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Ceneralizing Tbrougb Conditional Analysis:

Systemic Causality in tbe World of Eternal Becoming

2ocb 8ecksteoJ,

keooetb k. cobell

Iooo volsloet


1he chlef goal of any sclenLlflc endeavor ls generallzaLlon. kurL Lewln was a cruclal flgure ln psychology
who advocaLed for and creaLed a sysLem ln whlch boLh Lhe parLlcular phenomenon ln lLs rlchness and
general laws could be esLabllshed. Lewln emphaslzed Lhe need for broad ranglng concepLs LhaL would
do [usLlce Lo human exlsLence and soclal reallLy. Pls credo - unlfy wlLhouL undue slmpllflcaLlon - ls Lhe
cornersLone of sclence. We can see, on Lhe one hand, Lewln's deslre Lo remaln loyal Lo Lhe baslc
assumpLlons of sclence (e.g., laws, generallzablllLy, explanaLlons) and hls dedlcaLlon, on Lhe oLher, Lo
LreaLlng Lhe whole person and Lhe rlchness of human and soclal reallLy. lL ls clear from Lewln's look aL
sclence - wlsseoscboft - LhaL Lhe eplsLemologlcal LreaLmenL of generallzaLlon Lakes Lhe form of caLalysls
(ln Lewln's Lerms cooJltloool-qeoetlc explanaLlon) - Lhe sLudy of condlLlons under whlch someLhlng
happens. 1he sLudy of caLalyLlc naLure of phenomena vlews Lhe parLs of a sysLem, lnLeracLlng wlLh Lhe
oLher parLs, Lo form a CesLalL - a whole LhaL enLalls Lhe person, Lhe envlronmenL, and Lhelr relaLlonshlp
(umwelt). ln Lhls approach, Lhe phenomena cannoL be sLudled as a-conLexLual, buL embedded wlLhln a
dynamlc and changlng sysLem of becomlng. 1here ls a creaLlve Lenslon beLween Lhe general and
parLlcular ln Lewln's sysLem of LhoughL and hls emphasls on hollsm. We address how Lhe goals of flndlng
regularlLles and laws co-exlsL wlLh Lhe noLlons of a dynamlc and ever-changlng world. Pow can soclal
reallLy be modeled ln any sLaLlc Lerms lf lL ls always ln flux?

keywords: CenerallzaLlon, CaLalysls, SysLem, Pollsm

lL ls mlldly lronlc LhaL Lhe quesLlon of generallzaLlon - a self-obvlous goal of any wlsseoscboft -
ls belng dlspuLed ln Lhe beglnnlng of Lhe 21
cenLury. 1here are Lwo general lmpulses -
seemlngly conLradlcLory - underglrdlng much of Lhe LhoughL of psychologlsLs such as Cordon
AllporL, Abraham Maslow, Carl 8ogers, Wllllam SLern and kurL Lewln. 1he flrsL ls an lmpulse
Lowards a psychology LhaL embraces Lhe unlque human belng ln Lhe process of becomlng. 1he
second regards ensurlng and promoLlng psychology as a sclence LhaL esLabllshes baslc
knowledge. 1hus Lhe former reaches Lowards concreLeness, rlchness and fullness of human
experlence and Lhe laLLer Lowards absLracLlon and Lhe derlvaLlon of laws. 8econclllng Lhese
dual pro[ecLs has proven Lo be problemaLlc slnce Lhey have Lyplcally been regarded as
anLlLheLlcal and one musL be sacrlflced aL Lhe alLar of Lhe oLher. We here prove LhaL such
elLher-or aLLlLude mlsses Lhe polnL - lL ls preclsely ln Lhe rlch deLalls of Lhe phenomenology of

Clark unlverslLy

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Lhe whole where generallzed laws operaLe. ln Lhe blologlcal, soclal, and psychologlcal sysLems
generallLy of laws resulLs ln ampllfled varlablllLy and unlqueness (Maruyama, 1963, 1999).
Powever ln psychology Loday, Lhe goal of generallzaLlon looms large ln dlscusslons of
exLernal valldlLy and wheLher a researcher's flndlngs apply beyond Lhelr sample Lo a wlder
populaLlon. 1hls ls a resulL of narrowlng down psychologlsLs' search for knowledge Lo Lhe use
of lnducLlve generallzaLlon Lechnlques. 1hls lnducLlve focus has been furLher forLlfled by Lhe
posLmodern approaches LhaL emphaslze parLlcular descrlpLlons and locallzed knowledge
consLrucLlon - and deny Lhe posslblllLy of generallzaLlons all LogeLher. 1haL ls, Lhe very
parLlcular, relaLlonal and slLuaLed condlLlons of phenomena have seemlngly precluded Lhe
esLabllshmenL of general laws. 1he lmpulse of Lransferrlng knowledge from one conLexL Lo
anoLher and esLabllshlng general laws are conLradlcLory Lo Lhe lmpulse of a posLmodern
approach LhaL Lrles Lo do [usLlce Lo Lhe rlchness of human exlsLence. lronlcally, lL falls preclsely
ln LhaL. lndeed, greaL novellsLs who descrlbe Lhe dramas ln Lhe llves of Lhelr lnvenLed
characLers - always parLlcular slngle cases! - are appreclaLed preclsely because Lhey lnLulLlvely
Lrlgger generallzaLlon Lendencles ln Lhelr readers. osL-modernlsL ldeology has made soclal
sclences noL lnLo a deposlLory of local knowledge, buL of local sLorles of no generallzablllLy.
Anyone who wanLs Lo learn abouL Lhe reallLles of Lhe human condlLlon geLs more lnslghL from
Lhe flcLlonal characLers such as Anna karenlna, Aurellano 8uendla, or - even - Parry oLLer.
SomeLhlng has gone dramaLlcally wrong ln Lhe soclal sclences over Lhe pasL few decades LhaL
Lhe quesLlon of generallzaLlon could be noL only found dlfflculL Lo solve, buL even denled as a
problem ln need for a soluLlon.
As lrreconcllable as Lhe fldellLy Lo Lhe phenomena ln lLs concreLeness and Lhe generallzaLlon
of unlversal and lawful knowledge may seem Lo conLemporary soclal sclenLlsLs, we wlll vlslL
Lhls posslblllLy. uoes Lhe unlqueness of psychologlcal phenomena preclude generallzaLlon? lf
noL, whaL Lhen ls Lhe paLh Lowards generallzaLlon ln Lhe dynamlc world of becomlng?


We address and elaboraLe generallzaLlon Lhe concreLe slLuaLlon and Lhe unlqueness of
human llvlng. 1hls challenglng endeavor has been underLaken by varlous Lhlnkers, lncludlng
Lhose we menLloned above. Cordon AllporL (1933) succlncLly descrlbed Lhe naLure of Lhe

1he flrsL facL LhaL sLrlkes us ls Lhe unlqueness of boLh Lhe process and Lhe producL. Lach person ls
an ldlom unLo hlmself, and apparenL vlolaLlon of Lhe synLax of Lhe specles. An ldlom develops ln
lLs own pecullar conLexL, and Lhls conLexL musL be undersLood ln order Lo comprehend Lhe ldlom.
?eL aL Lhe same Llme, ldloms are noL enLlrely lawless and arblLrary, lndeed Lhey can be known for
whaL Lhey are only by comparlng Lhem wlLh Lhe synLax of Lhe specles. (AllporL 1933, p. 17)

