Psy - Phi

Stephen Boydstun's picture
Submitted by Stephen Boydstun on Wed, 2008-10-29 13:40




At the conference History of Philosophy of Science 2008

“Closing the Circle of the Sciences: On the Central Role of Psycho-Physiological Parallelism in Piaget’s Work”

John Michael (University of Vienna)


Although it is well known that Jean Piaget was interested in epistemological questions as well as the psychological issues he worked on, the connection between the two areas of interest has yet to be understood adequately. This connection can be made clear if we examine a notion that Piaget himself explicitly regarded as the cornerstone of his genetic epistemology—namely the philosophical principle of psycho-physiological parallelism.

Although Parallelism (in its various forms) was a highly influential position with respect to the mind-body problem from the late-nineteenth century until the Second World War, its influence within psychology and philosophy has often been overlooked. According to its first proponent, Gustav Theodor Fechner, parallelism is a heuristic principle according to which one should be able to find a physical concomitant for every mental event. This formulation does not address the issue of causality. A subsequent version proposed by Fechner seeks to interpret the principle by denying any causal relation between the mental and the physical and espousing a dual-aspect theory, which explains the difference between the mental and the physical as resulting from a difference between an inner and an outer perspective.

In his major theoretical work Introduction á l’Épistemologie Génétique, Piaget cites Théodore Flournoy and Harald Höffding as authorities on parallelism. He was in all likelihood also exposed to the notion while working under Théodore Simon in the lab founded by Alfred Binet, who subscribed to the version of parallelism espoused by Ernst Mach and Ewald Hering—namely psycho-physiological parallelism.

Piaget advocates parallelism definitively as a heuristic for psychology and offers a provisional interpretation of it. According to Piaget, motor-schemas of action are supplemented during the course of development by operational schemas, and these in turn by abstract-formal schemas. Since the latter are built upon and abstracted from motor-schemas, they are structurally isomorphic with them: the implicative relations at the psychologically characterizable level of the formal-abstract schemas are parallel to the causal relations at the physiologically characterizable level of the motor-schemas. Since the motor-schemas are assimilated to the rational structures characterizable only in psychological terms, physiology cannot do without psychology when it comes to explaining actions.

But psychology must also take into consideration the physiological origin that shapes higher-order thought processes. Piaget in fact goes so far as to regard science in general as rooted in thought processes that are progressively abstracted from motor-schemas. This link between scientific thought and physiology, according to Piaget, “closes the circle of the sciences” and provides the basis for his genetic epistemology.  

In Objectivity, see Piaget V1N2 38–39, V1N5 32–33, 49, V1N6 2–3, 5, 7, 31–32, V2N6 100–112.




Behaviorism Bibliography – Roland Müller

"From Behaviorism to Neobehaviourism" (1975) – Patrick Suppes

"Intentional Systems Theory" – Daniel Dennett (Tufts)

The Pseudo-Science of B. F. Skinner (1974) – Tibor Machan

ISBN 0-7618-3654-3 

Positivism in Psychology (1991) – Charles W. Tolman, editor


At the conference History of Philosophy of Science 2008

“Psychology from Introspection to an Objective Science of Behavior: the Significance of Dewey’s Hegelianism and Holt’s ‘New Realism’” – Fred Wilson


This study aims to show how psychology was transformed from a science that introspectively analyzed consciousness into an objective science that dealt with behavior understood as serving functions in a biological organism. Darwin was in the background, but the transition was effected in large part by two philosophers. One was John Dewey, who insisted on the functional point of view, but who understood that perspective in teleological and essentially anti-scientific, Hegelian terms. The other was E. B. Holt.

John B. Watson showed how psychology could become objective but as he saw it the science remained atomistic in focus rather than functional. Holt, with an understanding of relations deriving from Russell, showed how psychology could be an objective science of human being which nonetheless eliminated psychological and logical atomism and became a science that dealt with structures and functions of behavior.  

James and John Stuart Mill defended at length the idea that psychology was a natural science and, more specifically, that it was a science of mental phenomena. Its method was that of the introspective analysis of conscious states into their parts. Psychology remained essentially a science of mental phenomena until Darwin. He conceived of organic forms as wholes which are acted upon by the environment, and in turn act on the environment in ways that make them more or less fit for survival and reproduction. He conceived of consciousness as another organ functioning to generate adaptive behavior for the whole organism.

Two philosophers were also important in transforming psychology from the earlier science of introspection to an objective science of a functioning organism. One was John Dewey who broke with introspective atomism and insisted (in his essay on "The Reflex Arc Concept") that introspective parts are crucially related into wholes serving various functions. His concept of relation and of function was, however, hardly scientific, but was teleological, essentially derivative from Hegel and the British idealists. It was close enough to effect the introduction of Darwinian functionalism into psychology, though.

Dewey’s colleague at Chicago, J. R. Angell, took up the functionalism, arguing that consciousness as an organ was a problem-solving mechanism that enabled the biological whole to become a creature better fitted to its environment. But the science was not yet wholly objective; he did not eliminate completely the anti-scientific teleology deriving from Hegel via Dewey.

Angell’s student, John B. Watson, showed how to make the science wholly objective and how to eliminate the teleological dross. But in doing that, he reverted to a sort of atomism—now an atomism of bits of behavior rather than bits of consciousness, but atomism nonetheless. This is just the sort of atomism the Darwinian revolution established as inadequate, and which Dewey, for all his inadequacies, was trying to overcome. It was another philosopher, E. B. Holt, one of the anti-Hegelian “new realists,” who showed how psychology could be both an objective science and one in which the parts were seen holistically, as functioning to effect the ends of a biological organism.


Gary Hatfield’s contributions online:

“Introspective Evidence in Psychology” in Scientific Evidence, P. Achinstein, editor (Johns Hopkins 2005)

“Psychology Old and New” and “Behaviorism and Psychology” in Cambridge History of Philosophy, T. Baldwin, editor (Cambridge 2003)

“Perception as Unconscious Inference” in Perception and the Physical World: Psychological and Philosophical Issues in Perception, D. Heyer and R. Mausfeld, editors (Wiley 2002)




Psychologism (1995) – Martin Kusch

A Border Dispute: The Place of Logic in Psychology (1986) – John Macnamara


At the conference History of Philosophy of Science 2008 

“Empirical Psychology and Marburg School Neo-Kantianism on the Object of Psychology” – Scott Edgar (UBC)


Wilhelm Wundt, like other psychologists in the second half of the nineteenth century, wanted psychology to be independent of non-empirical, metaphysical questions about the nature of mind and its relation to physical bodies. To do this, Wundt proposed to that psychology should be a science of “inner experience”, in contrast with the other sciences, whose domain would be “outer experience.” Psychology would describe phenomenal experience without making any assumption that phenomena represent real minds existing, as it were, behind the experience. But this created a problem: having ruled out appeals to anything beyond phenomenal experience, Wundt lost his conceptual purchase on the distinction between “inner” and “outer”. Thus he had no principled account of what psychology is about. This, I argue, is the problem of defining the object of psychology, a major problem for the conceptual foundations of nineteenth-century introspectionist psychology. This paper will present the solution to this problem offered by the Marburg School Neo-Kantian Paul Natrop, and will argue that Wundt's eventual solution owed a great deal to Natorp's. The paper will thus suggest that despite the Marburg School's strict anti-psychologism, Natorp nevertheless made significant contributions to the philosophy of psychology.




