Re: Constructivism,constructs, + Kellians

Gary Blanchard (
Thu, 13 Jun 1996 01:20:47 -0700

Dear Tim -

Many thanks for your valuable comments. I shall read them several times
to help me get their full value. And I would appreciate whatever you are
willing to snailmail me at: Gary Blanchard
308 Downing Court
Westampton, NJ 08046

FAX 609 835-9524

Thanks again. I look forward to continuing our conversation when your
agenda permits.

Best, Gary

A. Connor wrote:
> Gary--
> I wish I had time to respond to your post as thoroughly as it merits.
> Unfortunately, this is not a good week for me to get into a deep
> discussion (maybe after this weekend...). As a stop-gap, just to keep
> the thread alive:
> It's not clear to me how much, if any, of Kelly's work you have read. As
> someone else noted, this list is probably not the best place to seek a
> basic course in the psychology of personal constructs; I would urge you
> to read, at a minimum, A THEORY OF PERSONALITY. The papers collected in
> valuable, and give a lot of insight into Kelly's approach to scientific
> methodology.
> A postulate is just that--something that is postulated, assumed. While it
> is assumed because it appears to be consistent with what we know or
> believe we know, it is a postulate "only if we accord it that status. If
> we bring the statement into dispute, as well we may in some instances, we
> must recognize that we are then arguing from other postulate either
> explicitly stated or, more likely, implicitly believed" (Kelly, 1955).
> Postulates are falsified by demonstrating that they generate contradictory
> conclusions or inaccurate predictions. But any (ANY) logical/theoretical
> system begins with undefined terms and unproved assumptions (see Goedel's
> theorem). Behaviorists, for example, postulate that all behavior is
> caused by environmental reinforcements. Some of them claim to have
> demonstrated this empirically, which I say is a lot of B.S. (Behavioral
> Science). ;-)
> Kelly did not claim to have proved the fundamental postulate (the
> corollaries are deductions from the postulate, not empirical hypotheses)
> and in fact stated over and over that he assumed his system would need to
> be changed as new evidence arose. One of the requirements he proposed
> for a "good theory" is that it be modifiable. This does not mean that
> the postulate is an article of faith drawn out of thin air. It is
> important to keep in mind that PCP is in its origins a _clinical_ theory;
> deeply rooted in the practice of psychotherapy, developed as a model of
> how people encounter problems, solve them, and change both the world and
> themselves in so doing.
> Another key point is that Kelly rejected the idea that scientists are
> somehow fundamentally different from other people. The underlying
> metaphor of PCP is "man [sic] the scientist." He saw human nature in
> terms of the effort to predict and control, to anticipate the future by
> devising hypotheses about the world and testing them behaviorally.
> Professional scientists may have explicit rules that make their
> experiments easier to analyze and critique, and that compel them to
> examine evidence so as to falsify rather than confirm, but the basic
> enterprise is not so different.
> This is all I have time for now. I urge you to consider the above points
> closely, and to read Kelly himself, rather than trying to critique his
> theory based on the very fragmentary exposition of it that is possible on
> a listserv. If you can't get your hands on the books, send me your
> snailmail address and I'll send you something short that sets out the
> major points in a reasonably thorough way.
> Until next week--
> Best,
> Tim
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Tim Connor, M.S. "Psychotherapy is not
> Pacific University an applied science, it
> School of Professional Psychology is a basic science in
> 2004 Pacific Avenue which the scientists
> Forest Grove, OR 97116 USA are the client and his
> <> therapist"
> --George Kelly
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> On Wed, 12 Jun 1996, Gary Blanchard wrote:
> > Dear Tim-
> >
> > Thanks very much for your thoughtful and informative posting re: above.
> > Thanks to you and Mildred Shaw, I have re-read Prof. Kelly's comments?
> >
> > My question now is: What is his evidence for his Postulates, Corollaries
> > and related claims? From whence do they derive? Do they represent
> > scientific findings, or merely another variety of religious belief? My
> > <much deleted>
> > If I am accurate, then unless there is some testable data, or way to
> > operationalize Prof. Kelly's hypotheses/claims/paradigm/theory, then my
> > re-reading of his postulate and corollaries leaves me with the tentative
> > conclusion that they are not scientifically based, however useful some
> > may have found it, or created it to be.
> >
> > I'm sure I am not the first person to raise these concerns, and I may
> > well be off-base. I hope that one or more of you with the expertise to
> > do so will show me where, and how, my reckoning is off.
> >
> > Please be assured that I mean no disrespect to the field, or to the
> > memory of an obviously significant historical figure (Prof. Kelly). I
> > simply want to know what I am buying, if I buy into this approach.
> > If my concerns are sound, they might suggest a menu of research that
> > would conclusively validate or modify Prof. Kelly's claims, opening the
> > door to intelligent adaptation and continued honoring of the spirit, if
> > not the letter, of his groundbreaking efforts.
> >
> > RSVP RSVP RSVP....................sincerely, Gary