1he crux of Lhe dllemma sLems from Lhe vlew LhaL unlqueness - lncludlng conLexL dependence
- and LranslLory naLure of human llfe and lawfulness are lncommensurable. kurL Lewln ls
wldely consldered Lhe founder of soclal psychology and acLlon research and, as we wlll dlscuss
below, consldered generallzablllLy Lo be a chlef alm of sclence and hls research. Lewln was
concerned wlLh descrlblng parLlcular, concreLe, and dynamlc soclal worlds, as we wlll dlscuss
below. ?eL, Lewln also consldered Lhe developmenL of absLracL concepLual ldeas and general
analyLlcal Lools cruclal Lo creaLlng soclal change (ue 8lvera, 1976). Pere we can speclflcally see
Lhe dlalogue beLween Lhe parLlcular - a dynamlc soclal world - and Lhe unlversal or general law
- how Lo change Lhe soclal world, or soclal change. ln Lhls sense, Lewln's work creaLed a
Zach Becksteau, Kenneth R. Cabell, anu }aan valsinei - ueneializing Thiough Conuitional Analysis


dlalogue beLween whaL we mlghL call baslc psychology" and applled psychology". lor such a
dlalogue Lo occur, Lewln had Lo conslsLenLly deal wlLh generallzaLlon from Lhe parLlcular Lo Lhe
unlversal. lnsLead of flndlng Lhls an lnsurmounLable problem and avoldlng or reduclng Lhe
complexlLy and unlqueness of human exlsLence, kurL Lewln argued LhaL lL was only by Laklng
lnLo accounL Lhe very concreLe and unlque slLuaLlon whlch lncludes Lhe person LhaL
generallzaLlon ls posslble.
Pow dld Lewln come Lo Lhls lnslghL and whaL are Lhe lmpllcaLlons for psychology Loday? We
address Lhese quesLlons by examlnlng Lewln's LreaLmenL of Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween
lndlvldual evenLs and law ln hls LreaLmenL of Lhe confllcL beLween whaL he called Lhe
ArlsLoLellan and Calllean modes of LhoughL (Lewln, 1931, 1933, valslner, 1984). Lewln offers
ample lnsplraLlon for posslble paLhways Lowards generallzaLlon whlle emphaslzlng Lhe
slLuaLlon. We wlll Lhen dlscuss systemlc coosollty and how Lhe noLlon of caLalysls offers a
promlslng concepLual Lool LhaL enables generallzaLlon.

1heory and Act|on: 1ens|ons |n the Lew|n|an System: kurL Lewln poslLed LhaL psychology had
reached a sLage where emplrlcal work and Lhe pllloq op of focts had become a deLrlmenL Lo
Lhe progress of psychology (Lewln, 1936). 1hls evaluaLlon ls even more Lrue now, 70 years
laLer. AlLhough emplrlcal lnvesLlgaLlons provlde a correcLlve Lo speculaLlve phllosophy, Lewln
argued, lL ls Lhe comblnaLlon of Lheory and emplrlcal research LhaL ls needed ln
psychology. lndeed, Lewln clearly emphaslzed Lhe need for broad ranglng concepLs LhaL would
do [usLlce Lo human exlsLence and soclal reallLy and, Lherefore, called for concepLs LhaL could
unlfy wlLhouL undue slmpllflcaLlon, Lhey musL lnclude boLh person and envlronmenL, boLh law
and lndlvldual case" (Lewln, 1936, p. 7). We can see, on Lhe one hand, Lewln's deslre Lo remaln
loyal Lo Lhe baslc assumpLlons of sclence (e.g., laws, generallzablllLy, and explanaLlons) and hls
dedlcaLlon, on Lhe oLher, Lo LreaLlng Lhe whole person and Lhe rlchness of human and soclal
reallLy (8eber & 8ecksLead, 2009).
1hls posLure - naLural for any sclenLlsL aL hls Llme - can be found LhroughouL Lewln's
wrlLlngs, however, hls analysls and dlscusslon of Lhe shlfL beLween ArlsLoLellan and posL-
Calllean physlcs offers a peneLraLlng analysls of Lhe LheoreLlcal shorLcomlngs of psychology as
well as provldlng a nlce phllosophlcal groundlng of hls work and LhoughL, especlally ln relaLlon
Lo Lhe Lheme of generallzaLlon and overcome Lhe opposlLlon beLween unlversal concepL and
lndlvldual evenL" (Lewln, 1936, p. 8). noLably, Lewln's (1927, 1931) reflecLlons on Lhe confllcL
beLween ArlsLoLellan and Calllean modes of LhoughL lllumlnaLe Lhe developmenL of lawfulness
LhaL conLlnues Lo underglrd psychology and how Lhls ls lnLerrelaLed wlLh Lhe process ln
ArlsLoLellan LhoughL of flxlng Lhe locus of causallLy ln Lhe ob[ecL wlLh Lhe upshoL LhaL ob[ecLs
and evenLs become deLached from, analyzed, and undersLood aparL from Lhelr surroundlng
envlronmenL and lsolaLed from oLher ob[ecLs.

Ar|stote||an and ost-Ga|||ean hys|cs: Lewln's crlLlque of psychology and Lhe developmenL of
hls ldeas sLemmed ln parL from hls comparlson of ArlsLoLellan and posL-Calllean approaches Lo
physlcs (Lewln, 1933). lor Lewln, Lhe use of sLaLlsLlcal analyses - based on large samples - ls
largely derlved from an ArlsLoLellan framework LhaL grouped ob[ecLs lnLo blnary and
homogeneous classes (e.g., cold and warm, llghL and heavy) and requlred evenLs Lo be regular
and frequenL (e.g., orblL of heavenly bodles) ln order Lo be consldered lawful (and Lhus Lhe
ob[ecL of lnqulry for sclence). AL Lhe Llme of hls Lhlnklng abouL Lhe lssue - laLe 1920s - Lhe
avalanche of Lhe emplre of chance" (Clgerenzer eL al., 1989) onLo psychology was only
1he classlflcaLory sysLem ln ArlsLoLellan physlcs grouped ob[ecLs and phenomena LogeLher
around Lhe ptloclple of commooollty. Accordlngly, ob[ecLs and evenLs were grouped LogeLher

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based Lhelr apparenL slmllarlLles - whaL Lhey had ln common. ln reLurn, Lhe explanaLlon of a
parLlcular ob[ecL's behavlor was derlved from Lhese apparenL slmllarlLles. lor lnsLance, tbloqs
tbot wete llqbt (e.g., smoke, balloons, sheeLs ln Lhe wlnd) were grouped LogeLher because of
Lhelr apparenL quallLy of llghLness". 1hlngs LhaL were llghL Lyplcally wenL up ln normal
condlLlons. 1hls meanL cerLaln ob[ecLs had an opwotJ teoJeocy. Cb[ecLs wlLhln Lhe
classlflcaLory group whlch exempllfled Lhls behavlor/movemenL - an upward Lendency - was
explalned Lo be caused by Lhe essence of Lhe ob[ecL - Lhe characLerlsLlc of belng llghL. 1he
lmmedlaLe resulL ls LhaL phenomena become grouped ooJ explalned by Lhe characLerlsLlcs
shared by Lhe group. ln our example, Lhlngs were grouped by Lhelr shared llghL quallLy and Lhe
ob[ecLs upward Lendency was Lhen explalned by llghL quallLy. ln Lhls sense ArlsLoLellan mode of
explanaLlon ls lnherenLly LauLologlcal ln LhaL phenomena are explalned by Lhe essence of Lhe
group ln whlch lL was lncluded. All members of class x" are characLerlzed by Lhe quallLy of x-
ness" belng aLLrlbuLed Lo each and every member of Lhe class.
Lewln polnLed ouL LhaL such klnd of clrcular reasonlng was qulLe common ln psychology. Pe
noLed LhaL clrcular reasonlng leads Lo a klnd of loglc LhaL, slnce negaLlvlLy (l.e., Lewln ls
referrlng Lo a LralL such as sLubbornness) ls frequenLly observed ln many Lhree year olds,
negaLlvlLy ls lnherenL ln Lhe naLure of Lhree year olds (Lewln, 1933, p. 13). 1hls loglc furLher
serves as Lhe explanaLlon for Lhe appearance of a concreLe case of negaLlvlLy (lbld). 1hls
LauLology ls evldenL Loday LhroughouL psychology - especlally ln cross-culLural psychology as
dlfferences beLween groups are lnLerpreLed Lo be caused by Lhe sLaLlc essences of gender" or
culLure" (valslner, 2007, p. 26). 1hls approach and loglc makes posslble Lhe sample-Lo-
populaLlon form of generallzaLlon, however, Lhese generallzaLlons are underglrded by
grouplng lndlvlduals lnLo homogeneous classes and Lransformlng classes such as Amerlcan"
lnLo essences LhaL Lhen become pro[ecLed lnLo Lhe psychologlcal sysLems of Lhe lndlvlduals and
are poslLed as Lhe causes of dlfferences LhaL are assumed by Lhe o ptlotl caLegorlzaLlons.
Lqually problemaLlc for Lewln was LhaL Lhe classlflcaLory sysLem of ArlsLoLle had profound
lmpllcaLlons for noLlons concernlng lawfulness, and hence generallzaLlon. 1o relLeraLe, Lhe
essence of a Lhlng and lLs behavlor was derlved by Lhe class of ob[ecLs lL was grouped wlLh
based on absLracL, common feaLures. 1hese common feaLures, furLher, are based on Lhe
Lendencles of ob[ecLs (e.g., smoke and balloons have Lhe Lendency of upwardness) and llnked
wlLh how frequenL an evenL occurs. As Lewln (1933) commenLed, lL ls Lhese frequency rules
.. LhaL deLermlne Lhe naLure and Lendency Lo be ascrlbed Lo each class of ob[ecLs (p. 7). 1haL
ls ln order Lo glean Lhe Lendency of any ob[ecL lL musL be occur repeaLedly and frequenLly.
1hus Lhe crlLerla for lawfulness from Lhe ArlsLoLellan vlew cenLered on commonallLy and
frequency of ob[ecLs and necessarlly exclude one-Llme or lndlvldual evenLs. Lewln (1933)
argues LhaL Lhls approach lnevlLably leads Lo Lhe concluslon, LhaL whlch does noL occur
repeaLedly lles ouL of Lhe realm of Lhe comprehenslble" (p. 14). 1hls frequenLlsL model, Lewln
argued, permeaLed (and currenLly - 70 years laLer - domlnaLes) psychology Lhrough Lhe use of
sLaLlsLlcs and Lhe derlvlng whaL Lhe group has ln common vla Lhe mean. Cf course psychology's
rellance on Lhe mean remalns unabaLed - wheLher Lhls ls ln experlmenLal or survey meLhods -
and repllcaLlon remalns a cruclal (and yeL seldom non-uLlllzed ln currenL psychologlcal
research) crlLerlon for generallzaLlon.
1he consequences of a frequenLlsL approach are aL leasL Lhreefold. llrsL, lndlvldual evenLs
are vlewed as lncomprehenslble and arblLrary slnce lawfulness ls belleved Lo be relaLed Lo
regularlLy, and consldered Lhe anLlLhesls of Lhe lndlvldual case" (Lewln, 1933, p. 17). Cf course,
Lhls emphasls on frequency and regularlLy has lead psychology Lo lnsLlLuLlonallze sLaLlsLlcs as
tbe paLh for consLrucLlng knowledge and laws. lurLhermore, as Lewln (1933) noLes, such
Zach Becksteau, Kenneth R. Cabell, anu }aan valsinei - ueneializing Thiough Conuitional Analysis


