Structural Determinism

Jones, John WEN (
Thu, 24 Apr 1997 8:53 -0600

Hi Tim,

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner on your post concerning SD. I agree
with your critique of SD. Maybe it comes across like radical behaviorism
because of the determinism, even though the mechanism of how we are
determined is changed from the outside to the inside.

I also like your connection of structural coupling (SC) with the sociality
corollary. That makes sense to me because Maturana, Varela, and Becvar use
biological SC as a basis for human coupling in terms of language. I almost
want to say they use biological SC analogically, but Maturana and Varela may
see it as more than an analogy. Like you, I don't see how we avoid some
type of solipsism with SD. I think Gergen would agree with you, but as a
social constructionist he puts everything in terms of relationships and

I don't know whether I still have one foot in modernism and the other in
postmodernism, but the claim "everything is language" or "everything is
relationship" is hard for me to grasp right now. I really like the
narrative psychology that stems from the postmodern critique, and I agree
that modernist psychology has tended to reify "pathologies" as something
"real" instead of constructs. I guess right now it's hard to give up my
Kantian view of representation, so I guess that's why I'm still in the
critical constructivist camp. However, Gergen's "Realities and
Relationships" makes some compelling arguments, particularly concerning
phenomenolgy's failure to find an "essence" of mind or self. If for Kelly,
self is a construct, then how we language that construct, and the context
(contextualism) in which we language that construct seems to be important.
But I don't know if I'm ready to make the leap that "all is language,"
anymore than I'm ready to make the leap with Maturana and Varela that "all
is CNS." I don't know. These are just some meanderings I'm dealing with.
Any ideas?!!