Cromwell explores “notions of the infrastructure of human functioning”—via the building blocks of constructs—that result in who we are.
In the author’s scheme of things, we all pull from the continuous flow of experiential input elements that we gather into sets and then fashion through discrimination (sameness/difference) into constructs that will confirm our anticipation of events. With these constructs, we build a constellation of associated constructs that are processed in an ongoing cycle—“a given function belongs to a particular segment of the cycle”—and in their variations and options come how we are human and individually build our reality. Constructs are a rich stew and as Cromwell draws their salient aspects—the anticipatory tags we invest them with, the verbal tags we give them so as to share them with others, how reification makes them into fixed qualities that (to our detriment) ignore or resist other ways of understanding, the positive and negative weights we assign to them—and does so in mesmerizing detail, an incantatory progress of forks taken in the road of life. At the same time, the author describes how constructs can be tools of openness—“All knowledge in science must entail observation within the context of doubt,” “What event can one observe that would disconfirm this formulation?” —in a constructive alternativism that is scientifically grounded, deeply humanistic and commonsensical, where, hopefully, for instance, the self hungrily takes in experience to shape and reshape constructs that in turn shape our way of being in the world. Exercising an acuity sharpened by years in the laboratory, Cromwell approaches our understanding of things as reflected in different knowledge domains (from physics to psychology to religion), anabolic and analytic cycles of creation, the role of memory in depression, selective perception, the dilemma of never communicating with another person in full congruity, the pairing of constructs into separate chains of thinking and doing, how words control us more than we do them. What gives Cromwell’s work such rigor and heft is how he melds these, and many more, facets into a flowing whole, a cycle but not a closed system, one ever available to new ideas.
A fascinating, well-rooted theory of being human, with guideposts to increasing awareness.