Re: The scientific status of PCP

Gary Blanchard (
Thu, 13 Jun 1996 16:33:32 -0700

Dear Brian-
Thanks for your latest note.
Honestly, I was considering declaring surrender and ending the
conversation, for in my view I am getting nowherre in my talk with you or
some others on the list. And that's okay. We're all entitled to our

But then a thought occurred to me (I don't give up easily!). Just as an
experiment, would you be willing to re-read your latest note to me and
see how many times you, identified as you, the author, explicitly show up
in your remarks? I thibnk you'll find the answer is: none.

Instead, you speak as if you live on Mt. Olympus, and what you say is
self-evident, in my assessment. And what it leads to, in my opinion, is
a lot of inconclusive bullshit and an unresolved question: Can Prof.
Kelly's claims be empirically proved or not?

Now, please accept that I mean no disrespect here. I simply want to call
attention to the way of being, in language, that most of us in the West
at least have fallen into, and therefore about which we now are unaware.
So we go on, speaking rapidly in presuppositions and metaphors, with
little concern if we are understood by the person to whom we are
speaking, but looking very, very good according to the reigning social
standards of the day.

This, I submit, is THE dominant ontology of language in which we all are
immersed. And from these conversations with you and others, I now begin
to formulate a new definition of 'constructivist.' Namely: One who
possesses, and expresses, the capacity to observe him/herself speaking
(or write), and who takes explicit responsibility for what he/she says,
aware if the speaking is of a factual or of an opinion nature, providing
evidence if it is claimed to be factual and accepting that it is only
their opinion if it is an opinion.

To paraphrase the late, great Marshall McLuhan: The medium is the
message. And the medium, for us humans, is language. So the message is,
let's start speaking more awaredly, respectfully, and clearly.

What do you --- all --- think? Sincerely, Gary

>Brian Gaines wrote:
> >
> My reply to you was rather long so as to have rigor and clarity.
> However, your questions are phrased in terms of your personal
> constructs so any direct reply to them involves the replier
> in attempting to tease out your meaning and hence is somewhat personal
> to you.
> >
> The science--religion distinction you propose is not a bipolar
> Science and religion need to be treated as elements each having very
> constructions. The distinctions you appear to be trying to make is, as
> have noted, are ones between critical reflection and dogmatic
> between empirical testing and authority, and between knowledge and
> Some aspects of science and some aspects of religion may be construed
> on each pole of these three constructs. They are not bipolar unless one
> very clearly defines those aspects.
> Kant notes that science in the enlightenment threw off the authority of
> church -- "Enlightenment is man's release from his inability to make
>use of
> his understanding without direction from another." (Kant, What is
> Enlightenment?) However, even this authority was over the laity --
> if you read the Thomist pre-enlightenment literature you find a
> critical reflective community. Science has often exerted similar
> over the laity, and some postmodernist literature sees the authority
> of science being overthrown now, as was that of the church 300 years
> The knowledge--belief distinction in philosophy is that knowledge is
> "justified true belief" -- justification involves a critical community
> to who justification must be given -- truth involves some truth
> acceptable to the community. This makes the distinction
> within the paradigms of some reference community. Presumably, the
> one for PCP is that of scientific psychology.
> As I noted in my previous posting, PCP qualifies as a scientific
> to the extent that any other psychology qualifies. However, psychology
> sociology as sciences have dimensions that mathematics and physics do
> and it is important to recognize this in applying the criteria for a
> discipline being a science.
> Many aspects of religion also satisfy the criteria for a science: open,
> critical communities; pragmatic empirical validation; and so on.
> These are rich issues for discussion, and one attraction of PCP is that
> Kelly is precisionist in his treatment of them. He personally was the
> archetype of a scientist and was motivated to develop PCP precisly
> he was dis-satisfied with the scientific foundations of the
> of his time. PCP is as much a model for doing psychology as it is a
> psychology in its own right.
> b.
> Dr Brian R Gaines Knowledge Science Institute
> University of Calgary
> Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
> 403-220-5901 Fax:403-284-4707