Inquiry into Inquiries: Essays in Social Theory

By Arthur F. Bentley; Sidney Ratner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Observable Behaviors

In a recent paper in the Psychological Review (23) in which he discussed types of constructional background for psychology, Professor Reiser cited with significant emphasis Eddington's remark that the electron by itself has no physical properties and that there would be nothing whatever to say about it if it were absolutely alone, not even that it was an electron. The electron does not renew on its smaller scale the status of the old atom-thing, but enters, we may say, as an ingredient of a new type, modifying the atom even to the extent of extirpating its ancient boundaries and manners of localization in Newtonian space. An electron not only requires a universe for its adequate description, but it proceeds to dissolve the very walls of its former homestead.

Now we know very well that psychology has had to struggle all through its scientific history with certain boundary-transcending characteristics of the phenomena it has under investigation; also that the spatial localizations it has assumed for these phenomena in the Newtonian scheme of things have remained dubious wherever anything more than vague generality of reference has been required. Man's seeings, desirings, knowings, purposes, and plannings leap toward objectives in defiance of Newtonian boundaries in space and time, and man acts thus "at a distance" in the sense that "connective"1 processes of Newtonian types cannot be precisely traced in research, however they may be indicated or believed to be collateral. This region of psychology's difficulty is labeled that of subject-object (S-O)2; it once aroused endless discussion

____________________
1
The word "connection" will be employed throughout this paper in the technical sense proposed by Dewey in his Logic (12, p. 55). It is there brought into system with the words "reference" and "relation." We may understand as follows:

Connection: any thing-to-thing event, whether its report is the outcome of physical, physiological, or behavioral research.

Reference: any word-to-thing event, such as naming.

Relation: any word-to-word event, such as symbolizing.

2
Understand the use of the abbreviation "S-O" in system with two companion abbreviations as follows:
From Psychological Review, Vol. XLVII, No. 3 ( May, 1940), pp. 230-53.
Parenthetical boldface figures refer to References at end of chapter.

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