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A constructivist attempts to talk to the field

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This paper is a review of Arthur Roberts' 1999 article 'The field talks back: an essay on constructivism and experience.' (British Gestalt Journal, 8, No. 1, pp. 35-46). In reviewing Roberts' article I am engaging in philosophical critique of his basic terms - 'the field' and 'experience' - which are foundational to his view of Gestalt psychotherapeutic theory. He also addresses, but only to dismiss, 'constructivism' - with which he seems to have an ambivalent relationship. In order to carry out my review, I also describe the wider philosophical context within which Roberts' views are implicitly embedded and in which constructivism is located, namely, metaphysical and realist epistemologies. This wider context demonstrates the profound differences between other epistemologies and a constructivist approach to human knowledge and the knowing process. Likewise I try, briefly, to locate 'experience' in current research, feminist perspectives and the philosophy of mind. My main criticism is of the way in which Roberts shifts from 'belief' to 'fact', and the net result is a serious indictment of his failure to engage in the complexities of both philosophical and psychological debates as these are currently being vigorously and widely conducted. Finally, I make some (idealistic?) suggestions of principle about the challenge to construct a new 'democratic' psychotherapeutic model.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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