Grinker Companion Notes

In effect this blog has three posts decidated to Roy R. Grinker (ed.) 1956. Toward a Unified theory of Human Behavior:Thanks to Recoll I can scan De Gruyter's publications in semiotics and recollect citations of this book in Jurgen Ruesch's Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations (1972), for example. I will begin with these and see where other search results take me.

Ruesch, Jurgen 1972[1961]. Psychosomatic Medicine and the Behavioral Sciences. In: Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.), Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations. The Hague; Paris: Mouton, 526-539.

One of the fundamental contributions that behavioral scientists have made to medicine, psychiatry, and all those disciplines that deal with interdisciplinary research is clarification of the role of the communication process in the collection and evaluation of data and in theory construction (Ruesch 1956b). Any scientific information is composed of at least two components. One component contains statements which attribute features to the naturally existing system; these items refer to boundaries, structure, function, reversible and irreversible changes, growth, and relationship to other systems of the same or different order. The other component contains statements which attribute features to the human observer and his way of reporting scientific information; these include data about the position of the observer, the time of his observation, the dimensions of the observed phenomena relative to the time and space scales of the observer, the instruments of observation, the scientist's purpose and motivation in making the observation, his selectivity and bias, and above all his scientific codification system and his way sof communication. (Ruesch 1972[1961]: 528)
These two components, then, are metascientific aspects; one dealing with the theory and what kind of statements can be made; and the other the scientific metalanguage and the means of making scientific statements.

Ruesch, Jurgen 1972[1969b]. A General Systems Theory Based on Human Communication. In: Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.), Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations. The Hague; Paris: Mouton, 450-465.

The creation of a new science occurs in four distinct phases:
  • Phase 1. The recognition of the existence of a new set of problems.
  • Phase 2. The collection of observations that lead to new generalizations.
  • Phase 3. The creation of separate organizations and institutions that facilitate the development of new methods and theories.
  • Phase 4. The integration of mature disciplines into fields concerned with similar problems, methods, and language.
The humanities entered Phase 4 at the time of the Renaissance, the physical sciences arrived at the same point at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the behavioral and social sciences will probably reach it some time in the future. Special theories are characteristic of Phases 1 and 2; unified theories emerge when several fields converge, as in Phase 4; and general systems theories come into their own when groups of sciences - for example, the physical sciences (Grinker 1956) - share their theoretical models and rules of evidence. (Ruesch 1972[1969b]: 450)
Systems theory thus came into its own with Grinker's compendium.
Rates of change - In the behavioral sciences the events that have a slow rate of change serve as frames of reference for the measurement or the observation of events with a faster rate of change. The terms slow and fast thus refer to changes relative to the time scales of the observer (Ruesch 1967; "Epilogue to the second edition"). Thus the next larger entity in terms of mass, space, and time scales is considered more stable than the next smaller one. The cell generally is thought to have a faster rate of change than the organ, the individual faster rate than society, and the planet a faster rate than the solar system (Ruesch 1968; "Psychoanalysis between two cultures"). (Ruesch 1972[1969b]: 453)
Moving upwards in the levels of abstractions yields slower rates of change. This has some implications for cultural semiotics, at least in its Jakobsonian interpretation (concerning permanent dynamic synchrony, in which case literary language presumably has a slower rate of change than everyday speech).

Ruesch, Jurgen 1972[1964]. Clinical Science and Communication Theory. In: Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.), Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations. The Hague; Paris: Mouton, 486-502.

But the very fact that communication theory does not deal with identified people or the idiosyncratic interpretation of words makes it admirably suitable as a general systems theory (Ruesch 1956b). In order to transcend the different scientific universes, biologists, physiologists and psychologists have followed the lead of the cyberneticists and have attempted to view people and animals as being made up of systems of reception, transmission, evaluation and storage. (Ruesch 1972[1964]: 491-492)
The argument seems valid. But then again it also divorces communication theory from empirical evidence - a major claim against Grinker (ed.) 1956.

Ruesch, Jurgen 1972[1968a]. Psychoanalysis between Two Cultures. In: Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.), Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations. The Hague; Paris: Mouton, 466-482.

The modern scientist knows that at any one moment he can assume but one position (Ruesch 1956a). Either he looks at a phenomenon from the outside, ignores the unique experiences of a given particle or person, and is objective, distant, and interested in mass effects; or he is on the inside, aware of the unique circumstances and experiences of the participants, and interested in the outcome of that particular situation of which he is a part. (Ruesch 1972[1968a]: 471)
This is a simpler explanation than I've seen anywhere else.
The third set of functions that have to be specified are those of the outside observer. Reports of the participant (inside observer) have to be supplemented by reports of teh uninvolved (outside observer). Statements about his position have to be complemented by information about his bias, description of the models he uses, and data about other features characterizing his position (Ruesch 1967). (Ruesch 1972[1968a]: 478)
All well and good but I'm becoming disappointed that he only uses his own work published in Grinker's edition.

Ruesch, Jurgen 1972[1953a]. Synopsis of the Theory of Human Communication. In: Sebeok, Thomas A. (ed.), Semiotic Approaches to Human Relations. The Hague; Paris: Mouton, 47-94.

The term approach (Ruesch 1949. Experiments in Psychotherapy: II. Individual Social Techniques) denotes actions which are designed to bring people closer to each other; they are characterized by display of friendliness and absence of threat. The word approach refers to a truly interpersonal process: it presupposes initiative on the part of one person and readiness to respond on the part of the other person.
Preservation of existing relationship is achieved through providing satisfaction of the other person's needs, threatening reprisals for eventual dissolution, or perhaps exaggerating the consequences of an eventual separation. Most existing verbs refer to a change of relationship. Cooperation is perhaps the only term which can be appropriately used to denote actions which keep things going and maintain relationships.
The term detachment refers to social situations and interpersonal relations in which a dissolution of an existing relationship becomes necessary. By this technique, a person may withdraw the inherent gratification in a situation and increase the frustration of others. The same purpose can be achieved by threat or by isolating oneself from others.
If approach, preservation, and detachment refer to the over-all effect which a person can achieve with a technique, there are also more specific terms which denote the way such a change has been brought about. (Ruesch 1972[1953a]: 65-66)
Wow. I did not exepect this. These are Jakobson's establishing, prolonging, and discontinuing communication.
Attracting (Ruesch & Prestwood 1950. Interaction Processes and Personal Codification), showing off, or displaying reflects all those actions which imply a signaling for attention. (Ruesch 1972[1953a]: 66)
And is this not Jakobson's phatic message serving "to attract the attention of the interlocutor or to confirm his continued attention"? God damn. Now I have to revisit those papers by Ruesch.

REFERENCE: Bertalanffy, Ludwig von 1969. General Systems Theory and Psychiatry: An Overview. In: Gray, William; Frederick J. Duhl andNicholas D. Rizzo (eds.), General Systems Theory and Psychiatry. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 33-50. Google Books. - I may have to read this piece as a complement to "An Outline of General System Theory" (Bertalanffy 1950), if not the whole book, since it also contains paper by Grinker, Ruesch, Scheflen, and Spiegel.

I thought this post would be longer, but I have to post it anyway because it contains key pieces of information for further research.


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