Ψ-Φ with Ayn Rand

The Evidence of the Senses – David Kelley

"Ayn Rand and the Cognitive Revolution in Psychology" [Thread] – Robert Campbell

"Capturing Concepts" [Iconic Representation (16–18) / Childhood Concepts (28–37)]

"Intricate Consciousness" [Subconscious Processes (51–64)] – Jay Friedenberg

"Formation of the Concept of Mind" – Paul Vanderveen

"Con Molto Sentimento" [Neuropsychology of Music] – Marsha Enright

"Mathematics and Intuition" [Perception (137–45)] – Kathleen Touchstone

“Universals and Measurement” [Genesis] – Stephen Boydstun

"The Comprachicos" – Ayn Rand

"The Stimulus and the Response" – Ayn Rand


( categories: )

On Road to Consciousness

Stephen Boydstun's picture

Chapter 26 from The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition:
Neuroethology – From Morphological Computation to Planning
Malcolm A. MacIver

Expectations and such

Ptgymatic's picture

have been known to affect perception in this way due to research done ages ago. Is there something new here besides using the word, "affect?"


Affect and Perception

Stephen Boydstun's picture

In the issue of Science News for 8/29/09, there is a review article, by Jenny Lauren Lee, of research on the role of affect and context in perceptual attention and recognition.

“Whereas emotions describe complex states of mind, such as anger or happiness, affect refers to something much more basic. Psychologists describe it as a bodily response that is experienced as pleasant or unpleasant, comfortable or uncomfortable.”

“Scientists are now learning that affect may play a fundamental role in object perception, regardless of whether the objects in question are ‘affective’ or not.”

“Affect helps the brain prioritize.”

Perception and Cognition

Stephen Boydstun's picture


Stephen Boydstun's picture

Predicative Minds 

The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking

Radu J. Bogdan (MIT 2009)

From the Introduction

“Predication is evolutionarily puzzling because it is not practiced by other animal minds—at least not according to the analysis proposed here. Predication is developmentally puzzling because the thoughts of young children begin like those of other animals, operating in imperative and nonpredicative forms, yet when they turn descriptive and predicative, around the age of two or so, the transition looks less like a gradual maturation from simpler precursors and more like a rather revolutionary change. Finally, predication is philosophically puzzling, for several reasons. The oldest and best-known reason is that a predication is more than the sum of its parts. The thoughtthat the lawn is greenr epresents more then the parts—lawn, green, is—represent separately, as a conjunction or mere list. Another reason why predication is philosophically or (perhaps better said) cognitive-scientifically puzzling is that it is not reducible to, and hence cannot be explained by, its conceptual, logical, grammatical, semantic, and even pragmatic properties, as was and still is assumed by most theorists of predication. Or so I will argue.

“Predication marks a sharp divide between animal and human minds, and between the minds of young children and those of older children and adults. Predication is also at the heart of conscious, deliberate, explicit, and language-based human thinking. Predicative thoughts are the fuel of higher mental activities, such as deliberation, reflective planning, hypothetical reasoning, introspection, counterfactual imagination, theorizing, reflective self-control, and more. Predicative minds are the only ones that create art, technology, culture, and science. So many reasons, then, to ask the question—the central question of this book: what explains predication as a mental competence?”


In Objectivity

Predication V1N1 23, V1N2 5,  9V1N3 5, 41, 44–45, V1N4 5–8, 12, 14, 41, V1N5 110–11, V2N1 134V2N4 99, 102; and Existence-is-Identity V1N3 45


In The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, from “Universals and Measurement”

“I suggest that even at the single-words stage of language development, the toddler has entered the conceptual level of consciousness in Rand's sense of that level. The utterance ball refers, and marks a concept, already at this stage.

“One problem for that conjecture is the following. Rand required that the items falling under aconcept be united with a specific definition. [See (1) and (2) above and Rand 1966, 48–50.] But at the single-words stage of development, the toddler cannot yet form two-word expressions. That competence will not be attained for another six months or so, at around 24 months of age.[37] Not yet having two-word expressions, she cannot yet form a sentence, cannot yet use words in assertive sentences. Without propositions one is without defining propositions, hence, without definitions. Then at the single-words stage of development, the items falling under a 'concept' cannot be united by a specific definition. Then it would seem one does not yet possess a concept in Rand's sense. I think that conclusion would be an overstatement.

“For an older child or an adult, of course, 'a concept identifying perceptual concretes stands for someimplicit propositions' (Rand 1966, 48, 21). For a single-words toddler, no propositions can be adduced. Actions can be adduced. A ball is something that can be handled and thrown down. It bounces and rolls. These things are clearly known of balls even by the one-year-old whose first and only word is ba. The concept ball is likely held in mind in the form of image and action schemata as well as by the term ball (Rand 1966, 13, 20, 43; 1969,167–70).”

37. By 24 months the child is using two-word utterances such as ‘Mommy sit!’ and ‘guy there’ and ‘Iknow [how to do it]’ (Bremner 1994, 252–53; Nelson 1996, 112, 124–25). Up to about this time, when grammar begins to develop, ‘words learned remain tied to their world models and do not form systems of their own’ (Nelson 1996, 128). In terms of Deacon’s iconic, indexical, and symbolic levels of representation (1997, 70–83), I should say that concepts at the single-words stage are indexical representations, and these concepts will become symbolic representations with the onset of grammar. Rand’s conceptual level of representation cuts across Deacon’s indexical and symbolic levels.

All three levels of representational cognition—even the iconic level (e.g., drawing a stickman)—are active, deliberate, and constructive. I take the membership relation, which is essential for concepts, classes, and sets, to require this sort of active generation, from our first concept to our last. In this way, the membership relation is unlike perceptual relations of similarity, proximity, or containment (cf. Rand 1964, 20; Maddy 1997, 90–94, 108–9, 152n30, 172–76, 185–88).”


