General Theory of Communication

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William Stephenson


Q methodology makes a science of subjectivity possible and solves the “riddle of mind.†An illustration is given of a 4-year-old child sorting postcard pictures of children under a variety of conditions of instruction, entering into communication within herself, which is transformed into operant factor structure. The context is generalized in reference to the objective fact that “it is raining,†and the concourse of communicability that it engenders and the factor structure that results, leading to the conclusion that all such communicative action is transformable in the same way. The operantcy of factors is objective, as reached through centroid factor analysis and rotation (judgmental or varimax), with all factors being schematical (Peirce’s Law) and representing new understandings reached through feeling rather than logic, and whose meaning is found a posteriori as new propositions or principles that are open for all to examine and not for semanticists and professional critics only. Q’s forward movement has been blocked primarily by its being regarded as a branch of advanced statistics rather than as the basis of a subjective science focused on behavior with the self as central to it and subject to the study of single cases rather than large samples. It constitutes an end to Cartesian dualism on evidential grounds and provides information that is both structural and functional.

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Stephenson, W. (2014). General Theory of Communication. Operant Subjectivity, 37(3). Retrieved from