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A philosophical analysis of scientific meanings of aging in psychosocial gerontology Kenyon, Gary M. 1985

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P h i l o s o p h i c a l A n a l y s i s of S c i e n t i f i c Meaninc of Aging i n P s y c h o s o c i a l Gerontology by Gary M. Kenyon . B. Comm., Loyol a of Montreal, 1970 B.A.(EQUIV.),Concordia U n i v e r s i t y , 1 9 7 7 M. A., Concordia U n i v e r s i t y , 1981 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTORATE OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of I n t e r d i s c i p l i n a r y S t u d i e s ) We accept t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE^UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 1985 ©Gary M. Kenyon, 1985 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by h i s or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of ^s-fkn- &)S^\8uriP>&.y X T ^ P ' U " The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 E-6 (.3/81) i i A P h i l o s o p h i c a l A n a l y s i s of S c i e n t i f i c Meanings  of Aging i n P s y c h o s o c i a l Gerontology  ABSTRACT T h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n i s concerned with the problem of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions as i t r e l a t e s to r e s e a r c h i n g e r o n t o l o g y . There are three major areas emphasized i n the t h e s i s . F i r s t , t h e r e i s a c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l c o n d i t i o n s that g i v e r i s e to the problem of assumptions and meanings in' s c i e n c e . Secondly, a number of d i f f e r e n t ways of a d d r e s s i n g t h i s i s s u e are d i s c u s s e d and an a l t e r n a t i v e Hermeneutic approach i s e x p l i c a t e d . T h i s approach c o n s t i t u t e s a p a r t i c u l a r kind of p h i l o s o p h i c a l a n a l y s i s and i s suggested by the i n s i g h t s of Hans Gadamer. — F i n a l l y , on the b a s i s of the Hermeneutic approach, two major c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n s of r e s e a r c h on a d u l t and g e r o n t o l o g i c a l i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence are i d e n t i f i e d , namely, a r e s t r i c t e d and an expanded p i c t u r e . In a d d i t i o n , these two c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n s are f u r t h e r c l a r i f i e d by means of a d i s c u s s i o n of the c o n t r a s t i n g o n t o l o g i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n s that are presupposed i n the r e s t r i c t e d and c o r r e s p o n d i n g l y , i n the expanded p i c t u r e . . The o v e r a l l purpose of the t h e s i s i s t o . show t h a t a p a r t i c u l a r k ind of p h i l o s o p h i c a l i n q u i r y a s s i s t s i n the i n t e g r a t i o n of d i s p a r a t e forms of res e a r c h : i n p s y c h o s o c i a l g e r o n t o l o g y . In a d d i t i o n , t h i s procedure p r o v i d e s c o n c e p t u a l support f o r a d i f f e r e n t understanding of v a r i o u s phenomena a s s o c i a t e d with human aging that i s . emerging i n the f i e l d , namely,-the expanded p i c t u r e . i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENT v PROLOGUE 1 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 4 History Of Gerontology 4 A Thematic History Of Gerontology 6 Exclusive Concern With The "Decrements" Of Aging .... 6 Critiques Of The Decremental Perspective 8 The Present Situation In Psychosocial Gerontology ... 10 The Problem 11 Conclusion 15 CHAPTER 2: THE ANALYSIS OF SCIENTIFIC MEANINGS OF AGING ... 17 Natural Science And Social Science 17 Approaches To The Analysis Of Assumptions 19 CHAPTER 3: A HERMENEUTIC APPROACH TO THE ANALYSIS OF ASSUMPTIONS 27 Conclusion 38 Chapter 4: RESTRICTED AND EXPANDED PERSPECTIVES ON GERONTOLOGICAL INTELLECTUAL AND SOCIAL COMPETENCE 39 Selected Restricted Perspectives 40 I n t e l l e c t u a l Competence 41 Psychometric Intelligence 41 Piagetian Intelligence 46 Social Competence 51 i v Disengagement Theory 51 A c t i v i t y Theory 57 A L i f e Course Perspective 59 A Life-Event Perspective 62 Selected Expanded Perspectives 64 In t e l l e c t u a l Competence 65 Adult Intelligence: P a r t i a l l y Expanded Views 65 Life-Review 70 Wisdom 71 Self-Construction 76 Social Competence 77 Riegel's Life-Event Perspective 77 Personality As Process . 