Three personal themes
- Adapting to our worlds (adjustment)
- Finding meaning in our worlds
- Finding beauty in our worlds and expressing ourselves in our worlds
Locating ourselves in space, time and history
- Space: The video first zooms out from a picnic scene and then, in the second part, zooms in
- Time: Time in this video is not shown in a linear way, but in a logarithmic one. Travelling
through orders of magnitude means that time is slowing down by a factor of ten each time.
In a linear movie, our presence on earth would simply not appear. Humans have been here
for the last 1 million yrs in comparison to 4500 million yrs (age of earth). Humans would
only appear in the last 0.06 secs in a 5min video, if viewed linear
- Experience of time = relative rate of change between you and your world.
o “Throwness”: thrown into the world at a particular time and space “existence”
o Realization of where we are in the universe. Culturally speaking, where are we now?
Our era: appearance of Google – total access of all knowledge outside of our
Umwelt: surrounding physical/organic worlds; how do we merge with it and how
do we separate from it (e.g. welcoming chair/bed vs. unwelcoming chair/bed)
Mitwelt: world with others; some people are more social with feelings of
alienation towards outside; can be with or without; move in spaces,
Elgenwelt: world with oneself; separate oneself from world, can’t think of self as
separate from family. I am nothing without anyone else. My responsibility to
- Cave era, time moved slowly. Middle ages, life changed. In 19 century, Baudelaire coined
“Age of Disontinuity” when life began to change. This is primarily because of technology
(inventions cause change)
- Now, McLuhan coined “global village”, we are everywhere so time and space collapse.
- How do we situation ourselves during an age that moves so quickly?
o Time slows down if: I change faster
o Time speeds up if: I change slowly
Big transition for psychology around 1500 C.E.
- Before renaissance (1250-1500) in western Europe, the self was diminished in favor of:
o Good & Evil were tangibles out there in the world
o Everything was determined by grace of God
o Emotions revolved around guilt related to the fact we were sinners and fear the wrath
o Values and meanings were clear and stable, people knew their places in the scheme of
- Back then, there was alive and dead. But a shift began in 1500s - change our view about self
and world. Secularization – no longer always refer to God.
o Descartes 1596-1650 c.e.: Cogito ergo sum: I think therefore I am
Dubito ergo sum: I doubt therefore I am
o Crucial point is that I am engaging in reflective self awareness
Two traditions of 18 century: English vs. German (continental)
English: the Enlightenment fostered belief that we can think for ourselves and show confidence
- About cause and effect. Science and rationality
- Make practical decisions in everyday life. Introspectively accessible
German: Idealism and Romanticism emphasized value of emotion and need to develop a
unified sense of self.
- Immanuel Kant – “the world is only what is in your mind, only know the world through
- Concerned with unity of self
- Time is plastic concept, not a fixed thing. When things change fast, discontinuity happens
In terms of locating ourselves in our world
1. Conceiving of our worlds
a. Geisteswissenschaften (human sciences) study culture thru Verstehen (acts of
empathic understanding), and hermeneutics (interpreting artifacts of a world
filled with meaning).
b. Empathic understanding: the person can appreciate that what happens to you is a
variation of a general theme (isn’t the first time it happened in history). YOU and what
happened to you is a PART of the whole. Process of text interpretation has goal to
understand deeper meanings – hermeneutics
c. When conceiving our worlds:
i. Emphasis placed on wisdom and understanding the life world
ii. Idiographic: individual cases, concrete situations or events
iii. Phenomenology: description and structure of your experience. What happened to
YOU, what was it like for YOU.
2. Studying our worlds
a. Naturwissenschaften: objective and scientific study of nature both physical and
i. Emphasis placed on knowledge and explanation.
ii. Nomothetic: universal principles and general rules
iii. Explanation: wanting to know cause and effect.
iv. Naturwissenshaften – precision
v. Gesitwissenshaften – variation
vi. Goal: balancing nature and variation
Which is more complex? Physical world or world of the mind?
- Physical world is a creation of the noetic world – world of mind - We have ideas about how the world works and we project them onto situations. In each era
we are taught ideas about how the world works and we live in terms of them (projecting
them) and we are always partly wrong.
