Re: Intersubjectivity

Travis Gee (
Thu, 1 May 1997 09:06:24 -0400 (EDT)

Bob Green sez:
> Is there AN appropriate/accurate way to construe a text?

Or (to refer back to the cats sub-thread) is there an
accurate/appropriate way to construe behaviour, and how do we
determine this in a falsifiable way?

Of course, if the answer to this is "no" then there is conversely no
*in*appropriate way to construe a text, either, and all of these

> ... to take things out of context, miss cultural or historical
> allusions, lack specialist knowledge and read into text meaning the author
> did not intend, assuming the author was aware of their intention.

aren't really errors at all, but merely stylistic differences in
the individual's manner of construing. You

> ... would agree that people can construe in a characteristic way, but <are>
> unsure about it being a matter of being preordained. This would seem to me
> to be the basis of the argument, that our world view creates us. For change
> to exist we must also be able to create our world view.

This is quite correct. Transactions with the environment are
intrinsically bidirectional phenomena, and this is why Kelly's
approach is so important. Repgrids tap into both the environment and
the individual's construction of it, and allow empirical answers to
the question of stylistic differences in construing. However, Kelly
was always careful to point out that some constructions are more
productive than others in allowing us to predict the world, and this
implies that we *can* define "appropriate" as something like "leading
to better predictions." This fixes the construal relative to the
actual behavior of the object being construed, and allows us some
degree of objective reality. Thus, to return to your question:

> Is there AN appropriate/accurate way to construe a text?

I think that Kelly would say that some are more appropriate than
others, especially in certain contexts. For example, construing your
post as a collection of electrons dancing on my screen might be poetic
and metaphorical computer-age imagery, but unless I invoke my
alphabetical constructs and my English lexicon-structs ;> I can't
make sense of anything posted by anyone!

Now to falsifiability, I'm *not* sure that there's a way to do this in
classical PCP fashion, because we're dealing with a *person* who must
make a prediction about the world, and all we can do as psychologists
is watch to see if the person is happy with the results or needs to
revise the ol' construct system. We cannot compare the result of the
prediction to the result of a different prediction based on a
different construal of the situation, because the person will be able
to act *once* on *one* prediction. We can argue until we are blue in
the face about what *would have* happened under a different course of
action, but this doesn't change the fact that we don't know.


Travis Gee () ()
() () ()()()()
() () ()
() ()()()()()()()()()
"In science, the more we know the more extensive the
contact with nescience." -Spencer

<A><A HREF="">MAIL</A>