QUOTES II

Quotations about
OBJECTIVE and ESSENTIALIST
versus
SUBJECTIVE and RELATIVIST EPISTEMOLOGIES
in the study of personality.
- And especially about the classical distinction of
'NOMOTHETIC'
versus

'IDIOGRAPHIC'
approaches to personality.

CLASSICALLY, THERE ARE TWO BROAD APPROACHES TO PERSONALITY. THE 'NOMOTHETIC' APPROACH STRESSES THE POSSIBILITY OF MEASUREMENT, WHEREAS THE 'IDIOGRAPHIC' APPROACH STRESSES AN INDIVIDUAL'S HISTORICAL UNIQUENESS. IN RECENT YEARS, THIS TENSION HAS BEEN SUBSUMED BY THE STILL WIDER ARGUMENT AS TO WHETHER SCIENCE AND OBJECTIVITY ABOUT PEOPLE ARE POSSIBLE OR WHETHER THERE IS NO TRUTH BUT AN EVOLVING LANGUAGE GAME.


Some critics of the psychology of personality grant that people do indeed possess their own passably enduring 'personalities'. They concede that behaviour and experience are not simply short-term products of externally imposed 'situations' (see Quotes I). Yet they are unwilling to see personality as substantially a product of natural forces, the operation of which can be quantified and expressed in scientific laws.
Can personality be studied at all usefully by the methods of science? Can we achieve objective knowledge of personality? Do psychological phenomena have a 'reality' that allows of the usual type of scientific study? Can personality be 'quantified', 'measured' and 'explained' (by reference to scientific 'laws'), and 'treated' by interventions affecting 'basic mechanisms and processes', as nomothetic theorists envisage? Or can it only be appreciated and understood in the case of each sentient person as the unique, moment-to-moment culmination of complex developmental interactions and discourses that tend erratically yet subtly, via perspectives and meta-perspectives (many of these embedded inextricably in culture and language), towards individual self-actualization, recognition of the potency of patriarchy, and rejection of struggle against oppressive tradition, as idiographic theorists prefer to insist?
Idiographic theorists once enjoyed something of a monopoly of the endeavours of 'personality theory', 'personology' and 'psychotherapy'. By contrast, nomothetic theorists contented themselves classically with the study of 'psychometrics', 'differential psychology' and 'individual differences'. The idiographic ascendancy in personality theory was especially marked during the period in which psychology as a whole was dominated by behaviourism (1935-1965))-for personality theory at that time provided a refuge for psychologists who were unwilling to devote their life's work to the study of the rat. However, in the last 30 years psychology as a whole has become more idiographic-not uncommonly purporting to scorn measurement as antiquated, simplistic and elitist, and increasingly leaving the more 'scientific' aspects of psychology to non-psychologist specialists within the broad fields of 'cognitive science' and 'the behavioural and brain sciences'. Today, developmental psychologists decline to provide standardized measures of intellectual development (of 'mental age' assessed in a Piagetian manner); and social psychologists decline to use rating scales, questionnaires or virtually any gadget other than a tape-recorder. Consequently, the classic nomothetic-idiographic debate now ranges across the entire face of psychology; or, to put it another way, this classic debate among students of personality is itself subsumed by a wider debate about the value of science and the possibility of objective knowledge.
Classically, the nomothetic-idiographic argument is couched in terms of whether psychology is a 'natural' or a 'social' science. (The 'social science' option is usually held to cover the possibility of a subject hardly being a science at all.) The 'natural versus social' distinction is an unhappy one for the biosocial science of psychology: for several of psychology's central constructs have both aspects. For example, 'needs' and 'motivations' are often both 'natural' and 'social'-just as 'personality' can obviously be approached both nomothetically and idiographically. A person's 'heterosexual vs homosexual orientation' is, to a substantial degree, objectively measurable and hard to change (even when change is desired); yet that orientation involves countless feelings, anxieties, expectations, prejudices, meta-perspectives and imaginings of 'the self as seen by others', not to mention the highly individual and non-recurring thrills and spills of the sexual/romantic chase itself.
In the end, the nomothetic-idiographic distinction boils down to the natural scientist's interest in detecting and indexing the operation of hidden, underlying, causes 'as opposed to' the social scientist's concern to show the reasons for human actions. My weight today is doubtless a product of what I have eaten lately and of my constitutional metabolism; yet it will also have been affected by my past ideas and reasoning-e.g. to the effect that I was overweight and needed to slim. Similarly, my thoughts today reflect both my conscious life-game-plan and physical intrusions such as my actual weight. The mind-brain-body system that is a person moves through time propelled by more-or-less sophisticated calculations, experienced passions, brute physical forces and more-or-less independently arising opportunities. The social scientist takes it that understanding of much human (social) action will be in terms of considerations that will quite often be broadly familiar to the actors themselves ('my social class', 'your incest taboo', 'his demand for labour'). By contrast, the natural scientist would hope to explain my current 'social class' (etc.) (in adulthood) in terms of my IQ, dopamine uptake, objectively assessed sexual attractiveness, lateralization of brain function, obsessionality, cortical arousal, creativity, etc. A complete psychology must embrace both types of influence-as also any demonstrable influences of people's unconscious ideas and biases. Clearly, people's reasons for actions are patterns of argument that cannot be 'measured': here what matters is people's own appreciation (or 'perception', or calculation) of their overall situation (rather than the influence on them of powerful forces of which they may be largely unaware). Similarly there are some aspects of computer programmes that we cannot sensibly talk of 'measuring': programmes may admittedly vary interestingly in their length, complexity and modifiability, but such objectively measurable parameters will get us only a little of the way forward to telling us, and explaining (in comparison with other programmes) what they actually do. Faced with this distinction, between what is calculable and what is itself a calculation, the psychologist must clearly be prepared to operate on both sides of the fence from time to time-and the psychoanalyst must tunnel beneath it. People's differing levels of 'sexual attractiveness' provide at once a 'natural' variable eliciting different amounts of immediate (even tangible....) interest from opposite-sex conspecifics, and a 'social' variable which people may know and use in reasoning how attractive or affluent a partner they could manage to retain for long in sexual competition. A person's success in engineering may be attributable partly to a 'naturally' good level of spatio-mechanical ability, and partly to the comparative, 'social' information that she is indeed thought by significant others to be specially suited to the job. - It may also be partly attributable to how her forgotten (or repressed) childhood romance with her father was resolved.
Idiographic theories aspire to be more 'humanistic' and 'experiential'; while nomothetic / natural-science approaches involve explanations that avoid invoking consciousness and everyday thought-processes. Yet many idiographic and nomothetic theorists, in their own ways, have assumed-generally, if unobtrusively-that human personality and personality differences could somehow be studied separately from the major variable of human intelligence. For the idiographer, intelligence is probably ruled out of consideration because it is too alarmingly 'measurable'; on the other hand, for many nomothetes, it is just another, quite independent dimension of human variation that is no more connected with 'personality' than is, say, handedness or visual acuity. (Intelligence is sometimes said to be 'in another realm' from personality proper since it is seldom a major dimension in self-report data and requires specialized measurement using mental ability puzzles.)
The neglect of intelligence by nomothetic personality theorists is particularly strange. It could be that-already loaded with the heavy burdens of 'scientism' and a degree of unfashionable 'hereditarianism' about personality and psychopathology-many nomothetes prefer to avoid the ideological trouble that would come from taking IQ on board as well. Yet it is peculiar to neglect a scientifically promising dimension like intelligence when long-running efforts to 'reduce' personality features like extraversion to underlying differences in "cortical arousal" (and to how arousal is sustained, lowered, directed or modulated) have not so far proved notably successful. At present, in fact, intelligence looks far more likely than any other dimension (of human psychological variation) to exemplify the advantages of pressing on with the nomothetic approach. The study of psychometric intelligence-searching for bases in simple information-processing functions and for origins in genetic differences (see Quotes IX - XI)-provides both a clear model of what nomothetic approaches might deliver, and a considerable set of claims as to the influence of even just this one variable on many diverse aspects of personality, attitudes and life-style. Nomothetic approaches to personality typically aim to reduce surface phenomena to underlying differences between people in perceptuo-cognitive 'styles', 'strategies' and 'abilities'; and most mental abilities involve general intelligence (g) to some extent (see Quotes VIII). Thus it probably needs to be considered that individual differences in g supply one important way of explaining many differences in personality. (In particular, higher levels of g (accompanied usually by greater knowledge and understanding) probably allow some degree of escape from the stern trade-off function in human psychology that requires people to make choices repeatedly between NARROW and BROAD attention and between SPEED and ACCURACY of performance (see Quotes III).)

(i) Introduction: Is objectivity possible
(or even desirable) in psychology?


"The backward status of the moral sciences can only be remedied by applying to them the methods of physical science, duly extended and generalized."
John Stuart MILL.