79 Individual Life-Patterns 82 Conclusion 84 CHAPTER 5: VITAL EXISTENCE AND PERSONAL EXISTENCE 86 Human Nature As V i t a l Existence 87 Human Nature As Personal Existence 92 CONCLUSION 106 CHAPTER 6: RESULTS, CONTRIBUTIONS, SPECULATIONS 108 REFERENCES 114 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENT There are many factors that have contributed to the successful completion of this project. From an economic point of view, I gr a t e f u l l y acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). In addition, I thank my wife Linda for her f l e x i b l e attitude toward l i f e s t y l e arrangements during the past few years. Administratively, I wish to thank Penny Hanson in the Graduate Studies o f f i c e , who has been accessible and anticipatory with regard to my needs throughout the program. My appreciation also goes to MarDell Parrish and Patty Kilgour, for helping me to "computerize" this d i s s e r t a t i o n , and to Jim Scarfe and Steve Holliday for their e d i t o r i a l comments. I would also l i k e to thank Dr.Susan Butt, Dr.Ed Levy and Dr.James Thornton for their assistance and support during the early stages of the program. I reserve my main debt of gratitude for D r . K j e l l Rubenson, Dr.Michael Chandler, Dr.Earl Winkler and Dr.James Thornton for their interest, encouragement, inspiration and technical guidance. They helped make i t possible for me to consider my Ph.D. program a p o s i t i v e , f u l f i l l i n g , creative and challenging experience. 1 P R O L O G U E The f i e l d of gerontology consists of something more than the s c i e n t i f i c study of aging, per se. It is also involved with the broad study of human development and the nature of human existence. It follows that a d i s t i n c t contribution may be made in gerontology by the philosophical t r a d i t i o n of thinking about human nature and human l i f e . This having been said, the purpose of the present study is to provide an example of such a potential contribution. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , the intention which has guided t h i s study i s to show how a pa r t i c u l a r kind of philosophical inquiry can as s i s t in the integration of disparate forms of contemporary research in psychosocial gerontology, and provide conceptual support for a certain understanding of the research that i s emerging in this f i e l d . In this way the study should contribute to the further development of i n t e r d i s c i p l i n a r y collaborations in psychosocial gerontology and a s s i s t in the ef f o r t to gain some general insights and understandings about the f i e l d . The following steps w i l l be taken in order to achieve this objective. In Chapter 1, f i r s t , a brief history of psychosocial gerontology w i l l be presented. The discussion w i l l focus on a description of the major areas that have been or are of interest in t h i s f i e l d of study. As such, this section constitutes a thematic, rather than a chronological history of the f i e l d . The purpose of thi s i n i t i a l step i s to orient the discussion and provide a link to the second part of Chapter 1, having to do 2 with the importance of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions in terms of their impact on aging research and the subsequent need for a " r e f l e c t i v e appropriation" of that research. Chapter 2 consists of a discussion of some of the epistemological conditions which give r i s e to the problem concerning s c i e n t i f i c assumptions discussed in Chapter 1, as well as a consideration of a number of approaches to the analysis of these assumptions. Chapter 3 provides an explication of an alternative approach to the problem, one which constitutes a par t i c u l a r kind of r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of the research. Chapter 4 undertakes to show that a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of selected research in psychosocial gerontology, based on the deliberations in Chapter 3 , points to two main "pictures" of s p e c i f i c aspects of human aging in this l i t e r a t u r e , namely i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence. A re s t r i c t e d and an expanded picture of these phenomena w i l l be i d e n t i f i e d . Following t h i s analysis, Chapter 5 demonstrates that these two pictures also r e f l e c t p a r t i c u l a r meanings or understandings of human aging in general and important related phenomena, which in turn point to s p e c i f i c ontological presuppositions. F i n a l l y , in Chapter 6 there i s a discussion of the conclusions of the study, along with an indication of the implications that this study has for intervention issues. It i s important to emphasize that the primary intention of this work i s to provide conceptual support for a variety of recent claims made by a number of contemporary researchers in 3 psychosocial gerontology. That i s , the main thrust of the dis s e r t a t i o n is to bring these emerging views together , to provide some elaboration of their thinking and to place that thinking within an e x p l i c i t philosophical framework. 