Revisiting Lewin’s conflict between Aristotelian and Galileian modes of thought in psychology
It is argued that generalization in psychology is a creative, interpretative, and reflective act of thought, by accessing a higher level of abstraction from meaningful events. In the context of clarification of this claim, a fresh look at Lewin’s argumentation about the “Aristotelian” and “Galileian” epistemologies will be useful. Lewin’s ideas illuminate the contemporary debate about individual cases, lawfulness, and theory in psychology. Finally, it is demonstrated how Lewin’s reasoning can still provide the ground for theoretical reflection in psychology. This science is indeed still facing some relevant epistemological problems, unwilling to abandon the essentialist and reductionist concept of the “average,” and confronting an equal challenge of achieving a scientific status without sacrificing its humanistic dimensions. Consequently, Lewin’s theoretical discussion on epistemology in psychology can provide a relevant starting point to foster contemporary reflexivity in psychology. Scientific method provides conceptual artifacts, constraints, and norms of sharing that enable this particular type of sense-making process.
Theory and Psychology, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 4, p. 518-536