The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe in it willingly. — Wallace Stevens
What an extraordinary statement. It seems to shatter all of our firm convictions that there is truth in the world and that what we should believe is based in a clear sense of truth and reality. But is this really the case? Is Stevens telling us something that rings true, especially as we enter the third decade of the 20th Century.
We would suggest that our own field, psychology is one of the “fictions” of which Stevens speaks. It is a fiction which can be of great value to society if used in a wise and skillful manner and if used with full knowledge that it is only one of many fictions that help inform the complex human condition. Furthermore, it is a fiction that should be fully aligned with the volatity (V), uncertainty (U), complexity (C), ambiguity (A), turbulence and contradictions (VUCA-Plus) of mid-21st Century life.
Edge of Knowledge projects are at various phases in their planning, execution and completion. We have labeled each project with regard to one of four phases:
This project is currently being planned, with appropriate vision, purposes and resources being identified.
This project is now underway, with 1 to 5 published essays/reports.
This project have now produced 6 or more essays, one or more books, and even compilation of the multiple documents aligned with this project. Projects at this phase will often be assigned their own website page (or multiple pages) with a link to the home page of this project being provided on this site.
This project has come to an end having realized its vision and fulfilled many of its identified purposes.
At the present time, projects being offered under the Edge of Knowledge umbrella include three that are aligned with the emerging perspective of positive psychology. These are the Appreciation Project, the Hope project and the Freedom project.
This project, in various forms, has been operating at the heart of The Professional School of Psychology for many years — since the books written by David Cooperrider and his colleagues were first published during the 1990s. The appreciative perspective, as we coin it, has served as the guiding principle for PSP programs focusing on Professional Coaching and Organizational Consulting.
This perspective has also served at the base for:
William Bergquist’s Creating the Appreciative Organization (soon to be published in its second edition).
Appreciation is also a central theme in
Bergquist and Mura’s consultbook (currently only available as part of coach-based consulting certification program)
Following are articles produced by members of the PSP community from this appreciative perspective:
The studies related to hope have been engaged at PSP, like those related to appreciation, have been going on for more than a decade — the studies ranging from exploration of utopian communities in California (and the powerful emotions and often violent acts associated with the betrayal of utopian ideals and images) to consideration of how hope impacts on the recovery from major life-threatening illnesses.
Currently, four essays on hope have been published in the Library of Professional Psychology. Two of these essays concern the role played by Hope in social systems:
Two other essays concern the role played by Hope in the facilitation of health:
An additional essay provides us with several cautionary notes about Hope:
The Freedom Project began with the enrollment of Ants Parktahl (who had just escaped from the Soviet Union during its collapse in the early 1990s). After completing his Masters Degree at PSP, Ants returned to his home country of Estonia (newly liberated) to establish the first free-standing graduate school of psychology in the former Soviet states. Having invited several of the PSP faculty and administrators to Estonia (including President Bergquist), Ants provided PSP with the opportunity to witness the emergence of freedom — with all of its opportunities and challenges–in newly liberated countries.
From these experiences in Estonia, Bergquist wrote (with a colleague in Hungary) a published book called Freedom which engaged the notions about freedom articulated by Erich Froom (in Escape from Freedom and The Sane Society). Bergquist revisited his original assessment of liberation in Estonia (and elsewhere in the world in more recent years) and has prepared a series based on this reassessment. Other essays on freedom have been written by PSP students from other countries (including China) and from diverse perspectives.
Following are the essays already published in the Library of Professional Psychology:
Six of the essays begin the reexamination of the observations about freedom offered by Bergquist during the early 1990s
One of the essays (soon to be three) addreses the issue of “true freedom”, making use of tools and perspectives offered by diverse psychological, sociological, political and economic theorists and practitioners:
One of the essays about freedom comes from the observation of freedom in present-day China:
Three projects are now being engaged that relate to the collective behavior of people–especially as they address challenges inherent in mid-21st Century life. These are the Relationship project, the Organizational Intervention project, and the Cross-Cultural Project.
Five initiatives have been engaged in conjunction with this inquiry into the nature of intricate and changing interpersonal relationships. Three of these initiatives have been completed. The other two are either underway or are expected to be launched within the coming two months.
The New Johari Window initiative: builds on the original Johari Window prepared by Joe Luft, the new version expands on the original single pane window with a second pane. It also incorporates recent social psychological and neuro-biological studies and theories regarding interpersonal relationships. This book is available in digital form and has been given away at no charge on LPC. Currently, more than 1,300 people have downloaded this digital book. [Phase Four]
The Tin Man initiative: has led to production and publication of four essays that are published in LPP. Making use of Frank Baum’s story of the Wizard of Oz (as portrayed in the MGM movie) and focusing on the challenge of oiling the joints of the rusted Tin Man and healing his heart, these four essays concern the work done by Wilhelm Reich and Moshe Feldenkrais, two controversial figures in the fields of clinical psychology and physical therapy. Both of these men have offered challenging perspectives regarding the interplay between the human body and psyche. [Phase Four]
The Sustained Relationship Midst Differences initiative: has led to production and publication of five essays that are published in LPP. These essays feature the remarkable way in which people from three completely different eras and walks of life have dealth with major differences in their relationships with other people, yet have preserved important relationships with these people: the Bach family, Abraham Lincoln, and Carol Gilligan. The final two essays addressed the broader issue of collaboration and interdependence. [Phase Four]
The Friendship Project: will soon be underway making use of findings from several recent studies of friendship patterns. [Phase One]
Close Encounter of a New Type: this is a planned book that will bring together products of the Tin Man, Sustained Relationship and Friendship initiatives couched in the VYCA-Plus environment of mid-21st Century life. [Phase One]
Two projects are associated with the focus at PSP on health psychology. These are the Pathways to Sleep project and the Four Tier Analysis project.