4 CHAPTER I_ INTRODUCTION  History of Gerontology The history of research in gerontology, following P h i l i b e r t (1982), can be described in three stages: a f i r s t Biomedical stage; a second Social-Psychological stage; and, most recently, a "Humanities" stage. This does not mean that no stage two a c t i v i t y was taking place in stage one, for example, but i t does mean that the predominant thrust of most of the research at each stage belongs under i t s associated rubric. In the f i r s t stage, as the name implies, the concern in gerontology was for problems of a bio-medical nature, broadly speaking. U n t i l the 1940s or even early 1950s the main ef f o r t in gerontology was to discover the causes of human aging at the c e l l u l a r , tissue and physiological level on the one hand, and on the other hand, to understand the diseases of old age under the heading of " g e r i a t r i c s " . The second stage of the development of gerontology can be characterized by the emergence of what has been c a l l e d social gerontology. The main concern of researchers in t h i s stage was to address, in a systematic manner, the s o c i a l and behavioural problems that are connected with aging. It i s interesting to note that there i s a sense in which this period indicates the beginning of gerontology as a s o c i a l science, in that the 5 preceeding stage was concerned with older people only incidentally, as the focus was always (or almost always) on the young (Tibbitts,1960). Thus, the s o c i a l science study of older people as a s p e c i f i c group i s a very recent phenomenon. At this time there developed more e x p l i c i t concern for such things as s o c i a l and economic " p o l i c y regarding the elderly, s o c i a l processes of aging, as well as increased research on various psychological phenomena associated with the aging process (Riegel,1977; Oliver & Eckerman, ci t e d in Auger,1983). The t h i r d stage in the short history of gerontology r e f l e c t s the recent emergence of a contribution to research from the Humanities, including such f i e l d s as Philosophy, Literature, Art and History. The main reason for this occurrence appears to be the increasing sense of the relevance of these d i s c i p l i n e s for the o v e r a l l agenda of understanding human aging and older persons. It i s f e l t that these f i e l d s may point up di f f e r e n t ways of understanding human aging from those that have been the focus of research in the past. The present study w i l l show that at least one of these d i s c i p l i n e s , philosophy, is also important to the " s c i e n t i f i c agenda" of gerontology, per se. This cursory description of the h i s t o r i c a l development of gerontology i s . meant as an introduction to a more thematic analysis of that development, which in turn w i l l lead to a discussion of the problem which forms the focus of the present study. 6 A T h e m a t i c H i s t o r y of G e r o n t o l o g y  E x c l u s i v e C o n c e r n w i t h t h e " Decrements" of A g i n g A s e c o n d way of v i e w i n g t h e h i s t o r i c a l d e v e l o p m e n t of g e r o n t o l o g y , a s i d e from t h e " d i s c i p l i n a r y " d e v e l o p m e n t , i s t h a t o f t h e major metaphors o r themes o r i n t e r e s t s t h a t have become e v i d e n t i n t h e r e s e a r c h . U n t i l v e r y r e c e n t l y , t h e most p r o m i n e n t metaphor was t h a t of " d e c a y " and t h e major theme of r e s e a r c h was t h a t of d i s c o v e r i n g t h e v a r i o u s ways i n w h i c h human b e i n g s d e c l i n e w i t h a g e . Thus, b i o l o g i s t s a t t e m p t e d t o u n c o v e r t h e a n t e c e d e n t s of c e l l u l a r breakdown w i t h age ( f o r example, t h e r e a s o n s why c e l l s c e a s e t o s p l i t and m u l t i p l y w i t h a g e ) , or t o p r o v i d e e x p l a n a t i o n s o f what goes wrong w i t h t h e g e n e t i c p r o g ram w h i c h r e s u l t s i n i n c r e a s i n g " e r r o r s " and u l t i m a t e d y s f u n c t i o n s and d e a t h ( S h o c k , 1 9 7 7 ) . M e d i c a l r e s e a r c h e r s were c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e d i s e a s e s of a g i n g and t h e r e a s o n s why o l d e r p e o p l e c o n t r a c t s e n i l e d e m e n t i a , a t h e r e o s c l e r o s i s and c a n c e r . T h e r e i s r e a l l y no p r o b l e m w i t h t h i s s c e n a r i o t h u s f a r , a s t h e s e p r o b l e m s a r e i m p o r t a n t and t h i s r e s e a r c h n e c e s s a r y . P r i m e f a c i e , i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o deny t h a t t h e r e