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Vol. 1
The Dynamic Psychological Field

By R.J. Rummel

Beverly Hills, California:
Sage Publications, 1975

We are all framed of flaps and patches and of so shapeless and diverse a contexture that every piece and every moment playeth his part
----Montaigne, Essays II.i




Chapter 1. Introduction
1. A Personal Note
2. Preliminaries
3. Overview and Summary

Chapter 2. Physical Field Theories
1. Action at a Distance
2. Action at a Distance and the Psychological Field
3. Electromagnetic and Gravitational Fields

Chapter 3. Psychological Field Theories
1. The Psychological Background
2. Gestalt Theory
3. Kurt Lewin
4. Edward Tolman

Chapter 4. Social Field Theories
1. B. F. Brown
2. Karl Mannheim
3. Walter Coutu
4. Milton Yinger
5. Harold Mey
6. Quincy Wright

Chapter 5. The Field of Power

Chapter 6. Field Theories in Summary

Chapter 7. Perception and Reality
1. Stimuli and Perceptible
2. Perception and Culture
3. The Perception of Reality

Chapter 8. Actuality versus Potentiality
1. Three Levels of Reality
2. The Mode of Power
3. Perspective Transformation

Chapter 9. Manifests versus Latents
1. Manifestations and Their Latencies
2. Forms and Essence
3. Latent, Potentiality, and Actuality
4. And Perception

Chapter 10. Latent Functions
1. Common Latents
2. Examples and Summary
3. Space and Components

Chapter 11. Perception, Space, and Field
1. Psychological Space
2. The Dynamic Field
3. Concepts

Chapter 12. Cognitive Dissonance
1. Percepts and Dispositions
2. Dissonance

Chapter 13.Behavior, Personality, Situation, and Expectations
1. Behavioral Potentialities
2. The Vector of Personality
3. Situational Vectors
4. Expectation Vectors

Chapter 14. The Behavioral Equation: Behavior, Situation, and Expectations

Chapter 15. Situation, Expectations, and Triggers
1. The Situation
2. Expectations
3. The Structure of Expectations
4. Trigger Events

Chapter 16. Person-Perception and Distance
1. Person-Perception
2. Distance Vectors
3. Dispositions, Powers, and Distance Vectors

Chapter 17. The Behavioral Occasion

Chapter 18. Social Behavior
1. Social Expectations
2. Dyadic Behavior
3. The Dyadic Product
4. The Dyadic Function
5. Aspects of Social Behavior

Chapter 19. Motivational Explanation

Chapter 20. Energy and Attitudes in the Psychological Field
1. A Bibliographic Note
2. The Dynamic Psychological Field
3. Id, Ego, and Superego

Chapter 21. Motivation and the Superordinate Goal
1. On Atomistic Drives
2. Needs, Ergs, and Drives
3. Sentiments
4. Role Components
5. The Integrated Self and the Superordinate Goal
6. Putting Humpty-Dumpty Together Again

Chapter 22. What About Other Motivations ?
1. The Drive for Power
2. The Need for Achievement
3. The Need for Status
4. The Authoritarian Personality
5. The Tough-Minded versus the Tender-Minded
6. The Idealist versus the Realist
7. The Radical versus the Conservative
8. The Inner-Directed versus the Other-Directed
9. The Need for Security
10. A Pugnacity Drive
11. Aggressiveness and Pugnacity
12. An Integrative Tendency
13. In Total

Chapter 23. The Dynamic Field and Social Behavior

Chapter 24. The Sociocultural Spaces
1. Meanings, Values, and Agents
2. The Cultural Space
3. The Social Space
4. The Sociocultural Space

Chapter 25. The Biophysical Spaces
1. The Ecological Space
2. The Space of Vehicles
3. The Environmental Space
4. The Biological Space

Chapter 26. Intentions and The Intentional Field
1. The Intentional Space
2. The Intentional Field

Chapter 27. A Point of View
1. The Core Assumption
2. Orienting Ourselves

Chapter 28. The Self As a Power
1. The Self of the Tetradic Person
2. The Self of Jung and Rogers
3. The Self of Cattell and Gorsuch
4. Self as Power
5. And the Dynamic Field

Chapter 29. The Will As a Power

Chapter 30. Determinism and Free Will
1. The Meaning of Freedom
2. The Will's Freedom

Chapter 31. Alternative Perspectives on Freedom of the Will
1. A Pseudo Problem
2. Freedom, a Pragmatic Option
3. We are Free, Not Determined
4. We are Determined
5. We are Fated

Chapter 32. A Humanism Between Materialism and Idealism
1. Materialism
2. Idealism
3. And Intentional Humanism

Chapter 33. Atomism-Mechanism versus Organicism
1. Atomism-Mechanism
2. Vitalism
3. Organicism
4. Methodological Holists versus Individualists
5. And Our Intentional Field

Chapter 34. Between Absolutism and Relationism
1. Absolutes versus Relations
2. Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Relations
3. Realism versus Nominalism
4. Classification versus Functions
5. Essentialism versus Methodological Nominalism
6. And Intentional Humanism

Chapter 35. Humanity and Nature
1. Western, Indian, and Chinese Perspectives
2. Philosophic Anthropology and Humanistic Naturalism
3. And Intentional Humanism


This book is part of an ongoing attempt to synthesize the empirical findings of the Dimensionality of Nations Project (DON) and to clarify the assumptions underlying their theoretical framework. This effort has been supported by both the National Science Foundation (Grant No. GS-35767) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Defense (Contract Nos. N00014-67A-0387-0003 and N00014-67-A-0387-0018); I gratefully acknowledge their continuing aid.