"There is little of the grand style about these new prism, pendulum and chronograph philosophers. They mean business, not chivalry.... the experimental method has quite changed the face of science so far as the latter is a record of mere work done."
William JAMES, 1890,
Principles of Psychology. New York : Dover, 1950.

"It is high time that, in psychiatry, serious and conscientious experimental investigations should replace clever speculation and philosophical invention. We cannot advance as long as we have to rely on theories which cannot be verified or disproved."
Emil KRAEPELIN, c. 1900.








"Charles II....took a keen interest in science. He once summoned the fellows of the newly-constituted Royal Society and asked them to explain why a dead fish weighed more than one alive. The assembled scientists offered several ingenious and plausible theories. Charles II then pointed out that it did not. The scientists were not amused, but the King was in stitches."
Alasdair PALMER, 1994, The Spectator, 26 iii.

"The phenomenological epoché (bracketing off, of judgement and response) eliminates as worldly facts from my field of judgement both the reality of the objective world in general, and the sciences of the world. Consequently there exists no 'I', and there are no psychic actors, that is psychic phenomena in the psychological sense. To myself I do not exist as a human being."
E.HUSSERL, 1929, The Paris Lectures.

"The whole of Japan is a pure invention of its artists. There is no such country; there are no such people."
Oscar WILDE, quoted by R.Ellman,
Oscar Wilde. London : Hamish Hamilton.

"....every time that a social phenomenon is directly explained by a psychological phenomenon, we may be sure that the explanation is false."
E. DURKHEIM, 1895, The Rules of Sociological Method.
Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1962.

"The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw enormous advances in the natural sciences, both in the sheer expansion of knowledge and in the development of rigorous, mathematics-based scientific methodologies. For the newly emerging "soft" science of psychology, psychometrics offered a route to the acclaim and dignity accorded to the so-called "hard" sciences of astronomy, physics and chemistry."
Muriel D. LEZAK, 1988,
Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology 10.

"Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks; but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house."
J.H.POINCARÉ, 1902.

"Glorification of the natural is part of the ideology which protects an unnatural society in its struggle against liberation."
Herbert MARCUSE.

"It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness."
Eugene WIGNER, 1967, Symmetries and Reflections.
Bloomington : Indiana University Press.

"The hypocrisy of objectivity, of apoliticism, of the innocence of study, is much more flagrant in the social sciences than elsewhere, and must be exposed."
Four revolutionary French sociologists of 1968.
Quoted by A. Cockburn & R.Blackburn, 1969,
Student Power: Problems, Diagnosis, Action.

"There is no such thing as truth.... When a paradigm changes, reality changes."
Thomas KUHN.

"We see nature through society, not despite it."
David BLOOR.

"Unlike physics, chemistry or biology, psychology-physiological psychology apart-has not acquired a common fund of more or less established facts and theories. Disagreements in psychology are so numerous and deep that, outside of a given subgroup of psychologists, everything of importance seems to be in dispute."
B-A.SCHARFSTEIN, 1980, The Philosophers. Oxford : Blackwell.

"....mind is no sort of entity, but a system of beliefs structured by a cluster of grammatical models."
Rom HARRE, 1983, Personal Being.

"....the realities of society and of social life are most often products of linguistic
use.... language not only transmits, it creates or constitutes knowledge of 'reality'."
J.BRUNER, 1986, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds.
Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press.

"....really there's no such thing as 'reality' or 'nature', it's not just sitting there, we make it out of words-ideas-concepts."
'Mantias', a character in Iris Murdoch's (1986) Acastos.
London : Chatto & Windus.

"[From the present perspective] what are taken to be psychological principles are derivative from the ongoing process of negotiation and conflict among persons. Thus, understanding community is prior to and establishes the grounds from which psychological construals are achieved. The mechanistically oriented, individual-centred, law- producing investments of the discipline [of psychology] would thus give way to a communitarian perspective."
Kenneth J. GERGEN, 1987, in K.Yardley & T.Honess, Self and
Identity: Psychosocial Perspectives
. Chichester : Wiley DePublisher.

"The constructionist perspective questions taken-for-granted ['essentialist'] concepts such as 'homosexuality', 'sexual orientation', [and] 'gender'; all are constituted by social practice. Historians have traced the invention of 'the homosexual' as a discreet type of person to the early sexologists of the min-nineteenth century, prior to when same-gender activity had no particular implications for identity."
Celia KITZINGER, 1988, The Psychologist 1.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a student who is interested in people should not read for a psychology degree.... It is not that the 'average' researcher is inhuman, uncommunicative or malevolent, just that our brief [in psychology] is Science, and Science is Objective and Value Free."
Jeanette GARWOOD, 1988, Psychology News 2.

"Post-modernism maintains that everything is fiction. Post-modernists say that there is no such thing as reality, only versions of reality. History is fiction, science is fiction, psychology is fiction."
Colin GREENLAND, 1989, Sunday Times (Books), 10 ix.

"Shakespeare's Antonio, in The Tempest, says that the idea of "conscience" is meaningless to him, since, unlike a chilblain, he cannot feel it: "I feel not / This deity in my bosom"....It is often assumed today, especially by post-structuralists, that the mind does not exist as a creative agency; that there is instead a tabula rasa which reflects in miniature the linguistic and social assumptions current in the individual's environment."
Meg Harris WILLIAMS, 1990, Encounter 74, v.

"It is no exaggeration to say that relativism is the prevailing ideology of our schools and colleges at the present time."
Brenda ALMOND, 1990, Philosophy 65.

"I don't accept the view....that there are a lot of pre-cultural and purely objective, but very unpleasant facts about the human condition, which are non-narrative and just the same for every human being. On the contrary, sickness, old age, suffering, death, transience and futility are construed in very different ways in different religions and philosophies....We can make old age venerable or pitiful. We can make death either the crown of life and the achievement of the highest social status, or we can make it an outrage. The choice is ours."
D.CUPITT (theologian), 1990, Creation out of Nothing.
London : Student Christian Movement Press.

"If....contemporary particle physics is correct about the quark model, then quarks are intrinsically impossible to isolate, and, therefore, intrinsically impossible to measure in any 'direct' sense. This model has nevertheless been tested rather severely, and so far works rather well. ....The fallacy that legitimate scientific concepts must be measurable dis-legitimates genuine theoretical thought. The genuine empirical constraint is that theories must ultimately be empirically testable, not that their individual concepts are measurable."
M.H.BICKHARD, 1992, 'Misconceptions of science
in contemporary psychology.' Theory & Psychology 2.

"By the 1990s there were 'postmodern' philosophers, social scientists, anthropologists, historians [and literary critics]. In fact 'postmodern' fashions, pioneered under various names ('deconstruction', 'post-structuralism' etc.) among the French-speaking intelligentsia, [caught on]. All 'postmodernisms' had in common an essential scepticism about the existence of an objective reality, and/or the possibility of arriving at an agreed understanding of it by rational means. All tended to a radical relativism. All, therefore, challenged the essence of a world that rested on the opposite assumptions, namely the world transformed by science and the technology based upon it, and the ideology of progress which reflected it."
Eric HOBSBAWM, 1994, Age of Extremes: the Short
Twentieth Century, 1914-1991
. London : Michael Joseph.

"[Concerning Psychology (D.Howitt, 1991)] shows that structuralism , constructionism and post-modernism have undermined traditional positivist and scientistic modes of research and practice of psychologists, especially social psychologists. The world-view engendered by the founding fathers of experimental psychology has tended to isolate it from other social sciences. The psychology being taught and practised largely appears to be unaware of important advances in European thought . If psychology still aims to distance itself from vague unmanageable concepts in favour of laboratory based exact and measurable procedures, staying aloof from the messy issues of the real world, it must at least be mindful of the 'new physics' which makes such a stance outdated. Danah Zohar's (The Quantum Self, Bloomsbury, London, 1990) thesis that consciousness is a 'Bose-Einstein condensate' (I do not claim to understand all of it) and her explanation of the mind/body dilemma in terms of the wave/particle duality of quantum theory cannot fail to 'raise the consciousness' of all psychologists."
Migel JAYASINGHE, 1994, Behaviour Research & Therapy 32.

"That science "works" in its chosen domain is not in dispute [from sociologists of science], but its claim to uncover the "truth" about "reality" can be seen to be unjustified simply from a study of scientific method.... [Science] restricts its theorising to experiences that are in principle repeatable by anyone at any time, and thereby eliminates the vast majority of human experience from its field of study. It insists that its theories be regarded as eternal.... "Simplicity" or Occam's razor is the criterion it applies when a choice has to be made between rival theories, as if it were self-evident that the "truth" must be "simple".
John J. SPARKES, 1994, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 7 x.