How does this relate to psych?
- Considering the everyday world and the research world. As cognitive psych took more
control, the representation of psych in the lab became weaker. Events in lab are supposed to
represent the real world.
- 1. Events occur in everyday world: There is the lived world that goes on in our lives.
Then you have a separate detached world where you are looking down and analyzing from
plane of observation. Say you’re looking at a single mom on welfare: when you look thru
lived world, you’re experiencing from their POV. If you want to study someone in their
phenomenon you have to get into their lived world as opposed to looking from a plane of
- 2. Events occur in laboratory world: ecological validity – do events in the lab
meaningfully relate to events in lived world?
- Life episode: events that take place in these worlds as we struggle with life themes
- Personal life narratives: we have experiences and feelings about life worlds and events
that take place within them. These can be expressed in forms of: narratives or stories in
terms of which we define ourselves. These stories comprise facts and interpretations of
these facts which we take to be true about ourselves and our worlds. Only when you’re able
to go in to people’s worlds do you truly understand.
- We are in many lives and many worlds at once. Freud says we think we are individual
but we share a lot in common; therefore we are also together.
Four fundamental layers
- Noetic: includes all mental processes and diff forms of knowing. Perceptual, intellectual,
- Organic: includes all biological processes
- Physical: includes all physical processes
- Social: includes all social/cultural systems
- These layers have their own unique properties but also interact with each other.
- We are separate EXCEPT culture, language, feelings, emotion and soon. Even though we
are physically separate we are also together
- There are many selves in one body and many layers in a single person
o Outside vs. inside worlds -> individual vs. collective (private vs. public)
- Consciousness: lies in at the sentient boundary between stimulation from the outside world
and from the inside world, physical, cognitive, and affective during a particular period of
How do we see ourselves?
1. Are we objects or processes? Are we static or dynamic?
2. Can we change or are we bounded by our personal histories?
3.Literal view (externalized view): as objects with features, grades, status, and money. These
are literal views. In a frat they go thru literal views, to see if they can be accepted. These are
4. Ironic/metaphorical view: see ourselves in context, changing (open process)
5.Shifting viewpoints: engaged vs. detached; engaged – absorbed in our experiences.
Detached – outside of our experiences 6. Can we unify these viewpoints?
- 1. Adaptation: enlightenment; English guys – adapt to environment
- 2. Experience: German guys – experiencing related things
- Adaptation group: concerned with self-preservation
- Experience group: concerned with searching for meaning
- Reaction: instant, no prior thought, no planning, BUT wired into the brain (based on
memories and past experiences)
- Action: sequential, planning, structured, laid out
- Real: situation you’re really in; action
- True: open ended; e.g. what’s true for you
o Individual: private, experience
o Collective: public, express
- Inside one body, affected by the outside world, yet shaped by a personal existence. Are you
showing how you feel inside? Adaptation and experience are both a two-way street
challenged and shaped by the outside world, yet interpreted in a personal way. Expressive
side: if you’re keeping it in and not sharing, then it is even hidden from yourself.
Forms of knowledge - “When we’re doing psychology, we need to be objective” – what we’re taught.
- Cupchik – objectivity is a myth. Predicated on certain kinds of measuring engaged in
a certain group of people. They see it as real but it is not truth. When doing objective
research, you are a member of a group of people who all agree to do things a certain way.
E.g. measuring one kind of anxiety. The definition of anxiety is defined by a certain group
of people. They are not wrong to think that way but they have never talked to anybody
outside their group. You follow rules but you fail to realize whose rules you follow
- Subjective – e.g. you’re angry inside and are imagining the anger is outside. Subjectivity is
supposedly about the truth because you feel sad and you see it out in the world.