sLaLlsLlcal lnvesLlgaLlons are . unable as a rule Lo glve an explanaLlon of Lhe dynamlcs of Lhe
processes lnvolved" slnce Lhey adhere Lo Lhe same LauLologlcal Lraps menLloned above (p. 21).
lndlvldual cases musL be comblned Lo form averages. ue 8lvera (1976) descrlbes Lhe
lmpllcaLlons of Lhls approach

1he effecL of Lhls focuslng on averages raLher Lhan lndlvlduals ls LhaL Lhe experlmenLer makes Lhe
ob[ecLlve condlLlons Lhe sub[ecL" of Lhe experlmenL, raLher Lhan hls sub[ecLs. lL ls presumed LhaL
a parLlcular experlmenLal slLuaLlon
has Lhe same meanlng for each sub[ecL (or each sub[ecL
wlLhln some deslgnaLed class). Slnce, ln facL, dlfferenL sub[ecLs may glve an ob[ecLlve slLuaLlon
qulLe dlfferenL meanlngs, and slnce apparenLly slmllar responses may also have dlfferenL
meanlngs, lL ls evldenL LhaL dlfferenL processes may be occurrlng ln dlfferenL sub[ecLs.
ConsequenLly, Lhere are many dlfferenL posslble lnLerpreLaLlons, and one ls noL sure of Lhelr
LheoreLlcal slgnlflcance. (8lvera 1976, p. 11)

As a resulL of focus on regularlLy and Lhe hlgh value placed on observaLlon and classlflcaLlon
lnsLead of Lheory-bulldlng, Lhe lndlvldual and non-repeaLable evenLs - and Lhus unlqueness -
are forcefully ellmlnaLed from psychologlcal lnvesLlgaLlon. ConsequenLly, as Cordon AllporL
observes, psychologlsLs lnLeresLed ln sLudylng human belngs are lead Lo look for unlversal
processes common Lo Lhe specles" and sLudy mlnd-ln-general raLher Lhan mlnd ln parLlcular"
(AllporL, 1933).

Move to a post-Ga|||ean v|ew: 1he shlfL from an ArlsLoLellan approach Lo Calllean or posL-
Calllean can be seen ln Lhe noLlon of lawfulness and Lhe change from a sLrlcLly hlsLorlcal
approach leadlng Lo an emphasls of frequency and regularlLy Lo Lhe concreLe slLuaLlon and
noLlons of lnLerdependency and lnLerrelaLlonshlps as fundamenLally consLlLuLlve of ob[ecLs.
lmporLanLly, Lhe posL-Calllean vlew re[ecLed Lhe ArlsLoLellan ldea LhaL regularlLy, frequency
and repeLlLlon were Lhe hallmarks of lawfulness. 1he Calllean mode of LhoughL, Lhen,
exLended law from solely repeaLed and frequenL evenLs Lo one-Llme and unlque evenLs.
SlgnlflcanLly, Lhls LranslLlon Lo an all-embraclng homogenlzaLlon and harmonlzaLlon of Lhe
whole fleld . gave Lo Calllean physlcs Lhe lnLoxlcaLlng feellng of lnflnlLe-breadLh, because lL
does noL, llke absLracL class concepLs, level ouL Lhe rlch varleLy of Lhe world and because a
slngle law embraces Lhe whole fleld" (Lewln, 1933, p. 23). 1he homogenlzaLlon of law, for Lhe
Calllean LhoughL and for Lewln, does geL rld of heLerogenelLy or Lhe rlch varleLy of Lhe world"
buL raLher allows for boLh law and unlqueness. lndlvldual cases and evenLs are noL opposed,
lnsLead, generallLy ls reached Lhrough Lhe parLlcular and slngular phenomenon. ?eL Lhls law
(and form of generallzaLlon) dld noL derlve from an absLracLlon LhaL lumped LogeLher ob[ecLs
based on common feaLures and Lendencles regularly and frequenLly observed, raLher, lL was
Lhrough Laklng Lhe concreLe slLuaLlon as Lhe basls and Lhen deLermlnlng Lhe condlLlons under
whlch dlfferenL evenLs occur. Lvery evenL, Lhen, should be consldered lawful ln Lhe sense of
noL a random and ulLlmaLely mysLerlous occurrence.
1he Calllean mode LhoughL, Lherefore, changed Lhe locus of causaLlon away from Lhe
lottloslc ptopettles of Lhe ob[ecL Lo Lhe sLrucLural relaLlonshlps betweeo ob[ecLs. 1haL Lhls, Lhe
crlLerla of frequency and regularlLy, along wlLh Lhe Leleologlcal benL ln ArlsLoLellan framework,
flxed Lhe lawfulness and causallLy ln Lhe ob[ecL lrrespecLlve of Lhe envlronmenL and Lhe
relaLlonshlps wlLh oLher ob[ecLs ln Lhls envlronmenL. lnsLead, wlLh Lhe shlfL Lo Lhe Calllean
vlew Lhe slLuaLlon assumes as much lmporLance as Lhe ob[ecL" and lL ls only by Lhe concreLe
whole whlch comprlses Lhe ob[ecL and Lhe slLuaLlon are Lhe vecLors whlch deLermlne Lhe
dynamlcs of Lhe evenL deflned" (Lewln, 1933, p. 29). 1haL ls whlle properLles of ob[ecLs

We can add here quesLlonnalres and surveys (Wagoner & valslner, 2003).

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belonged Lo Lhe ob[ecL lrrespecLlve of lLs surroundlng, Lhe Calllean vlew consldered welghL",
for example, Lo be depend on Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween Lhe ob[ecL and envlronmenL (Lewln,
1933, p. 28).