"The New Yorker's book critic, James Woolcott [describes] "the blithe disregard of truth" in postmodern thinking. In the postmodern, posteverything worldview, there is no objectivity or truth. Everything is relative. Nothing is better than anything else. Knowledge is politically constructed, an extension of power. As written by Western scholars, history is not a record of what happened. It is a political white-male story that must be replaced by other stories."
John LEO, 1995, US News & World Report, 7 viii.

"....fallibilists deny that there is such a thing as absolute truth, which explains why maths cannot attain it. For example, 1 + 1 = 2 is not absolutely true, although it is true under the normal interpretation of arithmetic. However, in the system of Boolean algebra or Base 2 modular arithmetic, 1 + 1 = 1 and 1 + 1 = 0 are true respectively. Thus truths in Mathematics are never absolute, but must always be understood as relative to a background system....Mathematics consists of language games with deeply entrenched rules and patterns. ....As the eighteenth-century philosopher Giovanni Battista Vico [1668-1744] said, the only truths we can know for certain are those we have invented ourselves. Mathematics is surely the greatest of such inventions."
P.ERNEST, 1996, Times Higher, 6 ix.








"I have tried, too, in my time, to be a philosopher, but cheerfulness was always breaking in."
Oliver Edwards, to Doctor Johnson.

"Even when I have moved away from observation, I have carefully avoided any contact with philosophy proper. This avoidance has been greatly facilitated by constitutional incapacity."
FREUD.

"One cannot fathom that a society could develop to a higher level without the participation of individuals who think and judge in an independent way, just as it is inconceivable to imagine the development of an individual without the nurturance of his society."
A.EINSTEIN, quoted by R.R.Rogers in J.Offerman-Zuckerberg,
Politics and Psychology. New York : Plenum.

One thing I have learned in a very long life: all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike-yet it is the most precious thing we have."
Albert EINSTEIN. (Quoted by J.Durant & C.Van den Brul, New
Statesman & Society
, 20 xi 1992.)

"[When the philosopher] having no other training than a perfect knowledge of philosophical authors and that afforded by his personal meditation, undertakes to prescribe norms to a scientific discipline, one cannot but fear some abuse of privilege."
J.PIAGET, 1965, Insights and Illusions of Philosophy.
Cambridge University Press, 1972.

"Existentialism elevates chronic anxiety into the realm of metaphysics. Fear, misery, nausea-it declares-are not an individual's fault, they are inherent in human nature, they are an intrinsic predestined part of the "human condition". Action is the sole alleviation possible to man. What action? Any action! You do not know how to act? Don't be chicken, courage consists in acting without knowledge! You do not know what goals to choose? There are no standards of choice. Virtue consists in choosing a goal by whim and sticking to it ("committing yourself") to the grim death. It sounds unreasonable? Reason is man's enemy-your guts, muscles and blood know best!....
What [we in America] need is a philosophical revolution-a rebellion against the Kantian tradition-in the name of the first of our Founding Fathers, Aristotle. This means a re-assertion of the supremacy of reason, with its consequences: individualism, freedom, progress, civilisation."
Ayn RAND, 1971, The New Left. New York : Signet.

"Within the framework of a socially constructed personality, personality traits take on the form of categories applied to patterns of behaviour with agreed social significance. Traits therefore do not reside exclusively in the eye of the beholder nor in the personality of the perceived, since traits are constructed by the beholder in the process of observing the perceived."
Sarah E. HAMPSON, 1984, in M.Cook, Issues in Person Perception.

"Of the natural sciences, it is now clear that psychology is closer to the biological sciences than it is to the physical sciences. I would argue, therefore, that progress would have been more rapid had our forefathers taken biology rather than physics as the natural science on which to model itself. Note, for example, the advanced state of present-day neuropsychology and behavior genetics."
J.R.ROYCE, 1987, New Ideas in Psychology 5.

"Nowadays, it takes self-confidence to speak up for objectivity without fear of playing the fogey...."
R.A.GORDON, 1988, Academic Questions 1.

"The beginnings of construction in memory are provided by the nested structure of reality itself."
U.NEISSER, 1988, in D.C.Rubin, Autobiographical Memory.

"[In Konrad Lorenz, 1988, The Waning of Humaneness] the old thinking- which Lorenz now calls "evolutionary epistemology"-has been extended and deepened. It is now more coherent and philosophically rooted than it was [in On Aggression]. We human beings are viewed as products of nature, the potential and limitations of the human mind arising from our animal background. Its potentials include joy and wonder and creativity; its limitations are a poverty of comprehension of large-scale society and a willingness to follow demagogues and those offering false hopes."
Vernon REYNOLDS, 1988, Nature 334, 28 vii.

"It is possible to argue....that atheists and utilitarians, in their efforts to decide
what to do or what to be, have too little to fall back on in the way of securely grounded personal values or other stable guides to choice. They lack what Rawls refers to as "antecedent moral structure". Their doctrines prohibit them (so, at least, the arguments go) from thinking of themselves as having fixed volitional limits. In both cases, an excess of freedom gives rise to a diminution, or even to a dissolution, of the reality of the self."
Harry G FRANKFURT, 1988, Philosophical Essays.
Cambridge University Press.

""We aren't essences, Vic. We aren't unique individual essences existing prior to language. There is only language."
"What about this?" he says, sliding his hand between her legs."
'Robyn Penrose' (deconstructionist) and 'Vic Willcox'
(managing director of a small Midlands firm) in David
Lodge's Nice Work. London : Secker & Warburg, 1988.

"In the ideology of empiricism the world is regarded as flat, uniform, unstructured and undifferentiated: it consists essentially of atomistic events or states of affairs which are constantly conjoined, so occurring in closed systems. Such events and their constant conjunctions are known by asocial, atomistic individuals who passively sense (or apprehend) these given facts and register their constant conjunction.... Facts usurp the place of things, conjunctions that of causal laws, and automata those of people, as reality is defined in terms of the cosmic contingency of human sense-experience (as conceived by empiricism).... What is the social meaning or role of the constant conjunction form [of analysis]? It conceals the reality of structures irreducible to events, and more particularly of social structures [irreducible] to human actions and of societies [irreducible] to individuals. In this way it cuts the ground from under the possibility of the social sciences, and so of any route to human emancipation."
Roy BHASKAR, 1989, Reclaiming Reality. London : Verso.

"....Rorty, in emphasizing the socially negotiated character of scientific interpretations, passes over the fact that justifications within science are grounded (via appeals to experiment, formal proof, established theory, and so on) in an account, of course contestable and open-ended, of how the world is. Science would have no point if it were all made up."
W.OUTHWAITE, 1989, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 15 ix.
(Reviewing R.Bhaskar, Reclaiming Reality, Verso.)

"The critical role of empirical knowledge in policy formulation, from the scientist's standpoint, is based on faith in the existence of an objective reality and the belief that knowledge of its nature is potentially more beneficial to human welfare than is ignorance."
A.R.JENSEN, 1989,
'Understanding g in terms of information processing'.

"If as Raymond Williams claimed....there can be no separation between mind and culture-if all mind, that is, is the creature of the culture that makes it- then is [no objection to faith in individual mind] to say that it can offer no rational explanation of itself. Such an explanation would itself be subject to the very limitation it was claiming to transcend. There is no point outside rationality from which rationality can be justified, and there does not need to be."
George WATSON, 1990, Encounter 74, i/ii.

"....inquiry into human nature can inform us, at least some of the time, about ends. It is not by chance that the two arguably most brilliant natural philosophers of classical Greece-Democritus and Aristotle-also wrote prolifically on ethical philosophy."
A.H.SOMMERSTEIN, 1990, Encounter 74, i/ii.

"....neo-Kantian perspectives mistakenly reject the role of evidence and progress in scientific research. They oppose the claim that successor theories in mature science approximate the truth about reality more nearly than their predecessors. Where realists stress the role of contingently discovered, approximately true theories in establishing and refining scientific method, neo-Kantians insist on a radically conventionalism-determined process of investigation. But that convention relativism makes the transtheoretic, instrumental success of science, which neo-Kantians recognize, hard to explain. Though Kuhn qualifies an extreme denial of objectivity, his arresting, thematic phrase, "When paradigms change, the world itself changes with them", illustrates this exaggerated relativization of factual discoveries to particular theories."
Alan GILBERT, 1990, Democratic Individuality. Cambridge University Press.

