LECTURE NOTES ON
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE
Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl
#1: See: Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of
Being: (A Study of the History of an Idea.) (The William James Lectures Delivered at
Harvard University, 1933.) Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1942.
A. P.35, line 6 from bottom: "...and it is
from his writings, [Plato, Platonism] it is to be added, that the belief that the highest
good for man lies in somehow translocating himself into such a world has been perennially
nourished" ("such a world" refers to what Lovejoy calls
"otherworldliness" (p. 25 ff.), i.e. transcendentalism and the Subtle World in
contemporary terms). This establishes transcendentalism as a Western, and more
particularly Greek and European, theme of preoccupation on the daily round: the origin of
the standardized imaginings and stylized dramatizations catalogued by the topic domain of
B. Lovejoy's theses, outlined in A., and its
significance for ethnosemantics and transactional engineering, is that it proposes to be
an actual description of the genesis of an idea. One implication of this is that current
topics on the daily round, both in inter- and intra-personal discourse, derive their
dialectic or moving force from Plato or Platonism. This proposition is equivalent to a
theory about setting features that relates standard topics functionally to standardized
imaginings, i.e. a theory of how individual behavior (here, topicalization work in his
discourse productions) is a function of the social context that here operates as an
"idea" (e.g. Platonistic Transcendentalism) culturally transmitted over
generations and centuries and operating on the discourse productions of enculturated
individuals now alive and well. Thus Lovejoy's thesis that contemporary
transcendentalistic enactments derive from Plato or Platonism amounts to, in
ethnosemantics, a cataloguing proposal for ethnicity or the categories of enculturated
imaginings. This is no less than a functional theory of discourse (see: TOPICALIZATION
DYNAMICS, NES, James and Nahl, 1975; 1976).
C. "My first reaction to this was, That
Can't Be True' Surely I'm not being triggered by Plato when I make my transcendentalistic
enactments' My second reaction was, Well, why not, actually? Upon which I had the
agreeable realization that I had just come into contact for the very first time with
Lovejoy's idea of The Great Chain of Being, and, I added, with the elaborated versions
available for the enactment of It' The Performative Paradox attained: Lovejoy's
topicalization it-self driven by the very ideas or forces he is relentlessly un-masking. A
magnificent accomplishment"' (from The Conspiracy of the Gurus, p. 1261)
D. Platonic Transcendentalism: (as expressed in German
by Ritter, 1931, and quoted in English by Lovejoy on p.36)
"the Platonic Idea is the expression of the simple thought that
every rightly formed conception has its solid basis in objective reality"
The notion of trans-cending refers to the individual's
real capacity (at any time and in any place) to cognize objective knowledge about the
world without directly experiencing. Since experiencing implies a time-bound process, the
transcendental contact is outside its scope, hence the image of trans-cending or going
beyond the here/now to the timeless eternal or Platonic Absolutes. (1)
[Note: 1: Note that Ritter's "objective
reality" and the conventional reference to "Platonic Absolutes" echo in
many contemporary versions: e.g., in the Physical Sciences as Universal Laws or Elemental
Particles or Absolute Constants; in the Social and Behavioral Sciences they are tagged
"Principles" and "Laws" of Psychology or of Social Institutions and of
Historical Forces and Economic Pressures. All of these notions, that are dynamic to
topicalization (as evidenced by what we talk about on our daily rounds, and think...)
designate a common ethnodynamic, i.e. a socio-cultural enactment: countless numbers of
individuals over the centuries have in all sorts of places displayed this transaction of
reciting the Platonic Transcendentalistic Lines, each in their own species of style of
personal dramatizations. We might say that the thoughts of the people are so many
particular renditions of one generic idea, see the discussion on VERSIONS in The Secret
Code, James and Nahl, TEC, 1974; see also, "The Open
Cube" and "Navigational Phenomena" in NES, 1975).]