Earlier drafts of this book evolved dialectically through the reading, criticisms, and suggestions of DON's staff, a seminar in political psychology in which I used a draft as a text, and critiques from colleagues. In particular, I am indebted to Professor Larry Alschuler, who read the whole manuscript carefully and critically, and saved me thereby from some embarrassing blunders; to Professor Sang-Woo Rhee, who, with his usual diligence and care, went through the separate drafts and provided me with helpful critiques; to Professor Raymond Cattell, who permitted me to exploit some of his unpublished material and who made many useful suggestions in a review of Part IV on motivation; and to Messrs. Chung-Si Ahn, Chang-Yoon Choi, Kook-Chin Kim, Omar Nassery, George Omen, Yong-Ok Park, Edward Schwerin, and Peter Sybinsky, who, as assistants on DON and members of my seminar on political psychology, gave me that kind of critical interaction essential to the growth of ideas.

I wish to single out for special gratitude my wife, Grace, who edited two separate drafts and subsequently corrected the galley proofs. What clarity this book embodies owes much to her refusal to accept unnecessary jargon and opaque prose. And with appreciation, I acknowledge the help of my secretary, Mrs. Karen Pacheco, who, with unflagging good cheer and speed, transformed my illegible scrawls into precisely typed drafts.



Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise and rudely great: With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride, He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest; In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast; In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err.
----Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man Ild


Today, violence and war are routine--a way of life. Dulled by repetition and numbers, we hardly notice mass death. That hundreds of thousands died in a civil or racial war in Africa may be mentioned briefly on page four of our newspapers. With academic detachment we can plan and prepare for counterstrikes and tit-for-tat exchanges atomizing tens of millions in what we please to call a limited nuclear war. And few in their daily routine now give thought to the real possibility of a breakdown of nuclear deterrence. Nor is thought given to the possibility of rogue nations developing nuclear weapons and blackmailing the major powers by threatening to destroy Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Moscow, or Tokyo.

Enough. No elaborate polemic is needed to color these obvious and routine facts.

Troubled by our increasing potential to destroy ourselves and its habitual actualization, scholars, scientists, and philosophers have tried to understand our propensity to violence. Over the centuries, wars, revolutions, revolts, riots, and pogroms have been dissected and analyzed to determine their causes and conditions, their nature and essence; solutions have been proposed, plans have been prepared, and concrete steps have been taken. Presumably, our knowledge of violence has increased and our solutions have become more sophisticated and realistic.

Yet in the time our presumed speculative, theoretical, and empirical understanding of violence was increasing, through the same centuries when more and more solutions were being proposed and implemented, violence was becoming correlatively ever greater in intensity and scope. The years of peace and order have been few; people by the millions have continued to live in fear of violent injury and death from others. Understanding and eliminating violence from the human stage thus appear beyond our powers, as though violence were our eternal purgatory for our sins. Our recorded history as a stream of battles thus appears our iron law of movement, our inevitable destiny.

Or, so it seems. Are violence and war really inevitable? If not, what can be done to eliminate them? These two basic questions which underlie our contemporary moral concern are the focus of my efforts represented in part by this book. I began to focus my academic training and research on such questions almost two decades ago. My aim then was to find, discover, or develop a theory of war that, in at least some small way, would help to bring about its resolution. This search has led me through doctoral study in the field of international relations, professional training in scientific methods and in mathematics, and wide reading in philosophy, psychology, and sociology. It has led me through ten years of programmatic quantitative research on the empirical nature of war and violence, and the relationship between behavior and the dimensions of nations. It has led to the development of a field theory of behavior which, I believe, integrates a variety of theoretical and philosophical approaches to war and violence and serves as the phenomenological framework for analyzing whether war is inevitable and what might be done about it.

Violence and any attempt to deal with it should be considered a field phenomenon. It is an aspect of the Gestalt comprising our biopsychological nature, our sociocultural existence, and our environmental context. Our view of it depends on our ontological perspective, our attempts to understand it presuppose an epistemology, and our solutions manifest our ethical system. To consider the inevitability of violence, then, requires attention to the most fundamental philosophical questions, the most central issues about our nature and society, and our ultimate ethical dilemmas (such as Hume's guillotine amputating facts from values).

This book is the third in an intellectual effort converging on a field view of the nature, inevitability, and resolution of violence and war. The first, Applied Factor Analysis, explains the primary methodology used in my related empirical research and the model employed in structuring the mathematical aspects of the field. Dimensions of Nations presents an empirical mapping of national characteristics and conflict behaviors within a field perspective; but this book contains only a fraction of the empirical results of my efforts, and additional books are forthcoming.

My research and scholarly analysis have reached a point where I now must deal with the philosophical presuppositions, conceptual framework, and substantive aspects of field theory itself, and where I now can move to the dominant questions about violence. Accordingly, although the third in intellectual descent, this book is the first in a series to consider substantively and philosophically conflict from the field perspective. Subsequent volumes in this series will analyze the social field [done in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix), international relations [done in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace], and the normative frameworks [done in Vol. 5: The Just Peace].