"[The French philosopher, Michel Foucault (d.1984)] has been portrayed as a libertarian anarchist, a structuralist and an irrationalist. He referred to himself as an "historian of the present" and his announcement of "the death of man" saw him labelled as an anti- humanist and a nihilist. None of these characterizations is at all inaccurate. ....[Foucault portrays history in terms of "epistemes": huge cognitive blocks that limit the possibilities for human thought in a given period. So between the classical episteme, which lasted roughly until the Enlightenment, and the modern episteme which followed, people didn't start thinking in a better way-they just started thinking in a different way. The only constant historical force for Foucault is Nietzsche's "will to power", which simply takes different forms in different epistemes. ....As he outlined....in Discipline and Punish, the fact that we incarcerate people for anti- social behaviour in the late 20th century rather than executing them in public does not mean that we are fundamentally more humane. ....Recent revelations about the S&M practices of the author of Discipline and Punish....suggest colourful connections between Foucault's life and his philosophical interests."
Martin BRIGHT, 1992, 'Prince of perverse',
New Statesman & Society, 21 viii.

"[Thomas] Kuhn's [1962] The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was a major and influential early rejection of the received logical positivist view in the philosophy of science. ....Today, however....very little that Kuhn proposed has survived. He was compelled by strong counter-arguments to repudiate the most dramatic and exciting aspects of the book, such as the (highly equivocal) notion of paradigm, the incommensurability of paradigms, and the irrationality of the process of science {6 refs}. ....[today] science is seen a form of cultural rationality with strong implications for the nature of rationality in its broadest sense."
M.H.BICKHARD, 1992, 'Misconceptions of science
in contemporary psychology.' Theory & Psychology 2.

"The chief danger foreseen by [G.K.Chesterton's 'Alfred', in The Napoleon of Notting Hill] was the spread of scientific fatalism.... But there is an equal and opposite horror....: that of finding nothing in the world but our own will and words:
Let me not look aloft and see mine own
Feature and form upon the Judgement-throne."
S.L.R.CLARKE, 1992, Philosophy 67.

"The leftist, radical feminist, Afrocentrist and postmodernist attacks on science are a part of the broadly anti-Western thrust that has come to characterize the adversarial outlook. The animus against science has been especially strong among radical feminists."
Paul HOLLANDER, 1996, 'Reassessing the adversary culture.' Academic Questions 9.





(ii) The 'idiographic' - 'nomothetic' distinction


"The possibility of applying quantitative generalisations not only to the physical world-there the battle had been won in the seventeenth century-but to social and personal life as well-in the organisation of life on scientific principles, the calculation of relative sums of satisfaction between human beings conceived as equal (or if unequal, with the inequalities reducible to some common standard of measurement)-was prophesied with enthusiasm by Condorcet. Quantification, verification of numerically statable hypotheses, and planning on this basis, whether for individuals or for groups or for larger bodies of human beings, had scarcely entered their first stage.... One of [Johann Georg] Hamann's greatest claims to our notice is that, earlier than any other thinker, he became conscious of this, and protested violently..... He spoke out, in his cryptic but violent fashion, a quarter of a century before Burke uttered his famous lament for the passing of the age of chivalry and the arrival of the sordid mechanical men with their slide rules and statistical tables.... [Hamann] struck the first blow against the quantified world; he attack was often ill-judged, but he raised some of the greatest issues of our times by refusing to accept their advent."
Isaiah BERLIN, 1993, The Magus of the North. London : John Murray.

"Idiographic": relating to the study or description of individual cases or instances.
"Nomothetic": relating to the formulation of laws; legislative."
J.DREVER, 1952, A Dictionary of Psychology.
Harmondsworth : Penguin.

"The nomothetic approach [to personality] finds trait dimensions relevant to everyone and calculates where on the distribution a particular individual may be located.... The idiographic approach stresses describing each individual in whatever terms are appropriate for him or her. The description should be derived from a variety of sources: self-view and views of significant others as well as more objective descriptions of the person's behaviour...."
Sarah E. HAMPSON, 1984, 'The social construction of personality'.
In H.Bonarius et al., Personality Psychology in Europe.

"The distinction between idiographic and nomothetic research methods goes back to Windelband (1894), who discussed the issue in his influential treatise, Geschichte und Naturwissenschaft (History and Science). Windelband explained that, by the nature of their subjects, the sciences are interested in the formulation of laws and arriving at general statements; whereas the humanities (he had primarily history in mind) are oriented to the full description of events, and prefer particular statements (for example, a description of the French Revolution rather than revolutions in general).... [Windelband] assumed that it is always possible to study the same subject in both ways."
H.J.M.HERMANS et al., 1987, British Journal of Psychology 78.

"A differentiation into a nomothetic and idiographic point of view should not be considered as a clear-cut separation into scientific disciplines. They represent two positions, but not two fields of research."
W.STERN, 1911, Die Differentielle Psychologie in Ihren
Methodischen Grundlagen
. Leipzig : Barth.

"In looking for a 'reasonably complete portrait of the person', and in requiring an 'in-depth look at the individual as he or she struggles with the tasks of living', R.S.Lazarus (1981, in C.Eisdorfer et al., Models for Clinical Psychopathology) clearly pursues idiographic goals. He does, however, not stick to the single case:....[by asking respondents to describe, e.g., 'the most stressful of [your] past month / week'] his aim is to generalize to other persons.... In our opinion, the long-lasting idiographic-nomothetic debate has always suffered from polarized views on the general and on the unique in personality psychology."
L.LAUX & Hannelore WEBER, 1987, European. J. Personality 1.

"Let me illustrate the difference between poetic truth and scientific truth. When Keats writes about the Nightingale, Tennyson about the Eagle, or Poe about the Raven, they are not trying to duplicate the work of the zoologist. In each case the poet is concerned with 'emotion recollected in tranquillity'; that is, with a personal, emotional reaction to certain experiences. Introspectively, no doubt, these experiences are recorded truthfully, but this is an individual, not a universal truth, a poetic, not a scientific one."
H.J.EYSENCK, 1990, The Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire. Washington : Scott-Townsend.

"There is one difference between scientists [and other people]: scientists measure things."
A.CHOMET (Professor of Physics, King's College London),
1992, The Times (Letters), 10 vi.

"D. Danziger (1990, Constructing the Subject, CUP) argues that the history of psychology exhibits three models of research: the experimental (Wundt), the psychometric (Galton), and the clinical (Kraepelin). To these I would add the psychophysiological-genetic approach (Helmholtz), which is needed to fill in the picture."
H.J.EYSENCK, 1995, Genius: the Natural History of Creativity. Cambridge University Press.






(iii) Nomothetic claims

"...Until the phenomena of any branch of knowledge have been submitted to measurement and number, it cannot assume the status and dignity of science."
GALTON, 1879, 'Psychometric experiments.' Brain.

"It is high time that, in psychiatry, serious and conscientious experimental investigations should replace clever speculation and philosophical invention. We cannot advance as long as we have to rely on theories which cannot be verified or disproved."
Emil KRAEPELIN, c. 1900.

"....those who are not accustomed to original inquiry entertain a hatred and horror of statistics. They cannot endure the idea of submitting sacred impressions to cold-blooded verification. But it is the triumph of scientific men to rise superior to such superstitions, to desire tests by which the value of beliefs may be ascertained, and to feel sufficiently masters of themselves to discard contemptuously whatever may be found untrue."
Sir Frances GALTON, 1909.
Cited by A.R.Jensen, 1987, in S. & Celia Modgil, Arthur
Jensen: Consensus and Controversy
. Brighton : Falmer.

"Everything which exists, exists in some quantity and can, therefore, be measured."
E.L.THORNDIKE, c. 1920.

"Theoretically, man is just as measurable as is a bar of steel."
R.M.YERKES, c. 1920.

"The emergence of science is the single most important development of many centuries; it reduces the Reformation and the Renaissance to the rank of mere episodes or mere internal displacements within a system of mediaeval Christianity."
Herbert BUTTERFIELD.

"What distinguishes the individual psychology of today from Plutarch's Lives or Johnson's Poets is simply its exactitude. It aims at an almost mathematical precision, and proposes nothing less than the measurement of mental powers."
Cyril BURT, 1927, Henderson Trust Lectures No.7.
Edinburgh : Oliver & Boyd.

"General laws and their interactions are potentially a sufficient structure to account for the "unique" personality."
J.L.FALK, 1956, 'Issues distinguishing idiographic from nomothetic approaches to personality theory'. Psychological Review 63.

"Idiography is an anti-science point of view: it discourages the search for general laws and instead encourages the description of particular phenomena (people)."
J.C.NUNNALLY, 1967, Psychometric Theory.
New York : McGraw Hill.

"The notion that we could dispense altogether with the concept of human nature is fashionable but it is not, I think, actually an intelligible one at all.... [Even Marx, arguing against Bentham,] remarks, 'To know what is useful for a dog, one must study dog nature.... Applying this to man, he that would criticize all human acts, movements, relations etc. by the principle of utility, must first deal with human nature in general, and then with human nature modified in each historical epoch."
Mary MIDGLEY, 1984, Wickedness. London : Ark.



(iv) Idiographic reservations


"Despite the boasted powers of science, we cannot apply scientific method to our own minds and characters."
William S. JEVONS , 1874.