From “Parsing Existence”

“Predications are conceptual identifications. Edward Zalta takes the discipline of logic to be “the study of the forms and consequences of predication” (2004, 433).[3] That conception of logic fits well with Rand’s conception of logic as ‘the art of non-contradictory identification’.”

3. ‘In Defense of the Law of Non-Contradiction’ in The Law of Non-Contradiction, Priest, Beall, and Armour-Garb, editors (Oxford). Two beginning works have addressed how predication can be taken under Rand’s thesis ‘existence isidentity’. These are the final section (IX) of my 1991 Objectivity essay ‘Induction on Identity’ (V1N3) and David Kelley’s paper ‘Concepts and Propositions’ read at the 1996 summer seminar of the Institute of Objectivist Studies.”


This one is Phi, no Psy.

The Physical Basis of Predication

Andrew Newman (Cambridge 1992)

Free Will

Stephen Boydstun's picture

Situated Cognition

Stephen Boydstun's picture

The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition 

Philip Robbins and Murat Aydede, editors (2008)


Table of Contents


Part I. Backdrop

1. A Short Primer on Situated Cognition - Philip Robbins and Murat Aydede

2. Scientific Antecedents of Situated Cognition - William J.Clancey

3. Philosophical Antecedents of Situated Cognition - Shaun Gallagher


Part II. Conceptual Foundations

4. How to Situate Cognition: Letting Nature Take Its Course - Robert A. Wilson and Andy Clark

5. Why the Mind Is Still in the Head - Fred Adams and Kenneth Aizawa

6. Innateness and the Situated Mind - Robert Rupert

7. Situated Representation - Mark Rowlands

8. Dynamics, Control, and Cognition - Chris Eliasmith

9. Explanation: Mechanism, Modularity, and Situated Cognition - William Bechtel

10. Embedded Rationality - Ruth Millikan


Part III. Empirical Developments

11. Situated Perception and Sensation in Vision and Other Modalities: From an Active to a Sensorimotor Account - Erik Myin and Kevin O’Regan

12. Spaces of Thought - Barbara Tversky

13. Remembering - John Sutton

14. Situating Concepts - Lawrence W.Barsalou

15. Problem-Solving and Situated Cognition - David Kirsh

16. The Dynamic Interactions between Situations and Decisions - Jerome R.Busemeyer, Ryan K. Jessup, and Eric Dimperio

17. Situating Rationality: Ecologically Rational Decision Making with Simple Heuristics - Henry Brighton and Peter M.Todd

18. Situativity and Learning - R. Keith Sawyer and James G. Greeno

19. Language in the Brain, Body, and World - Rolf A. Zwaan and Michael P. Kaschak

20. Language Processing Embodied and Embedded - Michael Spivey and Daniel Richardson

21. Situated Semantics - Varol Akman

22. Is Consciousness Embodied? - Jesse J.Prinz

23. Emotions in the Wild: The Situated Perspective on Emotion - Paul Griffiths and Andrea Scarantino

24. The Social Context of Cognition - Eliot R. Smith and Frederica R. Conrey

25. Cognition for Culture - Michael Tomasello and Felix Warneken

26. Neuroethology: From Morphological Computation to Planning - Malcolm A. MacIver.

Visual Attention

Stephen Boydstun's picture

Faith and Visual Attention?

Global Precedence


General Works on Visual Attention

Visual Attention edited by Richard Wright (OUP 1998)

The First Half Second edited by Haluk Öğmen and Bruno Breitmeyer (MIT 2005)

Principles of Visual Attention: Linking Mind and Brain by Claus Bundesen and Thomas Habekost (OUP 2008)

Active Vision by John Findlay and Iain Gilchrist (OUP 2003)

Early Development

Stephen Boydstun's picture

I always liked the following passage, in Atlas, in which Rand gives a thumbnail sketch of development from infancy. In the beginning, the mind has no grasp that A is A.

At start a consciousness “acquires its initial sensory perceptions and has not learned to distinguish solid objects. . . . To a baby . . . the world appears as a blur of motion, without things that move—and the birth of his mind is the day when he grasps that the streak that keeps flickering past him is his mother and the whirl beyond her is a curtain, that the two are solid entities and neither can turn into the other, that they are what they are, that they exist. The day when he grasps that matter has no volition is the day when he grasps that he has—and this is his birth as a human being. The day when he grasps that the reflection he sees in a mirror is not a delusion, that it is real, but it is not himself, that the mirage he sees in a desert is not a delusion, that the air and the light rays that cause it are real, but it is not a city, it is a city’s reflection—the day when he grasps that he is not a passive recipient of the sensations of any given moment, that his senses do not provide him with automatic knowledge in separate snatches independent of context, but only with the material of knowledge, which his mind must learn to integrate—the day when he grasps that his senses cannot deceive him, that physical objects cannot act without causes, that his organs of perception are physical and have no volition, no power to invent or to distort, that the evidence they give him is an absolute, but his mind must learn to understand it, his mind must discover the nature, the causes, the full context of his sensory material, his mind must identify the things that he perceives—that is the day of his birth as a thinker and scientist” (1040–41).Φ note

Ψ note (#33) from G (2004): “Rand concluded from research literature as of 1966 that the sensory experience of the infant was apparently entirely ‘an undifferentiated chaos’ and did not contain any percepts (1966, 5, 6). Subsequent research has dispelled that old vision of cognition in neonates. See Bremner (1994); Meltzoff (1993); Clifton (1992); Kellman (1995).”]

Rand wrote in 1966:

“The (implicit) concept ‘existent’ undergoes three stages of development in man’s mind. The first stage is a child’s awareness of objects, of things—which represents the (implicit) concept ‘entity’. The second and closely allied stage is the awareness of specific, particular things which he can recognize and distinguish from the rest of his perceptual field—which represents the (implicit) concept ‘identity’. [On implicit, see ITOE App. 159–62, 178–79, and my Note 35.]

In the "Genesis" section of “Universals and Measurement,” I trace some competences attained in the first year of development. These attainments, established by careful scientific observation and experiment, comport with Rand’s general entity-identity phases (excepting the note above on neonates).

“For the first day or two after birth, existents for us are plausibly only entities. Such would be the occasions of Mother’s face or voice [33]. Very soon existents become for us not mere entities, but identities, particular and specific [34].