The Pathways to Sleep Inventory (PSI) has been completed by more than 200 people.. Those taking PSI reviewed more than 70 pathways to more successful sleep. A series of essays have been and are being prepared based on the four major clusters of sleep pathways: (1) healthy life habits, (2) preparation for sleep, (3) sleep environments and (4) sleep-inducing substances. Additional essays have been published and will be published in the near future concerning broader issues regarding quality of sleep. These essays concern such matters as multiple sleep segments and breathing during sleep.
A series of essays are being prepared and posted in LPP that concern different approaches to the interpretation of dreams. Each essay begins with one or more dreams that have been recalled by the dreamer (or retrieved in a dream laboratory), following by one or more interpretations of the dream–its potential meaning and function.
Essays from the Pathways to Sleep and Perspective on Dreams Project will be brought together as a book that provides guidance regarding attaining high quality sleep and gaining useful interpretations of dreams that occur during sleep. All of this will be engaged on behalf of the “collateral” life we live every night when we fall asleep.
Three essays have been published based on a four-tier framework for provision of health-based coaching and health psychology services. These four tiers are: (1) treatment, (2) amelioration, (3) prevention and (4) advocacy.
Following the preparation of these essays, a full book called Pathways to Health was prepared by Christy Lewis, Kendell Munzer and William Bergquist. As Editors of this book, Lewis, Munzer and Bergquist selected essays that had been prepared by members of the PSP Global Communiy that relate to one or more of the four tiers.
Finally, the Edge of Knowledge has established an institute that is both quite new and quite old. For many years, members of the Professional School of Psychology community have been at the forefront in publishing articles and books and conducting education and training programs that focus on professional coaching. In recent years, however, a new focus has emerged: how might various professions (such as those in health care, judicial systems and management) make more effective use of psychological concepts and strategies — and specifically those concepts and strategies associated with personal and organizational coaching. The Institute for the Stud of Coaching and the Professions (ISCAP) has been established to sustain both the tradition of stewardship of the coaching profession and the new attention to the interplay between this profession and many other professions that play a significant role in 21st Century societies.
A series of reports have been prepared and are currently being prepared that convey and interpret results from two version of a questionnaire that was initially prepared by the Development of Coaches Research Collaborative in cooperation with the Collaborative Research Network of the Society for Psychotherapy Research. The initial survey was completed in 2009 by 153 coaches from throughout the world. The second version, distributed in 2015, was based on the first (with only minor editing changes) by the Library of Professional Coaching in cooperation with ITLCInsights. Fifty eight coaches provided responses to the second questionnaire — yielding a total of 211 responses to the two surveys.
While this study did not yield a large sample, given the many professional coaching practitioners now operating throughout the world, it is one of the first studies to provide data related to the ongoing practices and development of coaches. A first step has been taken, through this project, in moving toward a culture of evidence in the field of professional coaching.
Following are links to the reports already published in the Library of Professional Coaching:
We have linked to Wallace Stevens statement concerns the nature of fictions we should fully embrace—what William Perry (1998) calls “commitment in relativism.” We ground this reflection on our current notions about knowledge and truth (what is often defined as the field of epistemology)–and specifically to the ways in which we construct reality in a social setting.To provide a broader sense regarding the mission and vision of The Edge of Knowledge, we provide the following more general statement regarding this epistemological edge. In setting up this broader perspective, we offer a basic question: what is at the edge of knowledge?
To answer this question, we need to mix together a bit of epistemological theory and the “wisdom” offered by an American administrator, Donald Rumsfeld. While Rumsfeld might be criticized for many other things, he does seem to be quite wise about the nature of knowledge (epistemology). He noted that there are four conditions with regard to knowledge: (1) there are some things we know and we know that we know it, (2) there are some things that we know and don’t realize that we know it, (3) there are some things that we don’t know and know that we don’t know it, and (4) there are some things we don’t know and don’t know that we don’t know it. We can diagram these four conditions by creating one dimension concerning the acquisition of specific content (direct knowledge), and a second dimension concerning our level of awareness regarding the status of our knowledge.
The Edge of Knowledge is embedded in the recognition that all knowledge resides near some edge – the last four letters of the word “knowlEDGE” even convey this important fact. At a more precise level, we suggest that the edge of knowledge is particularly prevalent in Sector III (I know that I don’t know it) – which is the primary source of motivation to learn more (to become knowledgeable about something). Sector II is also an important element of the edge—it involves a process of appreciation (recognizing that we know more than we are initially aware). There is even a strong “edginess” to be found in Sector IV – as we become aware that there are areas in which we are not knowledgeable but should be.
With this base in a social constructive perspective on psychology, we have engaged in a number of projects concerned with the cutting edge of professional psychology–in keeping with our commitment as a graduate school to offering education and training at this “cutting edge”.
To further this commitment, PSP has established a research and development center that provides a base for ongoing research in areas of particular interest to members of the PSP community: (1) positive psychology, (2) health psychology, (3) public policy and psychology, and (4) personal and organizational coaching and the professions.
These research projects are being engaged by members of the PSP Global Community. The projects lead to the production of social media materials, the publication of articles in the Library of Professional Psychology and Library of Professional Coaching. To be at the “cutting edge”, PSP must have its own, evolving center that leads to the edge of knowledge.