"Galton was not known for his interpersonal sensitivity, even among his friends and countrymen.... a colleague....who worked closely with Galton for several years once described him as 'essentially a doctrinaire not endowed with much sympathy. He was not adapted to lead or influence men. He could make no allowance for the failings of others, and he had no tact.'"
R.E.FANCHER, 1983,
British Journal for the History of Science 16.

"The experimenter judges what may be going on in [the testee's] mind, and certainly feels difficulty in expressing all the oscillations of a thought in a simple, brutal number, which can have only a deceptive function. How, in fact, could it sum up what would need several pages of description!....
We feel it necessary to insist that the suggestibility of a person cannot be expressed entirely in a number, even if the latter should correspond exactly to his degree of suggestibility. It is necessary to complete this number by description of all the little facts that complete the physiognomy of the experiment."
Alfred BINET, 1900. Cited by R.E.Fancher,
The Intelligence Men. New York : W.W.Norton, 1985.

"What we call personality or character is a highly complex product of a long integrative process, a process which may go wrong and may be largely undone at any stage."
William McDOUGALL, 1908, An Introduction to Social Psychology.
London : Methuen.

"....the relegation of an individual to a type, or to several types, can never do justice to the ineffable particularity of his individuality."
William STERN (the originator, c. 1910, of the concept of 'IQ' [as (Mental Age / Chronological Age) x 100]). Cited by R.E.Fancher, 1985, The Intelligence Men. New York : W.W.Norton.

"[Wundt's introspective structuralism and Watson's behaviourism,] in striving to become branches of natural science, conceived necessarily as physical science, have lost touch with human life."
William McDOUGALL, 1923, An Outline of Psychology.
London : Methuen.

"Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment."
G.W.ALLPORT, 1937, Personality: a Psychological
Interpretation
. New York : Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

"[Differential psychology] is distinctly elementaristic, as is traditional psychology; it is "from beneath" in terms of the elements of mind, and not "from above" in terms of organization and patterning."
G.W. ALLPORT, 1937.
(Quoted by D.P.McAdams, 1992, Journal of Personality 60.)

"Carl Rogers (leading advocate of 'counselling', c. 1960) views the core of personality as a set of general and individual 'potentials'. He is almost completely unspecific about what these are: rather, they are assumed to be cognitive, affective and appetitive; and the business of psychology is to understand and help maximise the 'actualisation' of these potentials under the influence of environment and personal experience."
Ken RICHARDSON, 1988, Understanding Psychology.
Milton Keynes : Open University Press.

"....from the beginning (of modern psychology) respectability held more glamor than insight, caution than curiosity, feasibility than fidelity. The stipulation that psychology that psychology be adequate to science outweighed the commitment that it be adequate to man."
Sigmund KOCH, 1969, Psychology Today, ix.

"....measurement 'of' something limits our getting-acquainted process to an exchange of formalities."
C.McARTHUR, 1972.

"Although words with affective connotations are vigorously eschewed by those concerned with the development of a scientific language, such words seem to be part and parcel of the ordinary language system employed by people to describe other people."
J.S.WIGGINS, 1973.

"Serious personologists have never construed behavioural consistencies as defining personality.... While the triumph of a Lewinian 'interactionist' view comes as a welcome relief, it is not entirely clear how such a research programme is to be theoretically guided.... Psychology seems to have entered a liberal and humane intellectual climate, appreciating the complexity of the human being, and prepared to reclaim a neglected heritage of ideas."
R.CARLSON, 1975, Annual Review of Psychology 26.

"The standpoint of modern man in the twentieth century, one which is held by many if not most psychology students, is expressed in an interest in certain psychological questions. And, on the whole, the distinguishing feature of academically entrenched and experimental psychology has been the pursuit of an ostrich-like posture towards contemporary experience."
H.DAVIS, 1976, Bulletin of the British Psychological Society.

"This paper aims at describing what an everyday-life psychology, as distinct from a scientific psychology, might look like."
J.SHOTTER, 1976, Bulletin of the British Psychological Society.

"The quest for a specifically scientific form of knowledge, or for a demarcation criterion between science and non-science has been an unqualified failure.... it is time we abandoned that lingering scientistic prejudice which holds that the 'sciences' and sound knowledge are co-extensive: they are not."
L.LAUDAN, 1981, in I.Hacking, Scientific Revolutions.

"....every marriage is two different marriages-the husband's and the wife's."
A.D.M.DAVIES, 1982, reviewing Past and Present in Middle Life.

"It is suggested that (even) Rogers and Maslow are dehumanizing, atomistic and reductionist in their approach to 'self' theory...."
S.MURGATROYD, 1983,
Bulletin of the British Psychological Society 37 (Abstract).

"The study of the historical past....is predicated on the assumption that there does not exist a uniform human nature which is the same everywhere and at all times, that human nature is in continuous change, and that the intelligibility and coherence of human activity are to be sought, not behind or above this ceaseless changing, but in the very change itself.... After a century and more of discussion which now seems in large part otiose, it ought to have become clear to us that what scientists - basing themselves on the always provisional assumptions and hypotheses of their various sciences - may say, for example, about the physics and chemistry of the human body will not settle questions worth raising about conduct, or resolve moral dilemmas, or still feelings of spiritual inadequacy or dissatisfaction. If the case had been otherwise, religion would long ago have been banished to the remote and superstitious parts of the globe..... ....the key to history....lies in history itself, and to try and go behind history is impossible, indeed meaningless. History is the record of human actions-those actions which constitute man's nature, and by doing which man makes or constitutes himself, provides himself with an identity and a personality."
E.KEDOURIE, 1985, The Crossman Confessions and Other Essays.
London : Mansell.

"It has....to be seriously considered that personality differences reflect an important element of individual free choice over the course of development.... The sheer scale of the failure to fully identify 'bases' and 'causes' and 'functions' of human personality differences should not be underestimated as an exercise in falsification of the favourite environmentalistic ideas of psychologists of the past. Matters might have been otherwise if all students of personality had forged ahead more systematically with the manageable task of discovering the major dimensions of personality rather than riding their individualistic hobby-horses off into the gloaming. All too often, the neglect of g[eneral intelligence] which is intrinsic to such caprice culminates finally in a profound pessimism that 'there is never going to be a really impressive theory in personality or social psychology'."
C.R.BRAND, 1984, in J.Nicholson Halla Beloff,
Psychology Survey 5.

"....in their quest to be scientific (in the very limited sense in which they understand that term), psychologists as a group have failed to develop the capacity for meaningful thought."
Mary S. VAN LEEUWEN, 1985, The Person in Psychology.
Leicester : Inter-Varsity Press.

"A non-reductionist social psychology is almost too difficult to be tackled but too fascinating to be left alone."
(Source unknown.)

"....really there's no such thing as 'reality' or 'nature', it's not just sitting there, we make it out of words-ideas-concepts."
'Mantias', a character in Iris Murdoch's (1986) Acastos.
London : Chatto & Windus.

"I think one has to listen to the patient very carefully and not put words into his mouth. Description is something of a casualty in this century. The fullness of the experience must somehow be conveyed and not reduced."
Oliver SACKS, 1986, interviewed in New Statesman, 28 xi.

"One message from [R.Harré's The Social Construction of Emotions] is that, however 'objectively' psychology likes to approach the subject of emotion, it will not achieve its aims until it recognizes that 'emotions' are social products constituted through culturally specific patterns of conduct.... it is argued that emotions are normatively specified and reference to them includes contextual as well as 'feeling' elements'; further, claims to emotion entail rights and duties and therefore moral assumptions."
R.S.HALLAM, 1987, Bulletin of the British Psychology Society 40.

"A non-reductionist social psychology is almost too difficult to be tackled but too fascinating to be left alone."
(Source unknown.)

"To the sociologist, identity is....no longer an appeal to a mode of being but the claim to a capacity for action and for change. It is defined in terms of choice and not in terms of substance, essence, or tradition.... The appeal to identity can be considered a labor of democracy, an awareness of the effort by which the actors of a social system....attempt to determine for themselves the conditions within which their collective and personal life is produced."
A.TOURAINE, 1988, The Return of the Actor:
Social Theory in Post-Industrial Society
, transl. M.Godzich,
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press.

"A challenge to our traditional conceptions of personhood is found in recent notions about texts and authorship (e.g. Bruns, 1982; Derrida, 1974, 1978, 1981; Ricoeur, 1970, 1979).... The notion of a dialogue in the reading of texts had already been espoused by Garfinkel (1967) who argued-from an ethnomethodological perspective-that the understanding of the interaction between two actors is not literal but varies with the unfolding of their encounter.... The individual entering into a relationship with a psychologist extends the ongoing process of exchange with the environment. Often, the subject is like a text that has no fixed meaning and receives its meaning in direct dialogue with the psychologist."
H.J.M.HERMANS & H.BONARIUS, 1991,
European Journal of Personality 5.

