Science, Medicine and Culture, Festschrift for Fritz C. Wallner; Published by Peter Lang, Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften; Edited by Martin J. Jandl and Kurt Greiner
Author: Michael Noah Weiss
1. Strangification: Self-reflection as scientific method
Constructive Realism (CR) is a philosophy of science that does not want to dictate to scientists how to define or to practice science (see Wallner, 1992a: 19f). Its intention is to enable scientists to reflect on themselves and their work. In short: CR offers a service for selfreflection in science (see Pellert, in: Wallner 1992a: 83f) What do we understand by >service for self-reflection? CR wants to motivate scienlists to leave their familiar terrain/their discipline in order to switch along with their familiar methodological constructs into new and unfamiliar contexts (see Wallner, 1992a: 95). By doing so, they will gain new knowledge about themselves and (heir ways of practising science. la metaphorical terms, a scientist travels into a strange country with a strange culture. There the scientist becomes conciouis of the familiar within the unfamiliar: he or she starts to reflect on himself/herself and his/her personal and scientific settings (see Greiner, in: Greiner and Wallner, 2003: 83f).
CR calls this method Strangification: the method of strangification represents a method of selfreflection, in so far as It reveals new perspectives about the scientist and his/her (scientific) context (see Greiner, in: Greiner and Wallner, 2003: 59). As a consequence strangification implies therapeutical elements:
Strangification does not want a scientist to run along linear lines with the aim to get to know pans of the world better (see Wallner, 2002: 210f). On the contrary, it enables him/her to take a halt to reflect on himsef/herself as well as the taken way. The method of selfreflection as a service of CR consists in a wide range of selfimages and potentialities for acting (see Peilen, ia: Wallner, 19&2a: 830. As a result he/she can tread new and unknown paths.
2. Selfreflection: knowledge as mediation
Knowledge produced by Strangification has nothing to do with the discovery of truth w the so-called >given world<, >Knowing< in CR means inventing realities (sec Weiss, 2004:20f). »Reality is understood as the domain which Is the result of a processes of constructions.«(see Wallner, 1992a: 94) There is no immediate in-sight in the given world- The given world cannot be seen as it really is (see Wallner, 2002: 242Q- la CR there does not exist a relation between the given world and reality (see Wallner, 1992a: 41). The only way to gain knowledge lies in strangification and strangification is mediation (see Wallner, 1992a: 95).
2.1 Medusa's mirror
As a result of this process of strangification, the new context now serves as a kind of mirror. It is open to scientists to reflect themselves and their realities. Metaphorically speaking, the new context can be compared to the Medusa's mirror: nobody was able to look at this Greek mythological monster's face without beeing transformed into stonerand consequently die (see Le Van, 1996). It looked as if each attempt to kill her was going to fail until Perseus entered the stage. To his advantage he gained the support of Athene and her shield. Using it as a mirror she caught the monster's reflection. Consequently Perseus had no need to look into Medusa's face directly; so it was easy for him to behead her.
Where can we find the connection between this legend and the method of strangification? Therefore it is important to refer to Medusa as a goddess representing the world of nature (see Le Van, 1996). She symbolizes the earth with its elements and its everlasting rhythme of emerging and ceasing. Nobody is able to see the world as it is, nobody can know the given world. Only with the help of a mirror it can be harnessed. In relation to this aspect CR too claims that there does not exist an immediated insight into the given world (see Wallner, 2002: 242f). The myth stands for a switch of contexts as well: Athene's shield can be used as a mirror for mediation; due to the method of reflection it now becomes possible to work with the immediate. But it is not possible to compare the immediate with the mediated world as there is no way to look into Medusa's face directly.
Anyway, there is no need to see how far the immediate is identical with the mediated. Attempts of this kind would lead to permanent uncertainty (see Puntel, 1993: 142f). It is fare more important that reflection reveals something. The domain of selfknowledge clearly shows that there is no direct relation between immediacy and mediation: With my eyes I can see, but I am not able to look into my face. Only with the help of a mirror this becomes possible. Selfknowledge creates the need of a new context making strangification (of myself) possible. Once again the mirror-metapher symbolizes the following: selfknowledge means to reflect oneself on something else. Consequently there is a need for contexts to carry out selfreflection. But which contexts can be of use? Basically each context, like each mirror can be applied in order to see oneself in it.
For the defeat of Medusa, Perseus used a shield; he could also have used a pocketmirror for doing so. In other words: if you want to fly you can use a Concord or a Paraglider. The decisive moment is that something must be used -human beings are not able to fly without anything, they have to apply some tools. A tool like a Paraglider or Concord for flying should be called medium.
2.2 MEDIAL REFLECTION
A mirror is a medium making it possible to look myself into the face. In this way all sorts of contexts are media helping to realize selfreflection. Selfreflection without a medium is not possible - there is no immediate selfreflection (see Wallner 2002: 242f). Selfreflection is a form of >medial self-knowledge< (in German: Mediale Selbsterkenntnis<) (Weiss, 2004: 46) therefore this process will be called MEDIAL REFLECTION in the following.
