Behaviorism and Phenomenology

PealkiriBehaviorism and phenomenology : contrasting bases for modern psychology / Sigmund Koch, R. B. MacLeod, Norman Malcolm [et. al.] ; ed. by T. W. Wann
IlmunudChicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 1974 [© 1964 William Marsh Rice University]
ViideT. W. Wann (ed.) 1974. Behaviorism and phenomenology: contrasting bases for modern psychology. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.

Koch, Sigmund 1974. Psychology and Emerging Conceptions of Knowledge as Unitary. In: T. W. Wann (ed.), Behaviorism and phenomenology: contrasting bases for modern psychology. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 1-41
c) Peripheralism: Watson's program necessitated that he considered how phenomena traditionally classed as "mental" might be treated in objective S-R terms. Most of his positive systematic ideas are thus attempts to show that processes formerly conceived as determined primarily by the brain could be better understood if allocated mainly to receptors, effectors, and their most direct nerve connections. Best known in this connection are Watson's motor theories of imagery and thinking, and feeling and of emotion. Somewhat more elaborated peripheralistic hypotheses were put forward during the classical interval by such writers as Smith and Guthrie [who, already in 1921, presaged, in such notions as the "maintaining stimulus," "pre-current response," and "readiness," peripheral mechanisms very much like Hull's SD and rG; cf. Smith and Gurthie (59)]. (Koch 1974: 8)
Peripheralism is:
  • the explanation of psychological events emphasizing peripheral human functions, as those of skeletal muscles or the sex organs, rather than cognition or other processes of the central nervous system.
  • emphasis on sensory motor processes rather than cognitive or other central processes as determinants of behavior
  • something which is in opposition rather than apposition to centrality
  • the explanation of social events emphasizing peripheral human functions, such as acting through influence of multi-layered social interaction, rather than single stratum interactions
The first two definitions are dictionary-definitions and pertain to psychology. The third, most general, comes from a theologist, Dr. Ken Matto; and fourth from sociologist, John Girdwood. So it seems fairly likely that there are many kinds of peripheralisms and in semiotics it might come close to archaism (e.g. texts most far away in time and place are the most valuable). The psychological definition would come in handy if the semiosphere model is applied to a human body, sociological when to a group or situation. It is quite possible that through the hermeneutic circle, or some variety thereof, say the Uexküllian model, already contains seeds for peripheralism (organism and its environment are inseparable). P.S. On page 9, Sigmund Koch becomes the first writer for me who has actually used the word "celerity", as in "it [behaviorism] degenerated with comparable celerity into polemicism and inflated program-making".
MacLeod, R. B. 1974. Phenomenology: A Challenge to Experimental Psychology. In: T. W. Wann (ed.), Behaviorism and phenomenology: contrasting bases for modern psychology. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 47-73
The Germans make a convenient distinction between Erlebnis and Erfahrung. Erlebnis refers to present experience, that which is immediately there for the observer without reference to its origin; Erfahrung, to the accumulation of past Erlebnisse. (MacLeod 1974: 48)
This distinction is indeed convenient. It is used in an article on embodiment in film.
"Introspection" is Tichener's rendering of WUndt's Selbstbeobachtung, literally, "observation of one's self." This is obviously a misleading expression; when one observes a color one is not observing oneself, unless one expands the meaning of self to a point at which it ceases to be meaningful, as Berkeley did. (MacLeod 1974: 53)
Yet more notions to signify self-communication. I wonder if self-communication falls into the object- or meta-channel.
Staying within the realm of aesthetics, how many of us have taken a close look at the pehenomena of disgust? Certainly we can quantify rejection or avoidance behavior or specify the stimuli which evoke regurgitation. This gives us some crude information, but it does not tell us what it actually feels like to be disgusted. (MacLeod 1974: 57)
I think this might be my first acquaintance of the words "avoidance" and "behaviour" next to each other, aside from my own notes. This connection is a solid one, as avoidance can indeed be linked with disgust, and disgust is one of the prime emotions and actually studied in the field of nonverbal communication. Making associations... Perhaps avoidance behaviour should be studied in subjects who are somehow related to disgust? Perhaps interviewing in some sense ill people? I don't know yet.

