Re: The scientific status of PCP

Tim A. Connor (
Sat, 15 Jun 1996 23:20:54 -0700 (PDT)

While it is certainly possible for a person to construe science as the
opposite pole from religion, problems do arise because of the
superordinacy of science and religion as constructs. There are a host of
related construct pairs, some of which have been mentioned recently (and
of course, not all would be in everyone's construct system): open to
reconstruction/fixed; validation/belief; reason/faith; observation as
source of truth/authority as source of truth; what my parents believe/what
my professor believes; and many more. Whenever you have such complex
constellations of constructs, you run the risk of encountering experiences
that don't fit well. Consider, for example, the difficulties
anthropologists have had devising a definition of "religion" that will
permit cross-cultural comparisons. There are "religions" without gods,
without priests, etc. There are even religions (usually classed as
"mystical," another interesting construct) that insist that ultimate truth
can be known _only_ through direct personal experience, not through
authority, scripture, or tradition. Some even insist that permanence is
an illusion, only change is real. I don't mean to suggest that Quakerism,
Zen Buddhism, etc. are sciences just because they take an more or less
empirical stance toward spiritual matters. But if we're going to employ
such constructs, we need to be very careful to specify which features
(subordinate constructs) are relevant in the particular case. Science is
often portrayed as unchanging in its methods and assumptions--"The
Scientific Method" was once talked about (in all the schools I went to
before college) as if it were handed down on golden tablets, fixed from
all eternity. Kuhn and others have pretty much demolished that notion,
but its residue persists in the culture. Tricky...


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 Sat, 15 Jun 1996, Rahel Meshoulam wrote:

> The construct religion vs. science is intriguing. What makes a question
> we ask scientific (vs. religious)? Examining the way we conventionally
> use these terms, I believe that the answer is _not_ in the question's
> content. Neither science nor religion owns the question "how was the
> universe created," or "is there God?"
> We refer to a question as "scientific" when we regard the attempted
> answers to the question as open to reconstruction. <stuff deleted>
> We refer to a question as "religious" when we regard the answers we hold
> as fixed and unchanged. <more deletions>
> Uriel Meshoulam
> Cambridge, MA