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Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology - Vol 34, Iss 2

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Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology The Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology is devoted to fostering discussion at the interface of psychology, philosophy, and metatheory. The Journal addresses ontological, epistemological, ethical, and critical issues in psychological theory and inquiry as well as the implications of psychological theory and inquiry for philosophical issues.
Copyright 2014 American Psychological Association
  • Psychology and the legacy of Newtonianism: Motivation, intentionality, and the ontological gap.
    This article will contend that contemporary psychology has frequently deployed a Newtonian approach to the conceptualization and explanation of human behavior that emphasizes a mechanistic worldview and efficient causal forms of explanation. This can be most clearly seen in psychology’s frequent reliance on the concept of motivation as a means of explaining the origins of behavior. The psychology of motivation, because it has been shaped by Newtonian thinking, cannot account for meaning and intentionality in human behavior. The article examines the three most common ways this problem is addressed and concludes that none of them successfully bridge the “ontological gap” between intelligence and mechanism. The article briefly argues for an approach in which human beings are understood not as objects impelled by efficient causal forces (i.e., motivation), but rather as moral agents genuinely capable of intentional action and meaningful social engagement. In sum, this article will examine the possibility of understanding human intentionality in terms of enticements and constraints rather than forces and motivations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • On our everyday being: Heidegger and attachment theory.
    Each of us acquires a sense of everyday being implicitly through our engagement with the social milieu. Understanding this being from the usual individualistic psychological perspective suggests it originates from a subjective, internal private world. This position, descended from Cartesian dualism, bifurcates human experience, rendering an isolated subject and a decontextualized external world. Martin Heidegger rejected this idea and contended that our sense of being springs from a more basic and primordial engagement with the social world as a meaningful totality of being-in-the-world. However, he did not explain how human beings develop this everyday being. Attachment theory, espoused by John Bowlby, positions human beings from birth with the innate ability to form close relationships with others, which serve critical roles in early development and throughout the life span. This article integrates Heidegger’s social ontology with Bowlby’s attachment theory to establish a nondualistic theoretical grounding for human relational development, and provides the beginnings of an existentially based developmental ontology of human being that fits within the current movement of post-Cartesian thought. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • More than awareness: Bernard Lonergan’s multi-faceted account of consciousness.
    I present an overview of Bernard Lonergan’s phenomenology-like account of human consciousness, which complements treatments in current consciousness studies and elucidates central psychological questions. Current treatments tend to build on a model of sensation; to be constrained by mechanistic computer simulations; and thereby, to overlook its distinctive characteristic and to focus on one aspect of consciousness, intentionality, that is awareness of objects and their qualia. According to Lonergan, human consciousness is bimodal, conscious as well as intentional; it carries a nonobjectified experience of self-consciousness (subjectivity) as well as an experience of awareness of any object. Granted this conscious access to the data of consciousness, a list of discernible characteristics of consciousness per se follows. Expressing itself variably as experience, understanding, judgment, and decision, human consciousness is structured on four interactive “levels”; it is dynamic, open-ended, self-constituting and malleable, ordered, self-regulating, and unifying; and on the basis of the epistemology that this structure and its processes entail, consciousness qualifies as a kind of reality in its own right, enjoying the same validity as other nonpalpable realities reasonably affirmed by contemporary science on the basis of relevant evidence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Can religion and psychology get along? Toward a pragmatic cultural psychology of religion that includes meaning and experience.
    My objective is to propose a psychology of religion that can address the meaning of religious experience. I discuss the psychology religion to show how it bypasses religious meaning and experience, resulting in limited pragmatic relevance to religious believers. I propose a pragmatic cultural psychology of religion that can address meaning and experience by drawing on pragmatism. Such an approach can account for meaning on the basis of how it emphasizes the shaping of psychology through cultural narratives and language, where meaning is constituted. I then show how such an approach can be enhanced if one recognizes how language and narratives are embodied and experiential. I conclude with a discussion of how tying the meaning of experience to sociolinguistic phenomena does not undermine religiosity, because the dynamic uncertainty that such an approach entails is concomitant with religiosity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Implicit virtue.
    Many hold that we can be morally assessed only for actions and psychological states that are under our control. Recently, however, some researchers have noted that some actions appear to be influenced in part by psychological states that are not explicit, but instead are implicit, unconscious states. These states, known as implicit associations, are states of which we are unaware and over which we do not exercise any direct control, although these states nonetheless seem to influence actions. But if actions are influenced by implicit associations that are not under our control, how can we rightly be said to exert control over these actions, enabling us to morally assess them? Individuals do not choose these associations, they are not aware of them, and so it would seem that they are not under their control. Many would conclude that individuals cannot be morally assessed for actions that are influenced by implicit associations. I argue, by contrast, that it is possible for individuals to hold themselves accountable for implicit associations. One moral tradition, virtue theory, holds that individuals can be morally assessed for states that are not fully under their control. Aristotle and some virtue theorists argue that individuals can be morally assessed for their emotions, states that are not under their immediate control. I argue that this argument can serve as a model for implicit associations; as a result, I argue that individuals can be morally assessed for actions that are influenced by implicit associations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • News and notes.
    This news and notes section for the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology provides past-president, Blaine Fowers' reflections on the 2013 APA Convention, Division 24 member information and meeting announcements for the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, the 26th Annual Convention for the Association for Psychological Science, and the 6th Annual Meeting of the Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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