On the Organism-Environment Distinction in Psychology

Behavior and Philosophy 32 (2):317 - 347 (2004)
Most psychology begins with a distinction between organism and environment, where the two are implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) conceptualized as flipsides of a skin-severed space. This paper examines that conceptualization. Dewey and Bentley's (1949) account of firm naming is used to show that psychologists have, in general, (1) employed the skin as a morphological criterion for distinguishing organisms from backgrounds, and (2) equated background with environment. This two-step procedure, which in this article is named the morphological conception of organism, is shown to inform the writings of the well-known psychologist B. F. Skinner. A review of difficulties with the morphological conception is followed with a review and preliminary integration of four attempts at an alternative conception of organism, and thus environment. Together, these four attempts converge on an analysis of living systems as transdermal (through and across skin) processes only within which organism and environment are distinguishable as complementary phases. The notion of a biological total process, or bioprocess, is employed to clarify this alternative analysis, in which an organism is an ongoing organization rather than a skin-bound body.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,411
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

26 ( #184,048 of 1,924,732 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #417,761 of 1,924,732 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.