I|e|d theory: A ho||st|c framework: 1he lmpllcaLlons Lewln drew from Lhe confllcL of
ArlsLoLellan and Calllean modes of LhoughL ls reflecLed ln hls Lheory. As we have lllusLraLed,
Lewln aLLempLed general law and parLlcular slLuaLlon, and Lo broaden psychologlsLs' sub[ecL
maLLer or vlew of Lhe human belng. Lewln's work, ln conLrasL Lo many of hls colleagues,
focuses on developlng a psychologlcal sclence of Lhe whole human belng. lor Lewln any
recourse Lo lnherenL personallLy or essence of an lndlvldual lndependenL of Lhe envlronmenL
could noL asslsL ln undersLandlng human behavlor. undersLandlng any human behavlor enLalls
undersLandlng Lhe slLuaLlon of an lndlvldual as lL exlsLs for Lhe parLlcular person. 1hls was
capLured ln Lewln's classlc formula for behavlor, 8=f(,L), whlch sLaLes LhaL behavlor ls a
funcLlon of Lhe person and envlronmenL for LhaL person. Lewln's fleld Lheory aLLempLs Lo
descrlbe and speclfy Lhe here-and-now fleld ln whlch Lhe person ls slLuaLed ln lLs LoLallLy (e.g.,
lnLerrelaLlons). 1he baslc posLulaLes of fleld Lheory, accordlng Lo Lewln (1931), are LhaL (a)
behavlor has Lo be derlved from a LoLallLy of co-exlsLlng facLs, (b) Lhese coexlsLlng facLs have
Lhe 'dynamlc fleld' ln so far as Lhe sLaLe of any parL of Lhls fleld depends on every oLher parL of
Lhe fleld" (p. 23). 1he whole slLuaLlon was noL sLaLlc buL lnsLead dynamlc and comprlsed of
many dlfferenL non-reduclble elemenLs.
Lewln devoLed conslderable efforL Lo how Lo represenL Lhe fleld or llfe space of a person.
Agaln, Lhe person was consldered Lo be lnLerdependenL wlLh her envlronmenL and Lherefore
could noL be undersLood separaLely from lL. 1he envlronmenL and here-and-now slLuaLlon was
a consLlLuLlve parL of Lhe person's behavlor and one cannoL dlsenLangle a person from Lhelr
envlronmenL. Lewln (1936) Lhus Lrled Lo represenL all relevanL" aspecLs of Lhe slLuaLlon as lL
exlsLed for Lhe person, and he offered Lhe general guldellne LhaL wbot ls teol bos effects." ln
oLher words, Lewln aLLempLed Lo represenL Lhe heLerogeneous fleld or llfe space of Lhe person
Lhrough deLalled observaLlon wlLh an eye Lowards derlvlng behavlor from Lhe condlLlonal-
geneLlc characLerlsLlcs" of an ob[ecL or evenL. 1hese characLerlsLlcs were dynamlc processes
LhaL exlsLed beneaLh Lhe phenomenal properLles.

1owards a new understand|ng of genera||zat|on: As dlscussed above, Lewln sLressed Lhe
necesslLy of Lheory, buL Lheory had Lo be Lled Lo and lnformed by rlch descrlpLlons of all
relevanL aspecLs of Lhe llfe-space of Lhe lndlvldual. ue 8lvera (1976) has noLed LhaL, because
of Lhe unlque slLuaLlon of every sub[ecL, [Lewln] argued for Lhe sLudy of each lndlvldual case"
(p. 18). ?eL for psychology Lo be a sclence -ln Lhe sense of wlsseoscbofteo - lL musL also
dlscover laws and allow for generallzablllLy. SLresslng Lhe value of Lheory, Lewln asserLs LhaL
Lhe accumulaLlon of facLs Lhrough emplrlcal sLudles cannoL answer . Lhe quesLlon LhaL ls
mosL lmporLanL for pracLlcal purposes - namely, whaL musL one do Lo obLaln a deslred effecL ln
glven concreLe cases?" (Lewln, 1936, p. 4). Laws, for Lewln, deflne funcLlonal relaLlonshlps
beLween dlfferenL characLerlsLlcs of an evenL or slLuaLlon . [and] are noLhlng more Lhan
prlnclples accordlng Lo whlch Lhe acLual evenL may be derlved from Lhe dynamlc facLors of Lhe
concreLe slLuaLlon" (Lewln, 1936, p. 11). lleld Lheory was Lewln's aLLempL Lo brlng Lheory
bulldlng lnLo dlalogue wlLh Lhe concreLe slLuaLlon. 1hls concreLe analysls requlred Lhe use of
condlLlonal - raLher Lhan causal - ways of Lhlnklng abouL experlmenLaLlon (Lewln, 1927) LhaL
was a forerunner Lo our proposal for a caLalyLlc focus ln psychology here.
lleld Lheory ls noL wlLhouL flaws aL Lhe concepLual and pracLlcal levels. lL has been crlLlclzed
for lLs llmlLaLlons on whaL can and should be represenLed ln Lhe fleld and weakness ln Lhe
Zach Becksteau, Kenneth R. Cabell, anu }aan valsinei - ueneializing Thiough Conuitional Analysis


maLhemaLlcal formullzaLlons (London, 1944). Powever, de 8lvera remlnds us LhaL fleld Lheory
ls more of an approach Lhan a rlgld sysLem of concepLs Lo be applled Lo dlfferenL psychologlcal
lssues (ue 8lvera, 1976, p. 4). 1he rlchness of Lewln's concepLs and hls aLLempLs Lo sLay close
Lo Lhe phenomena of concern wlLhouL undue slmpllflcaLlon ls lmpresslve. 1hus we Lake Lewln's
ldeas as suggesLlve ways Lo honor boLh baslc knowledge consLrucLlon and Lhe unlqueness of
human llfe. aradoxlcally, lL ls [usL Lhls emphasls on Lhe slLuaLlon as essenLlal Lo generallzed
knowledge LhaL ls so provocaLlve. Lewln (1933) polnLed ouL LhaL Callleo dld noL Lake an
average of balls rolllng down hllls, buL raLher absLracLly concelved of ldeal slLuaLlons and
condlLlons and demonsLraLed LhaL Lhe behavlor of a ball depended on Lhe slLuaLlon (p. 26).
lnsLead of lgnorlng Lhe lndlvldual pecullarlLles of Lhe slLuaLlon, Lewln's experlmenLal
phenomenology" (see ue 8lvera, 1976 for a dlscusslon of Lhls approach) and emphasls on
descrlblng Lhe slLuaLlon ln as much deLall posslble relnsLaLed Lhe slLuaLlon (l.e., person-
envlronmenL relaLlonshlp) as Lhe key unlL of analysls. Slngle evenLs were no longer consldered
lncompresslble and ouLslde Lhe grasp of sclence. An addlLlonal lmpllcaLlon Lo resLorlng Lhe
slngle and unlque evenL Lo lnvesLlgaLlon ls LhaL lL has Lhe corollary effecL of belng closer Lo
human experlence. 1haL ls, we experlence llfe as meanlngful and purposeful, and noL arblLrary
and random as Lhe ArlsLoLellan mode of LhoughL would lmply. lurLhermore, Lewln's approach
was Lo connecL Lhe concreLe Lo Lhe concepLual and deal wlLh Lhe essenLlal sLrucLures (l.e.,
relaLlonshlps) LhaL occur beneaLh observaLlon and descrlpLlon. lnsLead of generallzaLlon based
on slmllarlLles beLween common, absLracL feaLures, generallzaLlon ls based on processes
underlylng Lhe phenomena. 1hus Lhe focus on essenLlal sLrucLures moves us from breaklng
phenomena aparL and sLudylng elemenLs ln lsolaLlon Lo a sysLemlc orlenLaLlon LhaL ls orlenLed
Lowards systemlc coosollty.


1he open dynamlc sysLem model ls essenLlal when sLudylng Lhe effecLs of Lhe quallLaLlve
whole. arLs and Lhelr relaLlonshlp Lo each oLher, as well as Lo Lhe whole, have lnLerrelaLed
funcLlons and effecLs and Lherefore cannoL be LreaLed as separaLe varlables. 1yplcal analyLlc
sLudy of psychologlcal sysLems reduced Lhe whole Lo lLs consLlLuenL parLs, Lhelr relaLlonshlps
lgnored, and only some parLs are selecLed plcked for sLudylng. 1he sysLem cannoL be sLudled
unless Lhe aggregaLe of Lhe quallLaLlve whole ls observed as a sysLem - as lnLerrelaLed parLs
funcLlonlng ln relaLlon Lo one anoLher. 1hls sysLemlc approach was lnherenL ln Lhe Calllean
mode of LhoughL and was manlfesLed ln Lewln's focus on Lhe concreLe slLuaLlon and behavlor
as a funcLlon of Lhe person-envlronmenL relaLlonshlp.
Modern experlmenLal psychology aLLempLs Lo reduce a complex sysLem Lo lLs consLlLuenL
parLs. 1hls allows for experlmenLaLlon Lo produce causallLy ln a one-Lo-one model - lf x ls
presenL Lhen Z follows. Such a formula beglns Lo glve blrLh Lo modern experlmenLal meLhods,
forLlfled by lf-Lhen" loglc (Sllfe & 8lchardson, 1993). ln order Lo make sense of phenomena,
psychology reduces Lhe complex whole Lo varlables LhaL presumably lnLeracL". sychologles
reduced one-Lo-one varlable equaLlons begln Lo acqulre a mechanlsLlc quallLy. SLern, who
dlsagrees wlLh Lhe one-Lo-one causal and mechanlcal porLrayal of Lhe psyche, says,

