By Leendert P. Mos, Hans van Rappard, Pieter J. van Strien, William J. Baker
1. division of Psychonomics, loose University
2. division of Psychology, college of Groningen
3. middle for complicated research in Theoretical Psychology, college of Alberta
4. division of Psychology, Concordia Lutheran university
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Extra resources for Annals of Theoretical Psychology, Volume 8
A collective enterprise like modern psychology can only proceed if the active participants are able to communicate effectively about their subject matter. To do this they must share a common framework for organizing their experience. For example, there has to be an implicit agreement that there is a category of events labelled 'motivational' or 'emotional' or 'perceptual' which can be distinguished from other events and about whose basic features there is a large measure of pre-understanding. Without this, no concrete research problems could be formulated, no particular relevance could be assigned to observations, and no specific theories pertaining to these categories of events could be formulated.
One is the internal disunity of the subject which has entailed the positing of fundamentally different psychological objects by fundamentally different means. The other countervailing factor arises out of the fact that the relationship of disciplinary psychology to the world outside it is not just a cognitive one but also involves an exercise of power and influence by which parts of the world are to some extent changed in psychology's image. Where the categories of psychological investigation are imposed as categories of institutional practice, in educational and treatment facilities, for example, the reference of these categories undoubtedly extends beyond disciplinary boundaries, not however, because they reflect some independent state of affairs, but because they have helped to create the reality to which they refer (Braginsky & Braginsky, 1974; Rose, 1988; Walkerdine, 1984).
But variations in the ends themselves, that is, in the general type of empirical object desired, are not reducible to technical questions within the discipline. Such variations are only explicable on a level of historical inquiry which takes disciplinary patterns and trends as its subject matter. Because of the extraordinary hold which a positivist understanding of their own activity has exerted on psychologists, and because of the justificationist commitment of much of the relevant historiography, little attention has been paid to an analysis of the general features of empirical objects in modern psychology.