- Thought oriented: lost in thought, always planning, analyzing, looking back, replaying and
ruminating, difficulty noticing or experiencing feelings
- Feeling/emotion oriented: lost in emotion or feeling, always looking for
pleasure/excitement, always overwhelmed by emotions
- Must be able to shift between the 2
- We cannot have thoughts without feelings, can’t have emotions without thoughts. Feelings
as shadow of cognition – feelings = affective residue; something that stays after you think
ADAPTATION (cause and effect; logic oriented) vs. SEARCH FOR MEANING (parts and
wholes; feeling oriented)
Adaptation is about action. Action takes us to a
biological foundation. We see an influence of
animal past and evolutionary influence. If you’re
going to adapt, you need to have a strong stimulus
emphasis. If you want to emphasize the stimulus
you must appraise and evaluate. Feature qualifies
you look for matching the list you have in your
mind. Self terminating to stop your search.
Reaction to situations bring up memories of your
life (mental reactions or thoughts in your mind).
Thoughts shows the influence of social past; it has
meaning to you but not to me. Social structure
“social class shape the meaning”. Response
emphasis “you are overwhelmed by a meaning”.
Construction and interpretation. Gestalt “whole
situation”. Closure “a sense of a whole”.
Exhaustive = complete. - If you want to do good research, you have to understand relation of theory to phenomena
- Gestalt: You give priority to phenomena and your experiences. YOU HAVE TO LIVE IT.
E.g. Nobody understands means of poverty than somebody who lived it.
- Natural history: observation and collection of richly described instances; precedes
- Naturwissenschaft and Geistwissenschaft merely passing written info.
- His criticism of science: greatest threat to science was the sterile passivity induced by
degenerate scientific scholasticism, the mere handing down of a written tradition without
substantial criticism. Scholasticism: repeating old stuff w/o asking fundamental questions
- Science cannot tolerate the authoritarianism of sects and schools because: sect holds
tenaciously to what is only a part, which is presented nevertheless as if it were a whole.
- Vorstellungsarten: the ways of conceiving things… to bring many objects into relationship
that they did not have with each other, strictly speaking.
- Sect: group of ppl lost in emotion; those who do not question fundamental issues but treat it
as the fundamental truth
- As long as a scientist remained entirely wrapped up in a single dominant Vorstellungsart he
would be unable to criticize his work adequately or that there might be something lacking
from his understanding of nature.
- Goethe felt that intelligent amateurs can make small but important contributions to
observational sciences… they might notice things that escape the attention of experts…
they have not been indoctrinated into the ways of the discipline… they inject new ways of
conceiving things; he focuses on viewpoints!
- Goethe’s method:
o Theories atomize phenomena (divide them into pieces)
o We should follow method that explore laws, relations, similarities in the course of
development. This is a genetic, dynamic method.
o He looks for intrinsic interrelatedness of things in nature; natural things must be
studied in larger context as the context is always capable of further enlargement.
- Goethe’s approach
o Vorstellungsarten: way of conceiving and representing things bound to the
question of Darstellung (presentation) questions of presentation is a question of
language and rhetoric.
- He is in between poet and research world. He experienced the world and he analyzed the
world – being successful researcher.
- You must be able to step into the world as well as knowing how to analyze it
- Phenomena are events in the world and we want to observe them carefully and rescue them
from obscurity (because some things people can’t see about it). So as scientists, when we
study an area, we want to get a sense of the whole.
- For Goethe, the first duty of a scientist is to explore the associations and connections of one
phenomenon to another, without the intervention of a theory or hypothesis rather than try
from the outset to give proof of a theory.
- The phenomenon comes first. In intro psych, we learned to predict and explain, we were not
taught to observe. - Natural history is the careful observation and description of phenomena in the world.
Careful observation is the first step!
- IMPORTANT SLIDE
- Theory: formal account of the underlying process.
- First we observe, then we theorize
- 2 virtues important in science: patience and irony
- Irony of the truth – I can CHANGE. Patience – so we don’t rashly reject alternatives
- Phenomenon is a WHOLE experience – you must know it from inside out THEN relate
your findings with it.
- Goethe important for study of morphology – understand evolution of organism over time. A
good scientist looks at things as a whole and look at how it changes as a whole. Honest
viewing is to understand that things can change.
- You want to view a phenomenon from every possible angle. The initial work – collection,
examination, & organization – must be done with the greatest of care, industry, rigor so that
when wit and imagination are set loose they do not distort the phenomena at will.
