Goethean science as a big tent for science and psychology

tent_bigThe idea of a “big tent” in psychology goes like this:  what theory of psychology is sufficiently broad and inclusive so that it could embrace, support, shelter and nurture diverse techniques-methods under a single roof?  A “big tent” is a big idea under which subordinate ideas can gather, identify common ground, find support and engage constructively.

In the 20th century, scores of competing models of the human psyche, each attempted to uncover strong therapeutic direction, what to do with this client in this circumstance.  This intention was healing, even tho many times between models, “the words got in the way.”

Academic psych texts, God bless them, often compounded this problem by comparing and contrasting psychological models.  This emphasized the individuality of each tree in psychology at the cost of a sense of direction and purpose of the whole forest.  This is why Gerald Corey’s Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, latest edition, is so well-respected.  He minimizes the conflict between facets of the field, emphasizing a synthetic and collaborative approach.

It’s September, 2014 now as I write this.  After 45 minutes of search and reading, Mr. Google has convinced me while the topic of a “big tent” in psychology does indeed exist, the issue is no longer of much interest, addressed mostly in brief remarks to build consensus in opening talks at live, in-person, psychological conferences.

I agree, we do not want to return to the 1850s when primitive ideas about the human psyche, where humans fit compared to animals and how humans were or were not “spiritual” resulted in knock-down, drag-out fights and much heated debate.  Looking back, that seems no more productive than many other unnecessary wars fought by men.

Mr. Google persuades me today the foundation on which a big tent for psychology can be erected—if it can be erected—has nothing to do with psychology per se.  It has to do with science.  In psychology we are, it seems, arguing with very different assumptions about science and physics; let alone, metaphysics.

Mr. Google suggests where most thinkers on big tents in psychology get stuck is in defining science.  They want to define science.  They want one science, with these principles, these values and their definition.  They want a one-pointed science as their big tent in science.  Then they attempt to shoe-horn the human psyche into this mental definition of “science.”

Goethe, Steiner and Lehrs have made clear to me how this is simply a hold-over of 19th century scientific-materialism thinking, a materialistic variation of an earlier now-comical “big question,” “how many angels can stand on the head of a pin?”

Goethean Science suggests a natural solution of THREE sciences.  Once I list them, many readers will instantly recognize they use each of three sciences, every day, especially if you are a parent or teach young children.

First order science > cell-level-intelligence > works primarily in the domain of one person, incorporates regard for subjective intention, and all mental-emotional aspects; pre-eminently:  learning,

Second-order science > Cartesian-Newtonian science > domain of true for all people, at all times, all places, under all similar conditions and without regard for subjective intention, mood or feeling,

Third-order Science > Whole-brained thinking:  what is for the greatest good for the greatest number now? > domain of the family, the classroom, local community, nation, Earth.

Since this is a book on self-healing, let’s underline how First Order Science, in the domain of one person, is consistent with the insight of Rudolf Steiner and later holistic practitioners how each person heals somewhat uniquely.

With THREE orders of science, “learning” quickly becomes the focus.  The “what is science?” question people like to fight about recedes.  The question, “Who is learning and about what?” comes forwards

At an earlier point in my own thinking on “what is science?” I came to the conclusion:  ‘science is the asking of useful questions.’  You can do a great deal with such a definition of “science,” especially if you can self-muscle-test.

Re-exposing myself to Goethean Science in 2013-2014, I realize “science” is not defined by just any and all kinds of questions; rather it’s defined by asking “who is learning what?”

Classic Cartesian-Newtonian science, “hard science,” only cares about what new knowledge about the external world.  Let’s make those encyclopedia larger!  Historically, to Cartesian-Newtonian Science, inner worlds of the human psyches are irrational and/or “undefined.”

Goethean Science (GS) is more clear and more balanced on “who is learning what?”  GS cares equally about new environmental knowledge uncovered; as well, it cares what new awarenesses awaken in the experimenter as a result of observation, recording and contemplation.

My question to you, dear reader is, what experiments are you doing recently?  What have you learned about your subject; what have you learned about your self?

Find full discussion of Goethean Science at http://blog.goetheanscience.net

Self-healing was orphaned as a mainstream topic because of the absence of any inclusive “big tent” in science; and therefore, in psychology.

Written by Bruce Dickson

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