Emergent Human Nature, a Symbolic Field Interpretation

Emergent Human Nature, a Symbolic Field Interpretation

Emergent Human Nature, a Symbolic Field Interpretation

Emergent Human Nature, a Symbolic Field Interpretation

Excerpt

Among the great traditions that have directed man's thinking about himself, two have been particularly significant in the West; one is associated with Aristotle, the other with Galileo. The Aristotelian tradition holds that the behavior of all things is determined by their nature. The Galilean tradition holds that the behavior of all things is determined by the conditions under which it occurs. This book is a social psychology in the Galilean tradition.

Our contention is that the conditions under which human behavior occurs are primarily meanings, for the most part common meanings. In sense we may think of this book as a logic of symbolic interaction. Until recently the main trend in the sciences of human behavior has followed the Aristotelian tradition with the result that students of behavior have sought to discover and measure all sorts of segmental behaviors, attributes, or traits which were assumed to "exist" regardless of conditions. The methodologies and research techniques by which such knowledge has been gained have been ingenious and admirably suited to quantification and precise measurement. But as precision increased, research techniques seemed to be increasingly applied to less significant and segmental "elements"; the person began to recede from view, and we were left in possession of beautifully precise data on relatively isolated bits of behavior. John Doe was lost in a welter of attributes, and interpersonal relations were lost in the race to collect entities presumed to be "characteristic" of people or of something called "human nature."

Some twenty years ago signs of a new trend began to appear, and it is our belief that this book is a product of that trend. The new trend showed increasing emphasis on social interaction, on analysis of dynamic processes, as against the more static attributes or entities. Human behavior was coming to be interpreted as . . .

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