One central aspect of the field deals with our psychological nature and freedom. For any consideration of violence and war, their inevitability and resolution, assumes a view of our character and inherent nature, of our motivations and goals, of our potentialities and power, and of our constraints and freedom. Are we inherently aggressive? Do we lust for power? Is our perception at the root of conflict? Most important, does the future lie within our hands?

The psychological approach to war and international relations, which had considerable influence after World War II, has had a beneficial effect on our knowledge, but has never been carried far enough. Psychologists lack sophistication and knowledge in dealing with violence and war, which are as much sociocultural as psychological phenomena and involve crucial ethical questions. Moreover, psychological works on war have been diverse in approach with no common framework and have been unrelated to the power-political reality of international relations. For these reasons, I presume to answer my own psychological questions in this book.

To reiterate, I am laying the psychological and associated philosophical foundations for considering in future volumes whether war and violence are inevitable and what we can and should do; therefore, I do not bring psychology directly to bear on these issues here, for I can do this only after the relevant sociocultural, epistemological, ethical, and theoretical problems and aspects of our field have been considered in future volumes. Along with Applied Factor Analysis and Dimensions of Nations, this book should be perceived as a corner of the foundation upon which I intend to build a unified speculative-theoretical-empirical analysis of violence and war.

Future volumes will consider:

  • the sociocultural field and relevant empirical results on the domestic conflict and violence of nations [done in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix];

  • a comparison and contrast of the field theory developed here to other major psychological and sociological theories of conflict [done in Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective];

  • the relevant conceptual and substantive nature of international relations, the mathematical structure of field theory, and empirical results on international behavior, conflict, violence, and war [done in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace];

  • the nature of peace with justice and, given the above work, the principles and institutions of a just and peaceful world [done in Vol. 5: The Just Peace].

How many more books I cannot say, for writing itself is a process of discovery, and what was meant to be a few chapters can become a full volume, as has happened with this book. I know, however, what I want to do, and most of the necessary empirical research and mathematical analyses have been completed. What remains are synthesis, evaluation, thought, and speculation, and common sense.

Finally, at this introductory point, I offer a word about my overall orientation toward this effort. I believe that to know ourselves we must focus on ourselves as individuals and in society, not on our concrete environment, physical nature, or objective vehicles. The proper study is of our meanings, values, motives, perceptions, inner complexes, and powers. But we can know ourselves only through a particular perspective, a point of view. Whether this perspective is True, we cannot know.

However, whether my field view is the proper perspective, whether my efforts have born fruit, whether I have deluded myself about the importance of what I now have to say, should be a matter for discussion, critical evaluation, and debate. What I am offering is not Truth or the Way, but my contributions to the Struggle of Ideas out of which a better future may be forged. Our knowledge and our ability to handle our problems progress through the open conflict of ideas, through the tests of phenomenological adequacy, inner consistency, and practical-moral consequences. Reason may but err, but it can be moral. If we must err, let it be on the side of our creativity, our freedom, our betterment.


 We are one with an intentional field, a whole continuous with the mutual relations, dependencies, and causes patterning our mind, body, culture, and environment; a field transmitting and generating our intentions, dispositions, and expectations; a continuous medium of interrelated forces. The field is partly Thomas's situation that gives meaning to social behavior; partly Sorokin's culture, creating much that is meaningful for us; partly Cassirer's symbolic medium, defining our reality; partly Dewey's transactions, the unity of humanity, behavior, and object; partly Coutu's tendency in situation, our behavioral dispositions; partly Lewin's Life space, the space of sociopsychological forces; partly Wright's analytic field of values and capabilities. The field is each of these and also the whole that integrates these aspects and their relationships. The field is the dynamic, psychological reality permeating these aspects, both generating our sociocultural behavior and being one with that behavior.

Clearly, considerable clarification is necessary, but some preliminary points should be made. First, instead of an anatomical dissection of our intentional field, I will phenomenologically and gradually, through the elaboration of our exchange and conflict with reality, to work up to the total field. This gradual development will carry us through humanity's mental transactions with reality; the psychological space and dynamic field; motivations; dispositions and expectations; cognitive dissonance; behavioral inclinations; dialectical change and trigger causes; meanings and values and the intentional field; the self, will, and freedom; and intentional humanism. Thus as we move successively upward in abstraction and outward in complexity, the total field will be seen more naturally as unified with our physical, social, and mental reality and as a humanistic perspective.

Second, insofar as possible, the mathematical nature of the dynamic and intentional fields will be left to a later volume [done in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace].** The development here will be primarily conceptual and philosophical. The major interest is in communicating a feel for psychological reality from a field perspective, in the essential character of the field itself, and in the relationship of this field to the larger sociocultural context. The mathematical structure of the field is more precise but loses much of the rich meaning of the field interpretation and narrows communication to the small number familiar with the particular mathematics (linear algebra) involved. Although little of the mathematics will be given here, the reader should understand that constructs such as psychological space, power, expectations, change, component, system, behavior, dispositions, position, and field are defined within a mathematical system., and that they have operational definitions or epistemic correlations enabling empirical deductions to be made and the central notions presented here to be tested. After we have considered the dynamic field conceptually, after the field of ourselves, society, and culture has been elaborated sociologically, and the historical-sociological process of conflict and war within this field has been described in subsequent volumes, the reader may find a more technical presentation worth the study.