E. According to Ritter, as quoted by Lovejoy who labels it as
"essentially wrong", Plato's Platonism asserts only that: "A general
concept is the result of an act of classification; and a classification is correct if 'it
is not purely subjective, but has a basis in the objective relations of the things
classified,' if it presents together a complex of properties which actually occur together
in nature, in that particular collection of existing things to which we give a single
name, and 'is not a combination put together merely by our fancy out of elements which
experience, indeed, furnishes separately, but not in such association'." (Lovejoy, p.
36; single quotation marks enclose Lovejoy's references to Ritter.) This characterization
by Ritter-Lovejoy, as it may be called, amounts to a proposal on how to objectify
cataloguing practices in a scientific inquiry of topicalization dynamics in human
discourse as evidenced by literary history. This issue comes up in ethnosemantics in such
methodological concerns as we have in transcripts and reports as genuine representations
of something else (viz. TOPICALITY) or as performative enactments having a primary
function in their transactional significance (viz. RITUAL); (for a discussion on the
duality of TOPIC vs. RITUAL, see James/Nahl: The Secret
Code, TEC, 1974). Briefly, if the evidenced text is to be understood literally, the
reader or interpreter must supply the stage directions or transactional climate that
sufficiently and pragmatically reconstructs the natural events they relate. This process
is usually designated as "objective description", which is contrasted with
"subjectivity" or the dramatized personal interpretations that are given as a
performative enactment to an audience. Hence, objective cataloguing practices
(as in the preparation of ethnosemantic
glossaries, see NES, 1976) depend on "acts of classification" that are
"actual" rather than "fanciful", functional rather than imaginary,
objectively representational rather than subjectively particular, etc. These oppositions
of traits correspond to the duality of topic as reflection and claim (see TOPIC FUNCTION
in NES, 1976). The function of topic as transactional claim offers a primary tool for the
exploitation of controlled enactments as transactional engineering strategies.
F. A Hexagram
of Platonic Affirmations based on Ritter-Lovejoy: (pp. 40-41):
(1) White: It is the most indubitable of all realities;
(2) Yellow: It is Good in It-self and all other things
participate in It's Nature (changelessness as frame for Changes);
(3) Green: It is the polar opposite of this-here or
that there (Contemplation of that which is.-- (see Buddha's Bible:"mere witnessing").
T H E D O U B L E L I N E
(4) Blue: Far from being identical with reality, It
actually transcends that in dignity and potency.
(5) Brown: The Forms of It are the manifestations of
the universal object of desire, that which draws all spiritual endeavors towards It-self.
(6) Black: The chief good of man is the more
contemplation of nothing but It.
The attributes of such a God (as It) were, in strictness,
expressible only in negations of the attributes of this world. You could take, one after
another, any quality or relation or kind of object presented in natural experience, and
say, with the Sage of the Upanishad: 'The true reality is not like this, It is not like
that' - adding only that It is far better" (Lovejoy, p. 42). (On this, cf. the Judaic
Hassidic attitude towards the indescribability and unknowability of "The Holy One in
Heaven" or of The Holy Name's Plan; see also: Notes on Raising Awareness,
James/Nahl, 1975: indexical entries on: PRAYER; HAVING A GESTURE WITH ACTUALITY;
RECITATION OF I AM THE ONE; LITERALNESS; SPIRITUAL Work); (see also: The Metaphysics of
Nothingness and, The Performative Paradox, TEC Materials Series #5 and 11,
G. "The essence of 'good', even in ordinary
human experience, lay in self-containment, freedom from all dependence upon that which is
external to the individual." Lovejoy, p. 42 summarizing the Greek schools of thought
all of which originated in Plato's Socrates. Hence the element of "negativity"
as Lovejoy sees it in "the temper of the ideal Cynic, ...in the ataraxy [=
drugged-like tranquility] of the Epicureans, in the apathy of the Stoics" (p. 42).
