Publication 5374

Procter H. G. (2014) Peirce’s contributions to constructivism and personal construct psychology: I. Philosophical aspects. Personal Construct Theory & Practice 11: 6–33. Fulltext at
Kelly’s work was formed and developed in the context of the American philosophical movement known as pragmatism. The major figures to which this tradition is attributed are Charles S. Peirce, William James and John Dewey. In Personal Construct Psychology, Dewey was acknowledged by Kelly and by subsequent writers as perhaps his most important influence. It has recently become increasingly apparent, however that Peirce was a much more pervasive and crucial influence on James and Dewey than has previously been recognized. Kelly did not mention Peirce but a close reading of the two writers reveals a remarkable correspondence and relationship between their two bodies of work. To set these two thinkers side by side proves to be an interesting and productive exercise. In this paper, after introducing Peirce and examining the relationship between him and Dewey, Kelly’s basic philosophical assumptions, as outlined at the beginning of Volume 1 of the Psychology of Personal Constructs, are used as a framework for exploring their similarities and differences. The result is an enrichment of our understanding of Kelly’s philosophy which allows us to make links with many different subsequent thinkers’ ideas and provides a basis for exploring the psychological aspects of the two men’s work. The latter forms the subject of Part II of this series which is in preparation.


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