Sunday, May 10, 2009

14b Mary Calkins on the Self

The term "personalism" is relatively recent. Walt Whiteman (American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist) and Bronson Alcott (American teacher and writer) both used the term in the 1860s, early in the twentieth century it was adopted and applied more systematically.

In France Charles Renouvier , a French philosopher, wrote "Le Personnalisme" in 1903, in Germany, William Stern, a German psychologist and philosopher, developed critical personalism in "Person und Sache" ("Person and Object, 1903).

In the United States Mary Calkins began to use the term in 1907 in her book "The Persistent Problems of Philosophy" and Borden Parker Browne - In 1876 he became head of the department of philosophy at Boston University - adopted it the following year.

As you see, Mary Calkins was part of a philosophical development, which culminated in the first decennium of the twentieth century. It also answers the question of Anne Charles about a relation between this personalism, or the concept of the Self as used by Calkins and 'self-psychology'.

There is no relation. However it should be noted that it was Mary Calkins who used the term"self-psychlogy" for her psychological theories.

The 'self-psychology" of Heinz Kohut (1913 - 1981) is psycho-analytically based, so of a later date then the concept of the Self as used by Mary Calkins. For her it is a purely metaphysical concept. Hadn't her book of 1907 the subtitle "an introduction to Metaphysics"?

To understand the philosophy of Mary Calkins, which she directly applied to her psychological theories, we have to get the picture of the philosophical landscape of her days.

Allthough it has deeper historical roots, going back to Descartes, who introduced the primacy and indubitableness of personal experience and the idea of a mental substance, in Hegel (1831) the idea that all reality was Mind, absolute Idealisme, reached its summit.

The basic philosophical question here is: What is real, what is reality? In those days a main stream in philosophy answered this question with: the material world is not the ultimate reality, it is the world of our ideas that is the real reality.

Brace yourselves....! Absolute idealism is the view that reality is one absolute mind, spitit, or person. All finite beings (for example physical things or human beings), literally participate in this absolute being; they ARE ontologically by virtue of their being manifestations or activities of the absolute mind.

This way of thinking is close to the idea that all reality is in fact God. And that individuals are a part of God. You can imagine that this idealism was well accepted in theology.

What Mary Calkins does is, in line with this philosophical tradition, that she creates a link between the psychologically observed self and the ontological self of the metaphysician. Thus she gives the self as studied in psychology an ontological, a metaphysical justification.

Don't forget that in those days a philosophical discipline like Metaphysics still was serious business. Only with the rise of Logical Positivism and Analytical Philosophy around 1925 the ideas about such a thing as metaphysics seriously changed.

But also in her days Mary had her critics, like the psychology professor J.S. Moore, who said: "To speak of the self as anything more than a sum-total of phenomena is to leave the bounds of science and enter the realm of metaphysics."

The reply of Mary Calkins, as you can read in het autobiography: "It is easy to account for this criticism. In its wholly justified attempt to avoid entangling alliance with philosophy, modern psychology has quite correctly rid itself of the metaphysician's self -- the self often inferred to be free, responsible, and immoral

and has thereupon naïvely supposed that it has thus cut itself off from the self. But the self of psychology has no one of these inferred characters: it is the self, immediately experienced, directly realized, in recognition, in sympathy, in vanity, in assertiveness, and indeed in all experiencing.

The psychological concept of self forms, to be sure, the core of the metaphysical self-doctrine, but the two are not identical.For the self is, in the first instance, not an inferred reality but an observed fact. "

In other words, the self is not just some reasoned metaphysical concept, in psychology it is an observed fact. I think it is hard to defend this mix of metaphysics and empirical science nowadays.

At least, I dont know what to do with it, for I have sympathy for the criticism of J.S. Moore. But we are talking about Mary Calkins, not about me, so let's listen to how she sees things.

"The issue is clearly drawn. Personalistic psychologists, and in particular self-psychologists, deliberately argue for their doctrine on precisely the grounds upon which their critics reject it.

Impersonalistic psychologists deny, in the first place, and personalistic psychologists claim, that the self is directly observed. The impersonalist argues thus:

if the self were immediately experienced it would be universally experienced, whereas few psychologists, and few or no experimental psychologists, working under standard conditions, either affirm or admit the existence of a self."

And she goes on defending her views against criticism in a most classic way: "If, they repeat, the self is, as the personalists claim, immediately experienced, then it should be observed and reported by everybody and this notoriously is not the case.

To this, as self-psychologist, I make the following reply: It is, of course, impossible categorically to deny the outcome of anybody's introspection. I cannot accordingly directly dispute the statement of the psychologist who asserts that he never finds a self.

I can, however, convict him of naïve inconsistency in his emphatic assertion, I find no self. For who, I ask, is this I which denies that it observes an I?"

A real classic. Do you recall that discussion.....Do you believe in God? ....and you made the mistake saying ..No. God doesnt exist....... A gotcha.!!!!! can you say God doesnt exist? you MUST have knowledge of God...

Personalism in psychology was the idea that there was an observable object named the Self. The method to observe the self was introspection. These days we have our doubts about the validity of introspection as a source of unambiguous knowledge.