Third , "field" carries with it physicalist overtones the reader should guard against. Unfortunately, the use of "field theory" in the social sciences often has been part of a conscious attempt to extend the meaning and structure of physical fields, gravitational or electromagnetic, to include the social realm,1 with notable lack of success. However, the field conception advocated here grew from social analyses (of international relations) and only after full conceptual, mathematical, and operational elaboration, was convergence with physical field theories sought. Therefore, be warned, constructs like space, time, force, position, and component have psychological and sociological meanings and not the interpretations conceptually given them in physical nature (although, as we shall see, the mathematical interpretation is often similar and there is some conceptual overlap).

Fourth, the reader who is looking for definitions of many central constructs (such as "meaning" itself) will be disappointed and our search misguided. If infinite regress or circular definitions are to be avoided, we often must accept primitive (undefined) constructs as starting points. Consequently, I will elaborate or define my terms where useful, but usually leave--necessarily, I believe--many constructs explicitly undefined. Their use in different contexts throughout this book will give them sufficient meaning.

Fifth, many relevant considerations and questions to be provoked will be skirted or ignored in order to unfold broadly the field conception. Only those aspects most helpful in understanding the nature of the dynamic field, the focus of this volume, or those pertinent to our later analysis of violence and war will be described. Selection, therefore, does not mean lack of interest in, or appreciation of, the various problems this perspective invokes, but a conscious attempt to stay on the mark: communicating the essence of the field which gives violence and war meaning and us leverage for their control.

Finally, there is a good deal of metaphysics in this book. Because this may be its most extraordinary aspect, I might comment on this in more detail.

To many social scientists it may seem mystical or at least perverse to emphasize metaphysics in a discussion of the our dynamic field. Metaphysics is out of style; the scientific-empirical mood of our times is against it. As a favorite epithet of the positivists and logical empiricists on the one hand and Marxists-Leninists2 on the other, metaphysics has become a dirty word.

Yet, I will argue what I hope to demonstrate throughout this book: that metaphysical presumptions underlie all our scholarship, all our science. In Kant's words:

In fact, every empirical example is deceptive (and can be used only to illustrate but not to prove a principle), and so a metaphysics is most certainly required. Even those who deride metaphysics still acknowledge its necessity when they say, for instance: "the best constitution is one in which the power is exercised, not by men, but by the laws." What could be more sublimely metaphysical than this idea? (Kant, "The Metaphysical Elements of Justice")
----Kant, The Metaphysical Elements of Justice

To ignore metaphysics is to leave unquestioned the foundations of our social knowledge, our ethics, and our epistemology. It is to adopt unconsciously a theology and to accept one's starting point, one's perspective, on faith. Thus lie the roots of scientism, scholasticism, and fadism.3

As a way of comprehending reality, metaphysical philosophy can be tracked almost as far back as our written record. The fragments from early Greek philosophers, such as Thales of Miletus, Anaximander, and Heracleitus, are permeated with concern for the basic structure of nature, and the fundamental relationship of human beings to it and each other. The ideas of Heracleitus, with his emphasis on the strife of opposites and the ubiquity of change, are reflected in this book. Many scholars, however, date the beginning of Western metaphysics from the work of Parmenides of Elea (sixth century B.C.) who believed all things are one; that inon and changes are unreal; that there is no becoming, only being. With Parmenides began the development of idealism culminating in Plato centuries later.

The ancient Greeks were not alone in their interest in essential principles. Two other metaphysical streams of thought, often ignored by Western philosophers,4 developed independently in China and India. From China we have what may be the oldest existing writing, the I Ching (Book of Changes), dating from the Shang Dynasty (about 1300 B.C.). A book of divination, it had a number of interpretive metaphysical "wings" (appendices) added in subsequent centuries.5 These emphasize that all are in constant change and movement between two principles, Yin and Yang, which are contraries or opposed extremes like strong-weak, hard-soft, male-female, and fire-water. This philosophy of change is similar to that of Hercleitus and has had a considerable influence on Chinese philosophy up to modern times.6 This metaphysics was transformed into Taoism by Lao Tzu (about the sixth century B.C.). The Tao, or the One, is the basic principle: all are one, a unity dissolving all differences and contradictions. Tao itself is indescribable but manifests itself through a way of life and a harmony between humanity and nature.

In India there is a variety of metaphysical traditions stemming from the Veda (or sacred texts), originating about 1500 B.C. Of these, the most metaphysical Upanishads were composed from about 800 B.C. And in the sixth century we have the teachings of Buddha. If there is any common viewpoint underlying the diverse metaphysical interpretations based on these writings and teachings, perhaps it is that reality is ephemeral--fleeting--and that the only stable element is our inner nature, our self (atman). The emphasis is on the transformation of the self and release from entanglement with the world.

These early metaphysics of Greece, China, and India have been refined and elaborated since, but few new directions have been taken. The basic questions and answers were then laid down; we only seem to add the greater sophistication of ages to their discussion and the greater factual base of our long history.

