readng Rommetviet

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Wed Aug 11 2004 - 20:00:40 PDT

I have been pondering over how best to explore jointly Rommetveit's idea of a
psychology of the "second person" and figure its both a difficult and worthwhile

My first concern is that a number of people on the list will not share
enough common reference to reach consensus on whether they agree or disagree
with RR because they will not be familiar to a number of the people and ideas
he is referring to. If this assumption is wrong, I am sure someone(s) will
straighten me out.

I take an overall concern of the article to be that many attempts to place
meaning at the center of human psychological life fall short in various ways
and that RR would like to show where the shortfalls are and point to ways
beyond them. Early on he locates his concern with the early history of
psychology which inherits "most of initial wondering and problems from
philosophy and the humanities buts its quest for empirical documentation
and scientific stringency from the biological and natural sciences."

I take this to be a formulation of the "two psychologies" problem which
LSV and his colleagues sought to overcome, although I learned to think of
it in polemics between Wundt and Dilthey, not Ebbinghaus and Dilthey. The
latter pair are actually closer to my own graduate training but in each
case, the issue of meaning enters into the disagreement in an analogous
way. What makes them different, I think, is how one thinks about the term
"subject" which undergoes a change of meaning between 1880 and 1920 that
carries with it all the confusions we experience over the term "object"
in discussions here.

So, question #1 is whether people are familiar with the Dilthey-Ebbinhaus/Wundt
disagreement, its foundation, and its importance. If not, we might stop to
make that clear.

Secondly, do readers know the work of Michotte and Heider and how they are
used in contemporary psychology and how they fit into the arguments here?
Again, I was not sure. Both have become very important (again) in modern
developmental psychology where Michotte is used as providing evidence for
a "physical causality module" through his demonstrations of the illusion
of physical causality in very young infants and Heider's work on "intentional
motion" is used in the same venue and for similar reasons.

I can provide thumbnail sketches of all these issues if anyone would be
helped by them. I actually had some questions about RR's interpretation of
them, but unless we share some notion of the topic, anything I might have
to say would be pretty vacuous.

It might interest people to know that there were a LOT of interconnections
between the Europeans and Americans RR discusses. Early American psychologists
routinely got their PhD's in Europe so that, for example, Mead was a student
of Dilthey's. Heider was a German forced to make himself understood to
Americans-- as best he could. And so on.

Anyway, seems like we need some co-authoring here.

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