Reflexivity reconsidered :a Wittgensteinian approach to the self-referentiality of psychology and persons. (1999)
AuthorsSullivan, Gavin B.show all
The concept of reflexivity is important to many philosophical and theoretical positions on psychology and plays a central role in studies of people's private, personal and emotional experiences. Social constructionists, for example, emphasize both the self-referentiality of psychology and persons in their attempts to produce new, challenging and creative forms of social scientific knowledge. However, despite the metatheoretical insights and practical discoveries of social constructionism, in the two parts of this thesis it is argued that issues surrounding the respective notions of psychological reflexivity and personal reflexivity need to be reconsidered. Part 1 provides a critical survey of issues connected with the notion of reflexivity in psychology such as the limits and consequences of reflexive studies. The framework for this reconsideration of psychological reflexivity is derived from a detailed examination of the later philosophy of Wittgenstein (1953). Despite similarities between Wittgenstein's philosophy and reflexive work in psychology, it is argued that his methods and remarks can only continue to contribute to psychology if they retain an "outside" status. Part 2 builds upon this understanding of Wittgenstein's enduring relevance to critical studies of psychological phenomena by engaging with Rosenberg's (1990) ostensibly reasonable theory of personal reflexivity and emotion. An account of the uniquely human potential for thoughts and actions to be focused self-referentially on cognitive and bodily components is achieved through a comprehensive Wittgenstein-inspired, conceptual-discursive survey of pride. The result is a detailed example of the relevance and limits of Wittgenstein's later philosophy to multidisciplinary studies of the discursive practices in which people control, embellish, endure and, in some respects, create their own and others' emotions.