|Interest Group: PCP and Philosophy (P-IG)
Anglophonic world, academic psychology has kept philosophy at arm’s
length for nearly a century. However, this didn’t prevent George Kelly
from opening his Psychology of Personal Constructs
in 1955 with a chapter on his philosophical position. This he termed
‘constructive alternativism’: the proposition that there are always
different meanings we can endow on the same event. These alternatives
should be thought of not in terms of their truth-value, but their
usefulness for helping us to get a grip on the world. He then develops Personal Construct Theory (PCT), elaborating the implications of this proposition for human affairs.
Bill Warren points out (1998), this gives PCT a firmer grounding in
philosophy than any other theory in the field of personality. But Kelly
wasn’t concerned with spelling out what Warren calls the philosophical
links and latencies in his theory. Warren’s own book outlines these,
and hopes that his work will give rise to the elaboration and
development of this philosophical basis. The Philosophy and PCT Interest Group aims to do just this.
might be various benefits of this project. PCT is usually treated
respectfully in the textbooks, but is often then frozen in history,
seen as Kelly’s invention de novo
– something that began and ended with him. Elaborating the philosophy
behind it helps to place it firmly within a solid intellectual context.
And philosophy is no longer the bete noire
that it once was in psychology. More young academics are interested in
theory and philosophy now, especially in the field of social
psychology. Elaborating the philosophical grounding of PCT might lead
to it engaging more with researchers in these fields.
Trevor Butt, Huddersfield (UK)
Kelly, G. A. (1955): The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York: Norton (second printing: 1991, London: Routledge)
Warren, W. G, (1998) Philosophical Dimensions of Personal Construct Psychology. London: Routledge.