Friday, 7 February 2014


Eastern approaches

James H. Liu writes –
...rather than seeing methodology as the solution to problems involving the privileging of different value systems in social science research (methodolatry), Asian implicit theory (or folk beliefs) is based on holism and perpetual change, where 'a tolerance of contradiction, an acceptance of the unity of opposites, and understanding of the co-existence of opposites as permanent, not conditional or transitory, are part of everyday lay perception and thought' ... In practical terms this means that Asian traditions do not privilege scientific means of observation above the intuitive illumination of the original mind but rather see these as complimentary forms of knowing. (Liu, 2011, p. 217)
This quotation is excerpted from a paper by James H. Liu in the 4th edition of the magisterial Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, specifically from the section of his paper called 'Implications of Chinese epistemologies for social psychological research'.

As previously mentioned in Conductive World, there has been a lot of empirical outcome- evaluation published in Chinese-language journals, particularly in Chinese-language medical and rehabilitation journals. Methodologically, from what I can tell, such studies utilise simple Western-style, quantitative, medical methodology – on the model of much of CE's 'scientific evaluation' in the West. As as also mentioned in Conductive World, this is not necessarily the only or best model for the job, especially at this stage of the development of the art.

It may be as hard in the East to break out of this imported methodological mindset as it has been and apparently continues to be in the West – and perhaps it could prove even more so, but Chinese researchers who contemplate dong so could find rich local opportunity to think and act in rather different ways.

t should be remembered that András Pető himself was reported to have been much interested and influenced by Eastern ways of thinking and doing, so perhaps there is a potential for a historical 'fit' here that should not have been so ignored over the years by CE's evaluation buffs.

I do so wish that I were in a better position to urge James Liu's chapter most strongly upon those researching Oriental Conductive Education.

Not just Oriental Conductive Education

James Liu is a Chinese-American New Zealander and Professor of Psychology at the Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. As sure as night follows day, Conductive Eduction in New Zealand will from time to time face the ever-recurring outcry for 'more research'. If New Zealand Conductive Education truly reproduces and believes in the widely repeated rhetoric that CE is 'holistic', wherever it is practised, then why not very carefully read the critical analysis from which the above passage has been extracted, and consider how far what Professor Liu proposes might apply to researching its own activities – and even ask him personally what he thinks.

Of course insights represented in that excerpt are not unique to Chinese or other Eastern ways of thinking. One might state much the same from the stance of Goethean science, or materialist dialectics, both of them philosophical positions that presumably influenced András Pető and the development of Conductive Education.

I have no reason not to expect that such insights might also arise from other traditions, and their implicit theories (or folk beliefs).


Liu, J. H. (2011) Asian epistemologies and contemporary social psychological research, in N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, 4th edition, Los Angeles, Sage, pp. 213-226

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