The Possible as a Field of Inquiry


  • Vlad Petre Glăveanu


In this editorial I introduce the possible as an emerging field of inquiry in psychology and related disciplines. Over the past decades, significant advances have been made in connected areas – counterfactual thinking, anticipation, prospection, imagination and creativity, etc. – and several calls have been formulated in the social sciences to study human beings and societies as systems that are open to possibility and to the future. However, engaging with the possible, in the sense of both becoming aware of it and actively exploring it, represents a subject in need of further theoretical elaboration. In this paper, I review several existing approaches to the possible before briefly outlining a new, sociocultural account. While the former are focused on cognitive processes and uphold the old dichotomy between the possible and the actual or real, the latter grows out of a social ontology grounded in notions of difference, positions, perspectives, reflexivity, and dialogue. In the end, I argue that a better understanding of the possible can help us cultivate it in both mind and society.