THhe monograph deals with methodological and theoretical aspects specifying an approach growing from the theory of integrate individuality by well-known Russian psychologist Volf Merlyn (1898-1982). This approach is labelled as ‘metaindividual world’.
The world of individuality escapes from the current subject matter of personality psychology, social psychology, environmental psychology, psychology of individual differences. A conceptual break is seen between these branches of psychology. It is due to this break that the problem of individuality and its world, as well as of interactions between them was been ignored for so long.
Perhaps William James was the first who paid an attention to the fragment of reality which is similar to the ‘metaindividual world’. He defined personality as everything that one can name one’s own: one’s body and mental features included, as well as one’s clothes, house, wife, children, friends, reputation, labour and so.
However, metaindividual world is something more than personality. At the same time it is something more intimate than life-world as understood by S.Rubinstein, F.Vasilyuk, or D.Leontiev. The metaindividual world makes an integral part with human individuality, and holding at the same time its own features.
A polysystem approach has been adopted to investigate metaindividual world. The latter is depicted as a polysystem consisted of systems of different kinds interacting to one another. It has been shown that only applying relativistic thinking is it conceivable to discover the existence of metaindividual world as a polysystem.
The conclusion of the monograph are given below. It contains the main results of methodological and theoretical reflections on the problem of metaindividual world.
The metaindividual world is a special kind of integrate unity. It makes a polysystem which includes twofold interacting systems. The first is integrate individuality (II), the second is the social reality structured by II. This social reality and its objects make the world of II.
II and the objects of its world superpose to one another in the following manner. There are some distinctions between boundaries of II as a ‘body’ and as a system. Unlike II as a ‘body’, II as a system covers the objects of its world being reified in them. So II as a system includes both II as a ‘body’ and the objects of its world if the latter is taken as associated with and depending on II. In its turn, similarly to II, world objects can be distinguished as ‘bodies’ and as systems. As systems world objects penetrate in II and find their representations in it. So world objects as systems include both object ‘bodies’ and II if the latter is taken as associated with and depending on world objects. Thus II and the objects of its world are mutually independent and at the same time both interdependent and interpenetrated. They are subject to change under mutual influences.
Five main features characterize the metaindividual world as a polysystem: (a) polycentrism, (b) polydimensionality, (c) polydetermination, (d) polyphony of activity, (e) relativity. Each of these features is analyzed in detail.
The duality of qualitative definiteness is characteristic of II and the objects of its world taken in their interaction. First, they are independent interacting systems. Second, they are subsystems of each other.
The world of II consists of the two kinds of objects: material ones and mental ones. Object meanings, being mental objects do not belong to the consciousness of II. It is the ecological world and object meanings rooted in its objects which are of the main interest for studies of the world with which II does interact.
In turn one can distinguish two kinds of individual traits within II itself. They are called extraindividual traits and interindividual traits. System-forming functions of the II are based on its extraindividual traits. It is due to them, that II can transform objects of its world (people, things, and so forth). On the other hand, object meanings can govern II making it a subsystem of theirs. Interindividual traits are those emerging in II as a result of this process.
The metaindividual world may be viewed as special domains of individual traits, activities, and objects. Extraindividual traits and object meanings are the sources of determination of the II’s activities. They involve some kinds of activities that result in some changes both of objects and II itself.
These domains form integrate unities. However one should differentiate the integrate unity rooted in II as a system and the one inherent in II as a subsystem of large systems interacting with it. The first case is expressed in the notion of transindividuality, the second case — in the notion of ecological individuality (ecoindividuality).
The notion ‘transindividuality’ denotes processes which stem from the ‘body’ of II outwards. From the functional viewpoint transindividuality creates channels for translating extraindividual features of II to the objects of its world by means of special activities. From the structural viewpoint transindividuality covers extraindividuality, its activities and objects transformed by them.
The notion ‘ecoindividuality’ denotes processes which stem from outside being directed to II and they through it return back. Here II appears as a subsystem of systems interacting with it. From the functional viewpoint ecoindividuality provides a background for object meanings to translate their features to II. As this takes place, the result of the activity of II is the emergence of interindividual traits corresponding to the object meanings. From the structural viewpoint ecoindividuality incorporates extraindividuality, its activity and object meanings. Activity therewith serves as a mediating link between object meanings and interindividual traits.
There are three mechanisms providing the unity of transindividuality: (a) internal determination that connects discrete links into the unity; (b) embodiment; (c) transitory processes. The main feature of transindividuality is that it is oriented towards the pole of world objects holding at the same time its peculiarities characteristic of II as a system. In turn, there are three mechanisms providing the unity of ecoindividuality: (a) external determination that connects discrete links into the unity; (b) conversions; (c) transitory processes. Similar to transindividuality, the main feature of ecoindividuality is that it is oriented towards the pole of world objects acquiring at the same time the features inherent in ecological systems to which these objects belong.
