Berlyne as a Disinterested Critic: A Colleague's Account of Some Academic Interactions

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This paper presents a personal account of an aspect of Berlyne's contribution that is not readily apparent in his many publications: his association with colleagues at the University of Toronto. Berlyne's characteristic style of academic interaction with his colleagues is designated “disinterested criticism”. Three examples of interactions are given, dealing with definitional distinctions, the uncovering of unnecessary assumptions, and conflict between applied and basic research goals. In all three cases the academic interaction appeared to have the same, sequential components: (1) the argument, (2) resistance, and (3) finally, reluctant acceptance of the validity of the issue raised by Berlyne. On the basis of these academic interactions, it is concluded that Berlyne, as an academic colleague, functioned in the Socratic rather than the Protagorean or Sophistic mode, inasmuch as he was more interested in considering issues than in manipulating minds. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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