Re: Structural Determinism

Mancuso, James C. (
Mon, 28 Apr 1997 20:51:38 -0400

Jones, John WEN, et al

> From reading your post, much of your language sounds "representational."
> It is a representational view of language that has come into question with
> constructivism. Do the words we use accurately represent a "reality" out
> there, or do we use language to construct that reality? As a critical
> constructivist, I am not a representationalist, but I believe language helps
> us negotiate with a "world" and helps us describe our subjective experiences
> in such a way that we develop our self-construct that we use to describe our
> identity. However, that self-construct is always in process (read Guidano
> on the self in process). Gergen
> says is that questions about the "self" or "mind" are no longer fruitful

I will give a few comments.. rather brief..

First, why are we concerned about whether or not language represents
reality? Why do we continue to concern ourselves about reality? After
2500 years of talking about it (at least) we still have nothing to say
but yakety-yak.... As constructivists, we postulate, we CONSTRUCT
inputs. That's it. We "know" only our constructions.
Does that knowing involve internal representations? Well, INTERNAL
REPRESENTATION seems to make a good construction to handle whatever
inputs we seem to be processing. Yes, INTERNAL REPRESENTATION is a
useful construction.
Now, we need to make some constructions that frame the construction
Well, it seems that Guidano has reiterated a good point... INTERNAL
REPRESENTATION might best be construed as a process -- not a happening,
but a doing. It is not very useful to think of an internal
representation as something that pops out of the file cabinet --
Internal representations seem to very in infinite ways.
Take a look at the long chain of work which started with Wertheimer
[Yes, we do have forebears!!!!]. Look at all the people who worked
within the TRANSACTIONALIST school. Adelbert Ames was a first flight
genius. Look at Roger Shepard's long line of work. Look at Muzafer
Sherif's work. Classic stuff -- stuff that established some very sound
principles. These studies show very nicely how we might want to look at
the creation of internal representations --- NOT HOW WE REPRESENT

Is it useful to talk about SELF? Well, we do it all the time. That
suggests that we have built internal representations of SELF. How do we
do that? Do we have a little guy sitting in our cerebral cortex who
looks down at our liver, gall bladder, testicles, thighs, ankles, toes,
etc., and says -- "I am what I am. I am Achilles fleet of foot. I am
slow to anger, but persistent in my anger???" Or, do we continue to
talk about SELF as an internal representation -- and ANTICIPATORY

In short -- I'm not looking for a representation of REALITY. I'm
looking for a useful construction. Perhaps Gergen will some day offer
one, now that he has led the movement which has successfully called into
question every construction that ever was invented....
Quoting from my article in THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY, 1996 -- "Can the work
of social constuctionists provide texts other than those in which
'virtually no hypothesis, body of evidence, or logical edifice cannot be
dismantled, demolished, or derided with the implements at hand' [the
latter section, in single quotes, comes from Gergen, 1993, The limits of
psychological critque, in Stam, et. al. RECENT TRENDSD IN THEORETICAL
PSYCH, NY, Springer].

Have fun

James C. Mancuso Dept. of Psychology
15 Oakwood Place University at Albany
Delmar, NY 12054 1400 Washington Ave.
Tel: (518)439-4416 Albany, NY 12222
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