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On the Limited Foundations of Western Skepticism towards Indigenous Psychological Thinking: Pragmatics, Politics, and Philosophy of Indigenous Psychology

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The problem of defining culture has exercised anthropologists but not cross-cultural psychologists because psychological science is based on quantitative forms of empiricism where the validity of categorical boundaries is determined by their predictive utility. Furthermore, many indigenous psychologies have been allied to nation-building projects in the developing world that choose to gloss over within state ethnic differences for the purposes of national strength and unity. Finally, Carl Martin Allwood's target article “On the foundation of the indigenous psychologies” (2011, Social Epistemology 25 (1): 3-14) is grounded in western thinking about science that privileges analytical philosophy, particularly the importance of constructing definitional categories as the basis of its critique of indigenous psychologies. This is a limited basis for thinking about psychological science whose flaws have been exposed by highly visible critiques on analytical versus holistic thinking. From the point of view of Asian social psychologists, there is no analytical solution as to where to draw the boundaries of culture because culture is a social construction that will vary according to the situation and motives at play in different situations. But this is not an intractable problem because all human psychology is intentionally realized with elements of social construction that are part and parcel of experienced reality.

Keywords: Culture; Empiricism; Indigenous Psychologies

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2011

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