[MaFLa] Guenther Fleck: Psychology of Science eloadasai

Ropolyi Laszlo ropolyi at caesar.elte.hu
Fri Dec 9 18:06:05 CET 2011


Kedves Kollégák!

Ajánlom szíves figyelmükbe az alábbi előadássorozatot!

Az előadó és a szervezők minden érdeklődőt örömmel fogadnak.

Üdvözlettel:

Ropolyi László

-------------------------------------------------

Günther Fleck, Ph.D.

Seminar in Psychology of Science

Time: 12-15 December 2011
Venue: BME Filozófia és Tudománytörténet Tanszék, 1111 Bp. Egry József 
utca 1., E épület 6. emelet 612.

Schedule

Monday, 	12th of Dec.:              13.30-15.00 and 15.30-17.00
Tuesday, 	13th of Dec.: 10.30-12.00, 13.30-15.00 and 15.30-17.00
Wednesday, 	14th of Dec.: 10.30-12.00, 13.30-15.00 and 15.30-17.00
Thursday, 	15th of Dec.: 10.30-12.00, 13.30-15.00 and 15.30-17.00


Topics

Monday:
- Psychology of Science - Contributions to Metascience
- Scientific Thinking and its Mental Infrastructure

Tuesday:
- The Rationality of Science
- Passions of the Scientist
- Varieties of Human Relatedness in Scientific Explorations: Impact on 
Knowledge
  Construction

Wednesday:
- Reality Testing and Knowledge Production: A Psychological View of the
Realism-Antirealism Controversy
- Altered States of Consciousness, Scientific Creativity, and Possible 
Benefits
of State-Specific Knowledge
- Participatory Epistemology: Basics, Applications and a Practical 
Introduction

Thursday:
- World Views and the Meaning of Truth: Dogmatic versus Hypothetical
Interpretations
- The Anti-Science Phenomenon: Psychological Roots of Risky Developments
Concerning Science
- Systematic Self-Reflection for Scientists: Transformations of Belief 
Systems


Abstracts

Scientific Thinking and its Mental Infrastructure

In the Western (academic) world scientific thinking is generally viewed as 
the most powerful means to tackle different problems and to find the most 
effective solutions for them. The ability to create good theories in order 
to describe and explain the phenomena is acknowledged as central to 
scientific thinking. Accordingly, a kind of objectivity and pure 
rationalism are attributed to it. But scientific thinking is neither a 
pure cognitive process nor does it take place in an empty space. In this 
chapter it is argued that scientific thinking just like any other normal 
every day type of thinking is to be understood as a cognitive-affective 
process embedded in a mental infrastructure. This thesis will be 
elaborated in detail. Every scientist engaged in constructing a theory (or 
a model or a hypothesis) starts from some kind of pre-knowledge in order 
to formulate his or her first considerations concerning a scientific 
problem. These considerations have to be transformed into a consistent 
pattern so that they are amenable to further elaboration. Scientists have 
their own special theoretical orientation (e.g., a psychodynamic or 
behavioral one in psychology) which constitutes the explicit frame for 
their reasoning, and provides the major components which function as a 
guide for research. But there is something more behind the explicit 
theoretical orientation affecting theory building. Researchers have 
adopted various ways of thinking (e.g., formalistic, mechanistic, 
organismic and contextualist thinking), have developed basic belief 
systems (mindscapes, root metaphors) about how things are (e.g., man as 
machine or man as a living organism), have made decisions in regard to a 
special epistemology (e.g., objectivist or constructivist), have 
demonstrated preferences for a special philosophy of science (e.g., 
positivism, critical rationalism or hermeneutics) and its corresponding 
scientific methodology (quantitative and/or qualitative) and methods 
(e.g., observation, experiment, simulation, biography). These mental 
characteristics of researchers may be conceived and conceptualized as the 
mental infrastructure of theory building. The mental infrastructure is 
characteristic for the individual and reflects his or her cognitive, 
motivational, affective and personality characteristics. The basic 
argument is that every kind of theory building needs an infrastructure of 
this kind which, on the one hand, enables theory building, and on the 
other hand, constrains theory building. Thus, the mental infrastructure of 
theory building represents the basic ingredients of all researchers' 
theorizing. In this chapter an attempt is made to reconstruct these 
ingredients in detail and to render them explicit. This is necessary since 
most scientists most of the time are not aware of their mental 
infrastructure. Becoming aware of it may enable the investigator to 
recognize its impact on one's theorizing. This may be helpful for 
overcoming scientific dead ends and for finding new solutions to problems.


Varieties of Human Relatedness in Scientific Explorations: Impact on 
Knowledge Construction

With very few exceptions human beings are always embedded in some kind of 
social relationship. This is true of both laymen and scientists. Thus, 
skilful personal boundary management in every day life and scientific 
laboratories is required to cope successfully with the various social 
demands. In this paper an attempt is made to provide a framework of human 
relatedness in the context of scientific explorations and its central role 
in knowledge construction. It is argued that knowledge construction cannot 
be grasped as a purely rational process since scientific thinking never 
takes place in emotionally neutral space. Additionally, the kind of 
relationship a scientist creates between his or her research object 
strongly determines the outcome, especially in the human and social 
sciences. Unfortunately, scholars are often not aware of this influence 
and even deny it. Hence, every scientist should become very sensitive to 
his or her scientific relatedness. To do this in a good way one has to 
look at one.s own mode of perception and critically reflect it. Knowledge 
construction has to be understood as the result of the transaction of the 
kind of relatedness of the scientist to his or her research object based 
on his or her perceptual mode.