- Every reflection to connection – theory comes out of the looking and observation of the
world because you’re thinking behind the scenes
- Directed looking -> consideration -> reflection -> connection. With every attentive look we
end up theorizing.
- Goethe thought of himself as inclined to the genetic (vs. atomistic), dynamic (vs.
mechanical), and concrete (vs. abstract).
- Use of term “fact” changed from having a doer, a time and a place where actor was visible.
- Psychology is based on positivism – belief that an observation is shared (you and I both
observed this event). So facts are redefined as “it was observed”
Goethe follows the logic of a phenomenal, experimental science of nature
1. Begin with: a question about a natural phenomenon…something that appears as a
part of a whole.
2. Discover through systematic experimentation: the conditions for this appearance.
3. By doing many different kinds of experiments we can understand the whole better
- He acquired habit of taking careful notes of his observation.
Aristotle: the whole is prior to the parts.
Goethe: self actualizing wholeness of organic forms. All advanced structures of a plant are
transformations from a single fundamental organ.
Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911)
- Conscious experience is not a collection of simple sensations but a “structured whole”
combining intellect, feeling, and whole. The whole is dynamic.
- Dominant psych could not grasp this idea because it’s too reductionist. People are shaped
by interactions with their cultural circumstances which formed the “character” or Gestalt.
- He is pre-founder of gestalt psych
- He made a distinction between natural science (e.g. physics) and human science (e.g. law,
history). We seek to explain phenomena in terms of cause and effect in naturwissenschaften - In Geisteswissenshaften (human science), we seek to understand in terms of relations of the
part and the whole. Notion of will is applied to deciding who we are and where we go in life
as a whole person
- In social science, a general theory of understanding or comprehension (Verstehen) – ON
EXAM) could be applied to all manner of interpretation ranging from aesthetics to events in
the “life world” (Lebenswelt)
Kurt Lewin (1890-1947)
- Stressed interaction of person and environment – B=F(P,E)
Two modes of scientific thinking: Aristotelian and Galilean
Aristotelian mode: Lewin criticized this; according to this approach, classification of phenomena
defined their essence in a static manner. This relates to the problem of essentializing or defining
something by a central property. In this approach, unusual events are regarded as unnatural. I.e.
child gets high score on IQ test and he is a “genius”
Galilean mode: this is more dynamic; a person’s behaviour is shaped by their qualities and the
situation they’re in. The situation is essential/fundamental to emotions..
Lewin’s strategy: wanted to recreate situations in which structures of ideal-typical person-
environment interactions could be made to appear in the laboratory. This way, researchers could
derive formal and ultimately mathematical descriptions of their dynamics. Goal was to develop
idealized concrete psychological situations. If you want to study something, you should go out in
the world and study it. But if you want to do it in a lab, you better recreate a situation that is
realistic, preserving ecological validity! REAL SITUATIONS IN THE WORLD BEFORE
History of the world emotion – early concepts
- Aristotle used passion to include appetite, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, love, hate,
longing, emulation, pity, and, in general, various states accompanied by pain and pleasure
- Passions were roughly equivalent to what we call today affective processes
- Ludovicus Vives used the term passion as appropriate only to violent emotions. Thus rage,
terror, horror, agony ecstasy were among the passions
- Originally, the word emotion meant a moving out of one place into another. Then it came to
mean a moving, stirring, agitation, perturbation, and was used in a strictly physical sense.
This physical meaning was gradually transferred to political and social agitation; the word
came to mean tumult, popular disturbance. Finally, the word came to be used to designate
any agitated, vehement, or excited mental state of the individual.
- Emotions: moving out from state of balance where body is moving you in an energizing
The affective process – Paul Thomas Young (1973)
1. Simple feelings: pleasantness/unpleasantness associated with odour, tastes, and other
2. Negative organic feelings: hunger, thirst, pain, fatigue, and positive organic feelings of
dietary satisfaction, relief, physical well-being, sex 3. Activity feelings: appetitive states such as hunger, thirst, sexual desire, eliminative urges
and also including activity feelings of interest, aversion, enthusiasm, commitment,
boredom, ennui, disinterest, resentment
4. Moral, aesthetic, religious, intellectual, social sentiments and attitudes which are based