Extraindividual traits may be treated as inner causes and inner goals of II as a system.
In turn, object meanings present external causes and external goals for II as a subsystem of other systems interacting with it.
It is due to inner causes that II changes the objects of its world. It is, however, hardly possible to analyze or predict the relations of correspondence between the content of the inner causes and the content of the changed objects. With respect to inner goals II creates their external models within world objects. Due to external causes II gains interindividual traits and appears as an active effect of the object meanings. Following external goals interindividuality explores the potentialities of object meanings.
The connections of both extraindividuality and interindividuality to world objects are mediated by special kinds of activity. Extraindividuality produces activities which produce changes in order to provide a conservation. World objects are changed, while II as a system is conserved. Object meanings initiate activities of interindividuality. These activities also produce changes to provide a conservation. In this case II as a subsystem is changed while object meanings are conserved.
I argue that there are numerous specific activities that fall into four broad classes: (a) mental behaviour (generated by inner causes); (b) self-activity (generated by inner goals); (c) eco-behaviour (generated by external causes); (d) eco-activity (generated by external goals). These kinds of activity are further considered in detail.
II construes its another being in the objects of its world through embodiment and/or conversions. In case of embodiment, another being is construed according to the subject logic, i.e. according to inner causes and inner goals of II as a system. The embodiment emerges on the basis of mental behaviour and self-activity. In case of conversions, another being is construed according to the object logic, i.e. according to the object meanings as external causes and external goals. Conversions occur on the basis of eco-behaviour and eco-activity.
Transitory processes emerge as a result of transitions from one states (qualities) to anothers, from one events and laws to anothers, from one system to anothers.
While a system transfers into another states (qualities, systems) its previous features do not disappear. They preserve their qualitative definiteness to some extent. This is true, despite the fact that there are some subsystems (or systems) which coexist and interact as separate units within the aggregate whole.
I distinguish three areas of transitory processes. These are: structural transitions, processual ones, and system ones.
It is due to transitory processes that internal determination can take the form of embodiment. In turn, external determination underlies the conversion processes.
From the viewpoint of the world, extraindividual traits of II take some form. However, two kinds of object content arise in case of embodiment and due to system transitions. First, there exist features which characterize objects as such. Second, a content is found in the objects transferred from form aspects of II. In its turn, II assumes a new content in a new material carrier.
As for interindividuality, due to system transitions and conversions II acquires a new content contained in interindividual traits, being thereafter directed again to world objects.
Integrations and interactions appear not only within trans- and ecoindividuality in its own rights but between them and their separate links as well. In this connection the problem of modes of these interactions is revealed. One way is to focuse on interactions between different kinds of activities, the second one is to treat metaindividual world as some integral result of interactions between trans- and ecoindividuality.
Interactions between the different kinds of activities stem from the fact that each activity plays its «game» independently and interactions between these «games» arise. This phenomenon is named «activity polyphony». The activity polyphony is viewed under the aspects of its chronos (i.e. time structure) and krasis (i.e. proportion, balance) of activities.
As chronos, the activities possesse cycles, intervals, frequencies. Moreover, different kinds of activity enter interactions continuously-discontinuously, simultaneously-successively, once-repeatedly. Besides, activity polyphony can be understood as transitions from one kind of activity to another. Then activity polyphony can be treated as an oscillatory process.
Activity oscillation can be observed on certain occasions. First, some kind of activity can complete its cycles and then give way to another one. Such a type of activity oscillation can be called as the «natural one». Second, foregoing intertransitions may not coincide with the completion of their cycles. It turns out that the transitions result from the interruptions of one activity by another. Such a type of activity oscillation can be called as the «quasinatural one».
Krasis of activities conceive a proportion, or balance between their different kinds. Superposition of one kinds of activity on another one forms a special spectrum in which cycles, intervals, frequencies are different for each kind of activity separately.
The foregoing ideas concerning activity polyphony can be spread to the interactions between trans- and ecoindividuality including their discrete links. Then one can come to recognize that II is advanced in his (her) world following the pattern seen in circulations. Such a pattern of development is based on the change of determining sources and the change of modes of II existence in course of its transfer from one system to another.
I treat transitions from one modes of II existence to another and back as the oscillations of metaindividual world, similar transitions between separate links within either trans- or ecoindividuality as pulsations.
Pulsations arise due to the fact that each cycle within trans- or ecoindividuality consists of some steps and there exist transitions from one step to another inside every cycle. These transitions possess unidirectedness (toward world objects) and the redistribution of resources resulting in the appearence of ‘remains’ at the pole of world objects. Inasmuch as cycles repeat, the remains accumulate. A special accumulative effect is found that fosters the development of new individual qualities. So the pulsations can be viewed as developing ones at the output of which the accumulation of new qualities appears.