Science, constructs, blief, drugs, core experiencese,

Thu, 13 Jun 1996 13:11:10 -0500 (CDT)

If, by religious belief, one means a suspension of rational,
critical thinking, then Kelly's work is clearly not based
religious belief. However, some religious experiences,
mysticism, and experiences from hallucinogenic drug use may be a
different class of construing. The type of religious
belief/experience I'm speaking of has to do with the brief
periods of experience when scepticism is fully suspended and thus
similar to some of William James' descriptions of religious
experience and drug use (there is an excellent article about this
in the May _Atlantic_).
Not that I would necessarily know from personal experience,
but aren't such experiences the opposite of scientific, critical
thinking? If such experiences are valid, then is it possible
that these experiences are an exception to the principle of
constructive alternativism? At the risk of committing PCT
blasphemy (tounge in cheek), how is it possible to be "testing
hypotheses" in such a state, when the "spiritual" experience is
itself characterized as a suspension of conscious concatenation
(there is no "if-then"; just an "is"; hypotheses must be tested
in an "if-then" frame). In other words, if there is such a thing
as "pure experience" then it seems that constructive
alternativism might have some limitations as a general prinicple.
It seems that many of the more contemporary contributors to
personal construct theory exhibit a certain frustration at this
limitation -- and thereby attempt to enrich Kelly with a richer
vocabulary that encompass these more "core" experiences (which
really seem to fall outside of constructe alternativism).
However, this may begin to blur the boundary among existentialism
and PCT proper.

Timothy Anderson