The Gestalt Social Scientist
A gestalt social scientist is a person that has dedicated his or her life to learning about and making societies better. To accomplish this, the scientist must have knowledge from reading, academic coursework, and learning from practical experiences regarding issues in the broad scope of social sciences. Societies functions as an interrelated, dynamic whole. Such a scientist examines a society from a holistic point of view, taking into account interrelated factors from all the social sciences in identifying improvement opportunities and approaches.
As mentioned earlier, in some ways a society functions something like a chess game. A successful player knows that, when made, a move may look like a masterful stroke, but it may be the move that ultimately leads to the loss of the game. Such a move may not have taken into account all possible factors that might make it right or wrong.
Like a chess game, a scientist understands that one change in a society will cause other factors to change also. These factors can involve the full scope of the science academic fields, including psychology (e.g. resistance to change), geography, anthropology, political science, economics, art, literature, and so on. The scientist’s objective is to bring about changes that will make the whole of society better without creating new problems that did not previously exist.
To become a successful gestalt social scientist, it is necessary to have a broad scope of academic preparation in all of the social studies. He or she will be committed to a lifetime of reading from a variety of sources in all of the social sciences. An important capability that must be developed involves being able to weight the value of conflicting published information. For example, does an author only include selected information, leaving out important facts with the intent of presenting a biased point of view?
In doing academic research the scientist must gather data dealing with a broad scope of related issues. He or she must pursue beyond simple, one-factor findings, attempting to determine why the factors exist. For example, a one-factor finding may be that conflict exists between different groups within a society. But this does not reveal why the conflict exists. What is the history of the problem? What psychological factors are involved? What possible approaches can be developed to eliminate the conflict? And, of course, there will be different points of view among scholars regarding the causes of the problem and possible improvement approaches.
The gestalt social sciences community should seek truth, as the ancient Greeks did, through public dialogues, in which two scholars speak in a forum. A third person presents the selected question to the audience and acts as a time-keeper. During a dialogue, scholars have two opportunities to present differing points of view regarding a question. If a two-hour dialogue session is selected, each scholar has two 15-minute opportunities to speak. First a scholar presents his or her point of view on the question and then the other speaks. The first speaker speaks again and then the second. Following the two sets of talking opportunities, the floor is open to questions and answers as moderated by the third person.
© Joseph L. Bass, EdD, May 2020