"The Good differs in its nature from
everything else in that the being who possesses it always and in all respects has the most
perfect sufficiency and is never in need of any other thing" (Plato in the Philebus
as quoted by Lovejoy, p. 42). (See the Prophets in the Old Testament for very nearly
identical reasoning; cf. also, I Ching for congruent notions on It, the Good, Perfect
"'The claims of both pleasure and mind to be
the Good It-self' are, in the argument of the dialogue, 'alike set aside' on the ground
that 'both of them lack self-sufficiency and adequacy and completeness'" (Lovejoy,
pp. 42-43, quoting from Philebua).
H. According to Lovejoy, a Platonic-Aristotelian doctrine has
dominated Western theologic thought (p. 43) in such a way as to create a personified Good
transformed as God or Divine Object of Contemplation who doesn't need the world or
people's deeds in it, who is indifferent, (or its opposites in Christianity--see the
notion of REDEMPTION OF JESUS), and etc. Thus, the Judaeo-Moslem-Christian experience of
the Western ethnicity dramatizations of individual "personal" bio-graphies as
lived lives (e.g. the Jewish Princess and the All American Nice Boy and the Girl Next Door
being American Contemporary Versions thereof) derive their topical (i.e. thematic)
motivations from this Platonic origin of moral philosophy in the West.
I. "This element in the Platonic
tradition", writes Lovejoy (p. 44) about the tendency to detach God from this world
"no doubt, has owed its persistence [in Western theology] to the fact that it
corresponds to one of the natural varieties of religious experience." Note that
Lovejoy here implies a pre-supposed order to things that is deemed "natural":
BUT he uses it to qualify "religious experience" which raises the problem of Is
Religious Experience a natural phenomenon? And what other natural phenomena are there?
J. The personification of a Deity who is removed
from involvement in this world --except upon exceptions which He might be prevailed to
make on a person's behalf, is (a) not necessarily an integral part of Plato himself; (pp.
42 and 48) (b) may have been added to Platonism as a natural drift characteristic of a
universal ("natural") religious experience (p. 44), and (c) pertains to an
unenlightened position characteristic of Captivity Registers (see Raising Awareness
Handbook, James/Nahl, TEC 1975). This last point (c) can further be elaborated in terms of
the life-themes of "Success", "Socio-Functional Dependencies", and the
"Myths of Inadequacy" (see: The Register of
Psychotherapy, TEC, 1975 and Raising Awareness Handbook, TEC, 1975). (for a
characterization of life-themes see Centrality Hypothesis in The Secret Code, TEC, 1974)
K. "The self-same God who was the Goal of
all desire must also be the Source of the creatures that desire It." (Lovejoy, p. 45)
This expresses the dual role that Plato has played in Western man's thought on himself: on
the one hand, Plato's ideas on the otherworldliness, on the Absolute Perfection of the
Good that needs nothing but It-self, and on the other hand, a kind of reversal, Plato's
ideas on this worldliness, on the varieties of Imperfection, these being necessary
counterparts in this world of the Perfection in the other (paraphrasing Lovejoy's thesis
pp. 45-46). In this, Plato participates in and provides answers for Occidental man's
perennial preoccupation that consists of trying to make this world into a rational world,
i.e. formulating answers to Why are things the way they are? and Why is It adjoined by the
temporal and the changing? (see such themes as Genesis, The Conspiracy of the Gurus,
the "Big Bang Hypotheses", "Evolution Theory")
L. Plato's dialectic of duality involving the
Absolute Perfect Idea that is Sufficient unto It-self yet requires Its own multiplicity in
the imperfection of individual "souls" and their world--as the Source of All
Things, and their Image or Likeness, occupies, according to Lovejoy's thesis, the medieval
and modern mind even more than the ancient (p. 50).(2)
[Note: 2: It is to be remarked concerning this tendency of creating
an Anthropomorphic Artificer to whom are attributed all sorts of motives and intentions,
that it is as common as it is rationally unnecessary and intellectually unsavory to those
of us who see our own Self as the point de depart et lieu de destination of all
forms of knowledge, consciousness, and experience.]