“At 20 days there is expectation of the reappearance of a visual object gradually occluded by a moving screen; rudimentary particular identity of visual objects in general (Bremner 1994). At 4 weeks there is some oral tactile-to-visual transfer of object features, without opportunity for associative learning; rudimentary specific identity (Meltzoff 1993). At 5 weeks there is recognition memory of color and form; growth of specific identity. At 8 weeks there is onset of attention toward internal features of patterns and onset of smooth visual tracking; also, hand tactile-to-visual transfer of object features; growth of particular and specific identity. At 10 weeks there is expectation that one visual solid object cannot move through another (Bremner 1994). By 3 months visual tracking is becoming anticipatory (Johnson 1990); there is visual fill-in of invisible parts of objects (Bremner 1994); visual objects are being identified as separate using various static-separation and motion traits (Spelke and Van de Valle 1993); there is categorical perception of objects and events (Quinn 1987). At 4 months haptic apprehensions of shapes can be transferred to visual mode (Streri and Spelke 1988); visual solid objects are expected to endure and retain size when occluded for a brief period (Bremner 1994); objects are expected to fall if not supported (Needham and Baillargeon 1993).

“The infant’s world of entities-identities will continue to elaborate. Units are not yet. At 6 months the infant will have some sensitivity to numerosity; can detect numerical correspondences between disparate collections of items, even correspondences between visible objects and audible events; can detect equivalence or nonequivalence of numerical magnitudes of collections (Starkey, Spelke, and Gelman 1990). At 7 months, still without words, the infant distinguishes global categories (e.g., animals v. vehicles) which will later become superordinates of so-called basic-level categories (e.g., dog v. car) yet to be formed (Mandler and Bauer 1988). By 12 months, the infant reliably interprets adult pointing, looking from hand to target (Butterworth and Grover 1988).

“At around 12 months, the infant puts first words, single-word utterances, into her play. Words at this stage are used only in play, not for communication, which is still accomplished with cries, gestures, and gazes (Bremner 1994, 249–51; Nelson 1996, 105, 112). An infant in my family, who has just turned his first year, has the word ba. He says it quietly to himself whenever he sees or is handed a spherical ball; he does not say his word when the ball is a football. We should not suppose too hastily, I should note, that his word ba refers simply to the spherical ball with which he is engaged. At this first-words stage, his utterance may designate the object as component of his whole activities that go with those objects (activities like training the adults to fetch) (Bremner 1994, 251–52; Nelson 1996, 97, 109–10, 115, 227–29).

“By 14 months the toddler points to indicate items (Butterworth and Grover 1988). By 16 months she spontaneously groups objects of a single category (Bremner 1994, 173). In another month or two comes the naming explosion, naming of objects especially (Nelson 1996, 111–15; Macnamara 1986, 144–45).

“By the time of the naming explosion, at 17 or 18 months, the toddler is using single words to refer (Macnamara 1986, 56–57). These words (50 to 100 words) include demonstratives such as that, common nouns such as ball, and proper names such as Star, say, to refer to a particular ball. The use of common nouns and proper names in single-word reference indicates certain competencies of identification, certain representational comprehensions of identities specific and particular. The representational comprehensions of specific and particular identity that are evidently coming into operation at this stage are class-membership relation, individuation within class, and particular identity over time.

“. . . .

“At the single-words stage of development, at the naming explosion say, the toddler cannot yet form two-word expressions. That competence will not be attained for another six months or so, at around 24 months of age [37]. Not yet having two-word expressions, she cannot yet form a sentence, cannot yet use words in assertive sentences. Without propositions one is without defining propositions, hence, without definitions. Then at the single-words stage of development, the items falling under a ‘concept’ cannot be united by a specific definition. Then it would seem one does not yet possess a concept in Rand’s sense.

“For an older child or an adult, of course, ‘a concept identifying perceptual concretes stands for some implicit propositions’ (Rand 1966, 48, 21). For a single-words toddler, no propositions can be adduced. Actions can be adduced. A ball is something that can be handled and thrown down. It bounces and rolls. These things are clearly known of balls even by the one-year-old whose first and only word is ba. The concept ball is likely held in mind in the form of image and action schemas as well as by the term ball (Rand 1966, 13, 20, 43; 1969, 167–70)[38].” (287–90)



See also, in Objectivity:

Language Acquisition V1N1 23–24, 28–29, V1N2 81, V1N3 10, V2N4 113–19, 130–31, V2N4 104, 106

Learning Object Permanence V1N5 32–33, V2N6 102–3, 111–12; Shape V1N1 16–18, 39, V2N4 149–50; v. Unlearned Acquisition in Development V1N1 13, V1N3 20, V2N2 85–89, 95, V2N4 113, 117–18

Experiments in Acquisition of Object Concept V1N2 39, V1N5 32–33, V2N6 107–8, 111–12

Object Concept V1N2 38–39, V1N3 6–7, V1N5 32–33, V2N6 107–8, 111–12


Baillargéon, Renee V1N2 39, V1N3 9, 26, 28, 34, V1N5 32

Carey, Susan V1N3 10, V1N6 5–6, 8, 22

Diamond, Adele V1N2 39, V1N3 34, V2N6 111–12

Gallistel, Charles V1N1 3, 33, V1N2 26, V2N4 116–17, 121–29, 136, 139, 145–47, 148

Gelman, Rochel V1N1 3, 33–34, V1N2 26, V1N3 13, 26, 28, V2N4 116–17, 121–23, 136, 148

Kagan, Jerome V1N1 14, 23, V1N2 85–86

Keil, Frank V1N1 14, 22, 30, 32, 34–37, V1N3 12–13, 23, V2N6 94–95, 114–22, 124–25

Macnamara, John V1N1 13, 19, 24, 29, 34, V1N3 12, 34, 44

Mandler, Jean V1N1 29–31, V2N6 88

Moskowitz, Breyne Arlene V1N1 23, 24, V1N2 81

Nelson, Katherine V2N6 102–3, 172

Piaget, Jean V1N2 38–39, V1N5 32–33, 49, V1N6 2–3, 5, 7, 31–32, V2N6 100–112

Smith, Linda V1N1 32–33, V2N6 126

Spelke, Elizabeth V1N2 39–40, V1N3 6–8, V2N6 111

Tversky, Barbara V1N1 30



"Infants' Haptic Perception of Object Unity in Rotating Displays" – Strerei,Gentaz, Spelke, and Van de Walle

"Developmental Changes in Visual Object Recognition between 18 and 24 Months of Age" – Alfredo Pereira and Linda Smith

"Shape, Action, Symbolic Play, and Words: Overlapping Loops of Cause and Consequence in Developmental Process" – Linda Smith and Alfredo Pereira

James - P&C

Stephen Boydstun's picture

William James on Perception and Conception

Our own reality, that sense of our own life which we at every moment possess, is the ultimate of ultimates for our belief. (1869)

Stephen Boydstun (1999)

Perception is consciousness of particular material things present to the senses (1890b, 76), consciousness of those things as an immediately present outward reality (ibid. 2). Perception points to an object as its cause (ibid. 313) and mirrors, adapts to, and operates upon that object (1885, 192–93, 198 [1909]).

