Human Expression A Relational Act

  • Edmund V. Sullivan
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)


A psychology that is self-consciously interpretive and critical will follow the form of what I am calling the personal metaphor. One of the fundamental assumptions of this point of view is that human behavior is understandable only in terms of a dynamic social reference, the purely isolated self being a social fiction (MacMurray, 1957). The peculiar task of a psychological discipline, in this regard, is in the development of some form of systematic interpretation of communicative expressions, which I hold as synonymous with the term human act. I am assuming that individual or collective expressions are symbols for purposes of communication. Therefore, the fundamental unit of analysis must be a dyad (you and I) rather than an isolated individual or monad. The contention here is that individuals use expressions because they intend meaning for others.


Organic Mode Mechanical Mode Human Intention Personal Power Crucial Distinction 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edmund V. Sullivan
    • 1
  1. 1.Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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