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Social being: Social psychology in ecological perspective

Warren, Peter E. (2001) Social being: Social psychology in ecological perspective. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Social psychology has a short history characterized by paradigmatic neglect: The philosophical presumptions upon which it is based lie implicit in the research programme and dictate the analytical agenda. Psychological social psychology produces the predominant analytical perspective, social cognition. Two minor perspectives, sociological symbolic interactionism and postmodernist social constructionism, make a significant historical contribution to research. The three perspectives have divergent topical interests and contrasting analytical styles, yet all three share a common paradigmatic basis: Secular Cartesianism. Secular Cartesianism is Cartesianism without Descartes’s transcendental link to Nature’s truth. In the absence of God, secular Cartesianism relies exclusively on thinking in the unitary conscious (human) mind to provide the source of existential agency in organic existence. Accordingly, cognition is a human phenomenon that arises in the mind as a function of the biological complexity of the brain. The mind is the sole repository of psychological existence. There is neither an existential bond among humans through a direct link to God, nor an existential bond among organisms through a link to organic process. Secular Cartesian cognition abstracts itself from organic process to be Nature’s awareness of itself. To know its secular Cartesian self then the human abstracts itself from Nature as unitary cognition, regulating itself for the sake of the ‘they’ of transcendence. This is the human knowing Being-standing-without-worldhood, engulfed by concern for supremacy fitness. Secular Cartesian social psychology analyses the personified existence of unitary cognition, implicitly constructing sociality as a phenomenological add-on to psychological existence. Sociality pertains to the (abstracted) Other that existentially opposes unitary cognition. Cognition in a social context is personified existence behaving itself in the face of the Other, towards the optimization of unitary self-interest. Social behaviour is (human) conduct in the social contexts of (abstracted) personified existence.

Social psychology in ecological perspective identifies the social nature of psychological phenomena by establishing existential interdependency in organic process. In the absence of secular Cartesianism, cognition manifests itself in ecological confluence with organic interdependency. (Organic) cognition is ecological awareness in organic process. Individual (organic) cognition is the psychological aspect of cognition, and pertains to interdependent systems of individuality in ecological awareness. To know its ecological self then the organism owns itself as an interdependent aspect of (organic) cognition, realizing itself as an ecological issue. This is the organism under-standing Being (i.e., knowing Being-standing-withinworldhood), embodied in concern for environmental fitness. Ecological social psychology analyses personal existence in individual (organic) cognition, and thereby identifies sociality in psychological phenomena. Sociality pertains to the relational existentiality of the organism and its environment. Individual (organic) cognition emerges from the biological sensitivity for existential individuation in organic interdependency. It is psychological phenomena in social process. In (owned) personal existence, the organism realizes itself as ecological awareness in individual existence, towards the optimization of ecological self-interest. Social being is awareness of self-interest in the ecological niche of (owned) personal existence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Walker, Iain and Booth, Michael
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