"....the knowledge contained within 'laws' expressing statistically systematic relationships between individual difference variables is not knowledge about persons at all.
J.T.LAMIELL, 1991, European Journal of Personality 5.

"As I understand [it], the treatment of each patient hinges on a moment when the physician, fully knowledgeable of all that scientists have to say about the patient's disease, sets that knowledge aside and sees only a unique human being. The treatment can be only of that person, and its efficacy depends on how well the uniqueness is grasped. The jump from seeing disease, about which nomothetic generalizations are possible, to person, who may be anywhere on the statistical spectrum and thus presents bottomless uncertainty, is an existential risk for the physician."
Arthur W. FRANK, 1992, Theory & Psychology 2.

"Number is the most imposing and least creaturely of pacifiers, man's yearning hope for objectivity. It is to number that he-and now she-withdraws to escape from the....mire of love, hate and family romance."
Camille PAGLIA, 1992, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. Harmondsworth : Penguin.

"Each human culture is so unique that no one of them is higher or lower, greater or lesser than any other."
Renato ROSALDO, 1993, Culture and Truth.
Boston : Beacon Press.

"There may be as many psychologies as there are people to psychologize about."
D.K.CANDLAND, 1993, Feral Children and Clever Animals: Reflections on Human Nature. New York : Oxford University Press.

"Rather than being a serviceable system, the trait model is, I would suggest, fundamentally flawed in terms of its ability to come to grips with the issues of personality dynamics and personality pattern and organization."
Lawrence A. PERVIN, 1994, Psychological Inquiry 5.








"If Freud may be accused of reductionism-or of oversimplifying the distinguishable driving forces [of mankind]-Murray (the inventor of the Thematic Apperception Test) may be charged with elaborationism."
J.D.DAVIES, 1973, Handbook of Political Psychology.

"Within the framework of a socially constructed personality, personality traits take on the form of categories applied to patterns of behaviour with agreed social significance. Traits therefore do not reside exclusively in the eye of the beholder nor in the personality of the perceived, since traits are constructed by the beholder in the process of observing the perceived."
Sarah E. HAMPSON, 1984, in M.Cook, Issues in Person Perception.

"G.W.Allport (the well-known 'personologist' of c. 1955) (1961, Pattern and Growth in Personality) has argued that the traits that are most defining and descriptive of an individual are those that are not common [i.e. generally usable as ways of differentiating people].... Allport does not specify how such traits are to be discovered. Nor, for that matter, is he particularly clear about what kinds of trait apply 'uniquely to an individual'. He gives as an example the "unique sexual cruelty" of the Marquis de Sade. The example if problematic. The trait described is derived from the combination of the common traits of sexuality and cruelty. [De Sade's position may be extreme, but it] is not a unique condition."
Nathan BRODY, 1988, Personality. San Diego : Academic.

"Since what many of us do [in scientific psychology] bears little relation to what most laymen picture as 'psychology', it might be as well for us to relinquish the term to those who conform to that picture and to find a substitute for it."
D.E.BERLYNE, 1974, Bulletin of the British Psychological Society 27.

"I find the 'humanist' position unacceptable because it dodges the central issue of what constitutes a plausible attempt at explanation (in psychology) and in doing so throws up a smokescreen of quasi-moral issues."
John ANNETT, 1975, Bulletin of the British Psychological Society 28.

"Let us suppose that there is a subject called psychology, and an identifiable set of concepts which we may refer to as "the image of man" [with which some critics wanted psychology to concern itself]; and let us further suppose that the former subject does not include the latter concepts. What sort of criticism would this constitute?"
P.M.A.RABBITT, 1977.

"....for too long, psychology has been the convalescent home for refugees from the rigours of the natural sciences."
Paul KLINE, 1979.

"....the only appropriate response to (Models of Man, a relatively 'pro-humanistic' conference report, published by the British Psychological Society) is
silent prayer that the University Grants Council does not consider it representative of British psychology."
J.C.MARSHALL, 1982. (Reviewing Models of Man.)

"Attempts to approach the data of personality with techniques thought to be idiographic are fraught with problems of interpretation, most of which yield to nomothetic analyses."
J.P.RUSHTON et al., 1981, Psychological Review 88.

"Deficiencies in the data are not a valid excuse for ignoring data altogether."
G.KENNEDY, 1983, Invitation to Statistics.

"[Bob Dylan's] conversion to a Jesus freak....is but the latest in a series of metamorphoses, instigated when he invented himself. He was born Bobby Zimmerman, and changed his name in homage to Dylan Thomas. Having achieved this rebirth, he then wrote his parents out of the legend by announcing that he was an orphan... Then there were other models, blueprints for a redesigned self. Inevitably he started as a clone of James Dean.... When he began singing protest ballads, the exemplar was Woody Guthrie: Dylan now affected a workshirt, a corduroy railwayman's cap, a studied Okie accent.... An old crony says, 'I remember him when he was a nothing', adding 'Funny-he's still a nothing.'"
Peter CONRAD, 1989, The Observer (Review), 4 vi.






George Kelly's idiographic psychometry


"Each man contemplates in his own personal way the stream of events upon which he finds himself so swiftly borne."
George A. KELLY, 1955,
The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York : Norton.

"George Kelly's 'repertory grid' is one of a number of tricks for bringing to the surface of our minds, and to the forefront of awareness, things we did not know we knew.... We learn about our own beliefs, wishes or habits; and in the process of pondering them they are changed. Other such techniques include the I Ching, astrology, art therapy and studying the entrails of chickens."
Guy CLAXTON, 1986, British Journal of Psychology 85.

"....there are limits to the philosophical position of [George Kelly's] 'construct theory', that the world out there is what I say it is. My conscious mind may categorize the approaching sports car as a consumer durable, as a fine piece of design, or as a phallic symbol; but this will not prevent it also being mass and velocity which ends my consciousness when we collide."
Peter MOREA, 1990, Personality: an Introduction to the
Theories of Psychology
. Harmondsworth : Penguin.







Even idiography is not enough?
(Can a 'person' exist and be studied only as part of
an ongoing cultural language-game? See also Quotes VII.)

"The basic postulates of humanistic psychology have been linked by J.F.T.Bugenthal (1964, J.Humanistic Psychol. 4) as follows:
1. Man, as man, supersedes the sum of his parts....
2. Man has his being in a human context....
3. Man is aware....
4. Man has choice....
5. Man is intentional. Man intends through having purpose, through valuing, and through creating and recognising meaning. Man's intentionality is the basis on which he builds his identity, and it distinguishes him from other species.
Burt [the British pioneer of differential psychology] would have accepted all these propositions.... [yet] some humanists display a deeply anti-scientific attitude, of which Burt would have strongly disapproved. [Following Kant, Dilthey proposed] towards the end of the nineteenth century that there were in fact two sorts of psychology, scientific (naturwissenschaftlich) and humanistc (geisteswissenschaftlich), employing different methods and concepts. [Then came phenomenological and existential psychology] and in America from the 1920's onwards....a school of personality theorists, of whom G.W.Allport was the best known representative. Since the late 1950's these movements have coalesced into a somewhat heterogeneous 'third force' in psychology, which can broadly be termed humanistic. This third force is often marked by its conspicuously anti-scientific approach to psychology. J.Shotter (1975, Images of Man in Psychological Research), a leading British representative, for example, wants to replace the 'natural science of behaviour' completely with 'a moral science of action', and the methods of natural science with 'conceptual analysis'."
L.S.HEARNSHAW, 1979, Cyril Burt: Psychologist.
London : Hodder & Stoughton.

"To the person....many different actions [e.g. 'constructive criticism', 'positive feedback'] are seen as expressions of the same thing [e.g. 'being helpful']. But to a psychologist, employing act identities derived from personal experience or past empirical evidence, these actions may be grouped in ways that depart dramatically from the person's own organization. As a result the person is seen as acting inconsistently with his or her self-reported trait.... The search for trait-like consistency, even in an idiographic sense (D.J.Bem & A.Allen, 1974, Psychol. Rev. 81), is unlikely to be successful. Even if we know the person's phenomenal organization of action, there is no guarantee that every instance of a particular low-level identity will be an expression of the same high-level identity. On one occasion, 'giving constructive criticism' may be reached via the higher level of 'being helpful'; on another occasion, 'giving constructive criticism' might be reached via the higher level of 'demonstrating intelligence'."
R.R.VALLACHER & D.M.WEGNER, 1986, Psychological Review 94.

"What goes on inwardly in the soul is the essence of each man, it's what makes us individual people."
'Socrates', in Iris Murdoch's (1986) Acastos.
London : Chatto & Windus.