The term "metaphysics" comes from later Hellenistic commentators on Aristotle who titled a group of his texts Meta Ta Physika, meaning literally "after the things of nature," because they concerned the study of things not known directly through our senses. These words meant the consideration of the intrinsic principles underlying our contingent, subjective perceptions. They did not mean then what metaphysics has come to connote for many today, which is, at best, a system of speculations beyond nature and beyond facts, and at worst, the antithesis of science. This characterization, which may be true of some theologies, is hardly true of the great metaphysical systems we have come to know, such as those of Plato, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, and Hegel. These thinkers had a deep scholarly respect for facts and reason and felt they were engaging in a science.

What do characterize metaphysics are an approach and a concern. The approach is to self-critically use ascertainable facts and reason, as does science, but also to add personal experience or knowledge and intuition. Thus, the approach involves a component that is directly nontestable (my feeling that our inner reality must consist of a dialectical conflict between psychological forces, or the personal pain I felt in the dentist's chair yesterday are both directly nontestable).

Metaphysics is characteristically concerned with the basic or ultimate principles underlying our perception of the world. What is the nature of reality? What is the meaning of our lives? Or what is our relation to nature? The focus is on categorical rather than empirical principles that enable us to understand and gain insight and to organize our conceptions of the world about us. These principles infuse and orient our thought and theory. They serve as starting points for our science, ethics, and art. They provide a perspective as do language and culture, although more self-consciously and critically so.

For example, consider the principle of noncontradiction which to Aristotle (in the aforementioned group of texts now titled Metaphysics) was a law and starting point of thought. Many (there are schools of Hindu and Buddhist thought, among others, which deny the rule) believe that reason, science, and any attempt by us to cope conceptually with the world about us presupposes this principle; that even questioning the principle itself assumes its validity.

Our attempts to comprehend our world and nature presuppose, often unconsciously, some sort of metaphysics, whether it be the principle of noncontradiction, of opposites in conflict, of our selves, of freedom. The teachings of Hercleitus, Buddha, Plato, Chuang Tzu, Spinoza, Hegel, and others surface our assumptions, make them coherent as systems of thought, and open them to public criticism. However valuable this may be, a metaphysics must finally be judged pragmatically. To gauge the understanding and insight that metaphysics provides is to ask whether, in the final analysis, it helps us to cope with our world and harmonize our existence with nature, humanity, and ourselves, and leads to greater freedom and self-realization. Metaphysics is only the beginning. The end is human progress. Between them lie the disciplines of logic and mathematics, the constraints of our theories, and the dictates of our experience and observations.


On Fields

Any approach to violence and war requires some theoretical perspective and conceptual framework through which we can understand, describe, and explain these phenomena. My theoretical framework sees us individually as a dynamic psychological field of disposition and powers, and humankind as a dialectical balance of these individual fields within an intentional field comprising our sociocultural environments and physical ecology. Clearly, the idea of field is crucial to this book and to my whole subsequent approach to violence and war. For this reason, it is necessary to develop some feel for a field's essence and an appreciation of the variety of field approaches to physical nature and to ourselves, which then provide an intellectual and theoretical context for my description of our dynamic and intentional fields. In summary, Part I shows the following:

(1)Field theories or approaches in the natural and social sciences are divisible into dynamic, equilibrium, or relational fields. Dynamic fields entail a continuous extension of energy or potentiality throughout a space or region which is the spring or seat of forces, powers, or influences. Equilibrium fields consist of a balance between interrelated and interdependent forces, elements, objects, decisions, and so on. Relational fields simply comprise a whole of interrelated and mutually dependent parts.

(2)Field theories or approaches to our psychology or sociology suffer from several serious problems. First, there has been so far no adequate formal framework for ordering field-related speculations, theorizing, explanation, and results. Second, there has been insufficient utilization of related ideas and results in allied disciplines.

Third, the field of mathematics (linear algebra) most appropriate to structuring these field theories and enabling their empirical assessment has been ignored. And fourth, those who move from a psychological field to comprehending sociocultural behavior do not clarify their manner of transition from the one level to the other. The field theory and approach in this and in subsequent volumes will try to correct these deficiencies.

On Perception

 After Part I, the book is divided into several substantive philosophical concerns. The first involves the nature of reality and perception. Clearly, an understanding of perception is basic to any attempt to comprehend conflict and war, and indeed, some have carried this truism so far as to reduce war's causation to processes of misperception. However, to deal adequately with perception requires some assumptions about the reality perceived and a clarification of the structural and dynamic psychological context within which perception occurs. Perception is the dynamic balance between reality and our mentality. Yet, it is not sufficient to consider only perception to understand conflict; both ingredients in this balance must be weighed carefully. Therefore, Part II weaves together a description of perception, a philosophy of reality, and a psychological theory as follows:

(1)Reality is divisible into the three levels of potentiality, actuality, and manifestation. Potentiality comprises an infinitude of multifold and intersecting possibilities underlying an actuality of dispositions and powers, of determinable things striving to become determinate, specific, manifest. As dispositions, things have a power bearing upon us, compelling our attention and their determination.

