A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rebirth... Book Club... Evolution and Ecological Psychology

It has been a tumultuous few years, with inconsistent ability to focus on my academic work, and a corresponding inability to focus on my blog posts. However, I am getting my feet back underneath me in various ways: A better job, a better area, a nascent DC Area Metaphysical Club, and other things I will update on later. As such it seems time to also get back on track here. So, starting later this week, I will begin doing a mini-book club.

The target book is Truth Evolves by Dustin Arand, a local amateur philosopher (the type of amateur who writes books about the meaning of truth and evolutionary solutions to philosophical dilemmas), who has provided a good deal of stimulation. The book manages to make some pretty deep philosophical points, while staying an accessible read: Not an easy feat.  If anyone is interested in joining along, it is available through Amazon, including a Kindle version.

I also want to thank  Pablo Covarrubias for inviting me to take part in a special issue of the journal Ecological Psychology, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of James J. Gibson's The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (1966). Senses Considered is the first complete statement of the ecological approach. And, though many edges of that bumpy initial statement were later smoothed out, that book remains in many ways the most grounded and most comprehensive statement available.

One challenge that Gibson faced in his writing is that he did not like to repeat himself. Thus, after his final book (13 years later), he received bizarre criticisms, such as accusations that he did not understand physiology. This dumbfounded his fans as, while it is true that the 1979 book did not dwell on physiology, that is largely because Gibson had already written an book that spent more than half its pages giving a new interpretation to details of the physiology of perceptual systems.

As an animal behaviorist, by training, my favorite aspect of the 1966 book is its evolutionary logic. Because Gibson has aimed the book primarily at students of perception, trying to shake up their traditional ways of thinking, the novelty of his theory as an evolutionary theory of perception, is not front and center. I would argue that key concepts that Gibson introduces in Senses Considered make his approach the first truly evolutionary theory of perception ever offered.

Dr. Covarrubias has his ducks is such a nice row, that I received reviews very quickly, and I will elaborate the evolutionary underpinnings of Ecological Psychology here as I make revisions.

Hope all is well out there. I am very grateful to those who have kept reading my blog absent new posts, and I hope to reengage with all of you moving forward.