Mistaken is the idea that our sensations first appear to us as subjective or internal, then later are projected by us so as to appear located in an outer world. Our sensations are not originally devoid of all spatial content. "So far is it from being true that our first way of feeling things is the feeling of them as subjective or mental, that the exact opposite seems rather to be the truth. Our earliest, most instinctive, least developed kind of consciousness is the objective kind; and only as reflection becomes developed do we become aware of an inner world at all" (1890b, 32).

We directly perceive not only objects but some of their spatial relations. Spatial relations have the peculiarity that they are on the same level as the terms they relate. Lines are relations, and we perceive them in the same stroke as we perceive the points that the lines connect. "The line is the relation; feel it and you feel the relation, see it and you see the relation" (ibid. 149; also 1907a, 245).

For an adult, sensations always occur within perceptions (1890b, 1); pure sensation is an abstraction (ibid. 3, 76), the result of "discriminative attention, pushed to a very high degree" (1890a, 224). As a newborn, barely conscious (mostly sleeping), we experienced pure sensations (1890b, 7–8). But no one ever has a simple sensation purely by itself, certainly not as consciousness rises (1890a, 224). Even the newborn, awake, encounters "a teeming multiplicity of objects and relations" (ibid.).

All the infant experiences she will take in as real, by default. She has, to begin with, no means for the opposition real-or-unreal, nor means for the opposition object-or-subject, only the means for diverse sets of thats, or its, or something there (1890b, 287–89, 3–4, 8; cf. 1885, 180–81). Initially, the relations among thats are not brought out (1890b, 4). "Infants must go through a long education of the eye and ear before they can perceive the realities which adults perceive. Every perception is an acquired perception" (ibid. 78). A very important further level of apprehension (apprehension by hypothesis) for the infant is that some objects endure beyond her perception of them (1904a, 208–9; 1907b, 85–86).

In adulthood it remains that the this in every immediate sensory experience is, by itself, immune from any suspicion of unreality; only by its misleading us to something else conflicting can it stand us falsely (1890b, 86, 288–89). The flux of sensations themselves "are neither true nor false, they simply are" (1907b, 117).

The relations that obtain between our sensations, relations accidental or essential, are matters of immediate perception (ibid. 118). Not only is that so with spatial relations, but with relations of sameness, of sameness in kind, of likeness and unlikeness, and of conjunction and disjunction (1890a 231, 244–47, 272–74, 528–30; 1905, 238; 1907b, 73, 88). Sameness is fundamental in James' epistemology (1890a, 459–60; 1895, 202; 1904b, 231; 1905, 241–42; 1907a, 253–54). "Without the intention to think of the same outer things over and over again, and the sense that we were doing so, our sense of our own personal sameness would carry us but little way toward making a universe of our experience" (1890a, 459).

Perception differs from sensation by the consciousness in the latter "of farther facts associated with the object of the sensation" (1890b, 77). Present sensations and past experiences presently reproduced combine to give us the unitary content, the deliverance, of our present perception (ibid., 78–79). In perception, by inveterate habit, we do not attend to sensations as subjective facts, but simply use them "as stepping-stones to pass over to the recognition of the realities whose presence they reveal" (1890a, 231).

Present perception overlaps preceding and succeeding perceptions. "Into the awareness of the thunder itself the awareness of the previous silence creeps and continues; for what we hear when the thunder crashes is not thunder pure, but thunder-breaking-upon-silence-and-contrasting-with-it" (ibid. 240).

James opposed the idea "that perception should be called a sort of reasoning operation, more or less unconsciously and automatically performed" (1890b, 111; also 326–27; 1890a, 164–76, 202–13, 488–89). Rather, perception is a species of the process "known psychologically as the association of ideas, and physiologically as the law of habit in the brain" (1890b, 113; also 1890a, 416–17).

Both perceptions and the sensations within them are "processes in which we cognize an objective world" (1890b, 1). The function of sensation is "mere acquaintance with a fact" (ibid. 2). The function of perception is "knowledge about a fact" (ibid. and 1890a, 221–22, 259; 1885, 184, 196–97; 1904b, 227–28; 1904c, 9–15, 27–31).

Consciousness is always directed more to one part of its object than to another. "Accentuation and Emphasis are present in every perception we have" (1890a, 284). We cannot disperse our attention impartially over all sensory impressions we receive. Our senses themselves are organs of selection. Out of what they accept, attention "picks out certain ones as worthy of its notice" (ibid., 285), "mainly such as are significant of absent ones; and out of all the absent associates which these suggest, we again pick out a very few to stand for the objective reality par excellence" (ibid., 286; also 416–17). If perception were not selective, our experience would be an utter chaos (ibid., 402–3). No such animal could last (ibid., cf. 1890b [1882], 313–14). By the grace of evolution, "in my mind and your mind the rejected portions and selected portions of the original world-stuff are to a great extent the same" (1890a, 289; also 272; 1885, 195–96).

Attention picks out what is worthy, what is interesting, to the perceiver and thinker (1890a, 140–41, 285–86, 402–3, 417). Which items in perception "we attend to, note, and make emphatic in our conclusions depends on our own interests" (1907b, 118). Both our sensorial and our intellectual attention can be passive or voluntary, voluntary meaning: directed by effort to some end we have (1890a, 416–20).

Probably on account of superior powers of association by similarity (1890b, 345–60), humans are able to direct their attention so as to isolate any things, events, qualities, or relations they please out of their experience and to fix these as distinct items for intending thought (1890a, 459–82, 505–8; 1890b, 299–301, 311–12). Such a thought is a concept; its intentions are a conception (1890a, 460). The intentions may be demonstrative or representative, the latter singular or particular or indefinite or universal or a mixture of these (ibid. 462–63; 479). Intentions are leads to perceptions (and their sensations) or to actions, fancied or realistic (1890a, 462, 471; 1895, 199–201; 1904a, 217–20; 1904b; 1905, 241–42; 1907a, 246–47; 1907b, 28–30, 33–34, 96–103).

“To attain perfect clearness in our thoughts of an object, then, we need only consider what conceivable effects of a practical kind the object may involve—what sensations we are to expect from it, and what reactions we must prepare. Our conception of these effects, whether immediate or remote, is then for us the whole of our conception of the object, so far as that conception has positive significance at all” (1907b, 29).