3. Mirrors of self-reflection
MEDIAL REFLECTION is a method, which enables anyone to reflect on himself/herself. Based on the method of strangification, the variety of contexts in which MEDIAL REFLECTION can be practiced should now be pointed out.
The question >What does this mean to me?< can be asked about anything imaginable and is accompanied by the expectation of a useful answer. But you need not assume that the answer to such a question gives information about the nature of the thing, the situation or the statement. What it does is to provide information about the person who answers (see Wittgenstein, 1996: 66f). The answer of the question >What does the Medusa-myth mean to me?< says less about the myth itself, but more about my interpretation and attitudes towards it. In short: the answer to that question provides knowledge about me and my beliefs (see Wallner, 1992a: 95). Another example should illustrate this issue: >What does spirituality mean to me?<: My answer to that question makes my attitudes towards this topic obvious. Now we assume that somebody let us call him >X<, answers this question with: >To me, spirituality means: life after death<. This would mean that >X< believes in a life after death. X's belief in life after death got transparent through the question about spirituality. >X< could also ask >What does money mean to me?<; and answer: >Money means something negative to me<. This statement does not give any information about money as an object of exchange. It far more reveals X's attitudes/believes towards money. (It will probably not be easy for X to get a lot of money due to the fact that he places little value on it.)
3.1 >Therapeutical< implications on MEDIAL REFLECTION
UP to now this exposition should have shown that really everything, even the
smallest sandcorn, can be used to reflect oneself on it (see Wallner, 1992a: 95). In this way, an endless variety of contexts and media for selfreflection arises. The result is a growing realization of believes. What happens, if I do not like some of my beliefs at all? What, if some of my beliefs are more obstructive than constructive?
Before answering, it has to be said that personal beliefs, attitudes and settings can be called >structurings of phenomena, (in German: >Strukturierungen von Phänomenen< (Wallner, 2002: 31). This means, phenomena are edited in a specific way. The process of editing can be called formulating beliefs Let us go back to the assumption of money as something negative: it may be possible that >X< wants to gain prosperity. But his attitude concerning money does not allow him to get wealthy. Now there are two possibilities: either >X< disclaims prosperity or he changes his attitude. A change in attitude would mean that >X< restructures one of his beliefs. Successful restructuring means that a personal, thoug problematic attitude has been changed by MEDIAL REFLECTION >X< will now answer the question >What does money mean to me?< differently. In this way the method of MEDIAL REFLECTION and therefore the method of strangification can be defined as >therapeutical< methods: they supply the potentionalities for per sonal transformation and individual development.
4. PSYQ®: a possible context for MEDIAL REFLECTION
The so-called PSYQ® method was developed by Linda Roethlisberger, the head ofTRILOGOS - a Swiss institute dealing with development of personality and consciousness training (see www.trilogos.ch or: Roethlisberger, 1999, 2000; Gissrau 2002: 48f). One of the main issues of this specific training is individual development, by selfreflection. With the help of Roethlisberger's method we will now examine the contexts that are used to perform selfreflexion in accordance to MEDIAL REFLECTION. The basic elements of the PSYQ® are formed by following three different contexts:
IQ | Intelligence quotient (>What do I think?<)
EQ | Emotional quotient (>What do I feel?<)
SQ | Spiritual quotient (>What do I believe?<)
(see Roethlisberger, 2000: 65f)
In this model self-reflection is performed within the mirrors of personal thinking, feeling and believing. What is more, selfreflection is performed with a technique called >visualisation< based on the method of katathym imaginative psychotherapy: During visualisation symbols are produced, which are once again seen and used as mirrors for selfreflection2 (see Roethlisberger, 1999: 149). The aim of visualisation, one method within the broader context of medial mentaltraining (= psyQ®training), is conscious dreaming (see Roethlisberger, 1999: 140f). This conscious dreaming with its imagined, intuitively, and inspiratively percepted symbols is followed by reflection of the symbols' meaning. The major question is >What do these symbols mean to me?<
Now the method of PSYQ®training extends this question to one of the three domains named above. For example: >What does this symbol mean to me concerning my emotions?< or >Which feelings do come up when I reflect this symbol?< - the emotional meaning attributed to a symbol being asked. The result should be a connection to one's everyday life. In this way PSYQ®training implies MEDIAL REFLECTION in a differentiated form. Furthermore it also implies the method of strangification, because various contexts are used as media reflection.
5. PSYQ® as a method of selfreflection for scientists
Which potentials does the PSYQ®training provide for scientists and their scientific work? One presents the following: when a scientist asks >What does science mean to me?<, the answer can now be strangified within the three contexts of PSYQ (IQ + EQ + SQ) (see Roethlisberger, 2000: 65f). The result is a broad horizon, especially due to reflection within the domains of EQ and SQ. This newly gained knowledge influences a scientist in the following ways. On the one band he/she is able to integrate his/her believes and attitudes more and more into his/her scientific work like an artist into his/her art. And on the other hand the scientist can reflect his/her work within the mirror of his/her community3. Concluding, the advantages for science are the following:
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