- Series: International Behavioural and Social Sciences, Classics from the Tavistock Press
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (October 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415264863
- ISBN-13: 978-0415264860
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,701,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Displacement of Concepts (International Behavioural and Social Sciences, Classics from the Tavistock Press) (Volume 28) 1st Edition
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Part One presents a cogent, detailed, and compelling synthesis of the role and nature of concept displacement as applied to a new situation, together with the consequent formation and refinement of a new concept. As a result, Schon's synthesis eclipsed two then-prevailing notions of new concept formation: covert machinations of the subconscious and glib law-like compositions of existing concepts. Notably, Schon dispatches the notion that an existing concept can in general be unaffectedly imposed on a new situation to yield an adequate new concept.
In the author's synthesis, an agent encountering a new situation accesses an intimated concept already present in a relevant concept cluster by "seeing" the likeness between the selected concept and the new situation. This old concept effectively becomes a metaphor for characterizing the new situation, as effected through a symbolic relation between the concept and the situation. Basically, the concept then serves as a program for the exploration of the situation, and as a source for selected attributes to be mapped to it. The elaboration of the concept metaphor delineates and instantiates these mappings through selective projections from the old concept to the new situation.
In the process of concept displacement, the old concept itself is also modified, thereby extending its capacity for coping with future situations. Accordingly, there is mutual adaptation or accommodation in the process of instantiating the new situation. This involves the confrontation of mismatches or discrepancies in the fit of the projected attributes, as well as their correction. Much of the foregoing processing occurs without conscious awareness, but given the detailed and coherent description of his postulated operative scenario, Schon's encompassing formulation renders the contributions of the subconscious clear, plausible, and quite credible. In effect, Schon has dissolved the mystery sometimes attached to the role of the subconscious, by supplanting it with an explicit and convincing thesis. Furthermore, his formulation of concept displacement is complementary with the ideas of other scholars regarding knowledge acquisition.
Quite gratifyingly, I see appreciable complementarity between Schon's thesis and the more encompassing ideas of Jean Piaget. In particular, Schon furnishes details that appear to fit well into Piaget's notion of assimilation/accommodation and the growth of cognitive structure. Several questions remain, however, following my reading of Schon's book, but they do not detract significantly from his coherent and seminal ideas. In all, Part One of his book is most impressive.
Unfortunately, my cognitive momentum was not sustained into Part Two. It is entitled "The Conservative Function" ("in retaining the pattern of old concepts"). I had expected a comparably penetrating, insightful, and general examination of such conservation as might occur inadvertently or erroneously in the course of concept displacement. Beyond that, it would follow that certain rules, practices, or screenings might be indicated that might remediate the elaboration tasks, so as to foster a better configuration of a new concept. Or at least to characterize or discern how projections can sometimes go amiss. The emphasis of such coverage would be on the generality, precision, and correctness in the conservative component of metaphor elaboration per se.
Instead, Part Two is sort of anecdotal and oriented toward linguistic/societal/cultural phenomena as outgrowths of the expanded propagation of metaphorical side effects. This is taking concept displacement far beyond the formation of new concepts. This part considers a few curious if typical instances of rather trite linguistic spin-offs apart from the focal concepts per se. This coverage and its supporting quotations are marginally relevant to the book's title, not mention rather uninteresting to me.
In sum, Part One centers on the "Displacement of Concepts" per se; it is valuable, thoughtful, substantive, and admirable. Conveyed in a lucid manner, it presents some promising ideas as well as seminal thinking. In contrast, Part Two describes some epiphenomenona of doubtful relevance to the book's title. Moreover, its level of scholarly content and originality seems well below that exhibited in Part One. Accordingly, despite my high regard for Donald Schon, I have to downgrade my rating of this book to Four Stars.
To sum up, it's one the classic books that provides great pleasure by deploying its lessons to real situations; Specially when inventing new concepts in real life such as new irony we may use in our speech or new techniques we employ to solve problems. However, Schon developed his ideas in "Educating the Reflective Practitioner" and "Reflective Practice", this book reserves itself of a different order.