1he lndlvldual ls more Lhan an aggregaLe of physlcal and psychologlcal phenomena, [usL whaL
more ls enLalled here wlll now be expressed ln Lerms of nonphenomenal aLLrlbuLes. 1hus, Lhe
naLure of Lhese hypoLheLlcal componenLs ls noL mechanlcal buL personal": Lhe many and
fragmenLed phenomena presenL wlLhln Lhe lndlvldual are explalned by and unlfled Lhrough
aLLrlbuLes LhaL orlglnaLe or reslde ln Lhe lndlvldual, lnsofar as Lhe laLLer ls a unlLary whole. (SLern
1911, p. 48)

Bumana.Nente - Issue 11- 0ctobei 2uu9


LmoLlon, cognlLlons, and acLlons are noL lsolaLed enLlLles, buL raLher are enmeshed LogeLher
and grounded ln Lhe whole person. Moreover, Lhese lnLer-relaLed domalns are always
dynamlc. uynamlcs lmplles change, and change lmplles developmenL. 1herefore Lhe
generallzaLlons musL address and encompass change as long as Lhe lndlvldual changes - Lhusly
forclng psychology lnLo a dynamlc sysLems Lheory and requlrlng a dynamlc model of
generallzaLlon. Already back ln Lhe beglnnlng of Lhe 20
cenLury, Wllllam SLern emphaslzed
Lhls polnL when saylng LhaL Lhe parLlcular ls ever subordlnaLe Lo Lhe general [even as] Lhe
general musL ever accommodaLe Lhe lndlvldual." (SLern, 1911, p. 31).
Modern psychology, whlch selecLlvely chooses and lgnores parLs of Lhe whole ln order Lo
make causal sLaLemenLs, musL develop a dynamlc model - ln Lheory, pracLlce, and
generallzaLlon. Accordlng Lo Lewln, Lhe properLles of a Lhlng are noL lnLrlnslc Lo lL buL, raLher,
sLem from lLs lnLerrelaLlonshlp wlLh oLher elemenLs ln a glven sysLem - agaln relnforclng Lhe
dynamlc lnLeracLlon of parLs wlLhln a sysLem. lndeed, all psychologlcal and behavloral
funcLlonlng ls parL of an open and dynamlc sysLem. 1hls means LhaL all Lhe processes and
componenLs of Lhe sysLem work as a quallLaLlve whole Lo produce Lhe resulLlng phenomenon.
1he valldlLy of causal sLaLemenLs based on reducLlonlsL approaches ls unLenable because Lhey
fall Lo Lake lnLo accounL essenLlal aspecLs of Lhe whole. A sLudy of reduced or selecLed parLs of
Lhe quallLaLlve whole may yleld an enLlrely dlfferenL phenomenon (e.g., aLLempLlng Lo sLudy
Lhe affecL or rellglous ecsLasy Lhrough Lhe flrlng of neurons).
lf phenomena are quallLaLlvely organlzed by Lhe whole sysLem Lhey are embedded wlLhln
(and lnLerrelaLed wlLh) Lhen generallzaLlon should noL be based on premlses of separaLe
varlables, buL raLher qeoetollzotloo sboolJ be boseJ oo tbe ptemlses of qeoetollzloq ooJet
wbot systemlc cooJltloos sometbloq occots. 1here are Lwo lmporLanL concepLs Lo Lhls
eplsLemologlcal vlew of generallzaLlon. 1he flrsL ls LhaL of Pollsm - dlscussed prevlously. 1he
second concepL ls LhaL of caLalysls - Lhe sLudy of condlLlons under whlch someLhlng happens
(SalvaLore, valslner, SLrauL-?agodzlnkl and Clegg, 2009). 1he lnLegraLlon of Lhese Lwo concepLs
wlLhln an open and dynamlc sysLem can allow for Lhe producLlon of generallzed knowledge
LhaL does noL buLcher" Lhe phenomena by reduclng lL Lo lLs elemenLal parLs, buL raLher,
descrlbes, undersLands, and analyzes Lhe phenomena as a quallLaLlve whole.

1he ke|at|onsh|ps and Interact|ons |n System 1heory: ln order Lo generallze Lhe condlLlons
under whlch someLhlng occurs, lL ls lmporLanL Lo sLudy Lhe general models of open and
dynamlc sysLems. Cpen sysLems accounL for exchange and relaLlon glven Lhe parLlcular parLs ln
Lhe whole envlronmenL. 1hls lmplles open ended and lnLranslLlve lnLeracLlons - LhaL ls,
provlded LhaL A, 8, C sLand for Lhe parLs of Lhe sysLem, and A > 8 sLand for a relaLlon, lL mlghL
be Lhe case LhaL A > 8 and 8 > C whlle aL Lhe same Llme C > A. ln general, an lnLranslLlve and
open sysLem can also suggesL Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween Lwo parLs as equlvalenL Lo, or
lndeLermlnaLe (see below). Lach of Lhese relaLlonshlp or quallLles of relaLlng Lo" suggesL an
asymmeLrlc relaLlon. An asymmeLrlc relaLlon lmplles LhaL A's relaLlon Lo 8 ls noL Lhe same as
8's relaLlon Lo A. A greaLer Lhan slgn lmplles a relaLlonshlp of domlnance. 1herefore, A > 8 ls
equlvalenL Lo A domlnaLes 8" or A has domlnance over 8". ConsequenLly, a less Lhan" slgn
(<) lmplles an asymmeLrlc relaLlonshlp of Lhe domlnaLed, an equal" slgns (=) lmplles an
equlvalenL power relaLlon, and lndeLermlnaLe lmplles an unknown relaLlonshlp (valslner,

Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
A > 8 A > 8 A > 8
8 > C 8 > C 8 > C
Zach Becksteau, Kenneth R. Cabell, anu }aan valsinei - ueneializing Thiough Conuitional Analysis


C > A C = A C--[?]--A

Lach of Lhese models dlsplay dlfferenL parLs wlLhln a sysLem and Lhelr relaLlonshlp Lo some
oLher parL. 1he parLs and Lhelr lnLeracLlons wlLh oLher parLs as a whole ls a sysLem. 8uL how
can we conclude causallLy from such a sysLem of lnLeracLlng and exchanglng parLs? 1wo
sysLems, wlLh Lhe same parLs - A, 8, C - buL dlfferenL relaLlonshlp of Lhe parLs wlll yleld
dlfferenL resulLs. ln each of Lhe models Lhe speclflc relaLlon beLween Lhe parLs ls of key
relevance - lf a relaLlonshlp ls Laken ouL, Lhe sysLem collapses, and Lhe resulL does noL occur.
Slnce Lhe resulL ls dependenL on Lhe lnLeracLlon of oll parLs ln Lhe sysLem, and noL of Lhe
lndlvldual varlables, we can conclude LhaL Lhere exlsLs a causal relaLlonshlp beLween Lhe
sysLem and some ouLcome. 5ystemlc coosollty flLs Lhe noLlon of causes of Lhe quallLaLlve whole
and ls necessary ln consLrucLlng Lhe generallzaLlon of condlLlons under whlch someLhlng

