This closely integrated collection of essays constitutes a wide-ranging and comprehensive attempt to understand persons within psychology--a long-lost enterprise. The volume was inspired by the observation that contemporary psychology has become increasingly depersonalized in its conceptions and its methodology, and has thereby lost touch with its traditional subject matter of human individuality and the nature of persons. This development now threatens the integrity of psychology as a discipline. Using both a critical and constructive approach, the various contributors share two common objectives:
*to explore the roots of depersonalization in modern psychology through systematic criticism of contemporary functionalist and neo-functionalist approaches;
*to articulate some alternative holistic-interpretive and historical approaches to the psychology of persons. Despite these common objectives, the chapters reflect a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and approaches, including cognitive science and neuroscience, discursive psychology, hermeneutics, social constructionism, semiotics, rhetorical analysis, and psychological aesthetics. These essays do not converge on a unified psychology of persons, but they do serve to reopen a form of discourse that has long been absent from mainstream psychology.
This volume emerged from the deliberations of the Western Canadian Theoretical Psychologists (WCTP)--a group of scholars primarily from Western Canadian universities with shared interests in the history and theory of psychology. From its founding in 1989 to the present, the WCTP has been actively engaged in promoting and contributing to the development of theoretical psychology. Over the past half dozen years, scholars have greatly benefitted from the close collaboration and collegial support that participation in the WCTP makes possible. The annual meetings provide an opportunity for them to catch up on each other's work and also to pool their expertise to work on topics of shared interest.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. W.E. Smythe, Introduction. Part I: The Concept of Person. C.W. Tolman, Sumus Ergo Sum: The Ontology of Self and How Descartes Got It Wrong. W.E. Smythe, Folk Psychology and the Concept of Person. A.C. Paranjpe, Style Over Substance: The Loss of Personhood in Theories of Personality. L.P. Mos, A Constitutive Understanding of the Person. Part II: Aesthetic Dimensions of Personhood. D. Kuiken, Understanding the Depth Metaphor in Aesthetic Experience: Pressing the Limits of Psychological Inquiry. J.B. Conway, Pictures of People: How the Visual Arts Might Inform a Psychology of Persons. T.B. Rogers, The Look of Depersonalization: Visual Rhetoric in Personality Textbook Covers. Part III: Critical Perspectives on the Person. D.V. House, M.J. McDonald, Realist Brains and Virtual Conversations: Morals, Molecules, and Meanings in Social Constructionism. H.J. Stam, The Dispersal of Subjectivity and the Problem of Persons in Psychology. J. Shotter, Resurrecting People in Academic Psychology: A Celebration of the Ordinary.
"One of the most important goals of the theoretical psychological enterprise is scrutinizing key concepts in psychology. Theoretical analyses are necessary to understand the historical embeddedness of concepts, their philosophical presuppositions, and, not to be forgotten, their currency in contemporary psychological research and practice. In Toward a Psychology of Persons a group of Western Canadian theoretical psychologists makes an important contribution to this kind of theoretical work by dissecting the concept of the person. I applaud the fact that they have put 'the person' on the psychological agenda....The volume has much to offer regarding the current status of depersonalization and the steps towards a proper psychology of persons. The editor has done a good job: most arguments are clearly exposed, and relations between the themes in different chapters are noted explicitly."
—Theory & Psychology
"Toward a Psychology of Persons is a bold endeavour to address a phenomenon that has been at the elusive centre of the discipline, and gives us a new language and broad schema with which to proceed."
—Comptes rendus de lecture