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A paper on the history, current status and future prospects of critical psychology in South Africa

The Souls of Black Folk - W.E.B

“This thesis can be summed up in a single, deeply held conviction: that, in science and philosophy alike, an exclusive preoccupation with logical systematicity (sic) has been destructive of both historical understanding and rational criticism. Men demonstrate their rationality, not by ordering their concepts and beliefs in tidy formal structures, but by their preparedness to respond to novel situations with open minds – acknowledging the shortcomings of their previous procedures and moving beyond them” (Preface vii).

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As noted, Winters combined the careers of poet, critic, teacher and scholar despite resistance which he blamed on the ‘romantic’ view of creation. Under the influence of this doctrine, the critic came to be regarded as an inferior being, rather like a teacher who really should be doing something else if only he had the ability to do so. With this low regard for critics and commentators went the idea that the poet is set apart from the common herd, divorced from the mundane problems of the world and devoted to a special kind of communication that is only accessible to equally enlightened folk. Winters would have none of that. For him, creative literature and poetry are extensions of ordinary language, perhaps distinguished by a high level of skill and precision in achieving certain effects, but not set apart on the other side of a great divide. He also detested pure theory, divorced from the practical task of crafting words into poetry.

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He concluded that the strong formulation involving paradigms and revolutions was designed for effect, to “shock the sensibilities” of the bourgeoisie like avant garde art. In response to criticism Kuhn had to water down the amount of change required for an episode to count as a revolution until the “mini revolutions” became so small and localized that he was left with the fairly familiar old idea that there is constant change in different parts of a vigorous field. Sometimes there is a much larger change (Copernicus-Kepler-Galileo-Newton and later Einstein) which has more far-reaching effects but the transition is not rapid or irrational and large areas of the discipline (not to mention science at large) are hardly perturbed by the process.

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