The new and the known

new and known

Some have criticised the notion of reflection as ‘reinforcing beliefs’ as we never truly think outside of the box. My take on this is that it is true, we never think outside of what we already know [naturally] but by focussing enquiry on the underlying premises of our beliefs we can begin to understand and reason/rationalise beliefs that are not accurately aligned with the real world and we can do so by bringing different knowledge schemas to bear on these beliefs to render a ‘different perspective’ on the assumptions that underlie our worldviews. The problem with the conception that reflection reinforces beliefs is that until recently enquiry hasn’t narrowed the possibilities for what reflection might actually be. However, by understanding reflection as a cognitive process involved in bringing ideas together to create new insight and operationalised by cycles of expressing and re/evaluating ideas [allied to Habermas’ communicative action theory] we can begin to see that reflection should ideally bring together the known to construct new perspectives on existing knowledge and understanding. The notion of ‘reinforcing beliefs’ indicates a process that has not rendered new insight in relation to one’s beliefs or involves confirmatory information that is biased. An effective reflective process should be focussed enough to understand the premises of existing beliefs [not simply involve one in process or content reflection that might reinforce the status quo. Reflection often needs to dig into the assumptions and this is the hard part of reflection as we need to first identify assumptions and then explore them in detail with a precision that is in my opinion best achieved through exploratory writing that crystalises ideas on paper and makes them ready to explore in light of disparate views and information [thus challenging the status quo rather than reinforcing it].