Irom causa||ty to cata|ys|s: ChemlsLry and blology have accepLed Lhe open and dynamlc
naLure of sysLemlc phenomena. CaLalysls ls Lhe sLudy Lhe condlLlons LhaL operaLe wlLhln open,
lnLranslLlve, and dynamlc sysLems LhaL enable a parLlcular ouLcome Lo be produced - wblle
ptesetvloq tbe fooctlooloq of tbe ptoJocloq system. Such model can provlde sufflclenL
foundaLlons for generallzaLlon whlle sLlll keeplng Lhe quallLy of Lhe whole lnLacL. 1hls
generallzaLlon can be reached Lhrough a process model LhaL allows for Lhe dlaloglcal exchange
beLween Lhe parLlcular and Lhe unlversal.
CaLalysLs offer an alLernaLlve concepLual Lool Lo lnvesLlgaLe sysLemlc causallLy (valslner,
2007). We can see Lhe baslc noLlons of caLalysLs ln everyday llfe. lor example, lndlvlduals walk
down Lhe crowded sLreeLs of 8osLon, MassachuseLLs on a dally basls. As a whole, Lhe sLreeLs ln
8osLon may be busy - a conglomeraLe of mulLlple people golng varlous places. 8uL, lL ls noL
everyday when Lhe sLreeL ls busy LhaL Lhe crowd becomes consldered a parade, a rally/proLesL,
or an anarchlsL mob. lor example, lL Lakes a declared hollday Lo Lransform Lhe normal sLreeL
envlronmenL and crowd lnLo a parade. 1he elemenLs - people, sLreeL vendors, pollce eLc - co-
exlsL and co-occur ln everyday llfe. Powever, lL ls Lhe creaLlon and sysLemlc lmplemenLaLlon of
Lhe hollday LhaL caLalyzes and organlzes Lhese elemenLs lnLo Lhe phenomenon of a parade".
Llkewlse, lL Lakes Lhe speclflc caLalyLlc condlLlons of a conLroverslal soclo-pollLlcal evenL Lo
modlfy Lhe crowded sLreeL lnLo a proLesL or rally. 1hus Lhe noLlon of caLalysls can be employed
Lo undersLand how repeaLed ooJ unlque evenLs occur wlLhouL reduclng Lhe complexlLy of llfe
Lo more elemenLal parLs.

1he sycho|og|ca| Cata|yst: ln many sysLems, Lhere are consLralns or barrlers LhaL lnhlblL Lhe
occurrence of cerLaln phenomena. lL Lakes Lhe help of a cotolyst Lo lower Lhe acLlvaLlon barrler
- Lhe barrler or consLralnL lnhlblLlng a phenomena's occurrence - ln order Lo achleve Lhe
emergence of Lhe phenomena. Powever, because Lhe phenomena ls a resulL of lnLeracLlng and
exchanglng parLs wlLhln a sysLem, Lhe caLalysL has an lmporLanL funcLlon of changlng Lhe
relaLlonshlps and lnLeracLlons beLween one or more parLs wlLhln Lhe sysLem. Slmllar Lo our
open, dynamlc, and lnLranslLlve sysLem models, Lhe caLalysL changes Lhe relaLlonshlps of parLs
wlLhln Lhe sysLem Lo regulaLlng, malnLalnlng, amblguous, or oLher relaLlonshlps. As we sLaLed
above, sysLem causallLy lmplles Lhe change of one relaLlonshlp wlLhln Lhe sysLem wlll yleld a
dlfferenL resulL. 1herefore, Lhe caLalyLlc overcomlng of a barrler, resulLlng ln Lhe changlng of a
relaLlonshlp noL usually changed, alLers Lhe sysLem as a whole, causlng some novel (someLlmes
rare) phenomena.
Assume a sysLem conLalns parLs A, 8, and C where A--[?]--8, 8 > C and C > A. Cbvlously Lhe
open locus ln Lhls sysLem ls A--[?]--8-where [?] can Lake dlfferenL forms (e.g. leL Lhese be <

Bumana.Nente - Issue 11- 0ctobei 2uu9


and >). lf a condlLlon ls presenL, Lhe [?] Lakes Lhe form of > and Lhe sysLem operaLes as a
dynamlc lnLranslLlve cycle (A>8>C>A. eLc). 1he condlLlon ls a caLalysL-a condlLlon necessary
LhaL ls ln lLself noL parL of Lhe causal sysLem A-8-C-operaLes as Lhe malnLalner of Lhe dynamlc
sLeady sLaLe of A-8-C.
Pow does Lhe caLalysL work? lL may tempototlly bloJ wltb Lhe process of LranslLlon ln Lhe
sysLem, so Lhe process observed ln Llme may be

A A8 8 C

released ouLcome" 8

ln Lhe processes of LranslLlon Lhere ls an lnLermedlaLe form - A8 - LhaL faclllLaLes Lhe
LranslLlon ln lLs sLable form, and enables Lhe producLlon of Lhe ouLcome" (consequenL)- 8.
now, conslder Lhe scenarlo where Lhe caLalysL ls noL avallable and ls replaced by anoLher one
(C). 1he sysLem ls now challenged and can change lLs organlzaLlon:

A A8 D C

C released C ouLcome" 8 noL produced

1he new sysLem AuC enLalls a loss of C and emergence of u as lLs parL. Such quallLaLlve
LransformaLlon wlLhln Lhe causal sysLem lLself ls an example of developmenL - broughL by
Lhrough Lhe alLeraLlon of Lhe condlLlons of funcLlonlng of Lhe sysLem. 8y way of changlng lLself
Lhe sysLem ends up produclng an ouLcome (8) - yeL lL keeps repllcaLlng lLself ln lLs muLaLed" (8
replaced by u) form. 1he causal sysLem may reLurn Lo produclng 8 lf Lhe caLalysL replaces C
and lf C can be replaced by 8 as a resulL. lf noL, Lhe sysLem has developed lnLo a new
lrreverslble form - Lrlggered by Lhe change of Lhe caLalysLs.
1he generallzed feaLure of Lhe causal sysLem ls lLs absLracL quallLy-all causal processes are
based on cycllcal sysLems LhaL reproduce Lhemselves and may be Lrlggered Lo modlfy
Lhemselves. All ouLcomes" of Lhese caLalyzed causal sysLems are by-producLs of such self-
preservaLlon of Lhe sysLem. lL ls Lhe caLalysLs-noL causal agenLs" LhaL would produce dlrecL
effecLs"-LhaL lead Lo ouLcomes as always loJltect effects of Lhe causal sysLem.


asL, presenL, and fuLure forms brlng ln Lhe noLlon of becomlng, emergence and developmenL
over Llme. 1he 1ra[ecLory LqulflnallLy Model (1LM - SaLo eL al, 2007, 2009) explalns Lhe
Lemporal relaLlonshlp beLween a unlllnear acLuallzed pasL, an lnflnlLeslmal presenL, and Lhe
mulLlple poLenLlal Lra[ecLorles of Lhe fuLure. Comblnlng a caLalyLlc model wlLh Lhe 1ra[ecLory
LqulflnallLy Model (1LM) glves Lhe followlng: A person (A) has a unlllnear acLuallzed pasL and
mulLlple fuLure posslblllLles (llgure1):

range of 8 [b
, b
, b

Zach Becksteau, Kenneth R. Cabell, anu }aan valsinei - ueneializing Thiough Conuitional Analysis


pasL presenL fuLure

llgure 1. 1he unlllnear acLual pasL faclng Lhe lndeLermlnaLe fuLure

1he speclflc presenL condlLlons/conLexL acL as a caLalysL (C) LhaL help ln Lhe acLuallzaLlon of
one posslblllLy (b
) wlLhln Lhe seL of posslblllLles 8 [b
, b
, b
} Lhrough Lhe alLeraLlon of a
speclflc posslblllLles (b
) relaLlon and lnLeracLlon wlLh Lhe resL of Lhe posslblllLles wlLhln Lhe
seL/sysLem (llgure 2):

CaLalysL C

range of 8 [b
, b
, b


pasL presenL fuLure

llgure 2. CaLalyLlc movemenL Lowards deLermlnaLe fuLure

1he caLalysL lowers Lhe acLlvaLlon barrler" - Lhe barrler lnhlblLlng (or blocklng) fuLure poLenLlal
from acLuallzlng - for Lhe blndlng agenL. Puman psyche operaLes Lhrough Lhe enablemenL of
fuLure posslblllLles - allowlng some of Lhem Lo be consLrucLed lnLo acLuallLles. Along Lhe 1LM
model, lnLermedlaLe caLalyLlc developmenL occur ln Lhe face of Lhe fuLure, along a serles of
posslble fuLure opLlons wlLhln a seL 8 [b
, b
, b
}. 1he caLalysL acceleraLes acLuallzaLlon of
one of Lhese posslblllLles by acqulrlng a regulaLory role. 1hls regulaLory role changes Lhe
relaLlonshlp of one of Lhe parLs wlLh Lhe oLhers ln Lhe sysLem, yleldlng a dlfferenL resulL. lor
example, Lhe caLalysL (C) for Lhe glven person (A) may change Lhe funcLlon of opLlon b
blfurcaLlng Lhe Lra[ecLorles so LhaL anyLhlng oLher Lhan opLlon b
ls blocked and lnhlblLed,
whlle opLlon b
ls promoLed as an alLernaLlve - opposlLlonal - course (llgure 3):

CaLalysL C

range of 8 [b
, b
, b


pasL presenL fuLure

llgure 3. ulfferenLlaLlon of Lhe Lra[ecLorles for dlalogue wlLh Lhe fuLure

1he opLlons for Lhe fuLure are now llmlLed Lo Lhe [b
, b
} conLrasL, whlle Lhe resL of Lhe fleld of
posslblllLles vanlshes (valslner, 2009). 1he acLual llfe course becomes negoLlaLed by Lhe fuLure
conLrasL [b
, b
} ln lLs relaLlon Lo recollecLed pasL conLrasL [a
, a
} - a blfurcaLlon process LhaL ls
reconsLrucLed ln Lhe presenL based on Lhe memorles of Lhe pasL.

