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A New Wave of Thinking in Psychology: Relationality Versus Abstractionism

  • Brent D. SlifeEmail author
  • Eric A. Ghelfi
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Theory and History of Psychology book series (PSTHP)

Abstract

The new wave of theoretical psychology is first described. Variously termed strong relationality or ontological hermeneutics, the new wave is shown to have two main thrusts in theoretical psychology: 1) it forms the hidden unity of cutting-edge theoretical work, and 2) it spurs the decreasing use of its more influential Western rival, ontological abstractionism. As we explain, abstractionist assumptions have led psychologists to many conceptual blind spots, intellectual dead ends, and self-defeating patterns of living. Yet, as theoretical psychologists have turned to strong relationality, the hold of old abstractionist assumptions has been so influential that truly relational conceptions have rarely been fully developed. Consequently, the bulk of this chapter explicates important distinctions between the two ontologies. These comparisons also illustrate some of the hidden influences of abstractionism in psychology and Western culture in order to clear a conceptual space for relationality. Examples are provided of how a relational alternative is being developed more fully in psychology’s theoretical community.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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