vision of human possibility. (Of course from the perspective of the dominant paradigm this is unrealistic or, more pejoratively, “grandiose.”)

Requests for reprints should be sent to Seth Farber, Ph.D., 172 West 79th Street, Apt. 2E, New York, New York 10024.


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