"[From the present perspective] what are taken to be psychological principles are derivative from the ongoing process of negotiation and conflict among persons. Thus, understanding community is prior to and establishes the grounds from which psychological construals are achieved. The mechanistically oriented, individual-centred, law-producing investments of the discipline [of psychology] would thus give way to a communitarian perspective."
Kenneth J. GERGEN, 1987, in K.Yardley & T.Honess, Self and
Identity: Psychosocial Perspectives
. Chichester : Wiley DePublisher.

"Self generally is the product of relations with others, and both master statuses [e.g. age, sex, class and race] and personal traits can be viewed as thoroughly interactional in source and expression."
Sheldon STRYKER, 1987, in K.Yardley & T.Honess, Self and
Identity: Psychosocial Perspectives
. Chichester : Wiley DePublisher.

"The constructionist perspective questions taken-for-granted ['essentialist'] concepts such as 'homosexuality', 'sexual orientation', [and] 'gender'; all are constituted by social practice. Historians have traced the invention of 'the homosexual' as a discreet type of person to the early sexologists of the min-nineteenth century, prior to when same-gender activity had no particular implications for identity."
Celia KITZINGER, 1988, The Psychologist 1.

"There is some evidence of sociality based on undiscriminating narcissism (e.g. based on cultural fads such as style of music, hairdo or clothing), but these associations tend to be ephemeral and not to crystallize into stable affiliations such as those characterizing both ethnicity and race."
Pierre L. van den BERGHE, 1989,
Behavioral & Brain Sciences 12.

"Modern psychology has come to mirror the tension within modernity between the universal and the individual, opposing nomothetic and idiographic methods, and futilely attempted to reconcile the poles of this false dichotomy.... The common ground of the universal and the individual pole of the modern dichotomy is the abstraction of man from his context, of isolating man from his culture, separating him from his complex social and historical situation. The joint basis for the many controversies between behaviorism and humanism has been the abstraction of man from his context: the behavioral laws of nature as well as the humanistic self-actualization have rested on the dis-rooting of man from his local and lived world, from his social interaction and network. In this view, behaviorism and humanism in psychology become two sides of the same coin, the decontextualization of man from his specific culture, studying behavior and consciousness abstracted from its cultural roots."
"S.KVALE, 1990, The Humanistic Psychologist 18.

"The process of personality construction (or the negotiation of identity) takes place throughout the life-span, building layer upon layer of socially significant actions, which are repeatedly displayed and modified, producing a series of changing forms....
Personality is constructed by the dynamic interplay of actors, observers and self-observers."
Sarah E. HAMPSON, 1992, in A.Gale & M.W.Eysenck, Handbook of
Individual Differences
. London : Wiley DePublisher.

"[Foucault's] work dealt with....'modes of objectification'. [One,] 'dividing practices', includes the ways that one group of people are identified and isolated from the rest of the population (e.g. the mad from the sane, the sick from the healthy, criminals from 'good' people). These practices are social, often spatial (via their practice in clinics, hospitals and prisons), and intricately connected with the development of 'pseudo-sciences' like psychiatry which legitimate the divisions and their further refinement (e.g. into different 'types' of the mad).... [Foucault's conceives] of discourses as systems of statements which produce the object about which they speak. Thus, for example, 'mental illness [is] constituted by all that was said in the statements that named it, divided it up, described it, explained it, traced its developments' and so on (Foucault, 1972, The Archaeology of Knowledge). It is not something that pre-exists and is merely described by discourse. Thus Foucault's work provides some details of the practices which have contributed to the view of the subject that is adopted in both psychology and lay discourse and of how 'the subject' cannot be extricated from power, knowledge and discourses..... [Foucault wrote] 'Do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order.' The consequent dispersion and fragmentation is liberating but it is also frightening -because we are talking about ourselves, and the focus on discourse and practice displaces 'I' as the centre of social life."
Sue WIDDICOMBE, 1992, Theory and Psychology 2.

"'Some people would never have fallen in love if they had never heard of love,' aphorized La Rochefoucauld, and does not history prove him right?.... Love is never a given; it is constructed and defined by different societies. In at least one society, the Manu of New Guinea, there is not even a word for love.... ....the happily married S.M.Greenfield, in an article in the Sociological Quarterly (6, 361-377) writes that love is today kept alive by modern capitalism only in order to:
'....motivate individuals-where there is no other means of motivating them-to occupy positions husband-father and wife-mother and form nuclear families that are essential not only for reproduction and socialization but also to maintain the existing arrangements for distributing and consuming goods and services and, in general, to keep the social system in proper working order and thus maintain it as a going concern.' "
Alain DE BOTTON, 1993, Essays in Love. London : Macmillan.

"A trait psychograph (Allport, 1937) is analagous to a weather report: good for telling you whether to wear a raincoat, but poor in providing a sufficient explanation of why it might rain."
D.J.OZER & S.P.REISE, 1994, Annual Review of Psychology 45.


(v) Continuing nomothetic observations and aspirations


"Temperaments are broad dispositions that are expected to differentiate during development, much like intelligence."
A.H.BUSS & R.PLOMIN, 1975, A Temperament Theory of Personality.
New York : Wiley DePublisher.

"[The ability of Hy Witkin (well-known cognitive psychometrician- psychologist, champion of the trait of 'field-independence vs dependence, c. 1970)] to incorporate....a diverse array of phenomena into his theoretical network bespeaks an impressive degree of 'restructuring ability' which is found in people with a field-independent cognitive style. But Hy was an exception to his own theory: co-existing with his field-independent cognitive style was a personal warmth and interest in others that touched all of us who were fortunate to have worked with him."
Philip K. OLTMAN, 1986, in M.Bertini et al., Field Dependence in Psychological Theory, Research and Application. New York : Wiley DePublisher.

"When the technology of moderator identification (of identifying variables that altered correlations amongst variables-thus allowing possible findings that patterns of covariation were different in, e.g., minority groups) became well-known, almost every study either identified or alluded to the presence of potential moderators of predictive relationships.... Recently [however] it has become clear that moderators are much less frequent than was originally assumed."
F.J.LANDY & D.F.TRUMBO, 1980, The Psychology of Work
Behaviour
. Homewell, Illinois : Dorsey.

"Natural science progresses whereas the social scientists go on fighting the same intellectual battles again and again."
E.LEACH, 1981, Nature, 3 ix.

"Every snowflake may be unique. But the success of physics comes from ignoring such features, abstracting some very general features (such as "mass"), and relating these in powerful generalizations."
Dean PEABODY, 1985, National Characteristics.
Cambridge University Press.

"There is little, if any value in a reorganization of traditional personality assessment strategies in pursuit of moderator variables in particular, or an idiographic ideology in general.... Whereas many limitations thought to be inherent to nomothetic measurement can be surmounted by adherence to modern assessment standards, the promise of idiographic measurement for the study of personality has yet to be realized."
S.V.PAUNONEN & D.N.JACKSON, 1985, Psychological Review 92.

"The belief that personality structure is determined by unpredictable and idiosyncratic events, and follows divergent pathways, has led many thoughtful theorists to argue that the trait (or individual difference) approach to personality is fundamentally inadequate and should be replaced by an idiographic model (R.Holt, 1962, J.Personality; J.T.Lamiell, 1981, Amer. Psychologist). The evidence from twin research, however, leads me to exactly the opposite conclusion. Inspection of a series of photographs of a pair of (separated) identical twins, taken across their life span, is a [revealing] exercise. It only requires a few series [of this kind] to persuade almost anyone that morphological development is largely under genetic control."
Thomas J. BOUCHARD Jr, 1987, in M.Amelang, Bericht uber den
35. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Psychologie in
Heidelberg, 1986
. Göttingen : Verlag fur Psychologie.

"Psychology, man's self-exploring discipline, is accepted as a science in the anglophone world; but in the francophone world it is still classed as a branch of philosophy. Many philosophers of science feel that, to earn its status as a science, a subject must come down out of the philosophical clouds to the earth of solidity, rigour and number. If any branch of psychology has enough rigour to claim scientific status, it is psychometrics, the science of mental measurement. The pioneer work of Galton, Terman, Burt, Spearman, Binet, Guilford and Cattell has been consolidated and validated for half a century."
V.SEREBRIAKOFF, 1988, A Guide to Intelligence and
Personality Testing
. Carnforth, Lancashire : Parthenon.

"When the promise of an 'idiographic enrichment' of nomothetic procedures (offered by the proponents of more person-oriented personality research) has been put to an empirical test, the results have been mixed.... As convincing as the call for more respect for the individual case may be from a theoretical [viewpoint], it is difficult to realize with real behavioural data for real people in real situations."
J.B.ASENDORP, 1988, European Journal of Personality 2.

"We have great respect for Lamiell's crusade (see LAMIELL, above) against the individual differences paradigm that still has a dominating influence, not only in academic personality psychology, but also in practical settings. However, we have the strong impression that he is over-reacting to this domination by disregarding the potential use of comparing people for the study of individuals."
H.J.M.HERMANS H.BONARIUS, 1991,
European Journal of Personality 5.

