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Emerging Challenges For Theory And Psychology

Kenneth J. Gergen

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With the waning of empiricist foundationalism, theoretical commitments become a focus of critical concern. For psychologists, the post-empiricist shift presents challenges of immense scope and significance for future inquiry. For purposes of centering further dialogue, this article outlines five major challenges for a theoretically sophisticated psychology. First, because concepts of knowledge rest on assumptions about human functioning, psychologists should take an active role in exploring successors to empiricism. Realism and constructionism are among the most prominent candidates; others remain for critical contrast and comparison. Second, attention is invited to the cultural contexts favoring or inimical to various theoretical standpoints. Third, self-reflexive analyses are encouraged, not only in terms of isolating unspoken but implicit ideology, but as well in assessing the conceptual and rhetorical properties of various theoretical commitments. Fourth, there is now an opening to bold adventures in theorizing, and to the comparison of contemporary views with those existing in other cultures and historical periods. Finally, contemporary debate challenges psychologists to explore the literary constraints and potentials of psychological intelligibilities.