The Self and Others: Positioning Individuals and Groups in Personal, Political, and Cultural Contexts

The Self and Others: Positioning Individuals and Groups in Personal, Political, and Cultural Contexts

The Self and Others: Positioning Individuals and Groups in Personal, Political, and Cultural Contexts

The Self and Others: Positioning Individuals and Groups in Personal, Political, and Cultural Contexts

Synopsis

Leading scholars present the newest developments in the field of positioning theory.

Excerpt

Rom Harré and Fathali Moghaddam

THE EMERGENCE OF TWO PSYCHOLOGIES

From its beginnings in the middle of the nineteenth century, modern psychology has been characterized by competition between two main rival visions of the discipline: psychology as a causal science versus psychology as a normative science (Harré, 2002; Moghaddam, 2002). This is first clearly articulated in the scholarship of Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920), best known as the father of experimental psychology. Students of psychology are typically instructed in their introductory courses that Wundt was the first person to establish a psychology laboratory, and that he trained hundreds of students who went on to assure the dominance of the experimental method in modern psychology. Like all reconstructions of the past, this one is shaped by the particular biases of those writing history at present.

Wundt was one of a number of researchers, including Wlliam James (18421910), who developed experimental laboratory methods to study psychological phenomena in the late nineteenth century. It is true that Wundt produced a monumental amount of research using the laboratory method (James produced very little by comparison, preferring to invest his time in theoretical writing), but a neglected aspect of Wundt's story is his decades of effort to produce a ten-volume treatise on Volkerpsychologie, translated as "folk" or "cultural" psychology. This was not a marginal aspect of Wundt's psychology, but a central feature of the new science as envisaged by him.

In traditional reconstructions of the past, it is neglected that Wundt actually put forward two fundamentally different types of psychology: a laboratorybased experimental science, and a field-based cultural science. Wundt, the fa-

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