a r e a number o f r a t h e r d e l e t e r i o u s phenomena c o n n e c t e d w i t h t h e a g i n g p r o c e s s a t t h e b i o l o g i c a l , p h y s i o l o g i c a l l e v e l . Even t h o u g h one may w i s h i t were n o t t h e c a s e , a t t h i s p o i n t i n t i m e few would q u a r r e l w i t h t h e s c i e n t i f i c f i n d i n g t h a t d e c l i n e i s t h e main d i r e c t i o n a t t h e b i o - p h y s i c a l l e v e l . As t h e n e x t s e c t i o n w i l l i n d i c a t e , however, a p r o b l e m 7 arises when one moves from these physiological dimensions to the social-psychological-personal aspects of aging. That i s , i t is not clear that decline i s the exclusive, natural or inevitable outcome of aging at the psychosocial l e v e l . Nevertheless, a whole body of research emerged, P h i l i b e r t ' s stage two, which attempted to specify and define variables that cause various kinds of psychological or s o c i o l o g i c a l decline. With regard to the former, attempts were made to show that older people suffer from various "cognitive decrements" along dimensions such as i n t e l l i g e n c e and memory (Labouvie-Vief,1977). In addition, personality theorists attempted to show that older people suffer from such " t r a i t s " as r i g i d i t y and depression (Thomae,1980). From a more s o c i o l o g i c a l perspective, researchers attempted to show that older people disengage (Cumming & Henry, 1961), that they represent a poorly adapted subculture (Rose & Peterson, 1965), or that they are dependent and role-less (Rosow,1974). During this phase in the evolution of the f i e l d human aging was characterized then, almost exclusively by losses and decrements, both from the point of view of bio-medical and psychosocial gerontological research. In the next section, a number of c r i t i c i s m s of decremental psychosocial views w i l l be considered as a second major theme in the history of gerontological research. From th i s point on the focus of the present study w i l l be on the psychosocial aspects of human aging, and l i t t l e further w i l l be said about the bio-medical issues emphasized in stage one, except as they relate to subsequent stages in the unfolding history of contemporary 8 psychosocial gerontology. Cr i t iques of the Decremental Perspect ive At a la t e r point in what I have described as the second stage in psychosocial gerontological research, there emerged a body of research that seriously questioned the claims made by ea r l i e r investigators. In this connection, studies have appeared which point out that there are s i g n i f i c a n t differences in observed outcomes along many dimensions when generational and cohort change (Marshall,1983) is distinguished from ontogenetic change. The main point in this regard is that many cognitive performance declines are the result of such factors as the level of formal education achieved by a p a r t i c u l a r group ;of older subjects, and not the result of inevitable b i o l o g i c a l changes. In addition, c r i t i c i s m s of decline studies have addressed a variety of other issues. For example, i t has been shown that there i s often a sampling bias evident in decline studies, in that the tendency has often been to target samples of " f r a i l " elderly subjects, as opposed to healthy older persons. Another example has concerned the issue of research design. It has been indicated that whereas in many cases a cross-sectional or longitudinal instrument shows apparent decline, a cross-sequential design shows s t a b i l i t y or even improvement with age, on such dimensions as inte l l i g e n c e and memory. Other c r i t i c i s m s have focused on the fact that research in apparent support of decline views has often employed irrelevant testing materials 9 or, that these studies have f a i l e d to account for various psychological c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of older persons, such as their s u s c e p t i b i l i t y to fatigue and their tendency to be especially cautious. F i n a l l y , many 'natural' decrements in cognitive functioning have been shown to be reversible through t r a i n i n g . 1 From a s o c i a l psychological perspective, similar studies have emerged which show that the notion of "universal disengagement", as defined in the Disengagement Theory, is also subject to a series of fundamental c r i t i c i s m s and reinterpretations. For example, the claim has been made that social disengagement i s preceded by i t s psychological counterpart and that, therefore, disengagement is primarily a developmental phenomenon (Havighurst, Neugarten & Tobin,l968). Or, that the notion of "disengagement" i t s e l f i s seriously flawed both t h e o r e t i c a l l y and empirically (HochschiId,1976). F i n a l l y , Lemon, Bengtson & Peterson (1972) have shown that " a c t i v i t y " and not disengagement is a more accurate index of successful aging, and that consequently role losses after middle age must be replaced by new ones in la t e r l i f e . 