Studies of personality and social behavior have contributed richly to our understanding of the uniqueness of the individual world. I shall pass these by reluctantly and dwell briefly on the problems connected with the medium itself, for here, I think, is where experimental psychology needs a little more challenging. We have perfect communication, hypothetically, when the phenomenal worlds of speaker and hearer are identical, including identical representations of the medium. This, of course, never happens. We can have adequate communication when the message has to do with relatively sequestered concerns. Thus two mathematicians of widely different temperament and background and little knowledge of each other's language can collaborate happily, because the language of mathematics if almost universal. You point to an article in a French shop and say "Comme bien?" "Cent francs," the shopkeeper answers. "C'est trop," you say, and leave the shop. Your limited French was quite adequate, and you saved one hundred francs; but you would not have dared to talk politics with the shopkeeper. When we appreciate the enormous difference between the world of the speaker and that of the hearer, and especially when we have have been reading Benjamin Lee Whorf, we are tempted to think that, except on the most superficial of levels, no adequate communication can ever be established, even when linguistic backgrounds are similar, much less when the cultures are widely different. Yet the fact is, and this is what keeps one from total despair, that in spite of all these differences we seem to succeed reasonably well. Why? (MacLeod 1974: 69)
Quoted at length because it is interesting on many levels, most important being the similarity with Y. Lotman's communication model, which mainly brings out this exact difference (between a perfect and adequate communication). The author proceeds to give a flimsy evolutionary account for a possible answer to the question raised at the end of this quote, but it remains unconvincing. The question is in this case more interesting than the answer.
Skinner, B. F. 1974. Behaviorism at Fifty. In: T. W. Wann (ed.), Behaviorism and phenomenology: contrasting bases for modern psychology. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 79-97.
The fact of privacy cannot, of course, be questioned. Each person is in special contact with a small part of the universe enclosed within his own skin. To take a non-controversial example, he is uniquely subject to certain kinds of proprioceptive and interoceptive stimulation. Though two people may in some sense be said to see the same light or hear the same sound, they cannot feel the same distention of a bile duct or the same bruised muscle. (Skinner 1974: 82)
Very true words. Charles Morris claimed that science can investigate this private sphere if it were simply able to prove that the signs pertaining to it do denote. In Skinners case, to make sure that "the scales read by the scientist" do signify something about the private events.
While otherwise not very illuminating article, it's discussion is lenghty and on the topic of metaphors, Sigmund Koch makes this remark:
"Ultimately, the individual, if he strives to establish verbal contact with his experience," will use the "relational properties" of language with "a considerable degree of precision" to "exhibit ... aspects of experience which are subtle, are elusive and which may, perhaps, never before have been mapped in the previous history of discrimination, in the previous history of language." He will be able to do this through "devices like metaphor, devices like what is implicit in Peirce's notion of the 'icon,' namely, a kind of relational map," in general, through the use of the relational properties of language. (Koch 1974: 107-108)
I have no idea how to cite this quote, though, because it's in the "paraphrase of discussion" section after Skinner's article. It does present a vivid language to intersect metaphors which re used to describe facial expressions, for example. Also, it is nice to see a psychologist who knows Peirce's semiotics already in 1963.
Rogers, Carl R. 1974. Toward a Science of the Person. In: T. W. Wann (ed.), Behaviorism and phenomenology: contrasting bases for modern psychology. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 109-133.
Experiencing refers to the ongoing feeling of having experience, "that partly unformed stream of feeling that we have at every moment." It is preconceptual, containing implicit meanings. It is something that is basically prior to symbolization or conceptualization. It may be known to the individual by direct reference - that is, one can attend inwardly to this flow of experiencing. Such direct reference is differentiation based upon a subjective pointing to, or attending to, the experiencing. The experiencing which is going on may be symbolized, and this symbolization may be based upon direct reference; or more complex symbolizations may develop out of it, such as those we term "conceptualization." Meaning is formed in the interaction between experiencing and symbols. Thus, as the individual refers to his experiencing the implicit meaning becomes symbolized into, "I am angry," or "I am in tune with what he is saying," or "I am uncomfortable with what is going on." Thus our personal meanings are formed in this interaction. Furthermore, any datum of experiencing - any aspect of it - can be symbolized further and further on the basis of continuing inward attention to it. Increasingly refined and differentiated meanings can be drawn by symbolization from any experiencing. Thus, in the last example, the individual who feels uncomfortable with what is going on may continue to refer to his experiencing and form further meanings from it. "I'm uncomfortable because I don't like to see another person hurt." "No, it is more than that. I resent his power, too." "Well, I guess another aspect of it is that I am afraid that he may hurt me." Thus a continuing stream of more and more refined meanings may come from a single moment of experiencing. (Rogers 1974: 126-127)
This is very reminiscent of the Peircean account of of sign-processes developing from Firstness to Thirdness. If crude parallels need to be drawn, then:
  • Firstness = "preconceptual, containing implicit meaning";
  • Secondness = "subjective pointing to, or attending to";
  • Thirdness = more complex symbolizations;
  • and Semiosis = the fact that "any datum of experiencing - any aspect of it - can be symbolized further and further on the basis of continuing inward attention to it".
It should be noted that this discussion spawns from E. T. Gendlin's 1962. Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, which is psychotherapy slash existential philosophy.
Scriven, Michael 1974. Views of Human Nature. In: T. W. Wann (ed.), Behaviorism and phenomenology: contrasting bases for modern psychology. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 163-183.
In no other subject are the historical arguments still current, and they are likely to remain current forever unless the upcoming student is made to realize that his brilliant insights about the indispensability of mental states, for example, fall short of originality by about fifty years. (Scriven 1974: 164)
  • Cohen, Laurence Jonathan 1962. The Diversity of Meaning. London: Meuthen. TÜR
  • Gendlin, E. T. 1962. Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning. New York: Macmillan; Glencoe: Free Press. GB


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