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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

6. Our Holosymbiotic Personal Selves

Heersmink, Richard. Varieties of the Extended Self. Consciousness and Cognition. September, 2020. A La Trobe University, Melbourne philosophical psychologist considers how novel conceptions of one’s personal identity as widely spreading to and involved in web informative and group societal domains might imply an expanded sense of personal identity. In regard, the paper reviews a latest array of integrative and contrasting approaches and opinions.

This article provides an overview and analysis of recent work on the extended self whose boundaries fluidly shift across biological, artifactual, and sociocultural phases. We first offer a sense of a minimal self, person, and narrative self and then look at how philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists see embodiment, cognition, emotion, consciousness, and moral character traits as extended. The main focus is on the link between the extended mind and extended self, which has received the most attention in recent literature. This article thus draws out some conceptual, methodological, and normative implications of the extended self and suggests directions for future research. (Abstract excerpt)

Held, Barbara. Psychology’s Interpretive Turn: The Search for Truth and Agency in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007. After rancorous, sequential phases of deterministic objectivism and postmodern relativism, the Bowdoin College psychologist now proposes a “middle ground theory” that could permit and contain both an extant realist ground and a fluidly creative liberty. Such a synthesis of necessity and freedom, natural law and contingent selection, would seem obvious but academia, as this work exhibits, seems to defend positions, write in pedantic obscurity, avoid a cogent summary, which inhibits any real progress.

Henriques, Gregg. A New Unified Theory of Psychology. New York: Springer, 2011. As the quote conveys, the James Madison University psychologist is bravely trying to move beyond the unproductive fragmentation and pluralism that has taken over and blunted this field. And it is really an indictment of academia that a greater essential reality becomes so categorically prohibited, for as every other age and culture abides, this must be the case as the ground and wellspring of our human abidance. The author is versed in the literature and its jargon, four new pillars are Behavioral Investment Theory, an Influence Matrix, a Justification Hypothesis, and a Tree of Knowledge System. By these imaginative approaches are broached thoughtful ways to root and guide personal behavior and social relations within an encompassing cosmic evolutionary emergence. Henriques respected work has been the subject of a special issue of Theory and Psychology (18/6, 2008).

Nevertheless, the unified theory ultimately is closer to modernist approaches that postmodern ones. This is primarily because the unified theory is directly at odds with one of the tenets of postmodernism, anti-foundationalism, which is the explicit rejection of any overarching set of ideas that will effectively and accurately organize knowledge in the human sciences. (see Barbara Held above) The unified theory, as implied by its name, is foundationalist to the core. It proclaims universal truths about the universe and the human condition, and it connects human science to the natural sciences. (4)

Horowitz, Mardi. Identity and the New Psychoanalytic Explorations of Self-Organization. London: Routledge, 2014. The UC San Francisco psychiatrist achieves this latest trace of a person’s path toward integral well-being, as set in a communal context. The use of a self-organization view is chosen not from complexity theory but to emphasize that each of us needs to conceive our own unique selves in society. And one may wonder, as human and universe come to reflect each other, could the whole cosmos be on a similar journey toward self-realization?

Self-organization refers to the overall assembly of self-schemas. Self-representation refers to a conscious belief about the self. This terminology allows us to examine complex and hierarchical organizations of self-states. Self-schemas are configurations of subordinate meanings, and self-organization is a larger linked configuration of self-schemas. Self-coherence is a quality of overall functioning of self-organization in that an individual may associate or segregate multiple self-schemas. (4-5)

Ismael, J. T.. How Physics Makes Us Free. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Reviewed more in Current Vistas, via the frontiers of the sciences of complexity a University of Arizona philosopher advises a self-making, liberating procreation.

Karmiloff-Smith, Annette. Precis of Beyond Modularity: A Developmental Perspective on Cognitive Science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 17/6, 1994. A target article with peer commentary on Karmiloff-Smith’s 1992 (New York: Bradford) book of this title in search of a synthesis of Jerry Fodor’s nativism and Jean Piaget’s constructivism by way of learned experience through evolved modules.

Kashima, Yoshihisa, et al, eds. Self and Identity: Personal, Social, and Symbolic. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2002. Various essays consider these three dimensions of an individual, interactive and communal self-construction.

Kenrick, Douglas. Evolutionary Psychology, Cognitive Science and Dynamical Systems: Building an Integrative Paradigm. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 10/1, 2001. A review of the increasing convergence of these three dimensions.

Kirschner, Suzanne. Toward Critical Openness. Slife, Brent, et al, eds. Critical Thinking about Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2005. This is a summary conclusion for the book which as a whole strives to identify and move beyond a current western paradigm that emphasizes discrete, atomistic analysis of mental states and behaviors out of their social context. Rather, human beings are meaning-makers in constant interaction with a dynamically changing natural, social and cultural environment. Again the same conceptual sequence appears as for other scientific fields, but rarely are these archetypes, in their brain hemisphere or gender modes, seen as complements of a single human learning experience. (See also Stephen Yanchar A Contextualist Alternative to Cognitive Psychology in the same volume.)

I focus on several of the assumptions inherent in psychological research that are highlighted by these authors: (this book) objectivism, empiricism, materialism, determinism, and individualism. I then briefly discuss the alternative vision that runs through many of the chapters. This alternative is a more meaning-centered, holistic version of human science. (269-270)

Kray, Christine. The Pentecostal Re-Formation of Self. Ethos. 29/4, 2002. In this journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, a report on a field study in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico on the tension between autonomy (aligned with the Pentecostals) and community (Catholicism) explores how they affect the formation of a coherent personality. The dichotomy is also set as fragmentation vs. integral unity.

La Cerra, Peggy and Roger Bingham. The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness, and the New Science of the Self. New York: Harmony Books, 2002. Neuroscientists popularize a novel conception of an inherent drive from microbes to people which fosters successful selfhood by means of “behavioral energy management.” Creatures surely act for our own edification but within an encompassing social milieu.

Laland, Kevin and Gillian Brown. Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. In order to bring cohesion to the contentious field of evolutionary psychology, a synthesis of its various facets of human sociobiology, human behavioral ecology, mimetics and gene-culture coevolution is proposed.

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