Werner and Kaplan’s Symbol formation was published 50 years ago but its insights have yet to be adequately explored by psychology and other social sciences. This special issue aims to revisit this seminal work in search of concepts to work on key issues facing us today. This introductory article begins with a brief outline and contextualization of the book as well as of the articles that this special issue comprises. The first two articles were written by contributors who were part of the Werner era at Clark University. They explore the key concepts of the organismic and development, and situate them vis-à-vis other research at Clark and in American psychology more generally. The second two articles analyse Werner and Kaplan’s notions of ‘distancing’ and ‘physiognomic metaphor’, showing their roots in naturphilosophie and comparing them with contemporary theories. The last four articles apply the organismic-developmental approach to fields only touched in Symbol formation, such as magical practices, social structures, pictures and gesture.
Culture and Psychology, 2013, Vol 19, Issue 4, p. 433-440