An examp|e. rocesses of culLural caLalyLlc klnd can be observed ln an example of culLlvaLlng
and modlfylng Lhe envlronmenL - whaL we call . ln Lngllsh, LhaL Lerm has underLones of
lllegallLy, rule-breaklng, vandallsm, and courage. 1hls ls noL Lhe case ln oLher languages - lLallan

Bumana.Nente - Issue 11- 0ctobei 2uu9


for lnsLance - where lL deslgnaLes graphlc deslgns. lndlvlduals have mulLlple ways of
communlcaLlng messages (llgure 4). under ordlnary clrcumsLances, Lhe acL of drawlng on walls
or flllng cablneLs ls auLomaLlcally blocked by our culLural sysLem of caLalysLs. When confronLed
wlLh Lhe affordances of an empLy wall and of pens ln our hands, we neverLheless do noL rush
Lo use Lhese affordances. 1he slLuaLlon ls very dlfferenL lf we are operaLlng under Lhe caLalyLlc
condlLlons of proLesL" - here Lhe usual regulaLory mechanlsms are overrldden by Lhe
generallzed feellngs LhaL Lurn Lhe person lnLo a creaLor of desLrucLlve acLs. An lndlvldual may
have a presenL message Lo be communlcaLed, and Lhey have an lnflnlLe number of ways Lo
communlcaLe Lhls message. Powever, Lhe mlnuLe Lhe lndlvldual seLs fooL wlLhln a soclal
seLLlng, Lhere ls a regulaLlon on whaL can be sald and how messages can be communlcaLed.
under no ordlnary clrcumsLances would an ouLslde vlslLor enLer an offlce and sLarL wrlLlng
messages on spaces noL meanL for Lhose. Slgns locaLed ln Lhe acLlvlLy seLLlng (e.g., no
1alklng") and generallzed norms (e.g., one doesn'L Lalk abouL pollLlcs aL Lhe dlnner Lable")
seek Lo resLrlcL Lhe range of posslble messages. lurLhermore, a person carrles around a
luggage of such culLural regulaLors wlLhln one's own personal culLure. 1herefore, cerLaln
opLlons of communlcaLlon means are blocked by Lhe caLalyLlc condlLlon of Lhe soclal seLLlng
LhaL ls seL up by varlous soclal lnsLlLuLlons. 1hese opLlons begln Lo vanlsh away unLll Lhey
become exLlncL - or can be re-acLlvaLed under condlLlons of change ln Lhe soclal aLmosphere.

llgure 4. ublqulLous Lakeover of (prevlous) blank wall on clLy sLreeL wlLh 'grafflLl'

When a second seL of caLalyLlc condlLlons ls presenL - Lhe fear of condemnaLlon and [udgmenL
(soclal punlshmenL - Lhe only opLlons lefL are Lhose of anonymlLy. 1hls can se observed mosL
ofLen when one person wrlLes whaL Lhey Lruly feel by Lhe means of grafflLl. Cbservlng grafflLl
Lhen becomes a caLalysL for oLhers looklng for freedom of expresslon Lo do Lhe same -
respondlng and addlng Lo Lhe orlglnal grafflLl Lo Lhe polnL LhaL a grafflLl dlalogue may occur. A
demonsLraLlon of dlsorder operaLes as an lndexlcal slgn - ln C. S. elrce's Lerms - for allowlng
furLher consLrucLlon of dlsorder. ?eL when Lhe general mode of operaLlon for Lhe self ls
consLrucLlve a slgn of dlsorder calls for lLs ellmlnaLlon (cleanlng up"). A plece of rubblsh nexL
Lo a garbage bln calls for pottloq lt lo LhaL conLalner - whlle Lhe same slgn for a person on a
mlsslon of desLrucLlon suggesLs pollloq oll tbe cooteots of tbot cootoloet oot Lo [oln Lhe plece
of rubblsh.

Zach Becksteau, Kenneth R. Cabell, anu }aan valsinei - ueneializing Thiough Conuitional Analysis


Lmot|ona|-Sem|ot|c Med|ators as Cata|ysts: 1he regulaLory funcLlon of slgns can be seen
Lhrough emoLlonal-semloLlc markers LhaL re-conflgure Lhe person-envlronmenL relaLlonshlp.
!osephs (2003) dlscusses emoLlonal-semloLlc and lllusLraLes how caLalysLs synLheslze parLs
where dlrecL and unmedlaLed synLhesls ls noL posslble" wlLhouL Lhe caLalysL (p. xll) Lhrough
Lhe followlng example [noLe: Lhls example was lnlLlally used by lrlLz Pelder (1938)].

lf l generally haLe warLs on Lhe face, yeL Lhe man l fall ln love wlLh happens Lo have a permanenL,
halry (and Lhus parLlcularly dlsgusLlng) exemplar rlghL on hls chln, unavoldably Lenslon ls bullL up.
?eL soon, lf noL lmmedlaLely, l may flnd myself ln a poslLlon Lo llke, even Lenderly Louch Lhls
orlglnally dlsgusLlng body mark . 1here ls nelLher mysLery nor paLhology ln Lhls process . lL ls
Lhe powerful emoLlonal-semloLlc caLalysL (my felL noLlon of love, and Lhe value l aLLach [and l
learned sboolJ be aLLached] Lo my parLner) whlch radlcally Lransforms my relaLlon Lo Lhe world
(here Lo a drasLlc exemplar of a warL) Lhrough an lmmedlaLe overgenerallzaLlon of Lhls value
orlenLaLlon .. WhaL happened ls an emoLlonally Lrlggered LransformaLlon of my meanlng-sysLem
due Lo a sLrong and felL value orlenLaLlon - a hlgher level regulaLor (Lhe caLalysL) whlch leads Lo a
new, generallzed quallLy of Lhe meanlng-sysLem. (Pelder 1938, p. xlll)

ln Lhls example, Lhe feellng and value of love, ln Lhls example, serves as Lhe caLalysL ln
reorlenLlng Lhe lndlvldual's meanlng-sysLem and person-world relaLlon. 1he feellng of love
generallzes from someLhlng deslrable - Lhe loved one - Lo encompass whaL was prevlously
dlsgusLlng. 1hls emoLlonal-caLalysL acLs as a hlgher order regulaLor and, as affecLlve caLalysLs,
funcLlon rapldly and beyond raLlonal and sLep by sLep efforL (!osephs, 2003).
Lspeclally for our purposes concernlng generallzaLlon, Lhls brlngs us Lo Lwo lmporLanL
polnLs. 1he flrsL concerns Lhe hollsLlc naLure of caLalysls and emphasls on Lhe slLuaLlon. 1hls
example lncludes a shlfL ln meanlng-sysLem and value orlenLaLlon based on Lhe relaLlonshlp of
Lhe parLlcular person Lo Lhe parLlcular lover. AddlLlonally, as !osephs' parenLheLlcally noLes, Lhe
soclal suggesLlon LhaL one should value one's parLner was embedded ln Lhe soclal conLexL ln
whlch Lhe person was lnLerrelaLed. ln order Lo undersLand Lhe phenomena (l.e., meanlng-
change), we have Lo lnvesLlgaLe Lhe whole and noL lsolaLed parLs. Second, caLalysLs are abouL
(ofLen) unlque evenLs and processes, and noL averages. lL would be polnLless from Lhls
perspecLlve Lo see lf Lhls parLlcular shlfL (LransformaLlon of dlsgusL Lo value and appreclaLlon)
occurs frequenLly and/or by many people. 1he maLLer aL hand ls Lhe general process
(emoLlonal-semloLlc caLalysls).

