Re: PCP course exercise

(no name) ((no email))
Mon, 30 Jan 1995 19:49:43 -0500 (EST)

Gavin, and other PCP network particpants:

Gavin writes:

> Surely, in using the verb 'to be', a distinction needs to made
> between internal and external states. E.g., what does "He is
> calm" mean? We can observe the external state, but only 'He'
> has any hope of observing the internal state.

Am I allowed to come down rather sharply on this comment? If it sounds
as if I am doing so, please excuse any intemperance!!!
This comment charges directly at the heart of a major issue that is
connected with the way that TO BE shapes our ontological assumptions. It
reflects precisely why I want to make a big point of all of this.

HE (the he in Gavin's sentence) cannot observe his "internal state,"
and then assert (or claim, or whatever) more legitimately than any other
that "he" IS calm. He CONSTRUES his self TO BE calm. He then might REPORT
that he IS calm.
He does not occupy a privileged position from which to observe and
then to conclude that he IS calm. He makes the claim that he IS calm, because
his training with our language and sign system leads him to give a formist
ontological status to CALM. In that language system CALM ISSSSS.
Could we develop a language system in which HE would say, "In this
context I CONSTRUE my self as feeling calm?" It sounds cumbersome in our
language, but this claim would fit more readily to a constructivist
epistemology, reflecting a contextualist ontology.

The social constructionists climb on their high horses about
"cognitivism," and "individualism." I claim that they don't have a case
against cognitivism and individualism if the overall theory of persons stands
on proactive constructivism in which one regards the self as a processing
system which "turns putative inputs into constructions." One would take the
"I" in the sentence "I am CALM," as the speaker's construction of his "actor
self" (Following Mancuso and Sarbin's distinction between AUTHOR SELF and
ACTOR SELF) -- we see his selves as his constructions, from his system of
personal constructs. I do not assume that he sees his self. He "sees" his
system of constructs in operation.
I do not assume that the person making the claim, "I am calm," anymore
than I, can see his calmness. I can, on the basis of inputs which my self
processes, CLAIM that one should construe him as calm. Likewise, he can
claim that he construes his self at the calm end of the AGITATED-CALM pole of
that bipolar construct; that what he takes to be his AUTHOR SELF thus construes
his ACTOR SELF): That is, "I (the construction which I take as the interior
observer, that is, my AUTHOR SELF) am calm (the construction my AUTHOR SELF
builds regarding my actor self in this context).

As noted in my first comments, I take this all as a very key matter
in this discussion of how our ontological assumptions are shaped by language.
I again make the claim that psychology took off on entirely the wrong track
when it set out to formalize propositions borrowed from the common language --
"He IS very aggressive." Of course, he IS very aggressive! Now let's
formalize that: How many units of aggressive makes him VERY aggressive. A
scale of aggression! Of course, aggressiveness, being a thing, must also
follow the rules of the Gaussian curve! What CAUSES this or that level of
aggressive?!! If it's a thing, and if it's in the body; then it must be
related to other things in the body! Surely, hormones???!! Genes!!!
The wonders of formist science!! We can eliminate agressive by a
castration!!! Maybe injections of estrogens??

Okay -- cut it. If I haven't made the point by now it won't be made by
more verbalizations.

Happy theory making....
Jim Mancuso