Ecological Psychology and Social Psychology: Continuing Discussion
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What form would an ideal merger of ecological and social psychology take? Is that ideal attainable? Many researchers and theorists are working to answer these questions. Charles (2009, 2011a) offered insights from E. B. Holt, one of James J. Gibson’s mentors, who argued that minds—mental kinds, processes, states, etc.—are observable aspects of the environment. Phrasing that in Ecological terms, the minds of other organisms are specified in the structure of ambient energy extended over time and space; they are directly perceivable by a properly attuned organism. Ecological Psychology enhances Holt’s story, by brining to the table a sophisticated theory of direct perception; Holt enhances the Ecological story by brining to the table a sophisticated theory about the nature of minds. The two combine to form the long-sought ideal merger. Thus, I claimed, Ecological Psychology will either rediscover its roots, or go through the trouble of re-creating them. This paper further develops those ideas, by presenting a simpler version of the argument, suggesting easy ways of dismissing that argument, and addressing the concerns expressed by Castro and Lafuente (2011).
KeywordsDescriptive mentalism Direct perception E. B. Holt James J. Gibson New realism
I am intensely grateful for the time and effort of those involved in this ongoing discussion. It is not often that people are willing to engage ideas in this deep a fashion, and even while the replies to my work have been largely negative they have also been constructive, and I am lucky to have my work receive such attention. Perhaps I should have prepared a point by point reply to Travieso & Jacobs’s critique and to Kono’s critique. It seemed, at least at the time, that the main critiques they rendered were better served by a follow up article. At the least, it might have been worth a) explicitly pointing out that New Realism is not Naïve Realism, b) acknowledging Travieso and Jacobs’s catch of my inappropriate use of the term “algebraic” (their footnote 2), and restating that ecological psychologists would do well to look beyond “continuous, unbounded functions” in their search for invariants.
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