Systematic systemics: Causality, catalysis, and developmental cybernetics

Kenneth R. Cabell, Jaan Valsiner

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6 Citations (Scopus)


This book, The Catalyzing Mind: Beyond Models of Causality, began from our quest to achieve three goals for the discipline of psychology, and more specifically, as elaborated within a semiotic cultural psychology. Cultural psychology is a new–“up and coming” (Cole, 1996, Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge: Harvard University Press) research field of interdisciplinary kind. It is older in its history than the experimental psychology tradition (of Wilhelm Wundt and his opening of the first experimental psychology laboratory in 1879) dating back to the Völkerpsychologie of the 1850s. The first professorship in the World that bore the name psychology was that of Moritz Lazarus in University of Berne, Switzerland, in 1860, with his Lehrstuhl in Völkerpsychologie. However, in the middle of social negotiations about how psychology “could be a science,” (Valsiner, 2012, A guided science: History of psychology in the mirror of its making. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers) it was the experimental psychology tradition that expelled the study of complex human phenomena out of the realm of concerns of hardcore experimentalists who happily substituted the behavior of a white rat to stand in for the psyche of all human beings. The rat had no aesthetic attitudes towards the mazes he or she was forced “to run”, nor sophisticated ideas about investment of one’s behavioral capacities for the sake of future gains. The rat did not drink champagne, show herself in fashion shows, construct nuclear bombs, or paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Human beings did all of that—and much more. Their pilgrimage to arts, sciences, and geographic explorations were willful, complex, and often unrewarded—at least during their lifetimes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe catalyzing mind : Beyond models of causality
EditorsKenneth R. Cabell, Jaan Valsiner
Number of pages11
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date2014
ISBN (Print)978-1-4614-8820-0
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4614-8821-7
Publication statusPublished - 2014
SeriesAnnals of Theoretical Psychology


  • Catalysis
  • Cybernetics
  • Material cause
  • Formal cause
  • Efficient cause
  • Final cause
  • Normal distribution
  • Morphogenetic causal loop models
  • Semiotic catalyzer

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