The translation of the perceptual into the conceptual order of the world "always takes place for the sake of some subjective interest, and . . . the conception with which we handle a bit of sensible experience is really nothing but a teleological instrument. This whole function of conceiving, of fixing, and holding fast to meanings, has no significance apart from the fact that the conceiver is a creature with partial powers and private ends" (1890a, 482). The true ways of conceiving a concrete fact are functions of our interests. The essential traits of things in our conceptions are functions of our interests. Our classifications are functions of our interests (1890b, 333–36). "Only if one of our purposes were itself truer than another, could one of our conceptions become the truer conception" (ibid. 336n). Though some of our conceptions serve purposes more important or more vital to us than other conceptions serving other purposes, no overall absolute standard for ranking purposes is available. "The only real truth about the world apart from particular purposes, is the total truth" (ibid.).

Now it is true that consciousness serves the life of the body, but that end is not an absolute end overriding all other ends of consciousness. For it is also true that the body serves consciousness, indeed the body itself has no interests, and the reactions of the body, without intelligent consciousness, "cannot be properly talked of as 'useful' or 'hurtful' at all" (1890a, 141).


James, W. 1869. The Perception of Reality. In James 1890b.

——. 1885. The Function of Cognition. In The Meaning of Truth (MT). 1909. In James 1975.

——. 1890. The Principles of Psychology. (vl - a / v2 - b) New York: Dover.

——. 1895. The Tigers of India (MT).

——. 1904a. Humanism and Truth (MT).

——. 1904b. The Relation between Knower and Known (MT).

——. 1904c. Does Consciousness Exist? In Essays in Radical Empiricism. 1996 [1912]. Lincoln:

University of Nebraska Press.

——. 1905. The Essence of Humanism (MT).

——. 1907a. A Word More about Truth (MT).

——. 1907b. Pragmatism. In James 1975.

——. 1975. Pragmatism and The Meaning of Truth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.



Taking Issue

I disagree a good deal with the views of James contained in the last three paragraphs of the presentation. It is not the case that the only sensible meaning of a concept is the suite of possible action effects and action susceptibilities of the object (extension) of the concept. The sensible meaning of a concept also includes its broader status with respect to such possible concrete actions. The formal concepts in logic and mathematics do not stand in the same broader relation to concrete existence as do concepts of concrete existents. (Contra Quine a; Formal v. Existential  a, b, c, d; Verificationism a, b)

Truth is the fundamental function of our non-fictive concepts, however important those concepts are to securing life and satisfying our interests. Even if we take interest to include not only what is profitable, but what is interesting, it is not the case that truth is reducible to the satisfaction of our interests. Moreover, the insinuation that the hierarchy of our interests is radically subjective and arbitrary is false. Truth, and the objective in our other purposes, supplies some absolute standards for the worth of our concepts.

Lastly, it is mostly false to say that the body itself has no interests and that the reactions of the body, without intelligent consciousness, “cannot be properly talked of as ‘useful’ or ‘hurtful’ at all.” That the body itself has no interests without intelligent consciousness is so only because, without intelligent consciousness, the individual animal that is a human would be missing its overarching control system necessary to its autonomous functioning. It is not the case that other animals, whole functioning animals, whose natural nervous-system functions are beneath the level of intelligent consciousness, are not occasions of value operations in the world. Value, usefulness, and hurtfulness are in the world before the dawn of animals with intelligent consciousness. (A, B, C)

Taking Issue

Stephen Boydstun's picture

Dewey was correct to reject the absolute idealism (Hegel, Bradley, . . .) he had embraced in the beginning. That much is correct: idealism, as opposed to realism, is an error.

But how much of Dewey’s “pragmatic realism” was correct, how much erroneous?

DEWEY: Universals are only in things; things bearing resemblances, common properties, and relations among themselves; so bearing apart from our subjectivity (1911a, 390). The concrete and abstract are correlative, a couple, each an intellectual achievement. We begin thought with a vague particular. One's mind working in the direction of "definitely marked out individuality" is the movement to concreteness. "Precise recognition of the characteristic quality and relation which makes the individual object what it is" is the movement to abstractness (ibid. 391; 388–89).

SB: The first sentence is alright, as far as it goes. Then to the remainder. I concur that the concrete and abstract are correlative, a couple, each an intellectual achievement. But perceptions, including earliest perceptions, are of concrete particulars, simply so, not of concrete particulars in contrast to abstractions. In the beginning, no abstractions and no rumors of abstractions. Similarly with earliest thought, which is thought without language. The last statement in the paragraph is fine, and of course that is with conceptual development, with language, as in "Capturing Concepts".

DEWEY: The object of a perception is not a psychical content. Perception has no inherent cognitive status. Perceptions are not themselves cases of knowledge, but "natural events having, in themselves (apart from a use that may be made of them), no more knowledge status or worth than say, a shower or a fever" (1911b, 105). One's relation to objects in one's perceptions as objects requires their not being in relation to one as a knowing mind (ibid. 108). Insofar as one is in conscious perception of an object, there is nothing more than the presence of the object (1912, 209).

SB: First sentence is correct, the rest is error. All that is required for the occasion of having a fever to be knowledge is that one is cognizant that one is having a fever. Cognizance does not require that some useful actions attaching to the cognizance be entertained. Only the fact of the fever one is experiencing needs to be entertained in order to be cognizant of the fever one is experiencing. Cognizance of the experience is a perceptual observation, which is a category of knowledge. Further along the paragraph, I would also disagree. Objects of perception as objects can be experienced as independent of the perception and, at the same time, as objects of the perception. The relation the objects bear to the knowing subject in perception is different than in conception, but both are relations of knowledge. Finally, to think of one’s being in conscious perception of an object, without anything more than the presence of the object, is an abstract segregation, not the full concrete process that is our perception.

Embedding theory of perception and conception in our living action is the right approach, has parallels in Aristotle and in Rand, dovetails with the ecological psychology of J. J. Gibson, and is to Dewey’s credit.


Ptgymatic's picture

Do I understand correctly that you endorse these views of Dewey's?

= Mindy

Dewey - P&C

Stephen Boydstun's picture

John Dewey on Perception and Conception

In perception we live reality itself. (1912) 

Stephen Boydstun (1999)

In the nineteenth century, Dewey held with absolute idealism. His turn to pragmatic realism entailed a significant change in his theory of perception, a change to be called out below. Across the shift in Dewey's framework, there are nevertheless considerable continuities.

"Knowledge is nothing but sensations related to each other" (1886, 125; cf. 1929, 213). But sensations are elements of knowledge and have their sole existence as known. They have no existence prior to nor apart from knowledge. They cannot be what accounts for the origin of knowledge. If knowledge or experience comes from sensations, then sensations "are never known and never can be. If experience originates from them, they never were and never can be elements in experience. Sensations as known or experienced are always related, classified sensations" (ibid., 124–25). Having existence only in experience, "which has existence only as an element of knowledge," a sensation "cannot be the same when transported out of knowledge, and made its origin" (ibid., 125; cf. 1911a, 106–8).

