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Adaptations of Heuristic Research (by Hiles, 2001)

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 @ 4:25 pm
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Posted in  Heuristics, Methodology

I came accross this article by Dave Hiles, titled Heuristic Inquiry and Transpersonal Research (to view full document, click here). He comments on the book of Braud & Anderson (about transpersonal research methods) that I have read before and proposes certain adaptations he has made to the model and applied to his own research. He has a description that simplifies many concepts and presents useful tables (especially the one around the tensions in the study of grounded – subtle human experiences). Particularly around arguing in favour of research needed around ‘human science’, he states:

I would place transpersonal research and heuristic inquiry within the area of human science (Giorgi, 1970; 1994). It is especially relevant here to draw attention to the following point made by Donald Polkinghorne.

“Human science seeks to know the reality which is particularly our own, the reality of our experience, actions, and expressions. This realm is closest to us, yet it is most resistant to our attempt to grasp it with understanding. Because of the success we have had knowing the world around us, the human realm has expanded its power to such an extent that we can act to create wellbeing and physical security and comfort and to inflict untold suffering and destruction. Serious and rigorous re-searching of the human realm is required.”
                                                                                           Polkinghorne (1983, p. 280-1)

Polkinghorne’s plea for a serious and rigorous “re-searching of the human realm” is exactly the point I wish to make. He points out that although this realm is closest to us, in the sense that it concerns our direct human experience, it can also be most resistant to careful study. He warns that the imbalance between our efforts in the natural science approach, at the expense of human science, may be a contributory factor in the untold suffering and destruction that seems to be ever present in the modern psyche. I remember that Carl Jung expressed very much the same idea when he observed that “the future of humankind is held by a single thread, the human psyche.” There is no more urgent topic to research than the human realm of experience, action and expression, especially the significant and exciting life events and the extraordinary experiences these can entail.

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