M. Lovejoy proposes a principle he dubs "the
principle of plenitude" (p. 52) to title the idea that "no genuine potentiality
of being can remain unfulfilled" and "that it is the nature of an Idea to
manifest itself in concrete existences" (see the modernism theme of probability
existence whereby anything that's possible is assumed to occur if sufficient time or
sufficient cases are provided for)
Appendix to Notes on the Psychology
In order to facilitate our task, we have gathered
together about 1500 typed pages of our recent writings -- since 1971, and collected them
in three bound volumes. These writings have not been published, are incomplete and need
additional development at all levels. Nevertheless, our students have found them useful
for study. Eventually, we hope to publish these materials and make them more generally
available. A limited number of copies are available. Please refer to the identifying
symbols following the title of each entry. The three volumes have been deposited in
Sinclair and Hamilton Libraries at UHM under the following card entries:
Jakobovits, L. A. and Nahl, D..
Volume 1: Ethnosemantics:
Volume 2: Language
Teaching Pedagogy: Theory & Applications
Volume 3: Ethnosemantics:
The following is a description of the materials to be found in these
Volume 1 is a 600-page collection that contains the following notes
dealing with the general field of ethnosemantics and psycholinguistics:
(1) Notes on Ethnosemantics (100 pages; #N005)
Incomplete but stimulating discussions on various basic topics in
ethnosemantics written from 1973-1976. Part I: Overview; Part II: Notes on Display
Repertoire; Part III: Further Notes on Display Repertoire; Part IV: Notes on Topic Focus;
Part V: Notes on ES-Probes.
(2) Notes on Educational Psycholinguistics (25 pages; #N002)
Definition of the field; register; analysis of moves; conversational
rhythm; linkage structure in topicalization.
(3) The Functional Analysis of Conversational Interaction (35 pages;
A comprehensive presentation, in article form, of the functional
analysis of verbal behavior in a conversational setting; includes several flow chart
diagrams on mechanisms of talk and topicalization dynamics.
(4) The Secret Code: Investigating the Ritual of Talk (100 pages;
A general presentation of the new view on the functional analysis of
discourse and talk; written in a compact style of understanding called "the
(5) Introduction to Educational Psycholinguistics (150 pages;B004)
Sample chapters dealing with "The Transactional Model of
Talk"; "The Function and Structure of Transactional Idioms";
"Discourse Thinking Accounts"; "The Empirical Investigation of
Conversation: The Closing Problem"; presents an ethno-methodological framework.
(6) The Cataloguing-Practices of North American Groups (40 pages;
Notes and outline for the organization of glossary entries in the
empirical description of ethnicity.
(7) Color-Coding Routine Program (50 pages; B010)
A programmed text designed to give the student the ability to code
words and concepts into one of six categories known as a hexagrammatic system; the six
categories are color coded as a mnemonic device; once terms are assigned a colorcategory,
they can be combined according to statable rules to yield meaningful phrases and
assertions called "Pure Color Wisdom;" in ethnosemantics, all topic units and
discourse argument units are derivable from this hexagrammatic system. See applications in
(8) The Act of Composition: Some Elements in a Performance Model of
Language: 1968 (47 pages; A007)
An unpublished paper prepared in 1968 for an NCTE Conference of
Writers in Colorado Springs; deals with a proposal for the functional analysis of meaning
seen as a situated communicative act; this writing ante-dates, foreshadows, and contrasts
interestingly with the other works written since 1971.
(9) Frame-Up: Mission Impossible (A Review of Erving Goffman's
"Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience") (17 pages; A003)
The beginnings of a promising review on the Goffmanesque Mystique;
where Goffman succeeds and where he fails; what needs to be done.
