I think best when writing. I am, therefore, considering methodologies for writing future papers, and simultaneously doing a quick review of them. This should aid me in both improving my vocabulary (as in much use of unfamiliar terms will assist me in becoming more comfortable with them), and in familiarizing myself with the various methodologies. I will subsequently hopefully be able to analyze and select the most appropriate or beneficial methodologies for my dissertation.
Starting at the very beginning with the most obvious: I do not think I am a positivist. I agree that information received with the senses, such as through experimentation, is an excellent form of data — you should listen to your senses. However, I do not feel the positivists go far enough, since I believe intuition, as the realizations of my non-conscious mind, is a valid form of knowledge: frequently it’s that “eureka!” moment that causes the scientific breakthrough. I see this happen all the time with, for example, the two computer programmers I live with, and I use it myself as well.
Further, while I agree it would be nice to have an objective viewpoint so we could be sure all our science was bias-free, I do not think that is currently humanly possible. I’m not even sure the production of a completely dispassionate, objective, distanced human being — so we could do purely objective science — is really a good or healthy idea. In my experience such individuals are usually known by labels such as “sociopath.” Further, not only does science based in apparent heartlessness sound like a bad idea to me, but I also would not wish that experience on anyone.
So, to start from the beginning: the four philosophical dimensions of reality, and their assorted subcategories (if applicable):
- Ontology (metaphysics or worldview): the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence; one’s theory of Being;
- Epistemology: the philosophical theory of knowledge, or how we know what we know;
- Methodology: the branch of philosophy that analyzes the principles and procedures of inquiry in a particular discipline:
- spiritual/religious, which use revelation, intuition, dreams, prayer, scripture, etc. as their primary sources of knowing;
- theoretical, which tries to build a system of ideas which reflects the interrelationships of the parts with the larger whole;
- qualitative, which tend to be value-inclusive; and
- quantitative, which usually try to use mathematics to formulate repeatable, empirical, measurable results.
- Axiology: the study of values and value judgments, or one’s theory of (political, ethical, aesthetical) value.
There are other methodologies and frameworks, of course. The ones I’m most familiar with use the self-chosen descriptives of “liberatory” or “transformative.” I list my thoughts on some of them below:
- Women’s spirituality: sacred, embodied, experienced, erotic, empathetic, feminist, non-kyriarchal, eco-socially aware, creative, pluralistic. Using this methodology often feels a bit like believing in all of myself.
- Feminist/Womanist: dedicated to the extinction of oppressive systems of hierarchy, and compassionate justice for all; it is, however, not usually spiritual due to the timeframe of its creation. It recognizes five distinct but overlapping methods of women’s ways of knowing:
- moving out from being silenced;
- listening to others to learn wisdom;
- discovering subjective knowledge in the quest for Self;
- acquiring procedural knowledge by following the voice of reason and developing separate and connected knowing (which I do not yet understand — maybe a sort of “march to the beat of your own drummer”?); and
- constructing knowledge by integrating all the voices.
- Feminist/Womanist also deliberately challenges patriarchal constructions of kyriarchy; deconstructs the favored illusion of scientific “objectivity”; invites participation of all women’s voices in order to both honor difference and build solidarity; and encourages women’s research, consciousness raising, and activism. I find myself thinking that if I’m doing women’s spirituality correctly, I’m already integrating this methodology. Is this true, or just privileged hubris?
- Critical theory: this seems to integrate Gramsci’s concept of the dominant paradigm, which I agree with, but also includes more Marxian threads, which I don’t completely agree with. While a sensuous (in the Marxian sense) life is to be valued, I strongly believe life is more than just economics.
- Ethnic/Indigenous studies: the anthropologist in me heartily agrees that reflective insider knowledge is usually superior to manufactured outsider knowledge. I also note with relief the inclusion of environment and spirituality as valid sources of wisdom.
- Postmodernism: while I can appreciate the need to understand the human construction of both concepts and society, I am uneasy with the apparent nihilism which seems to be the end result of really wallowing in postmodernism. Once you’ve deconstructed and destroyed everything, what are you left with? It’s a little too valueless, and ensuingly lacking in acknowledging responsibility for one’s actions, for me. I’m also unpleasantly reminded of Griffin’s critical analysis of postmodernism’s disparaging use of the term “essentialist” as the ultimate silencer — rather than encouragement — of expansive discussion.
- LGBTQ seems fairly clear to me, regarding its struggle for social recognition and validation, instead of the dualistic straitjacket of heteronormativity.
There are other transformative methodologies which I’m more or less familiar with but will not go over right now.