"Psychologists and social scientists disagree about the extent to which human action is shaped by the nature of mind, or else by the properties of language and culture. Psychologists assume on the whole that the mind is primary, and that the social world is a result and a reflection of its properties. Social scientists take the opposite view and see particular cultures as the source of their members' characteristics (e.g. Berger & Luckman, 1966; Harré, 1983). If this latter view is right it would suggest that ultimately the explanation of behaviour is not a psychological matter after all, but a sociological one. The question is one of the fundamental locus of explanation. Is 'mind' only a misconception of some essentially social processes? In that case, psychological enquiry may need to be relocated in the analysis of cultures. Furthermore, our belief in the existence of individual minds as real and researchable entities may itself be no more than a social construction which takes its properties from the social processes by which it was constructed; or a 'social representation' of a widely held lay theory. This calls into question whether it will ultimately be for psychology or for sociology to explain what the other describes....
[However] the main thrust of modern scientific enquiry is the positing of real but concealed entities and processes, by virtue of which surface phenomena take the forms they do; not the description of surface phenomena per se.... In recent years a similar claim has become justifiable for psychology too. By contrast, virtually without exception, the investigation of sociological phenomena has failed to reveal any entities in the world which were previously entirely unknown. Nor is it clear how it ever could do, as objects entirely outside human experience would have poor claim to being social objects at all. According to this argument, primacy has to be accorded to psychological explanations, whatever the potency of sociological and situational factors in the shaping of behaviour."
D.D.CLARKE and R.HOYLE, 1988,
Personality & Individual Differences 9.

"For the past twenty years or so, philosophy of science, literary theory, and certainly social psychology have shared....a unidirectional march towards constructivism. The "constructivist", exemplified in psychology by the New Look approach to perception as well as by most research on attribution theory, is that human perception and behaviour is influenced largely or perhaps even exclusively by the mind and its (culturally determined) constructions rather than by the nature of objective reality.... A swing back seems inevitable...."
D.C. FUNDER, 1992, Behavioral & Brain Sciences"

"The constructivist view....is that knowledge is pieced together by the mind from inadequate data (commonly termed 'symbols', 'representations' or 'appearances'). Error occurs where these constructed cognitions fail to correspond to what is really the case.... [However] it is only under a direct realist programme that the distinction between error and cognition becomes meaningful: error is not a variety of cognition 'gone wrong', but occurs in the absence {including by inhibition} of cognition.... ....According to constructivism, organisms engage in the same kind of mental relation when cognizing and miscognizing. This raises the unanswerable difficulty of specifying the objects of miscognition."
A.J.RANTZEN, 1993, Theory & Psychology 3.

"[My] approach [to genius and creativity] may be contrasted with that adopted by psychologists who adopt the idiographic approach, such as Wallace and Gruber (1989, Creative People at Work, O.U.P.) This approach favours a kind of hermeneutical point of view in which each creative person and his environment is looked upon as a unique configuration of characteristics that cannot be 'decontextualized' into measurable variables. According to this approach, the constituents of creativity aggregate in systems and interact dynamically. What this means is apparently that this process of interacting within an evolving system may bring about changes in the constituent characteristics. This of course makes the system untestable; it thus shares the major fault of all idiographic theories. If a person is unique we cannot study him scientifically because we cannot measure his unique aspects, or compare him with others. We cannot even prove that personality is unique, because that would involve measurement which is explicitly condemned as disregarding uniqueness!"
H.J.EYSENCK, 1995, Genius: the Natural History of Creativity. Cambridge University Press.







Epilogue


"Multiple measurement and idiographic analysis are both useful, albeit orthogonal means of strengthening our coefficients in individual difference research; and their combination results in maximal power."
D.T.KENRICK & S.L.BRAVER, 1982, Psychological Review 89.

"Psychology, in fact, is an art as well as a science. It is, like medicine or archaeology, an art which uses many sciences. It need not fear academic contamination if it freely uses evidence from the physical sciences as part of its raw material. Nor need anyone anxious to reform society suppose that the existence of a definite human nature, predictable within wide limits, will act as a fate, making that reform impossible."
Mary MIDGLEY, 1984, Wickedness. London : Ark.

"....eclecticism has always been the enemy of scientific understanding."
H.J.EYSENCK, 1986.

"What is conventionally described (and correctly perceived by non-Western observers) as the "excessive individualism" of modern Western culture means an intensive interest in individual subjectivity-that is, a perception of the individual as enormously complex, endowed (or perhaps afflicted) with profound depths, and because of all this of very great worth (the "sanctity of the individual", in the common American, quasi-creedal phrase)."
P.L.BERGER, 1987, The Capitalist Revolution.
Aldershot, UK : Gower.

"I fear that the prestige of science has outstripped its achievement in relation to our understanding of human beings. There are branches of psychology that truly merit the designation 'scientific', but they are few and far between."
J.C.MARSHALL, 1988, Nature 336.

"Perhaps traits and psychometric dimensions are fictional impositions on the rich variety of mental mechanisms and social processes in the complex interaction of which we have our scripted beings, rhetorical praxis, hermeneutic reconstructions and dilemmatic discourse? - Over the years, Hans Eysenck's resistance to such renascent quasi-philosophical idealism has been heroic. He has not only pressed ahead with the search for those measurable dimensions of covariation that can be found in empirical data on human differences; he has also provided relatively testable (positivist, etc.) hypotheses as to the psychological and physiological mechanisms that may underpin and yield at least some of the surface phenomena with which psychometricians deal."
C.R.BRAND, 1990, Personality & Individual Differences 11.

"[Gordon Allport, the patron saint of psychologists interested in personality] had transplanted the Heidegger and Windelband doctrine of idiographic study of personality (to wit, that there are no general laws or rules characterizing different personalities) to contrast it with the more usual statistical analysis of group data known as nomothetic personality study..... I was unwilling to acknowledge his wisdom, but indeed he was right-in writing one's autobiography one inevitably has to take the idiographic path of trying to see regularities in one's own life, to look for behaviour patterns that repeat themselves, and to discover variables that are important for oneself, even though they might not be of general interest."
Hans EYSENCK, 1990, Rebel with a Cause: the Autobiography
of H.J.Eysenck, D.Sc.
London : W.H.Allen.

"Remarkably, while the rest of the sciences have been weaving themselves together through accelerating discoveries of their mutual relevance, [the] doctrine of intellectual isolationism, which has been the reigning view in the social sciences, has only become more extreme with time. With passionate fidelity, reasoned connections with other branches of knowledge are dismissed as ignorant attempts at crude reductionism, and many leading social scientists now openly call for abandoning the scientific enterprise instead. For example, Clifford Geertz advocates abandoning the ground of principled causal analysis entirely in favour of treating social phenomena as "texts" to be interpreted just as one might interpret literature: We should "turn from trying to explain social phenomena by weaving them into grand textures of cause and effect to trying to explain them by placing them into local frames of awareness". Similarly, Edmund Leach rejects scientific explanation as the focus of anthropology: "Social anthropology is not, and should not aim to be, a 'science' in the natural sciences sense. If anything it is a form of art.... Social anthropologists should not see themselves as seekers after objective truth...." These positions have a growing following, but less, one suspects, because they have provided new illumination than because they offer new tools to extricate scholars from the unwelcome encroachments of more scientific approaches."
John TOOBY & Leda COSMIDES, 1992, in J.H.Barkow, L.Cosmides & J.Tooby, The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. New York : Oxford University Press.

Harvard University Press. "A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that anything that calls itself 'science' [e.g. Christian Science, military science, library science, social science] probably isn't."
John SEARLE, 1994, Minds, Brains and Science.

"....claiming the absurd, alas, is now high style. The impact of this burgeoning postmodern ideology {e.g. 'science as a social construct'}, whatever trendy labels it assumes, on science and reason is infrequently perceived-or worse-ignored. ....that the New York Academy of Sciences has seen the need to sponsor [a conference billed as] The Flight from Science and Reason....attests to the seriousness of ideological excesses like those at [the conference of] the Society for the Social Studies of Science, where the absurd was routinely embraced as truth."
Rita ZÜRCHER, 1996, 'Farewell to reason: a tale of two conferences.'
Academic Questions 9.

"....the view that, since access to the world is mediated through language and belief, we have access only to language and belief, is so counterintuitive that it is difficult to hold to it consistently for long. The brute facticity of things will keep on breaking through."
D. McLELLAND, 1996, Time Higher Educational Supplement, 22 iii.
(Reviewing N.Geras, Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind: the Ungroundable Liberalism of Richard Rorty. London : Verso, £9-95.)





FINIS

(Compiled by Chris Brand, Department Psychology, University of Edinburgh.)


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