9781412808385

The Observation of Human Systems: Lessons from the History of Anti-reductionistic Empirical Psychology

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781412808385

  • ISBN10:

    1412808383

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-01-15
  • Publisher: Routledge
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Summary

Contemporary mainstream psychology has moved toward methodological specificity bounded by instrumental experimentalism. However, this institutional reduction of sanctioned methods has not been fully embraced by all social scientists, nor even by all experimental psychologists. The social sciences are rife with examples of practicing empirical scientists disaffected with the reductionism and atomism of traditional experimentalism. The empirical theory and practice of four of these disaffected social scientists--Lev Vygotsky, James Baldwin, James Gibson, and Kurt Lewin--is explored in this volume. Each of the scientists considered here argued for a rigorously empirical method while still maintaining a clear anti-reductionist stance. They justified their disaffection with the dominant psychological paradigms of their respective eras in terms of a fidelity to their phenomena of study, a fidelity they believed would be compromised by radical reductionism and ontological atomism. The authors in this collection explore the theory and practice of these eminent researchers and from it find inspiration for contemporary social science. The primary argument running through these analyses is that the social sciences should take seriously the notion of holistic empirical investigation. This means, among other things, re-establishing the indissoluble ties between theory, method and procedure and resisting the manualization of research procedures. It also means developing theories of relations and not simply of elemental properties. Such theories would concern particular units, fields, or systems of relations and not be reduced to, or interpreted in the terms of, other systems. Finally, a holistic social science requires integration of the active agent into theory, method, and procedure, an integration that points toward both participatory and emancipatory methods.

Table of Contents

The Problems of Reductionism in the Social Sciencesp. 1
Sociocultural Paradigmp. 9
Creating the Future: Vygotsky as an Experimenterp. 29
Baldwin's Quest: A Universal Logic of Developmentp. 45
Ecological Psychology's Struggle to Study Perception at the Appropriate Level of Analysis: Examining the Past, Guessing the Futurep. 83
Kurt Lewin's Contribution to the Methodology of Psychology: From Past to Future Skipping the Presentp. 101
A Unified Topological Approach to Umwelts and Life Spaces Part II: Constructing Life Spaces from an Umweltp. 117
Anti-Reductionistic Empiricism in Contemporary Psychological Researchp. 141
Considering the Foundations for a Holistic Empirical Psychologyp. 167
List of Contributorsp. 177
Indexp. 181
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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