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PCP and ontology
Placing constructs at the centre of its focus of attention, PCP lies outside the Cartesian dualist perspective. Ontologically, PCP is a form of substantival monism, meaning that the whole world is assumed to be made of one substance. Very much like Spinoza’s monism, this one substance is neither made from matter nor ideas, but something neutral. It is not entirely clear what it exactly is, but we can apply attributive pluralism to this substance, i.e. it can be construed in many different ways according to the philosophy of constructive alternativism. It is important that this substance really exist, and that it is not a figment of our imagination. However, it exists in a very neutral, unspecified way. Our ways of knowing specify this substance in one of potentially endless ways. Therefore, it could be said that, in PCP, epistemology (investigating the nature and origin of knowledge) is placed in front of ontology (investigating the nature of being and existence), and that a distinct boundary between these two realms is blurred. Although this approach in realistic philosophy is often labeled the "epistemic fallacy", stating that existence of being should not be defined by what we know about it – thus reducing existence to human knowledge, in constructivist and other non-realist philosophies it is construed as a proper illustration of their approach. Existence and knowledge themselves are not immanent properties of the world; instead, they are constructions of the human mind, and are just two out of the myriad constructions that can be constituted in order to make our being more meaningful. Even before ontology was constituted as a discipline of philosophy, people had to understand their world and each other. Therefore, they had to develop specific categories and notions in order to make their living understandable to themselves. Only then could some aspects of their life could be subjected to philosophical, and even more lately to psychological, analysis. Being, existence, reality and truth are only a few of the categories formed in the history of human discursive practice. Therefore, realist remark exactly summarizes the PCP approach: there is no doubt that reality is out there, but in order to be able to talk about it, we have to construe it first – potentially with an endless repertory of alternatives.
  • Chiari, G. & Nuzzo, M. (1996): Psychological Constructivism: a metatheoreticla differentiation. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 9, 163-184.
  • Stojnov, D & Butt, T. (2002): The Relational Basis of Personal Construct Psychology. In: R. Neimeyer & G. Neimeyer (Eds.), Advances of personal construct theory: New Directions and Perspectives, 81-113. Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger.
  • Warren, W. (1998): Philosophical Dimensions of Personal Construct Psychology. London: Routledge.
Dušan Stojnov
Establ. 2003
Last update: 1 December 2003