Re: Whither TRUTH????
Sun, 14 Apr 1996 20:41:42 -0500

At 08:05 PM 4/13/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Linda - and other PCP Networkers
> You comments are nicely illuminating.
> I wonder, however, why you wish to speak of cultural constructs as if
>they represent something different from individual constructs. I have run into
>this before, and am a bit puzzled by that line.
> I can't conceptualize CONSTRUCT without including INDIVIDUAL in the
>construction. How may we construe something we call CONSTRUCT without
>regarding it as a part of an individual's psychological functioning? I have no
>trouble in thinking of a socially shared construction, but I do find it
>difficult to fit such a construction into a psychological explanation without
>considering how that construction becomes a part of a personal construct
> Perhaps I am focusing on this in ways which differ from your focus!!
> As an aside:
> I attended a concert last evening, and heard two long compostions
>to which I could give no positive response.
> I began to think of whether or not I could have written a meaningful
>review of the concert -- even if I did have the construct system which would
>have allowed me to integrate the "organized noise" which I heard. [I have not
>developed the organizing systems to organize those particular noises.]
> I also wondered how a reviewer might write a review, if he/she did have
>the construct systems by which to organize that particular flow of "noises?"
>Could he/she write such a review without being condescending or elitist toward
>those of us who sat on our hands at the end of the performance?
> Then, of course, I wondered if anyone -- including the composer -- has
>a system by which to organize those "noises?????"
> Jim Mancuso

Jim: Thanks for the reply! I think that you and I are in agreement about
socially or culturally shared constructs, but perhaps I was not clear enough
about the way that I construe culture. I was not thinking of cultural
constructs as separate from individual constructs, but rather as constructs
shared by and common to those who live closely together in groups and share
their history, cultural heritage, methods of educating and rearing their
young, etc. Yet, of course, within this group, each individual has their
own individual construing of these cultural or social events. I think it is
difficult enough to understand another individual's constructs and construct
system when we share a common culture; the task can become increasingly more
complex when two people are from vastly different cultures using very
different constructs and systems, e.g., the difficulty Jim was having in
understanding how the Amazon natives' construct of spirit-driven illness
could possibly be functional. The construct of spirit-driven illness is
shared among members of the tribe, although each individual no doubt has
their own way of contruing this one concept and fitting it into their own
individual systems. Just as in the U.S. each individual has some sort of
construct regarding medical care, and there may be many similarities among
our constructs (e.g., many of us are beginning to construe HMO's as
heartless and greedy!) as well as many differences (e.g., some people
construe healing as originating in the medicine given, others construe
healing as a natural function of the body, helped along a little with
antibiotics or whatever).
The problem as I see it is one of being able to understand the other
person's construct system. The Amazon native's belief in spirit causality
is part of a complex culturally-shared construct; people in U.S. culture may
have trouble importing it into their individual construct system, because
within their system such beliefs do not make sense and seem dysfunctional.
However, a Lapplander who still follows the shamanistic ways may have no
trouble in understanding the Amazon native's system of construing illness;
even though the two people are from cultures that are vastly different, they
share certain constructs regarding how the world operates. Essentially is
this not the same problem we run into with anyone, regardless of their
culture, if their construct system is vastly different from ours? (I think
that is what you were alluding to, Jim.)
Mike's question really focused on how we determine what is
functional. Without a deep understanding someone's constructs and their
construct system, can we judge their constructs as dysfunctional?
Understanding shared cultural or social constructs can be very helpful, in
my opinion, to understanding an individual's constructions. Otherwise, do
we not run the risk of being too inflexible in our own constructs of others?
Not because we are rigid, but because we are unaware of the possibilities
and are too limited in our construing.
Your aside re: the "organized noises": I have experienced a similar
feeling sometimes when viewing artworks. Either I don't have the system in
place to appreciate what was done, or it really WAS just a bucket of paint
thrown at the canvas!
Linda Palmer, Counseling Psychology, Louisiana Tech University