Dewey grants that sensations exist in us, in our infancies, before we have knowledge, "and that knowledge comes about by their organic registration and integration" (ibid., 127). But to account for the origin of knowledge by ontogeny, we have to use our experience. The infant is a known object in the world of our experience, likewise "his nervous organism and the objects which affect it" (ibid., 128). "It is the known baby and a known world in definite action and reaction upon each other, and this definite relation is precisely a sensation" (ibid.). In this account, we are accounting for consciousness by known things, things "which exist only for and within consciousness" (1886, 129). Our account, then, is only of the origin of an individual consciousness (each baby's), "or a specific group of known facts, by reference to the larger group of known fact or universal consciousness" (ibid.). That is not an account of "the origin of consciousness or knowledge as such at all" (ibid.). In truth, "the becoming of consciousness exists for consciousness only, and . . . consciousness can never have become at all" (ibid.).

Empirical psychology can only show how consciousness or knowledge differentiates itself into various forms (1886, 130). One deep differentiation is that of subject from object. "The relation of subject and object is one which exists within consciousness. . . . The duty of the psychologist is to show how it arises for consciousness, . . . how consciousness differentiates itself so as to give rise to the existence within, that is for, itself of subject and object" (ibid., 131).

Dewey undertakes to reconcile "the undoubted relativity of all existence as known, to consciousness, and the undoubted dependence of our own consciousness" (ibid., 132). His general postulate is that consciousness is the unity of subject and object. Psychology needs to discover whereby consciousness is divided for itself into the individual and the external world, that is, how happens that stage of consciousness we call perception (ibid., 137; cf. 1929b, 232).

"Perception or knowledge of particular things is not a passive operation of impression, but involves the active integration of various experiences. It is a process of reaching out after the fullest and richest experience possible" (1887a, 138). Dewey takes experimental scientific observation as the articulate exemplar of all perception. The working scientist searches out new perceptions by changing conditions of observations and by conducting experiments. Scientific observation requires imagination and thinking, not mechanically working upon percepts, but transforming and enriching them so as to amplify their unified meaning (ibid. & 1890, 86–89; 1917, 931–32; 1929b, 69–73, 99, 101, 116).

Perception is knowledge of actually present particular things or events, known as not ourselves and known as existing in space. Perception contrasts with intelligent thinking (1887a, 139–40). "The presence to the mind of the world as perceived must be explained from the process of knowing. It is due to the activity of the mind, which not only has sensations, but which takes them and projects them. It relates itself actively to them by associating and attending to them" (ibid., 141). The flux of sensations are assimilated and consolidated, then by attentional activity, we interpret, discriminate, and unify them into a definite recognizable percept (ibid. & 1928a, 336). That the perceived object is a particular and definite object is "due to the unifying and discriminating activities of intelligence.

Perception may be defined as the act in which the presented sensuous data are made symbols or signs of all other sensations which might be experienced from the same object, and thus are given meaning" (ibid.). Tactile sensations become symbolized through visual, and visual sensations "become simultaneously symbolic of each other, and thus become the signs of spatial relations" (1887a, 144).

"The separation of objects in space from self is the fundamental form in which the universal activity of mind, as a distinguishing activity, manifests itself. In perception this discriminating factor predominates over the unifying (ibid., 150). The constancies in our visual field as we move our eyes, we take as objective. "It is by an active process of experimentation, directed by the will, that the infant comes to distinguish between self and not-self" (ibid., 151).

"Perception, as a whole, is that stage or phase of knowledge in which the function of discrimination or differentiation predominates over that of identification or unification. Since the end of knowledge is the complete unity of perfectly discriminated or definite elements, it follows that perception is not a final stage of knowledge. There are relations of identity which connect objects with each other, and with the self, which are enveloped or absorbed in perception, and which must be developed or brought into consciousness" (ibid., 151–52).

The perceptual order and conceptual order are analytically distinct, but are aspects "of the one existing reality—conscious experience" (1887b, 172; cf. 1911a, 391). The distinction between individual agent and his world of experience is not ready-made. The distinction is built up from contemporaneous reciprocal processes. We, "as individuals, are made up out of our experiences of the world, and vice versa" (ibid., 173). Every perception is "made what it is by conceptual elements within it" (ibid.). Perceptions are not given to us prior to attention. Attention does not supervene on ready-made percepts. Attention is "the active connection between the mind and a given psychical complex" and is necessary in order to interpret that complex, in order "to make it a percept" (ibid.). Formation of a percept is a work of generalization; there will be a universal element present in the resulting percept.

Logical processes enter into the structure of perceptions. The discipline of logic should not be confined to norms for comparisons of perceptions only with perceptions and conceptions only with conceptions. "There is but one world of knowledge, whether in the form of perceptions or of ideas, and . . . this world is logical all the way through" (1890, 83). But if perceptions and conceptions are of the same fabric of knowledge, how can we verify conceptions or ideas by perceptions or facts? Dewey replies: There are contradictions among our ideas; not all can be projected as facts. Some ideas for the while will be held onto only as possible facts. "It is this tentative holding of an idea which constitutes the logical distinction of idea and fact. The fact is the idea which nothing contradicts. . . . The idea is at first the fact about which difficulties are felt" (ibid., 86; also, 1917, 837–39; 1929b, 178–79; 1933, 851–55). Ideas are the more tentative facts, over against the less tentative facts. The former are tested against the latter, moreover "if the theory gets its verification through the facts, the facts get a transformed and enlarged meaning through the theory" (1890, 87). Verification is a mutual adjustment, an organic interaction, of idea and fact (ibid. & 1917, 937–41).

Concepts are general, as a machine whose functions can be executed repeatedly. A concept is an intellectual function arising from our realization of fuller meanings implicit in percepts. Concepts are grasped only in and through the activity that is their constitution. We know them by constructing them (1891, 142–45).

Now comes Dewey, thoroughly pragmatic realist, his old framework of absolute idealism expressly dismissed. Now is introduced between concept and conception, a distinction (similar to James'): conception is the act of grasping the general, and a concept is the resulting mental product (Dewey 1911a, 390). Universals are only in things; things bearing resemblances, common properties, and relations among themselves; so bearing apart from our subjectivity (ibid.). The concrete and abstract are correlative, a couple, each an intellectual achievement. We begin thought with a vague particular. One's mind working in the direction of "definitely marked out individuality" is the movement to concreteness. "Precise recognition of the characteristic quality and relation which makes the individual object what it is" is the movement to abstractness (ibid., 391; 388–89).