(2)We are not a passive victim of external powers but their active combatant. We transforms the reality bearing upon us by our perspective on it, a perspective consisting of our physical location (our station), our physiological sensory receptors, our cultural matrix of schema and meanings-values, and our dynamic psychological field. Our perception is then a consequence of the dialectical conflict between an actuality trying to become manifest through us and our perspective transformation of this reality.

(3)The complex manifold of potentialities, dispositions, determinables, and powers comprise latents underlying reality's specific and ephemeral manifestations. These latents themselves combine in intricate overlapping ways, but nonetheless are reducible by us to patterns enabling us to make sense of our perceptions, to give order to the world, and to predict the consequences of our behavior. These patterns comprise latent functions or components of our physical world, sociocultural environment, and dynamic psychological field.

(4)Perception takes place in a field of dynamic forces straining to maintain a cognitive balance between the percipient's personality, beliefs, and perception. This cognitive balance is a facet of our perspective, and the psychological forces maintaining balance are part of our active perspective transformation of reality.

(5)Our personality is multidimensional. It is delineated by a variety of components (latent functions) defining our motivations (needs, roles, and sentiments), temperaments, abilities, moods, and states. These components span the psychological space bounding our dynamic field.

(6)Our perception is a mixed sensual-conceptual awareness of external dispositions and powers. What we perceive is a situation.

On Behavior

 Perception as a balance between reality on the one side and our dynamic psychological field on the other is only one part of the complex we must understand. Another part deals with our behavior. Violence and war are, after all, collections of actions and to place them eventually within the broader context of our mutual behavior requires an explicit behavioral framework. This framework, however, would only order such actions and perhaps help to make them intelligible. It would not explain or eventually help us eradicate or control violence and war. Doing so requires uncovering the linkage between our perception of situations and our behavior. We must determine the equation connecting processes and forces within us to what we see and do. This effort comprises Part III, of which the major points are:

(1)Within our psychological space is a space of our behavioral potentialities. These define our possible roles, behavioral patterns, responses, and so forth as bounded by our culture and environment.

(2)Depending on our multidimensional personality, we actualize particular behavioral potentialities as dispositions. That is, we are disposed to behave in particular ways that we may call habit, custom, practice, addiction, routine, etiquette, or tradition.

(3)Behavioral dispositions are one aspect of a tetradic structure of our dynamic field. The other three aspects are our personality, our perception of a situation, and our expectations.

(4) Our expectations refer to the consequences or outcomes of our behavior. Thus, the tetradic structure comprises what we see, our character, what we are inclined to do, and our intuition about the results of what we do.

(5) Our manifest, our specific, behavior is a result of the weighting of our behavioral dispositions by our expectations, and the weighting of our personality by the situation we perceive. This is the behavioral equation. We behave toward a situation as we perceive it on the basis of those aspects of our personality engaged by the situation, our relevant behavioral dispositions, and our expectations.

(6)In behaving toward others, the situation we perceive is structured by the distances in our psychological space between ourselves and others. We act toward another on the basis of these distances and our personality, dispositions, and expectations. These distances comprise our perception of the powers and dispositions of the other relative to ourselves.

(7)Through behavioral interaction with external reality and others, we establish a routine that is neither a wholly happy nor a wholly unhappy accommodation of ourselves to the external world through conflict with it. This routine comprises a pattern of behavior and a structure of expectations; it will continue until a trigger event precipitates a change in routine and the structure of expectations.

(8)What behavioral choice we make in a situation hinges, on the one hand, on the balance between our ongoing, routine behavior and our dynamic field, and, on the other hand, on the occurrence of an appropriate trigger event. This trigger is filtered through the field and eventuates in our choosing a new, nonroutine behavior, depending on our perception of the situation, our personality, our expectations, and our behavioral disposition.

(9)Our manifest behavior toward another person depends on our perceived distance from us as weighted by the occasion (situation) for behavior and by our dispositions and expectations.

(10) Our perspective on behavior should be from the actor's point of view. Behavior must be defined relative to the subjective perceptions, expectations, occasions, and dispositions--in short, the dynamic field--of the actor.

On Motivation

 It is not enough to structure the dynamic field and clarify the relation among reality,perception, and our psychology, nor the equation linking manifest behavior at one end with the situation or occasion at the other. We are an active participant in reality. We are not just a structure, but a directed field. We have needs, drives, goals, and interests that orient us and are the seat of the dynamic potentiality of our field. War and violence do not just happen to us. We go to war purposefully to achieve certain goals. To give a complete picture of our psychological field, therefore, requires moving to the center of our field, to our intentions. Part IV considers our intentions in detail, and makes the following major points:

(1)At the dynamic level, the psychological field consists of energy of varying regional strength whose organization is delineated by our personality components. This energy is the seat of potentials with varying power to be manifest, and these powers define the tension of the dynamic field. Within this field is a particular configuration of dispositions and powers constituting a balance among the self, perceptions, abilities, motivations, temperament, roles, memories, and so on. This equilibrium is an integration of the self regarding a superordinate future goal.

(2)As needs energize regions of the field, the self actualizes potentials constituting a particular perspective through which (a) some needs will be gratified, (b) some needs will be blocked from gratification, and (c) some needs will be absorbed into the psychic equilibrium.

(3)To understand motivation is to comprehend our superordinate goal and secondarily to understand the tensions that beset us and the experience we have had.