2 A l l the foregoing research has served to make suspect the view that there are universal, inevitable, i r r e v e r s i b l e , i n t r i n s i c , or normal decrements with age. The c r i t i c i s m s of decremental views mentioned in this section suggest that, on the one hand, there i s a lack of universal decline of various types *h more detailed treatment of a l l these issues can be found in Craik (1982), Hultsch & Deutsch (1981) and Labouvie-Vief (1977). 2 A c t u a l l y , t h i s version of the " a c t i v i t y theory" of aging i s a more e x p l i c i t formulation of an e a r l i e r position which emerged in the 1950s (McPherson,1983). 10 and, on the other hand, that there i s evidence of growth with age along a number of dimensions t y p i c a l l y referenced in decline studies. The Present Situation in Psychosocial Gerontology Generally speaking, at the present time the f i e l d of psychosocial gerontology has moved from an e a r l i e r position that assumed exclusive decline of one form or another i s normal, natural, inevitable in human aging, to the position that this view i s fundamentally mistaken, and probably harmful, at least from an intervention point of view. In addition, investigators in t h i s f i e l d of study have recently generated new perspectives in an attempt to discover d i f f e r e n t orientations toward aging research. As examples, there i s now a life-s p a n psychology (Hultsch & Deutsch, 1981), and an interpretive sociology within gerontology (Dowd,l980; Marshall,1980a). Other examples are wisdom studies (Holliday, 1983; Dittman-Kohli & Baltes, 1984), along with contributions from the f i e l d s of history (Hareven, 1982;Elder,1982),and philosophy ( P h i l i b e r t , 1982; McKee, 1982). A l l of these authors are attempting to make new contributions to the understanding of human aging and older persons. 11 The Problem The problem with most of the research in psychosocial gerontology discussed in the previous sections i s that i t amounts to what may be c a l l e d a series of " p a r t i a l c r i t i q u e s " (Unger, 1975). That i s , although each c r i t i q u e has targeted a particular issue or variable, whether i t be i n t e l l i g e n c e , disengagement, depression, or whatever, these accounts do not help us gain a more comprehensive understanding of the f i e l d as a whole. As McPherson (1983) points out: Thus, a greater emphasis has been given to making observations, to c o l l e c t i n g evidence to describe phenomena, and to testing relationships between variables. As a result, the development of hypotheses or theories that more adequately and completely explain aging as a s o c i a l process has been neglected (p.114). This suggests that there is a need for more s e l f -r e f l e c t i o n and basic thinking in the f i e l d . To some extent this process of s e l f - r e f l e c t i o n is evident in the works of a number of stage three researchers, including those discussed e a r l i e r . However, th i s thinking is usually ca r r i e d out in the context of pa r t i c u l a r d i s c i p l i n e s , such as cognitive psychology or sociology, where the primary concern is for a better understanding of, for example, in t e l l i g e n c e or, role behavior in the later years. 1 2 Nevertheless, researchers are becoming increasingly aware that i t is important to r e f l e c t upon the basic tenets of their views. The main reason this a c t i v i t y i s deemed important i s that, in so far as i t i s lacking, there is a danger that we may discover we have been working with i m p l i c i t assumptions that turn out to be highly suspect, both in themselves, and in t h e i r wider implications. It i s important in this context to r e c a l l that in a culture that looks to science for the answers to so many of i t s problems, s c i e n t i f i c findings about aging w i l l have a s i g n i f i c a n t effect on the l i v e s of a l l aging persons, and especially on older persons and the quality of their l i v e s (Tornstam, 1982). It follows that i t is important to analyse the d i f f e r e n t ways in which we conceptualize aging in our s c i e n t i f i c and p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s . What is meant here by i m p l i c i t assumptions are the basic images, meanings or "conceptualizations" (Eisdorfer,1983), that i m p l i c i t l y or e x p l i c i t l y guide research. As P h i l i b e r t (1982,p.321) states: One cannot study aging independently of the images, naive or sophisticated, in which i t is expressed and constituted. These images require our investigation largely through the mediation of the disparate texts that express them, comment on them or convey them. As the ensuing discussion w i l l show, t h i s remark applies as much to s c i e n t i f i c images and meanings as i t does to a r t i s t i c or l i t e r a r y ones. 1 3 The problem of i m p l i c i t assumptions has to do in part with the very nature of research in the s o c i a l sciences. That i s , science and p a r t i c u l a r l y s o c i a l science does not constitute a t o t a l l y s e l f - c o r r e c t i n g , linear a c t i v i t y leading to absolute truth (Chapter 2). This general problem i s further exacerbated in psychosocial gerontology by the fact that there are so many relevant d i s c i p l i n e s involved in the f i e l d , each with i t s own orientation. Consequently, there are few facts or laws of aging upon which there is general agreement (McPherson,1983). Conversely, there are many diverse perspectives. This i s the case even within the more "exact" sciences such as biology. For example, is aging the running down of the genetic time-clock, or i s i t the result of cumulative wear and tear? This issue is even further complicated when we attempt to relate b i o l o g i c a l findings to psychological and s o c i o l o g i c a l findings in the attempt to understand the "aging person". For example, does b i o l o g i c a l decline with age determine behaviour and i f so, in what ways and to what extent? The complex sit u a t i o n that exists in psychosocial gerontology suggests that while there is a need to pursue very specialized research, i t is also important to complement this specialized work with a " r e f l e c t i v e appropriation" of the f i e l d (Gadamer,1976). That i s , there i s a need for an approach (or approaches) in which th i s f i e l d of study can r e f l e c t on i t s basic assumptions or, on how i t understands i t s e l f as an area of inquiry concerned with the study of various phenomena associated with human aging. In t h i s way i t may be possible to c l a r i f y and 1 4 integrate s p e c i f i c s c i e n t i f i c perspectives in the overall attempt to understand human aging and older persons. The importance of a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation is that i t can as s i s t in bringing together disparate perspectives in the f i e l d , elaborate on them and attempt to come to some general insights about psychosocial gerontology as a whole. The idea of a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation refers to the a c t i v i t y of taking a broader look, r e f l e c t i n g more widely on an area of study. In the present inquiry, t h i s a c t i v i t y w i l l take the form of a philosophical analysis. In this context, ... philosophy is an a c t i v i t y of inquiry dealing with other a c t i v i t i e s of inquiry - thus operating at one remove from some of the a c t i v i t i e s which so c i a l science inquires into... (Braybrooke,1965,p.17). To sum up, a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of psychosocial gerontology is being suggested as a contribution to a solution to the problem of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions as i t relates to this f i e l d . In addition, a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation is to be seen as a kind of philosophical a c t i v i t y that r e f l e c t s on, in this case, s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c perspectives on aging. The further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the nature of the par t i c u l a r kind of r e f l e c t i v e appropriation that is being proposed in this study w i l l form the content of Chapter 3. 1 5 Conclusion The discussion presented in t h i s chapter suggests that there is a need for exploring, interpreting, c l a r i f y i n g and integrating basic assumptions in psychosocial gerontology, and that this can be achieved by means of a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of the f i e l d . It was indicated that i t is important to address the problem of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions for at least two reasons.