Developing the Horizons of the Mind: Relational and Contextual Reasoning and the Resolution of Cognitive Conflict

By K. Helmut Reich | Go to book overview

Introduction

The main purpose of this monograph is to present the findings of fifteen years of continuous research on a particular postformal form of thought, namely, 'Relational and Contextual Reasoning' (RCR). RCR is particularly helpful when one seeks to co-ordinate two or more competing theories about the same phenomenon or issue. An example of usefully applying RCR would be when one is debating whether to attribute an outstanding athletic or artistic performance to native endowment or to training. RCR will clarify the extent to which the two kinds of explanations are needed, bring out any links between them, and elucidate the respective explanatory potential in the context considered.

Secondary aims of the monograph are (a) to stimulate further study of RCR, (b) to demonstrate its potential for solving particular problems better than other forms of thought, and (c) to encourage use of RCR and its broader application. Given these main and secondary aims, arranging the material in a coherent manner was not obvious, apart from (c), to which Part II is devoted. Considerations (b) were finally moved to a later chapter (Chapter 5), to be presented after the main aim and secondary aim (a) are met.

The research on relational and contextual reasoning to be reported was originally triggered by the following observation. Whereas many adolescents espouse either a religious or a scientific world view when trying to understand what goes on around and inside them, some manage to 'combine' both views in some fashion. The question that intrigued me was, 'How do they do it?' The answer I came to after looking at other possibilities was that those adolescents use relational and contextual reasoning, a term that I adopted after other trials for reasons to be discussed below. Before I fully reached that insight, however, I had first to work my way through theories of reasoning already proposed.

Until the 1970s, Piagetian formal operations were considered by many researchers to be the high end of individual development of reasoning. The label formal operations indicates that certain formalisms have been developed by an individual which can be used for solving a class of problems

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Developing the Horizons of the Mind: Relational and Contextual Reasoning and the Resolution of Cognitive Conflict
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Figures x
  • Tables xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Theory of Relational and Contextual Reasoning (rcr) and Its Empirical Study 9
  • 1 - Introduction 11
  • 2 - Development of Rcr 25
  • 3 - Metaphysical Assumptions and Theory of Rcr 35
  • 4 - Empirical Studies of Rcr 47
  • 5 - Other Thought Forms and Matching Them to the Problem at Hand 75
  • Part II - Applications of Rcr 100
  • Overview 101
  • 6 - Methodology 103
  • 7 - Religion 116
  • 8 - The Archaeology of Rcr 133
  • 9 - Psychology 145
  • 10 - Education 157
  • 11 - Social Issues 165
  • 12 - Conclusions 185
  • Appendix 1 - Interviewing Techniques 191
  • Appendix 2 - Scoring Manual for Rcr 194
  • References 199
  • Index 219
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