The previous conclusions are too general to be of much help in understanding our actual behavior. More content is needed, particularly regarding our needs, their organization, and the nature of our superordinate goal. Part IV, therefore, also makes the following more specific points:

(4)Our needs have developed into a lattice of attitudes and interests. An attitude represents a disposition to manifest specific behavior regarding some goal and need. Interest is then the power of the attitude based on a need. The attitude is our basic motivational unit, and the attitude's interest comprises its strength.

(5)The framework organizing the attitudes consists of seven primary elements: conscious id, unconscious id, physiological needs, unconscious memories or complexes, ego, superego, and context. These elements are interdependent and at a higher level organize into four independent patterns of the integrated self, unintegrated needs, psysiological-autonomic elements, and context. The extent of integration is the most important psychological characteristic of attitudes.

(6)There are at least seven major needs, which are sex, hunger, gregariousness, protectiveness, curiosity, security, and self-assertion.

(7)As attitudes share a similar goal, they cluster into sentiments. Six of the major sentiments are self-sentiment, superego. religious, career, sports and games, and material-mechanical.

(8) Roles are part of the attitudinal lattice, where a role is a clustering of attitudes that share provocation by or invocation in the same situation and have a common goal or action.

(9)The self-sentiment defines attitudes clustering around our superordinate goal. This goal is the enhancement, development, and maintenance of self-esteem or self-actualization.

(10)We are future oriented, centrally striving toward self-esteem. To understand our behavior, it is necessary to understand in what future goals we invest our esteem and its enhancement. We are intentional creatures; therefore, our approach to humanity must be teleological.

(11)Regarding some widely assumed needs, drives, or instincts,

(a)a lust for or drive for power is not a common need or temperament, but is a sentiment of importance for some who find in it a gratification of their esteem, needs, or temperaments;

(b)a need for achievement is reflected mainly in the need for self-assertion and in strong egos and dominating temperaments;

(c)a need for status is similar but distinct from an assumed need for achievement, is identical with the self-assertive need, and is related to the self-sentiment, high ego strength, surgency, and a dominating temperament;

(d)an authoritarian personality is a type of person who has high dominance, high ego strength, and is tough minded with paranoidal tendencies;

(e)there is a tough-minded versus tender-minded temperament, which correlates with idealistic versus realistic perspectives on life;

(f)a radical versus conservative temperament clearly exists and spans views on religion, politics, morality, and so on;

(g)an inner versus other directedness exists as a general introversion versus extroversion temperament;

(h)a need for security has been isolated in empirical research on motivation;

(i)some evidence exists for a pugnacity need;

(j) aggressiveness is both an attitude subsidiating to the needs for self-assertion (status striving) and pugnacity, and a temperament some people carry through life involving dominating others and a tendency toward paranoia;

(k)an integrative need is bound up with the protective need.

On the Dynamic Field within Society, Culture, and Environment

 A mistake often made in weighing the psychological basis of violence and war is to forget that people are also a part of a sociocultural and physical arena. We are a dynamic psychological field; yet we are also a social animal. And war and violence are fundamentally of this social plane. How do we then bring these levels together? A subsequent volume will be devoted to our sociocultural systems and social conflict [done in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix], and to international relations as a particular social system [done in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace]. However, without going into social processes and structures, Part V tries to show how the dynamic field is part of a larger sociocultural and ecological intentional field. The purpose here is to give a larger context for understanding the dynamic field and for dealing later with some of the relevant philosophical issues. Part V concludes the following:

(1) Personality, society, and culture form a continuous whole that is more than the aggregation of these elements.

(2) Society and culture infuse the dynamic field through (a) the cultural matrix which gives stimuli perceptual interpretation, (b) the social roles which are part of our motivations, (c) the bounding and definition of our behavioral potentials, (d) and our structure of expectations.

(3) We organize our cognition and perception of reality in terms of cultural meanings and values. Our world is fundamentally subjective; physical objects only serve as vehicles to carry these meanings and values.

(4) Most generally, cultures comprise a system of meanings-values made up of language, philosophy-religion, ethics-law, science, and fine arts. These are components spanning a culture space of meanings-values. The world's cultures cluster into sensate or materialistic and ideational or other-worldly types depending on their particular system of meanings-values.

(5)Societies share the system of meanings-values of their culture and, in addition, the status components of wealth, power, and prestige.

(6)In total, the whole that is our intentional space delimiting our intentional field consists of our biopsychological space, our social and cultural spaces, and the spaces of our environment and vehicles. The intentional space is us in our componential structure. Moving outward from the center of this intentional space, the components define our motivations, temperaments, abilities, moods, and states. In addition there are the meanings-values components of religion-philosophy, science, language, ethics-law, and fine arts. Then there are the status components of wealth, power, and prestige. Finally there are the four space-time components of our physical world.

(7)At the center is our dynamic nature, our motives, attitudes, sentiments, and, above all, our superordinate striving for self-esteem and self-actualization.