• F i r s t , i t i s evident that there are a number of diff e r e n t assumptions operative in the f i e l d which r e f l e c t diverse and perhaps competing understandings of human aging. These perspectives therefore require c l a r i f i c a t i o n in themselves. Secondly, the various understandings of aging phenomena have dif f e r e n t implications for the quality of l i f e of older persons. In the attempt to contribute to a solution to this problem a p a r t i c u l a r type of r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of psychosocial gerontology w i l l be described in Chapter 3. By adopting this approach the attempt w i l l be made in Chapters 4 and 5 to explicate two major assumptions concerning human aging and older persons that are contained in selected research in the f i e l d . However, prior to this step, the following chapter w i l l provide a discussion of some of the epistemological conditions which give r i s e to the problem concerning s c i e n t i f i c assumptions and meanings. In addition, there w i l l be a consideration of a number of approaches to the analysis of meanings and assumptions in s c i e n t i f i c research. This material w i l l provide a background for the explication of the approach to be developed in Chapter 1 6 3. 1 7 CHAPTER 2 The ANALYSIS OF SCIENTIFIC MEANINGS OF AGING In the d i s c u s s i o n i n Chapter 1 i t was suggested that the problem concerning s c i e n t i f i c assumptions and meanings p o i n t s up a number of fundamental i s s u e s . These i s s u e s have to do with the nature of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y , the p o s s i b i l i t y of d i f f e r e n t kinds of p r e d i s p o s i n g i n f l u e n c e s being o p e r a t i v e i n s o c i a l s c i e n c e , and the way i n which these matters impact on the study of aging i n p s y c h o s o c i a l gerontology. The present chapter pro v i d e s some ba s i c t h i n k i n g r e g a r d i n g the e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l c o n d i t i o n s that give r i s e to the problem of assumptions or i n f l u e n c e s in s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y . I t a l s o presents a d i s c u s s i o n of a number of d i f f e r e n t approaches to the a n a l y s i s of assumptions that have been or c o u l d be undertaken. N a t u r a l Science and S o c i a l Science The s t a r t i n g p o i n t f o r the d i s c u s s i o n of the a n a l y s i s of assumptions and meanings i n science i s the o b s e r v a t i o n that s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y i s l e s s s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d than has sometimes 18 been believed in the recent past. 1 This 'straightforward' view of science, or the "orthodox consensus" (Giddens, 1982) originates in the belief that natural science i s a linear, cumulative a c t i v i t y that progresses toward absolute truth. S c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y is carried out by means of an emphasis on, if not an exclusive concern with, observation statements, v e r i f i c a t i o n and prediction. This reliance on method allows r e a l i t y or truth to be "read o f f " from phenomena. As Gould (1981,p.21) points out, ...science i t s e l f i s an objective enterprise, done properly only when s c i e n t i s t s can shuck the constraints of their culture and view the world as i t re a l l y i s . The second and most important point for present purposes, is that the orthodox consensus also holds that the s o c i a l sciences should be modelled after this description of the natural sciences. Giddens (1982,p.2) suggests that, The object was to produce what Radcliffe-Brown once c a l l e d a 'natural science of society'. The expected outcome of the use of s c i e n t i f i c methods and procedures was, then, to attain a presuppositionless or value-neutral position from which to get at the "bare facts of the matter", whether the object under study be neutrons, Canadian 1This version of the nature of s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y i s generally held to originate,at least in i t s contemporary form, in the l o g i c a l positivism of authors such as Carnap, Hempel, and Nagel (Giddens, 1982). 19 society or, depression in older subjects. This orthodox consensus, "naive philosophical realism" (Riegel, 1973a) or, l o g i c a l empiricist view of science, has in recent times come under a great deal of renewed c r i t i c i s m . The general thrust of these c r i t i c i s m s is that there are more factors involved in s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y than are explicated by the orthodox consensus and that consequently, Facts are not pure and unsullied bits of information... Theories moreover, are not inexorable inductions from facts (Gould,1981, p.22). The discussion that follows w i l l focus on these issues as they relate to the s o c i a l sciences and in p a r t i c u l a r , psychosocial gerontology. The discussion of the ways in which these considerations impact on our understanding of the natural sciences w i l l be treated only in passing. Approaches to the Analysis of Assumptions 1 If one allows that the s o