Re: Constructivism,constructs, + Kellians

Thu, 13 Jun 1996 23:06:22 -0600 (CST)

Gary Blanchard recently responded to my post on science, religion and pcp
by stating:

[Finally, I note that you have supplied no evidence to disprove my claim,
only your general opinion. This, plus your follow-up comments about
religion, raises questions in my mind if you are speaking as a fellow
investigator, following the facts wherever they lead, or if you have more
of a personal orientation to this matter.]

Gary, let me respond:

I would not deny that I have a "personal orientation" on this matter.
My contention, however, would be that so do you and every other actively
construing creature out there. While I do believe that the methods of
empircial science certainly have much utility and merit, I am struck by
the tenor and tone of your response to my post. You seem to be espousing
a form of logical positivism that removes you as a subjective voice
involved with the science you carry out. Certainly you have as much a
personal orientation towards the material being discussed as any one else
involved in the discussion, no? Or does the cloak of objective science
make the scientist immune to all kinds of personal involvement in the scientific process? Mustn't you choose/create the hypotheses you test,
and in so doing are you not personally involved? Aren't you required to
operationalize your theoretical concepts in order to measure them, and
thus are you not personally involved? Do you not draw conclusions from
the data you collect, and thus are you not personally involved? Don't you
accept, a priori, certain assumptions on which the entire enterprise of
scientific inquiry is based? Cannot science be a religion insofar as
those of us who carry it out experience a certain faith in its methodologies?

Gary, you follow up by saying:

[I mean no disrespect; please do not take offense. I hope you can see
why I would raise that question, and I will welcome your response, if you
care to make one. I am just on the alert for what your underlying theory
or paradigm might be, to respond as you have. Presumably, my paradigm is
quite clear: classical current science methodology (short version).]

I appreciate your being on the alert for my underlying theory or paradigm.
I appreciate your acknowledging the paradigm you are currently using.
Do you not have a personal investment in this paradigm? Does having
such an investment necessarily negate the utlity that paradigm might offer
all of us in terms of gathering data to analyze and from which we can
propose further hypotheses?

Gary, you then state:

[Now that is interesting: who construed/constructed/said that I
intended or displayed a "bias against those deemed 'religious'" and "hero
worship of those deemed 'scientific?"
My point was simply to locate the basis of Prof. Kelly's claims in one
field or the other. Where did this interpretation of 'bias' and 'hero
worship' emanate from? I think I know... but then again, I have learned
to reach for other types of exercise than jumping to conclusions.
Perhaps you would comment...did I trigger you into that reaction?]

I have to admit. The above feels to me very much like a form of
ad hominem argument. Are you implying that I am a hero worshipper and
that George Kelly is my God? How does this advance your argument? I
was talking generally about those scientisits (and I have known quite a
few) who utterly dismiss religion or faith (which, of course, is not
limited to faith in religion) while never examining the zealous and
righteous way that they go about collecting "facts" that then become
impervious to challenge. Perhaps this would have been clearer had
referred to the worship of objective "facts" rather than the worship of
those deemed scientific. I apologize for any confusion. Scientists
adhering to logical positivism need not be zealous and righteous, but
IMHO, any followers of a paradigm that purports to discover objective
and singular "truth" need to always be careful not to become dogmatists.

While I acknowledge that I currently believe (or, have faith) in
constructivism as a whole, I hope that I do so in a way that acknowledges
constructivism as a theory, not reality. I apply constructivist theory
to give me a map by which I can chart experience. I don't feel that I
must only view the world from a constructivist framework. Sometimes I
even try on the logical positivist paradigm, as I often find it useful.
Does this make all my claims to knowledge utterly spurious? I hope not.
My hope is that we all bring our unique constructions of science and
knowledge to the table, and that we all benefit from the dialogue,
and subsequent reconstructions of science and knowledge, that result.



Jonathan D. Raskin, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37209-1561
tel (615) 963-5158
fax (615) 963-5140
e-mail: raskinj@HARPO.TNSTATE.EDU