On the Self, Will, and Freedom

 Are we free to select our goals, determine our future, correct our deficiencies? Given the picture I have drawn of us as a dynamic psychological field within a larger whole of society, culture, and environment, can we independently change ourselves and our surroundings, that is, our field? This is the most crucial question of all, for if we cannot, if we are a determined creature, then all we can do is define the laws of history, society, and politics governing violence and war. And what we would then find is that war and violence are an iron law of history, an inescapable, horrifying facet of our interaction, an inevitability. However, we are victims of this law only if we are as determined as planets in their orbits. If we are free to alter and create our future, if we can be a first cause, then it is possible to eliminate war and violence. Clearly, this issue is a profound one. An answer is bound with our view of ourselves and our will. Accordingly, Part VI considers the self, the will, and the freedom of the will together and concludes:

(1)Our self, the I that is continuous in time, the inner me that I intuit, is a power. It is the self that becomes intuitively manifest to us through our psychological structure, processes, and Gestalt. It is the self that we come to know through confrontation with the external powers that bear upon us and the inner forces that we must control.

(2)This power we call the self has several facets. One is the ego which coordinates and controls our mental activity; another is the self-sentiment which, through its superordinate self-esteem goal, provides the perspective within which the self actualizes our potentials. The superego consists of the rules guiding the self; there are abilities and temperaments which reflect the multifold ways and styles in which the self can actualize itself and achieve its goals.

(3)Besides a self, we have also a will. The will exerts conscious control over our actions. It exercises choice between alternatives, applies practical reason, and brings the self to act. It is a power, and, as such, a facet of the self. The will is what consciously guides the person toward self-actualization and esteem.

(4)Is the will free to choose? The most useful way to define freedom is as the power to generate or create actions independently, as spontaneous originality. This definition strikes at the core meaning of the determinism versus free will controversy and enables us to deal directly with the question.

(5)Then, can the will originate choices? We cannot know whether the will is so free. We can, however, argue that it is possible that the same action can be determined at the level of phenomena and free at the underlying level of things-in-themselves. It is possible for reason to be independent of natural laws and causality and to originate actions. Therefore, as a moral choice of reason, let us hypothesize our freedom.

(6)This solution to the free will question unifies both freedom and necessity, scientific laws and libertarian freedom, and entails in doing so a view of logic and time that underscores the conditionality and potentiality of our future. As a self with a will and the inexplicable gift of freedom, we can strive toward that which might be and remove ourselves from that which is.

On a Humanistic View of Humankind

 It is not sufficient to describe us as a field or to assert that we are free. There must be some larger ethical and philosophical view of human beings which serves as the integrating framework to draw together basic assumptions and help select eventual solutions to our problems. I call this framework intentional humanism. Its descriptive basis is of us as a field, and of reality as potentiality actualized through our perspective; its normative basis is of ourselves and our intentions as the central values. Part VII brings out facets of intentional humanism, which are as follows:

(1)Truth is a manifold of intuition, reason, and empirical experience. Reason structures and organizes our experience; intuition provides direction, insights, and initial hypotheses.

(2) Reality is a seamless whole where differences and dependencies shade off into each other, here physical, there mind; here potentiality, there actuality; here a field, there free will; here culture, there instincts; here people, there physical nature. Whether this be in reality true or not, we cannot know. We can treat it as provisionally true, however, draw out its implications in the search for inconsistencies, apply its suggestions, and pragmatically test its conclusions.

(3)Within the constraints of our empirical knowledge, we can choose to interpret reality in the light of our own values and act within such an interpretation to achieve them.

(4)We comprises an intentional field, which is more than the sum of its biopsychological, environmental, and sociocultural elements. These elements are given meaning for us and make our behavior intelligible only as part of the field.

(5)At the center of this reality is our mentality, which is distinguished by its intellectual and creative faculties and moral capacity. This reality is nature to us. It is given scale and perspective only by our meanings, values, and intentions.

(6)The way to better understand ourselves and our plight is by approaching the intuitive, insightful, and introspective answers of the humanists more scientifically, and by infusing social science with more self-conscious intuition, insight, and introspection.


* Scanned from chapter 1 in R.J. Rummel, The Dynamic Psychological Field, 1975. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated. See The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices of Interpersonal, Social, and International Conflict and Cooperation, which presents the principles developed in this and the following four volumes of Understanding Conflict and War without the fundamental theory, philosophy, mathematics, and technical details. It is written for the student and interested reader.

**This was not fully done in this series of five volumes, but in separate works, particularly in my Field Theory Evolving (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1977), and my article "A Catastrophe Theory Model of the Conflict Helix, With Tests," Behavioral Science 32 (1987): 241-266.

1. See, for example, George A. Lundberg, Foundations of Sociology (New York: David McKay Co., 1964); George Devereux, "A Conceptual Scheme of Society," American Journal of Sociology 45 (March, 1940): 687-706.

2. In particular, I am thinking about Lenin's Logico-Empirico Criticism.

3. That basic assumptions lie unquestioned is at the root of the fads and fallacies of the behavioral-quantitative movement in the social sciences and particularly in international relations.

4. There are exceptions, such as Arthur Schopenhauer who was much influenced in his pessimistic idealism by the Hindu and Buddhist classics.

5. When and by whom these were added is much in dispute. The favored author is Confucius.

6. Y. P. Mei, "Basis of Social, Ethical, and Spiritual Values in Chinese Philosophy," in Charles A. Moore (ed.), Essays in East-West Philosophy (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1951): 301-316.

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