The catalyzing mind : beyond models of causality

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  • Washington, DC: U. Government Printing Office. According to Lewin , the time span of the individual en- larges during development, as well as the capability to include a larger amount of past events into the field and to extend the planning into the future. Lewin , p. The development of time perspective triggers a change in the field structure allowing the projection toward the future. In any case, boundaries are part of the situation and play a role in determining the psychological value of all the objects in life space, as well as the value of the objects beyond these barriers.

    The other relevant feature of the boundary is to be always related to the future of the action to be taken.


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    • In fact, the value of an object as regards to the outer and inner boundaries of the life space is determined by the future-oriented goals. It makes no sense to worry about any constraint of an action already accomplished or a goal already achieved in the past. The past experience with boundaries becomes relevant and meaningful when entering the field, after a semiotic act that makes it still topical, to such an extent that past becomes a new kind of boundary in the field at that time.

      Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality

      Thus, boundaries are at the same time the product of social constraint and the conditio sine qua non of social interactions. Each border is a psychological, or more precisely, a sociological occurrence. But through its investment as a line in space this reciprocal relationship achieves clarity and security through its positive and negative aspects Simmel a, p. For any event to become a psychological object within the field a semiotic process must take place. A sign is thus produced, co-generating a segmentation, a value, and a boundary. These three dimensions build the relationship between the self and the environment.

      In this respect, relationship and action are synonyms: a psychology of action is a psychology of relationship. As far as action is always oriented toward the future time, it is a relationship to the future. Nevertheless, it is inscribed in an experienced pattern of relationships with the other elements of the field. This situations triggers a tension between forces in the field, represented by the vectors V1 and V2 , leading to a locomotion of the self toward a desired affective state of positive valence.

      The affective state—for instance feeling a painful waiting—that has a strong negative charge could lose part of its relative value, by the appraisal that, mutatis mutandis, it could be more tolerable with respect to something yet to come. The Psychological Horizon as a Catalyst I shall now be ready to define the characteristics of psychological horizons and de- scribe how time perspective and life space boundaries are the symbolic horizons that guide individual goal-oriented action. In this sense, the objects within life space acquire a part of their value in relation to these horizons.

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      For instance, an archaeological horizon is a widely disseminated level of common artifacts over a geographic area, distinguishing the levels of an archae- ological sequence Anthony In economics, a planning horizon is the length of time an individual plans ahead or the length of time companies can plan into the future with validity Richter Thus, there is a possibility that the computer will make a move after five turns that is detrimental, but the detrimental effect is not visible because the error could happen at lower depth after eight turns.

      When a significant change exists just beyond the horizon of the search depth, the computer falls victim to the horizon effect Russell and Norvig Tateo In psychological processes, the boundary is instead always related to the future time of the action, understood as establishing new relationships in relation to future- oriented goals. Unlike the concept of visual horizon surrounding the observer all around, the psychological horizon is only oriented toward the future.

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      It is a sign that enables some elements outside the life space to be semiotized, and prepare them to enter the field. Besides, the objects within the psychological field acquire value in relation to the semiotic horizon: the relationship between wishes and expectations, the imaginative anticipation, the ap- praisal of what is happening, the value of the objects and the polarity of forces in the field, the tenacity to pursue our goals, the moral and material price we are willing to pay, etc. Lewin Beside this inward sense of the subject, to which it is genetically unrelated, certain events emerge and take their course while nevertheless advancing and retarding it, disrupting its progress or binding together what has been removed, accentuating individual points or judging it as a whole.

      In this way, with reference to the subject, merely causal events take on a meaning [einen Sinn], a kind of retrospective teleology, as it were. That is, they are transformed into fates. Nevertheless, this sense of predestination only indicates an essentially superficial reflex of the concept of fate. As life relates tangentially to the course of the world, the activity and passivity of life have turned the concept of fate into a fact Simmel b, p. The apparent two dimensional life space reveals itself to be a multidimensional field of forces, in which what is not possible at the level of reality can be at the same time plausible or desirable at the level of expectations or imaginable at the level of wishes.

      In a certain sense, human beings are doomed to develop, that is they are always headed toward a range of possible futures among which just one will be actualized. But, according to the idea of exquisitely future-oriented action, it seems that human beings are also doomed to never learn from their mistakes. It means that the past experience plays a role as far as it becomes a topical psychological object in the field at that time. Thus, its status of something that has already existed but no longer exists on the plan of reality does not affect its role in the field of forces, unless it becomes a new sign.