Reality Testing and Knowledge Production: A Psychological View of the 
Realism-Antirealism Controversy

There are two basic positions in regard to knowledge about the world and 
reality which can be traced as far back as the times of the philosophers 
of ancient Greece. On the one hand, there is the position of those who 
believe that there exists a way of knowing allowing an objective access to 
the structures of the world and reality beyond observation. On the other 
hand, there is the position of those who argue that no such way of 
ontological knowing exists. The former is known as (scientific) realism, 
the latter as antirealism. Both positions provide a lot of good reasons 
for their stance and against the contrary one. From a philosophical point 
of view the disputation seems to be held on a pure rational level. 
However, empirical evidence shows that in (scientific) reasoning emotional 
factors are always involved and that pure rationalism is nothing but a big 
myth. Starting with a psychological analysis of human reality testing 
ability as an important adaptation principle in every day life, an attempt 
is made to identify the implicit emotional factors underlying scientific 
reasoning and co-determining the preferences for epistemological 
positions.


Altered States of Consciousness, Scientific Creativity, and Possible 
Benefits of State-Specific Knowledge

It is argued that there exists a trans-cultural natural trance capacity in 
every human that renders possible the experience of different states of 
consciousness and awareness, regardless of whether they are produced 
spontaneously or voluntarily. These induced altered states of 
consciousness often show not only dramatic alterations in subjective 
experiences, but also include from time to time some kind of knowledge, 
different from our normal day by day knowledge. Since this special kind of 
knowledge often appears only in altered states of consciousness, we will 
refer to it as "state-specific knowledge". In this lecture criticism will 
be levelled against the still often practised stance of interpreting 
knowledge produced by altered states of consciousness as trivial and 
unimportant. Alternatively, an approach regarding knowledge produced by 
altered states of consciousness with special reference to Charles Tart.s 
concept of state-specific sciences as a potentially meaningful resource 
for human development and personal growth will be presented. First, an 
integrative account of altered states of consciousness, states of 
awareness and emerging patterns of experience will be provided. After 
considering the manner in which people induce altered states, the various 
kinds of emerging experiences will be classified into a typology of 
knowledge patterns. Finally, the potentialities of these knowledge types 
to contribute to human development and personal growth will be outlined 
and discussed. Various experiential phenomena and types of knowledge 
produced by altered states of consciousness may function as important 
resources for human development and personal growth. Thus, the devaluation 
of this knowledge is rejected. It depends on the individual's ability to 
critically reflect on the emerging contents of consciousness and to 
integrate them into every life or scientific practice.


World Views and the Meaning of Truth: Dogmatic versus Hypothetical 
Interpretations

Every human being needs a kind of orientation to cope with the challenges 
of life. This general frame, the subjective world view helps to bring 
order into the complexity and variety of events and things. With regard to 
the individual.s world view two basic differences may be distinguished. On 
the one hand, more and more people become able to recognise that their 
personal world views have to be understood as mental constructions 
offering different accesses to reality, and that there doesn.t exist a 
last absolute kind of truth which can be grasped rationally. On the other 
hand, more and more people tend to become convinced that their personal 
world views (e.g., political or religious belief systems) represent the 
absolute truth. This kind of polarisation can be observed all over the 
world, in all cultures and societies and leads to conflicts or even wars. 
It is argued that the preference of dogmatic or hypothetical world views 
with respect to the meaning of truth cannot be understood in a poor 
rational way. In this lecture an attempt is made to reconstruct the 
underlying generating mechanisms being responsible to produce and maintain 
dogmatic or hypothetical meanings of truth.


The Anti-Science Phenomenon: Psychological Roots of Risky Developments 
Concerning Science

In recent years we have been witnessing various movements attacking the 
position of science. These attacks originated in different domains, such 
as political and religious fundamentalism, esotericism, or relativism. 
They all share a more or less radical rejection of science emphasizing 
their own brand of world view as absolute truth. Some of these attacks on 
science (e.g., the New Age Movement) may be considered as a reaction 
against the extreme version of science . scientism. Viewing science as the 
only way of gaining genuine (true) knowledge, scientism has provoked and 
promoted anti-scientific movements. Unsatisfied with the position of 
scientism, even many students and young graduates in the Western culture 
have become susceptible to modern versions of superstition and 
pseudo-science. The obvious side-effects are the loss of the ability of 
critical thinking and the increase of superstitious thinking. This lecture 
offers an attempt to analyse and to understand these movements from a 
psychological perspective.


Systematic Self-Reflection for Scientists: Transformations of Belief 
Systems

Every scientist needs some kind of philosophical orientation to guide his 
or her research intentions and projects. This orientation is based on some 
fundamental assumptions about the world and its phenomena. Assumptions of 
this kind, often called root metaphors, are considered to be largely 
implicit. Thus, most scientists are unaware of their basic belief systems 
in regard to science. Various authors have stressed the function of these 
belief systems as structuring and simultaneously limiting research and 
theory construction. With respect to scientific creativity researchers are 
advised to take an interest in transcending their mental scope, gaining 
new insights into problems and finding new solutions for them. Since root 
metaphors are below the level of conscious awareness it is necessary to 
make some special effort or apply a specific method to render them 
explicit. Such a method, systematic self-reflection, will be presented in 
this paper. Systematic self reflection is regarded as a special way to 
tackle important areas of science systematically, characterized by 
intentionality and regularity. Following a survey of the theoretical 
background, the rationale of systematic self-reflection will be discussed, 
thereby focussing on its goals ("What should be reached via 
self-reflection?"), contents ("What should one reflect about?") and formal 
aspects ("How should one reflect?"). Finally, possibilities and limits of 
systematic self-reflection are considered.
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