Time to move on....^_^

The Discussion

[13:27] herman Bergson: So much on mary Calkins
[13:27] hope63 Shepherd: explain introspection to me when you have finished
[13:28] Rodney Handrick: Isn't introspection the same as personal reflection?
[13:28] herman Bergson: In the early 19s introspection was an accepted method in psychology
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: as a psychologist was she trying to move psychology to the realm of philosophy?????
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: or vv?
[13:29] hope63 Shepherd: merci nin..
[13:29] herman Bergson: It was the method of making a subject report about his inner processes and experiences..
[13:29] herman Bergson: self reflection indeed, Rodney
[13:30] herman Bergson: Calkins wasnt moving psychology into the realm of philosophy....
[13:30] herman Bergson: in fact she was part of the philosophical developments of hetr time..
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: tun l'exprime avec tes constructions..
[13:31] herman Bergson: and from there she made a link between philosophy and psychology
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: yes i understood that
[13:31] Corona Anatine: but thre metaphysics of self in many ways is a hollow pursuit
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: but wondered from her words
[13:32] herman Bergson: in a way it seems to boil down to the fact that she used the general idealistic theory
[13:32] Corona Anatine: because what ever form external reality takes it is not changed by our thought
[13:32] herman Bergson: to kind of make the self an observable object in psychology
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes Corona, I agree that it is a road that leads to nowhere from present day perspective
[13:33] herman Bergson: But in those days the world was dominated by kantian and Heglian philosophy
[13:33] Corona Anatine: i see
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: but thought does change reality
[13:33] Corona Anatine: no it does not
[13:33] Corona Anatine: it can only change our view of it
[13:34] hope63 Shepherd: corona.. lol.. light a fire ..
[13:34] herman Bergson: Thought does change reality.....just a statement thrown in...
[13:34] herman Bergson: you only can say that when you first explain your ideas about what reality is, Aristotle
[13:35] hope63 Shepherd: thoughts are sometimes transferred into acts.. and they change things.. and before we talk about reality lol
[13:35] Samuel Okelly: i suspose the most we can say is that we have no way of knowing if thought changes relity?
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: we are wher we are in cilivilzation because fo thought
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: of
[13:35] Rodney Handrick: agreed Ari
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Samuel..the only thing we know is that we have diferent experiences...
[13:35] Corona Anatine: agreed
[13:36] Corona Anatine: that that does not change
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: my words ari.. but its civilization.. bbut someone who argues with reality should answer what reality is fiorst..
[13:36] herman Bergson: Aristotle...we were discussing your concept of you come with a new one..civilization....???
[13:36] Anne Charles: In a world where scientists have created a device that allows the thought of a human to move a computer cursor, we can say that thought changes reality
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: and enviironment
[13:37] herman Bergson: Yes Anne....the realist ontology..:-)
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: who in the 19th cecntury could have imagine the techinological world we live in today....but human thought since then has changed civilazation
[13:37] hope63 Shepherd: reality reality.. what is it? reminds me when everyone was talking about mind and the brain is the object..
[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: hybris
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: who in the 19th cecntury could have imagine the technological world we live in today....but human thought since then has changed civilization
[13:38] Ninjah Valeeva: So many fast things
[13:39] herman Bergson: In relation to Mary Calkins the most important thing is that she accepted that the self was some real experienced object that could be subject of study
[[13:40] herman Bergson: The essential philosophical issue here at stake is the concept of the self..
[13:40] herman Bergson: Today we dont talk about the self
[13:40] hope63 Shepherd: big mixup in the discussion.. why not keep the term reality out of it..
[13:40] Laila Schuman: didn't both freud and jung approach concern the fact that the "self" could be an object of study
[13:40] herman Bergson: the discussion is about personal identilty
[13:41] Corona Anatine: but the edges of debate indicate that the concept of self in closely linked to the concept of reality
[13:41] Corona Anatine: because the self is that which is capable of self awarness
[13:42] herman Bergson: the problem is that psychology needs an object of observation and study...and in Mary's days they believed there was a self, that suited that role
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: Introspection is an accounting process, analyzing what empicrial data you have collected which must reveal to the self what reality is
[13:42] herman Bergson: Introspection is a process of interpretation....
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: interpretating what?
[13:43] Corona Anatine: interpretaing the sensory input
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: ahhh
[13:43] herman Bergson: INterpeting your inner experiences and converting them into verbal expressions
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: indeed , our version of truth
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: within all the limits of language and your capacity to experienxce.
[13:44] Samuel Okelly: in its insistence on emprical evidence doesnt the scientific method expose its own ineffectiveness and limitations?
[13:44] herman Bergson: as Laila already remarked..the self as object of psychology is highly questionable these days