Genera||z|ng the Cata|yt|c Who|e: Slnce phenomena are noL caused, buL raLher, are caLalyzed,
we musL develop a concepL of generallzaLlon LhaL encompasses Lhe general sysLem ln whlch
someLhlng occurs (or resulLs). 1he caLalyLlc sysLems model noL only lncorporaLes Lhe pasL,
presenL, and fuLure, of a phenomenon's developmenL, buL also lncorporaLes Lhe quallLaLlve
whole of Lhe sysLem. 1he consLrucLlon of Lhe phenomena wlLhln Lhls framework forces Lhe
observer Lo vlew Lhe whole of Lhe sysLem, and noL Lo forgeL or selecLlve lgnore Lhose varlables
LhaL, lf forgoLLen or lgnored, could resulL ln a dlfferenL phenomena, or no phenomena aL all.
1hls presenLs a model for experlmenLal procedures LhaL most conslder person and
envlronmenL as a quallLaLlvely organlzlng whole.

Irom the art|cu|ar to the Un|versa|: D|a|og|ca| Genera||zat|on. Lewln presenLed Lhe dlalogue
beLween Lhe parLlcular and Lhe unlversal. CenerallzaLlon ls Lhe ablllLy Lo absLracL from Lhe
concreLe, produclng general represenLaLlve feaLures LhaL can be applled Lo slmllar phenomena
wlLhln a fuzzy caLegory". 1herefore, generallzaLlon ls a dlalogue beLween Lhe concreLe and
Lhe absLracL or Lhe parLlcular and Lhe unlversal. 1he caLalyLlc model allows for undersLandlng
sysLem causallLy ln a quallLaLlve whole, as well as Lhe dlalogue beLween Lhe concreLe and Lhe

Bumana.Nente - Issue 11- 0ctobei 2uu9


absLracL. 1he caLalyLlc model ls absLracLed from speclflc concreLe phenomena - noL of hlgh
frequency, buL raLher lndlvldual phenomena of rare occurrences - LhaL are Lhen applled (or
generallzed) Lo oLher rarely occurrlng phenomena. 1he generallzaLlon ls noL for Lhe
undersLandlng of Lhe llkellhood, probablllLy, or average frequency of Lhe rare phenomena, buL
raLher, Lo undersLand Lhe sysLemlc processes LhaL promoLes or lnhlblLs Lhe rare occurrences of
Lhe phenomena. School shooLlngs do noL happen everyday. lL ls hard Lo sLudy Lhe slngle
varlables, one by one, LhaL cause" LhaL lndlvldual Lo shooL fellow sLudenLs aL Lhe school. ln
facL, people and guns are presenL ln our world wlLh hlgh frequency, buL Lhelr synLhesls and
modlflcaLlon lnLo school shooLlng rarely occurs. 1he experlmenLal model of one-Lo-one
causallLy ls noL sufflclenL ln explanaLlon. 8aLher, Lhe caLalyLlc model - showlng Lhe dynamlc
lnLeracLlon of lndlvlduals, condlLlons, conLexLs, and caLalyLlc agenLs - can ald ln Lhe
undersLandlng of Lhlngs LhaL do noL normally occur wlLhouL Lhe presenLaLlon of a caLalyLlc
condlLlon or agenL.


1he world exlsLs ln parLlculars - and any generallzaLlon from Lhose ls based on slngle unlque
encounLers wlLh Lhe world. sychology's rellance on Lhe mulLlple examples (samples) Lo
generallze Lo an absLracL sample (called populaLlon") ls an lmpoverlshed proxy for Lhe slngle
case Lo generlc case generallzaLlon. Lewln's eplsLemologlcal sLance was clear and producLlve -
proven by any pracLlLloner's lnevlLable rellance on Lhe dlrecL slngle encounLers wlLh Lhe world.
sychology seems Lo have confused Lhe noLlon of obsttoctloo and Jemoctotlc mojotlty
Jomloooce ln lLs pasL cenLury. 1he laLLer ls whaL Lhe Lra[ecLory of lnducLlve generallzaLlon
enLalls - Lhe ma[orlLy of Lhe lndlvldual cases ln a populaLlon ls - poorly buL represenLaLlvely -
capLured by Lhe rellance on Lhe averages. Sure, an average ls an absLracLlon as well - oLherwlse
sLaLemenLs llke Lhe chlldren ln Lhe sLudy were, on Lhe average, ln Lhe 3.67 grade age level"
would be lmmedlaLely percelved as meanlngless.
All generallzaLlon lnvolves absLracLlon. ln Lhe case of generallzaLlon from a slngle case,

Lo generallze ls Lo recognlze llkeness whlch had been prevlously masked by dlfferences, to
tecoqolze tbe llkeoess ls olso tbetefote to tecoqolze tbese Jlffeteoces os lttelevoot, and Lo
JlsteqotJ tbem from Lhe polnL of vlew of Lhe general concepLlon (8aldwln 1901, p. 408, added

lL becomes clear LhaL our cognlLlve faclllLy Lo dlscounL lmmedlaLely observable dlfferences and
replace Lhem wlLh an opposlLe focus - LhaL of slmllarlLy - ls based on our maklng of CesLalLs ln
our meanlng sysLem. Such CesLalLs come aL dlfferenL hlerarchlcal levels - Lhe hlgher levels
enLall generallzaLlon of Lhe whole flelds of experlence. 1hus, Lhe percepLual deLecLlon of a
cloudless sky" and lLs color (blue sky") can lead Lo aesLheLlc generallzaLlon (beauLlful sky")
wlLh hyper-generallzaLlon (how beauLlful!").
1hus, generallzaLlon Lakes place by Lwo rouLes: (l) Lhe analyLlc-Lo-synLheLlc (recognlLlon of
dlfferences and Lurnlng LhaL recognlLlon lnLo recognlLlon of llkeness), and Lhe (ll) hollsLlc move
Lo hlgher order CesLalLs (wlLhln whlch Lhere are no dlfferences-Lhe cloudless sky, or on
overwhelmlng feellng of happlness, have no dlsLlncL parLs Lo compare). ln boLh cases Lhe
concreLe deLalls are subsLlLuLed by slgns. CenerallzaLlon ls posslble Lhrough human
preponderance for semlosls.
Soclal 8eallLy ls dynamlc. 1haL ls Loo say, our world ls consLanLly ln flux and phenomena are
consLanLly emerglng (and ln Lhe sLaLe of becomlng). When looklng aL sclence - wlsseoscboft -
Zach Becksteau, Kenneth R. Cabell, anu }aan valsinei - ueneializing Thiough Conuitional Analysis


Lhe eplsLemologlcal LreaLmenL of generallzaLlon should develop ouL of Lhe consLralnLs formed
by Lhe posL-modern push, LhaL ls, Lhe very parLlcular, relaLlonal and slLuaLed condlLlons of
phenomena have seemlngly precluded Lhe esLabllshmenL of general laws. Powever, oLher
eplsLemologlcal LreaLmenL of generallzaLlon and general laws need noL be of a homogenous
and classlflcaLory naLure (ArlsLoLellan noLlon of prlnclple of commonallLy), fundamenLal for Lhe
lnducLlve generallzaLlon of frequenL numbers (ArlsLoLellan foundaLlon of Lhe ob[ecLs
Lendency" based on frequenL recurrences) ln a sample Lo a LargeL populaLlon. osL-Calllean
LhoughL noL only denled Lhe eplsLemologlcal LreaLmenL of generallzaLlon Lhrough frequency",
buL also changed Lhe locus of causaLlon away from Lhe lottloslc ptopettles of Lhe ob[ecL Lo Lhe
sLrucLural relaLlonshlps betweeo ob[ecLs. lL was Lewln's developmenL fleld Lheory LhaL allows
Lhe parLlcular and Lhe general Lo engage ln dlalogue wlLhln Lhe open and dynamlc fleld" or
sysLem. 1he developmenL of sysLemlc causallLy from Lewln's fleld Lheory suggesLs LhaL
generallzaLlon should noL be based on separaLe and lndependenL varlables, buL raLher,
generallzaLlon should Lake place ouL of a caLalyLlc model and Lhe condlLlons under whlch
someLhlng occurs. 1hls condlLlonal analysls provldes frulLful grounds of noL only Lhe rare and
frequenL phenomena, buL undersLandlng Lhe parLlcular, Lhe quallLaLlve whole, and Lhe
relaLlonshlps wlLhln a general framework.


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