(10) Miscellaneous Motes, Charts, Outlines in Ethnosemantic
Investigations (50 pages; see ID references given)
(i) Ethnomethodological Psycholinguistics: The Third Revolution (8
pages; A001; "Conversation"; "Mechanisms and Categories of Topic";
(ii) Seminar Outline on Understanding Discourse Ethnosemantics to
Transactional Engineering OUT003; "A systematic exploration in outline four movements
of discourse and representing wholistic synthesis of the field; PSYCH 700, Fall 1974,
(iii) Introductory Notes to Ethnosemantics - PSYCH 705R -
Psycholinguistics Seminar, Spring 1976, UHM (9 pages; OUT004; handout summarizing the
ethnosemantic perspective on glossaries, cataloguing-practices, and the empirical and
experimental aspects of doing ethnosemantic investigations.).
(iv) A Topological Feature of Topic: Self-Analytic Reflexivity (5
pages; T/C002; outlines the Square of Certainty: what you know you know; what you know you
don't know; what you don't know you know; what you don't know you don't know; a 2 x 2
teaser that yields surprising results)
(v) The Morphemic Hexagram in the language of Science (6 pages;
T/C003; an outline of some of the entries in such a Chart).
(vi) The Scientific Bible (B008; miscellaneous and partial solutions
to the ES-PROBE technique in the following academic disciplines: Management Science,
Psychology, Raising Awareness, Sociology, Linguistics, Education, Physics, illustrates
application of the technique to the exploration of topical organization in the scientific
disciplines and their argument framework).
Volume 2 is a 300-page collection that contains the following
dealing with applications in language teaching viewed as a process of controlled social
(1) The Third Force in Language Teaching (55 pages; B001)
A critique of psychodynamic approaches to language teaching and an
elaboration of the transactional engineering approach.
(2) The Linguistic Approach: The Primary Assumptions (Based on
(Gordon, 1962) (11 pages; N004)
Brief summarizing notes of the linguistic assumptions that are
relevant to language teaching motivated by a desire to promote cognitive development in
(3) Handout for TEC Worldshop--Transactional Engineering for
Language Teachers (15 pages; OUT002)
From a workshop in October 1976, sponsored by the Modern Language
Council of the Alberta Teachers Association, Alberta, Canada.
(4) Transactional Engineering for the Language Teacher (35 pages;
Text of the Keynote Address, Alberta Teachers Association Annual
Convention, Banff Springs, Alberta, 1976; traces three historical developments in language
teaching, approaches; outlines the transactional engineering approach; presents a model of
talk and shows how it can motivate particular pedagogic techniques.
(5) Learning is a Contextual Event (17 pages; A12)
Originally written as an Introduction to our The Context of Foreign
Language Teaching (Newbury House, 1974) but not used; examines distinctions between
learning, teaching, and training; addresses itself to the language teacher.
(6) A Simulated Interview with Leon Jakobovits (29 pages; A013)
A personal interview, Playboy-style, on the background history and
evolution of his ideas in educational psycholinguistics, language teaching, and
(7) Some Cautionary Remarks on the Use of Attitude Ouestionnaires in
Foreign Language Teaching (19 pages; A006)
A negative experimental report on a two-year project in attempting
to show the relationship between attitudinal factors and achievement in an experimental
class in teaching French to high school students.
(8) Classroom Discussions with Professor Leon A. Jakobovits (20
Transcribed from class exchanges, 9/11/73, UHM only LAJ's voice is
transcribed; of interest to ESL and FL teachers.
(9) Classroom Discussions in an ESL lecture given by Prof. L. A..
Jakobovits (62 pages; TR004) Transcribed, with both professor's and students' voices;
(10) BOTEC---Bulletin of the Transactional Engineering Corporation,
August 1972 (65 pages; A005)
This is Vol. l, No. 1, of a proposed new publication; articles
include brief discussions suitable for the language teacher: "Teaching: A
Transactional Engineering Analysis"; "TEC, Workshops"; "DESOCS:
Developmental Sequence of the Conceptual Statement"; "The Self-SAOROGAT:
Self-Analytic Objective Reporting of On-Going Authentic Transactions";
"Students' Corner": and others.
(11) Transactional Engineering in the Classroom (16 Pages; A004)
A talk given at the Alberta Teachers Association Convention in 1973.
