Volume 25, Number 4, Autumn

The Emperor is Naked Again: Comments on Schlinger’s Assessment of Psychological Theory

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2004, Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 271–276, ISSN 0271–0137

Periodically in the history of psychology the state of the field is examined to determine its progress since the last assessment was made (e.g., Koch, 1993; Skinner 1977; Spence 1956). On occasion, the conclusion is drawn that progress is either minimal or non existent. Such a conclusion usually takes the form of questioning psychology’s success in developing theoretical statements, or indeed statements in any context, that successfully allow for consistent prediction of the phenomenon in question. Just such an assessment has recently been offered by Schlinger (2004) in this journal.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert E. Lana, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Weiss Hall, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122.

How Psychology Can Keep Its Promises: A Response to Lana

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2004, Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 277–286, ISSN 0271–0137 

In my article, “Why Psychology Hasn’t Kept Its Promises” (Schlinger, 2004), I argued that psychology hasn’t become the science its practitioners had hoped because psychologists continue to focus on mentalistic constructs and they adhere to a methodology that emphasizes statistical inference over experimental analysis. I concluded that in order to better keep their promise of a psychological science, psychologists should return to studying the relationship between observed behavior and its context with the type of experimental analysis that characterizes the other experimental sciences. In his reply, Lana (2004, this issue) suggests that there may be aspects of human social and verbal behavior that are so complex that we may not be able to carry out a solid experimental analysis, thus limiting what we can discover about our own nature. Lana concludes that the methodologies needed to understand these more complex social relationships are hermeneutic and historical rather than experimental in nature. I concur with Lana both that an experimental analysis of much of human behavior may not be possible and that psychologists must, therefore, rely on complementary descriptive, interpretive, and historical analyses. I argue, however, that the interpretive language and the historical hindsight must be based on a foundation of basic principles derived from the systematic experimental analysis of behavior. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to Henry D. Schlinger, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, California, 91330–8255. Email: hschling@csun.edu

A Logico-mathematic, Structural Methodology: Part III, Theoretical, Evidential, and Corroborative Bases of a New Cognitive Unconscious for Sub-literal (SubLit) Cognition and Language 

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2004, Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 287–322, ISSN 0271–0137

This second companion paper to a logico-mathematic, structural methodology (Haskell, 2003a) and its findings address theoretical issues underlying sub-literal (SubLit) phenomena. The concept of a “cognitive psycho-dynamics” is introduced. In addition, research on masked priming and automatic activation of “chronic goals and motives” schemata are presented as initial and partial explanatory theoretical bases. Corroborating findings from fMRI and other neurological research suggest that some of the cognitive operations are biologically based. A biological evolutionary framework is then presented to explain the origin and development of SubLit cognition and lexical referents. Implications are discussed throughout. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert E. Haskell, Ph.D., 470 3rd Street South, The Beacon, Unit 909, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. Email: haskellre@skywaymail.com Alt: rhaskell@une.edu

“To See Things Is To Perceive What They Afford”: James J. Gibson’s Concept of Affordance 

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2004, Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 323–348, ISSN 0271–0137 

Gibson distinguishes among the properties of environmental things their affordances, which he identifies in terms of that which a thing offers an animal for good or ill. In large part, this article considers his conception of environmental affordances and visually perceiving them, with special attention to the concept of affordance that he exercises in the presentation of his conception. Particular emphasis is placed here on (a) the distinction between the affordance properties of things themselves, and what it is that these things afford an animal, what they enable owing to those properties, and (b) the proposal that the affordances of environmental things are not experiential; they are not properties of the perceptual experiences produced in the process of perceiving them. This does not deny that experiences themselves too possess affordance properties — for example, they are such as to enable specific behaviors — but these affordances are not that which is perceived, according to Gibson, when engaged in the activity of straightforward perceiving. The stream of perceptual experience that is part and product of the latter activity is at all points outwardly directed, not directed upon itself.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, 635 SW Sandalwood Street, Corvallis, Oregon 97333. Email: tnatsoulas@ucdavis.edu

Naturalized Perception Without Information

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2004, Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 349–368, ISSN 0271–0137 

The outlines of a novel, fully naturalistic theory of perception are provided, that can explain perception of an object X by organism Z in terms of reflexive causality. On the reflexive view proposed, organism Z perceives object or property X just in case X causes Z to acquire causal dispositions reflexively directed back upon X itself. This broadly functionalist theory is potentially capable of explaining both perceptual representation and perceptual content in purely causal terms, making no use of informational concepts. However, such a reflexive, naturalistic causal theory must compete with well entrenched, supposedly equally naturalistic theories of perception that are based on some concept of information, so the paper also includes some basic logical, naturalistic and explanatory criticisms of such informational views. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to John Dilworth, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008. Email: dilworth@wmich.edu

Book Review

Dimensions of Apeiron: A Topological Phenomenology of Space, Time and Individuation
Book Author: 

The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Autumn 2004, Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 369–372, ISSN 0271–0137 

[Note: First paragraph, no abstract available.] In this challenging, integrative work, Steven Rosen explores the roots of the crisis of postmodernity: the widespread “fragmentation of human culture.” In doing so, he attempts to rethink space, time and individuality “from the ground up.” He asks us to turn around and withdraw the projections of Cartesian and Einsteinian space–time, so that we may embrace the “embodied fusion of subject and object that constitutes the paradox of apeiron” — of the limitless, the boundless, the indeterminate. Developing Martin Heidegger’s meditations on early Greek thinking, Rosen invites us to reverse our most basic assumptions. This involves questioning the peculiarly modern Western markers for the self–world relation: our subjective inclination to create meaning through quantification and measurement and our technologically driven possessive object orientation. In order to suspend the classical epistemological assumptions of “object-in-space-before-subject,” we must abandon our quest for self-contained “egoic unity,” what we might call our “idiocy” (Grk. idiotes, private, separate person). We need to learn — as Parmenides said at the dawn of philosophy — the untrembling heart of unconcealment. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to John R. Wikse, Ph.D., Department of Integrative Studies, Shimer College, Box 500, Waukegan, Illinois 60079. Email: jackw@shimer.edu