      What determines the value of the objects and the direction of the vectors in the field is the tension at that moment, and the whole system is finally guided by the individual goals. It is the case of regressive behavior that Lewin explains in terms of field theory. Wishes and expectations can exert a force on the self, as well as desirable or unpleasant objects on the plan of reality.

      Barriers can be multidimensional as well. The person can encounter a barrier to overcome a region that exists between the plane of wishes and that of expectations or reality. Figure A segmentation occurs and a barrier emerges between the plan of reality and wishes of the field, with a real psychological object in the field threatening the achievement of the goal i.

      For instance, the barrier between the plan of reality and wishes becomes more permeable, leading to the expectation that what is not achievable at present time could be possible in a future time. Photograph of Lucio Fontana by Ugo Mulas. The use of this low-resolution image for critical commentary and research purposes qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

      Conclusions The idea of focusing on psychological processes and the conditions that cultivate them, goes beyond the concept of context for psychological processes, as well as the idea of horizon goes beyond the idea of life space. Tateo Valsiner First, I discuss the idea that any object of experience is included in the field of forces when it becomes a sign, thus becoming a psychological object provided with value. When the self is subject to vectors producing a tension in field, one of the possible actions is trying to go out of the field Lewin This option is more or less feasible depending upon the sharpness and permeability of the borders.

      The semiotic activity of socially guided psychological life generates segmentations, boundaries, and values oriented toward an unknown future. In other words, every production of signs is both an act of creation of psychological objects and of delimitation of a portion of reality.

      This condition came into its own in modernity and assumed the leading role in the processes of culturalization. Underlying the plurality of relationships that interconnect individuals, groups, and social formations, there is a pervading dualism confronting us: the individual entity strives towards wholeness, while its place within the larger whole only accords it the role of a part Simmel c, p. References Anthony, D. How to reconstruct a dead culture. Anthony Ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Brown, J. Psychology and the social order. An introduction to the dynamic study of social fields.

      New York: McGraw-Hill. Cabell, K. Mediators, regulators, and catalyzers: A context-inclusive model of trajectory development. Danesi, M. Giambattista Vico and the cognitive science enterprise.

      The Catalyzing Mind

      New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Mutual causal systems include elements within a system [that] influence each other either simultaneously or alternatingly Maruyama , p. While differentiating between the two types of mutual causal systems, Maruyama writes the following, the difference between the two types of systems is that the deviationcounteracting system has mutual negative feedback between the elements in it while the deviation-amplifying system has mutual positive feedbacks between the elements in it Maruyama , p.

      Often times, it is the assumption in experimental work that if we have similar conditions, we can produce similar effects. This way we can try to achieve replicability of our results. However, the implications of mutual causal systemsof both typesare that similar conditions can produce different effects. It all depends on the parts in the system, the initial kick, and what parts are deviation-amplifying versus deviation-counteracting.

      This revision of causality has been formulated as follows: In the light of the deviation-amplifying mutual causal process, the law of causality is now revised to state that similar conditions may result in dissimilar products. It is important to note that this revision is made without the introduction of indeterminism and probabilism. Since this definition lacks indeterminism and probablism, a definition of causality inclusive of these concepts has been formulated as follows: A small initial deviation, which is within the range of high probability, may develop into a deviation which is very improbable within the framework of probabilistic unidirectional causality.

      With either definition of causality with and without probablism and indeterminism , causality in the psychological system must be systemic. It must include heterogeneous elements and processes related to each other in various ways, achieving greater and greater variability over time. This variability allows for the synthesis of novel thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A Possible Synthesis and Solution: Catalysis Semiotic Cultural Psychology is a discipline on the borders of psychology, semiotics, and cultural studies that focuses on how individuals make their experiences meaningful.

      Analytically, the discipline uses a semiotic perspective, using the notion of the sign as its nalytical unit. The goal of a semiotic cultural psychology is to specify the semiotic mechanisms by which individuals make their experiences meaningful. In one theoretical attempt to extend the aims and scopes of semiotic cultural psychology, Cabell attempted twofold by: 1 differentiating the mechanisms i.

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