Volume 3 is a 500-page collection that contains various applications
of ethnosemantic investigations in such fields as education, psychotherapy, hypnosis,
historical biographies, the I Ching, and others.
(1) The Language and Register of Psychotherapy Today (30 pages;
Notes, figures, charts, outlines on: I. The Enactment Model; II. The
Progressivist Assumptions; III. Two Model Paradigms for a Clinical Theory of Everyday
Behavior; IV. The Dialectics of a Practical Psychotherapy; V. Four Approaches: Freudian,
Gestalt, Radical, Behavioral; VI. Continued Education for Practicing Psychologists.
(2) Raising Awareness Handbook (25 pages; B007)
A practical self-study approach introducing systematic techniques,
exercises, tables, charts, for the awakening of the person out of the ordinary state of
captivity and lack of understanding.
(3) Essays on Nothing and Everything---Contributions to a Radicalist
Philosophy of the Human Condition (63 pages; B005)
Two sample chapters dealing with radicalist vs. progressivist logic;
radicalism in psychotherapy and in education; and the "Metaphysics of Nothingness .
(4) The Discovery of Sudden Memory (65 pages; B009)
Sub-titled: "Some Preliminary Observations About Natural Memory
Scanning Operations in the Contemporary American Register"; contains some fundamental
observations on the nature of human consciousness and memory; thinking as a standardized,
setting-occasioned scanning operation; standardized imaginings and the reconstruction of
records; discourse thinking operations and the mode of enactment in the radicalist
(5) The Conditions of Re-Enactment Within the Ritual Frame of
Hypnosis (12 pages; N008)
A functional re-interpretation and re-formulation of the phenomenon
of hypnosis in terms of the notion of "access rituals" in relationship dyads;
explaining hypnosis as a contractual arrangement rather than an "altered state of
consciousness . "
(6) The Performative Paradox, The Glass Bead Game, and the Planetary
Register (11 pages; A002)
The paradox of talk is that though we can refer to things,
situations, or experiences, the verbal expression or report is neither the thing, it
refers to, nor does it allow it to be recaptured. Thus, social dealings are always
abstracted in talk. The consequences of this are important in the ordinary lives of
(7) Notes on the Reconstruction of Biographical Record (100 pages;
Annotations of readings dealing with text that discusses a writer's
autobiographical involvement with knowledge, science, and creativity; focus on the history
(8) Lecture Notes on the Psychology of Knowledge: Part I (55 pages;
Authorized notes for Psychology 434, "Seminar in the Psychology
of Knowledge," University of Hawaii, Manoa, Spring, 1977.
(9) Lecture-Discussion with Leon Jakobovits and Students (45 pages;
Transcribed classroom exchanges, Psychology 434, "Seminar in
the Psychology of Knowledge," University of Hawaii, 9/17/73.
(10) Commentaries on Our Cultural Times---By Two Scribes
(70 pages; B011)
Fooling around with words and with truth. Presents the radicalist
attitude through a personally objective view on everyday life in our times; poetic and
(11) The Mobian Text (60 pages; B003 + P002)
Preface, Introductory Remarks, and Illustrations of the Mobius Strip
Presentation of Text; this is a novel way of reading text non-sequentially and by
programmed routes within the book's pages; includes a sample of 44 "IS-pages" in
the radicalist register dealing? with textbook topics in the field of Social Psychology.
(12) Miscellaneous Applications
(i) Notes on the I Ching (6 pages; P001; table of contents and some
(ii) Notes on "The Layman's Parallel Bible" (8 pages;
N006; a brief demonstration of a technique of reading annotations applied to a contrastive
analysis of a passage in four versions; showing how theologically-motivated editorial
policy in translation affects the substance and argument of the text.
(iii) Newsmen's Logic Needs Improving Professors Say (10 pages;
A010; a critical view of news-science reports; written in the form of a newspaper article;
with illustrative analyses of newspaper reports on marijuana smoking research).
Part1 | Back to Leon James