Dialectics in Psychology:
Many Worlds of Psychological Experience

Randal G. Tonks
Simon Fraser University


This being the first issue of the second volume we are proud to say that we have learned a lot in the past year. Beginning modestly, on the gopher template of information presentation, our first volume simply attempted to establish our presence on the internet. With the inaugural issue being dedicated to the themes of identity, self, emotions and the nexus of human/machine interface known as teledildonics our arrival was straight from our mandate. We also had our first introductions to the issues of culture and philosophy of science in this issue with a cultural psychological account of co-dependency and a discussion of the role of identity issues in the philosophy of science outlined by Kuhn (1970).

The second issue adhered to the mandate of Psybernetika in a different fashion, turning our attention towards the themes of transcendence, archetypes, unconscious, existentialism and feminism, the issue begins with an account of the dogmas of psychology. The works of Carl Jung and numerous Buddhist scholars figure prominently in the articles of this issue, while there is also a consideration of the critiques of psychology espoused by such writers as Hume, Dostoyevsky and Sartre.

The third issue took a clearly different slant. As an experiment in teaching an introduction to the history of psychology, the various accounts of The history of psychology in Canada: The past quarter century. This issue represents the hard labours of the students from psychology 308 - The History of Modern Psychology - from the summer semester of 1995. These students provided a great diversity of perspectives on the psychological activity of Canadians as seen in popular press as well as the principle journals of the Canadian Psychological Association.

This first issue of the second volume proves to be as eclectic as the first three. To begin, the reader is drawn into an interesting account of the clandestine religion of economic progress and prosperity. Today being the day that all Canadians ought to have filed their 1995 tax returns, the day that British Columbians have been officially thrown into an election campaign centred on taxes and debts, Albert Banerjee touches on an interesting psychological concern for many of Canada's citizens. Ranging from the poverty stricken students and single parents on welfare to the highly acclaimed 1995 Massey Lecturer, Canadians from coast to coast to coast are becoming more and more aware of ideas such as these as expressions of their own `unconscious' voicings about the fate of economic growth and the teasing of an economic utopia. John Ralston Saul (1995) writes about the unconscious yearnings that contemporary Canadians (and Americans) have for being guided by ideologies and the profit driven prophets of economic utopias. Neo-corporatism, and the dictates of markets and technology are themes for Saul, along with the dialectics of:

humanism versus ideology, balance versus imbalance, equilibrium versus disequilibrium, democratic individualism versus corporatism, the citizen versus the subject, language versus propaganda, consciousness versus unconsciousness, permanent versus temporary human patterns, and self-loathing versus delight.

While Albert does not address all of the themes addressed by Ralston Saul, he certainly brings to bear the issues of an unconscious spiritual problem, as seen through the eyes of Carl Jung. Joseph Campbell is also a scholar considered by both Banerjee and Ralston Saul in their revealing accounts of the unconscious religious expressions in which so many people are regularly engaged. Exposing the symbols of technology and along with rituals of play, Albert's account of the religion of economics also considers the role of priests and heretics.

Making use of the dialects between natural (naturwissenschaft) and human (geisteswissenschat) science, Maria Malcolm also relies upon the works of Carl Jung in telling her story of the loss and recovery of the person and the soul in psychology. Here Maria discusses the ironic work of Gordon Allport (once chair of ethics at Harvard) in tossing away the persona for personality. Having been influenced by Anand Paranjpe, as with several of the papers in the second issue of our first volume, Maria's account of behaviourism, the third force, and transpersonal psychology begins with William James and his open minded approach.

Gillian McLean's person account of personality maturation makes use of some traditional natural science empirical research, however it proves to be exemplary of the human science perspective. As with Erik Erikson's interest in the historical human science accounting, Gill provides the reader with a wonderful narrative of a woman's experiences of maturation and her path towards understanding herself and others like her. Beginning with the mid-life crisis point of generativity versus stagnation, Gill weaves through issues parenting, marriage, relationships and an ongoing need for self understanding. In closing, Gill leaves her discussion like a lengthy thread on a well woven tapestry in order that someone from a younger generation may wish to continue the design, as she turns to wisdom as a growing concern.

Certainly from a younger generation, but of no lesser quality Olivia Lambert's historical account of the development of our contemporary conceptions of childhood. Having originally been written for a seminar on Historical and Theoretical Issues in Psychology, Psychology 402, Olivia's account is situated into the context of her group's principle's for psychology. As part of the course grading, students in this class were asked to come to some form of agreement on a philosophy of science for their future practices of psychology. Agreement was sought in groups of four or five students, and they had previously spent seven weeks reading and discussing six characteristically different contemporary philosophies of science. The principles that Olivia's group can to agree upon are published along with her paper, and while each in a different group, Emily Butler's and Mark Ferrari's paper were also from the same Psyc 402 class.

Emily Butler's account of a perspective on psychology also represents the cogwheeling of the lifecyles that Erikson (1964) spoke of when describing generativity, the passing on of values, morals and in this case intellectual concerns. Emily's paper is an interesting account of the work of her father Jack Butler as an artist and as a scientist. Emily has provided a clear and cohesive picture of the cross-disciplinary "medical modeling" of embryogenesis that her father does. She further provides a discussion that is well informed about the philosophy of science by revealing the cultural assumptions within our paradigms of gender that have come to play a role in how we envision science and art.

Mark Ferrari's critical account of Rushton's work on intelligence and race offer notes of caution to propagandists of psychology. Citing several other critiques of Rushton's work, Mark places an emphasis on the implications of publishing marginal results which have been "misinterpreted". Also proving an example of critical hermeneutics, Mark's account discusses the effects on the 'lay public' of such "misinterpretations" along with the use of such 'tools' as measures of intelligence to determine whether or not a young offender will re-offend or not.

Mahes Ramachandran also brings dialectics into her discussion of the psychological effects of marijuana use. Mahes discusses both the negative effects of using marijuana along side of the medicinal advantages of its use. Also discussing "social concerns" associated with marijuana use, Mahes challenges the American government's war on drugs and the international prohibition of it growth and use. Bruce Alexander (1990), a professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University, has written on Peaceful Measures: Canada's way out of the 'war on drugs' (University of Toronto Press) which is also critical of current policies on the prohibition of many drugs. In British Columbia today, there also are a lot of people concerned over the prohibition of marijuana. In coming months there will be a trial against a few people who have decided to take a stand against this situation of prohibition by "coming out of the closet" and publicly calling for the recognition of their "cultural ways of life".

We would like to hear you comments on anything written in this or any other issue of Psybernetika, or anywhere else. Remember to read About Psybernetika and see that we will publish you critical comments in Letters or Take Aim and check out our layout in How to Contribute to Psybernetika.

Randal G. Tonks
Editor, Psybernetika
April 30, 1996