[13:44] AristotleVon Doobie: intorspection requires verbal expression?
[13:44] herman Bergson: In what way Samuel?
[13:45] herman Bergson: As such the mind itself has its limitations..
[13:45] Samuel Okelly: in so much as it will always be denied that which authenticates our human experience
[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: ?
[13:46] herman Bergson: go on Samuel..
[13:46] Corona Anatine: ok what in your opinion authenicates human experience
[13:46] Samuel Okelly: the self , the mind is how we formulate our experience however science , whilst unable to deny it, is never able to access it
[13:47] Corona Anatine: since when has science denied the existence of mind ?
[13:47] herman Bergson: you mean because science is mind itself?
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: omy goodness
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: getting more complicated
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: i give up...
[13:48] Samuel Okelly: in an epistemological sense, our understanding of "reality" is important here
[13:48] Samuel Okelly: the self equally so
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes....and in this situation there is a realist approach and an idealist approach
[13:48] Corona Anatine: but science can only ever be the application of mind in an interpretation of external reality
[13:49] Samuel Okelly: yet the two present themselves almost as magnetic opposites
[13:49] herman Bergson: the realist postulates an external world
[13:49] hope63 Shepherd: whats mind corona..
[13:49] herman Bergson: the idealist ignores the existence of an external world and calls all that the mind produces reality
[13:49] Corona Anatine: mind is the absence of mindless
[13:50] Hello: Ze Novikov donated L$50. Thank you very much for supporting us, it is much appreciated!
[13:50] herman Bergson: in fact the Kantian idea of the Ding An Sich/The Object As Such...which never canbe known
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: linterieur est une expression de l'exterieur..
[13:50] Hello: Gemma Cleanslate donated L$50. Thank you very much for supporting us, it is much appreciated!
[13:51] herman Bergson: never mind Corona..^_^
[13:51] herman Bergson: ok....
[13:52] Corona Anatine: one might with equal result ask where is the corner of a circle
[13:52] herman Bergson: Let's conclude our discussion with an epistemological observation
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: ok
[13:52] herman Bergson: there are two ways to look at reality philosophically....
[13:53] Corona Anatine: ok
[13:53] herman Bergson: the one way is to postulate an external reality as the cause of our experiences..
[13:53] herman Bergson: the other way is to leave that issue open
[13:53] herman Bergson: and put all emphazise on the sensory experiences, calling them the true reality
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: can we move on if we leave it open
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: or be stuck
[13:54] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma...I think we better move on..:-)
[13:54] Rodney Handrick: I prefer the latter
[13:54] Corona Anatine: the point is surely that while the external reality is outside us we are not outside the external reality
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: i would say there were 2 ways to look at reality --and they influendced the philosopheers_:the earth is flat-ptolemee-- the earth is round kopernicus..
[13:54] herman Bergson: yes..Corona....good shot...
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: my self is the most important thing in the world, it is the center of the universe, the holder of my understanind of reality
[13:55] hope63 Shepherd: both concepts are based on observations..
[13:55] herman Bergson smiles
[13:55] herman Bergson: Good thing to see it still is Aristotle...:-)
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: :)) yes
[13:55] Corona Anatine: but
[13:55] Rodney Handrick: HA HA HA HA HA
[13:55] Corona Anatine: all our knowledge of 'reality'
[13:55] hope63 Shepherd: ari.. you got the point of the discussion..
[13:55] Corona Anatine: is based upon obseravtion
[13:55] Corona Anatine: however
[13:56] Corona Anatine: this does not mean there is no external reality independent of us
[13:56] Corona Anatine: we cant reach it perhaps
[1[13:56] Corona Anatine: but it is
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: I agree with that Corona
[13:57] herman Bergson: Well...for the time being let's be realistic and conclude our discussion before reality overtakes us...^_^
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: I sorry..
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: time to go i think I'm Sorry!
[13:57] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:57] Qwark Allen: me to
[13:57] herman Bergson: there she goes...bye Gemma..
[13:57] Qwark Allen: ty herman
[13:57] hope63 Shepherd: as long as we can't reach it.. what should we deduct? like because we denie god we admit god exists?
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you , Professor
[13:57] herman Bergson: Reality hits hard..:-)
[13:57] Qwark Allen: interesting as always
[13:57] CONNIE Eichel: me too... event time... :)
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: thank you
[13:57] Rodney Handrick: Bye Qwark & Gemma
[13:57] Qwark Allen: we have a lack of knowledge to understand it
[13:57] Rodney Handrick: Bye Connie
[13:57] CONNIE Eichel: was a pleasure :)
[13:57] Corona Anatine: ( i have had this debate several times - as it is one of the leading edges of archaeology)
[13:57] CONNIE Eichel: bye rod
[13:57] CONNIE Eichel: bye all :)
[13:58] herman Bergson: I thank you all for your participation....stay realistic..:-)
[13:58] hope63 Shepherd: funny.. sl is the only place where i thought one would question reality a bit more..
[13:58] herman Bergson: Class dismissed..:-)
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: get real ! hahaha
[13:58] Corona Anatine: ty Herman
[13:58] herman Bergson: but feel free to continue your debate
[13:58] Corona Anatine: as you said - fairly tough
[13:58] Samuel Okelly: thank you herman!

Posted by herman_bergson on 2009-01-23 07:54:54

No comments:

Post a Comment