As we have seen, Dewey had characterized the formation of a percept as a sort of generalization made possible by attention (1887a, 141; 1887b, 173). Later he seemed to realize more definitely that the attention at work in abstraction is more deliberately selective than that at work in perception (1911a, 387; 1929b, 143).

As we have also seen, early in his career, Dewey had maintained that perception is a case of knowledge, that anything present to the mind in perception must be explained as a process of knowing, and that all existence is only relative to knowing. Now (1911b) he rejects the idea that perception is knowledge and, more generally, that the knowledge relation is ubiquitous, homogeneous, and fundamental. By those rejections, he bars idealism.

The object of a perception is not a psychical content. Perception has no inherent cognitive status. Perceptions are not themselves cases of knowledge, but "natural events having, in themselves (apart from a use that may be made of them), no more knowledge status or worth than say, a shower or a fever" (1911b, 105). One's relation to objects in one's perceptions as objects requires their not being in relation to one as a knowing mind (ibid., 108). Insofar as one is in conscious perception of an object, there is nothing more than the presence of the object (1912, 209).

We and things-not-us stand in organism-environment relations other than the knower-known relation. We are things other than knowers, and objects are, in relation to we who know them, other than objects known. Besides knowers, we are agents, patients, sufferers, and enjoyers; besides objects known, they are food, threats, shade, and tools. Knowledge evidently has emerged in the course of organic evolution from organisms in which there was no mind, and what knowledge now there is evidently is dependent on the brain (1911b, 115; 1929a, 271, 276, 285). The knowledge relation has evidently grown out of more primitive organic relations (1911b, 119–21; 1929a, 252–63, 267–71, 276–86; 1929b, 179–87). "Every thought and meaning has its substratum in some organic act of absorption or elimination, of seeking or turning away from, of destroying or caring for, of signaling or responding" (1929a, 290).

Perceptions are natural events, and though not cases of knowledge, perceptions are of fundamental importance for genuine, inferential knowledge.

"They are the sole ultimate data, the sole media, of inference to all natural objects and processes. While we do not, in any intelligible or verifiable sense, know them, we know all things that we do know with or by them. They furnish the only ultimate evidence of the existence and nature of the objects which we infer, and they are the sole ultimate checks and tests of the inferences" (1911b, 109). 

Not only in science, but in daily life, we use perceptions as signs of other perceptions (ibid., 109–10; 1925, 194–95; 1929a, 322–24; 1929b, 140). Perception is a factor in organic action (1912, 206). Perceived objects designate our possible actions upon the environment (ibid., 213, 221; 1929b, 189–91).

In perception we discriminate qualities, the so-called sensations (such as Red) being the simple and isolated limits of perceptual discrimination by means of a given sense organ (1925, 196–97; 1929a, 258–63, 336). In perception, too, we integrate various perceptual objects into such larger perceptual wholes (such as a sunset) as are present (1925, 195–96).

Perceptual illusions, such as a stick partly in water appearing bent, do not show that percepts are anything more than natural, physical, organic formations. But if that is all there is to percepts, exactly where are they? Dewey thinks of them as distributed in a physical perceptual-motor field. In the case of vision, the location of the distal stimulus is one locus of the field, and the locations of the retinas are other loci of the same physical field. The illusion of the straight stick appearing bent in water occurs because from a "practical standpoint 'where' signifies the point at which action should be taken to control the occurrence of the phenomenon" (1925, 199). The location of a stick in the air is related to our skill of reaching and handling developed in and adapted to the air-only volumetric medium. Naturally, that skill is less efficient and less effective in other refractive media (1925, 195–200; see also 1922, 734–36, 751–54; 1929a, 281–82).

No knowledge is perfectly immediate in the sense of being perfectly noninferential. Knowledge by acquaintance? Knowing by acquaintance is rightly distinguished from knowing about a thing or knowing that it is such-and-such a thing. But the distinctive aspect of knowing by acquaintance is immediacy of one's readiness to make appropriate responses to whatever the known object may do. In contrast responses attendant upon knowing about are more reserved   (1929a, 329–30).

Sensory qualities have cognitive status because "they are the consequences of definite and intentionally performed operations. Only in connection with the intent or idea of these operations do they amount to anything, either as disclosing any fact or giving test and proof of any theory" (1929b, 91). Conversely, ideas, or conceptions, have cognitive (as opposed to esthetic) merit only insofar as they specify, for some context of inquiry, operations to be performed and consequences anticipated to ensue therefrom (ibid., 69–70, 92, 116–17, 142–44, 157–58, 183, 240–41).

Dewey proposes that conceptions in pure mathematics and in formal logic also amount to articulations of consequences of operations. Conceptions in those disciplines articulate the possible operations among certain second intentions, executed symbolically (ibid., 119–34). But second intentions arise from and may return to first intentions, our physical conceptions, so from and to sense experience.


Dewey, J. 1886. The Psychological Standpoint. In volume 1 of Dewey 1969.

——. 1887a. Psychology. In volume 2 of Dewey 1969.

——. 1887b. Illusory Psychology. In volume 1 of Dewey 1969.

——. 1890. The Logic of Verification. In volume 3 of Dewey 1969.

——. 1891. How Do Concepts Arise from Percepts? In volume 3 of Dewey 1969.

——. 1911a. Contributions to Cyclopedia of Education. In Dewey 1978.

——. 1911b. Brief Studies in Realism. In Dewey 1978.

——. 1912. Perception and Organic Action. In Dewey 1931.

——. 1917. Essays in Experimental Logic. Portions in Dewey 1939.

——. 1922. Human Nature and Conduct. Portions in Dewey 1939.

——. 1925. A Naturalistic Theory of Sense Perception. In Dewey 1931.

——. 1929a [1925]. Experience and Nature. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton.

——. 1929b. The Quest for Certainty. Volume 4 of John Dewey: The Later Works. 1984. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

——. 1931. Philosophy and Civilization. New York: Minton, Balch.

——. 1933 [1911]. How We Think. 2nd ed. Portion in Dewey 1939.

——. 1939. Intelligence in the Modern World. J. Ratner, editor. New York: Random House.

——. 1969. John Dewey: The Early Works. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

——. 1978. John Dewey: The Middle Works. Vol. 6. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.


Objectivism Notes: A, B, C


Stephen Boydstun's picture

Victor E. Frankl: Life with Meaning – William Blair Gould

ISBN 0-534-19470-2


The Psychology of Self-Esteem – Nathaniel Branden

"Why Man Needs Approval" – Marsha Familaro Enright

Others in Mind - Philippe Rochat 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.