c i a l sciences may be vulnerable to certain kinds of predisposing influences, the c r u c i a l issue for present purposes is to discover ways to understand those influences, and the implications they have in the context of studying aging and older persons in psychosocial gerontology. In other words, the task i s , in Gadamer's terms, to develop viable r e f l e c t i v e appropriations of the f i e l d . In what follows, three d i f f e r e n t types of r e f l e c t i v e 20 appropriation or, approaches to the analysis of assumptions w i l l be considered. F i r s t , there is what is c a l l e d the 'strong programme' (Hollis,1982) in the sociology of knowledge, which is re f l e c t e d in the views of such authors as Auger (1983) and Barnes and Bloor (1982). Secondly, the weak programme in the sociology of knowledge as discussed in the works of Estes (1979), Horowitz (1961) and Simonds (1978) w i l l be treated. F i n a l l y , in Chapter 3, a hermeneutic approach to the problem of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions w i l l be explicated. This approach is suggested by the works of Gadamer (1975, 1976, 1981). Again, the starting point for the discussion of these three orientations i s the view that i t is plausible to consider that there may be other factors involved in the understanding of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y , beyond those allowed for by the orthodox consensus. 2 One of the ways that has been suggested as a possible approach to understanding the place of assumptions and biases in s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y and, a f o r t i o r i , psychosocial gerontology, i s what has been c a l l e d the 'strong programme' in the sociology of knowledge. This position corresponds to the f i r s t orientation just mentioned. The major claim of t h i s view is that a l l knowledge i s s o c i a l l y constructed or s o c i a l l y produced. That i s , the generation of s c i e n t i f i c knowledge is a function of a consensus reached by a particular group of researchers as to what i s to count as truth. 21 It would appear that t h i s position, in contradistinction to the orthodox consensus, in ef f e c t , argues that there are no "facts of the matter" at a l l . In the orthodox consensus, the tendency i s to disregard "extratechnical" (Estes,l979) sources of empirical and theoretical development in soc i a l science, such as c u l t u r a l and epistemological biases and assumptions. Conversely, the strong programme is characterized by an attempt to disregard any possible "technical" (Estes,l979) sources of knowledge generation, such as research methodology and empirical findings. In other words, the strong programme tends to claim that there are only opinions and biases to be analysed. Or, minimally, these technical sources are no more than epiphenomena in the sense that what is r e a l l y producing s c i e n t i f i c knowledge i s the s o c i a l context per se, that i s , soc i a l forces exclusively "cause" forms of thought (Simonds,1978). Borrowing from H o l l i s (1982), Here, 'the social construction of r e a l i t y ' refers to human handiwork. The actors create s o c i a l , indeed perhaps a l l , facts (p.81). One of the consequences of this view i s that "anything goes" with respect to knowledge, that i s , whatever a group of people believe is the case, i s the case. An i l l u s t r a t i o n of the strong programme i s evident in attempts that have been made to link the sociology of knowledge to an action sociology in gerontology (Auger, 1983, MacKeracher,1982). The claim a r i s i n g from these studies is that theories of aging are e s s e n t i a l l y the product of the 22 deliberations of a group of professional s c i e n t i s t s . On the basis of an approach that i s consistent with the strong programme, these studies attempt to show that professional gerontologists "know" very l i t t l e about what aging is r e a l l y l i k e to older persons. That i s , gerontologists, as a s o c i a l group, have constructed a r e a l i t y about aging that is t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t from the r e a l i t y expressed in the views of older people. Although this research represents an attempt to address the issue of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions in gerontology, in an important sense i t goes too far. The problem with t h i s view is that i t i m p l i c i t l y suggests a position that argues for the complete r e l a t i v i t y of r a t i o n a l i t y ( H o l l i s & Lukes, 1982). That i s , one can ask how i t is possible to go about comparing and contrasting b e l i e f s in any particular context. Moreover, how are ra t i o n a l and i r r a t i o n a l b e l i e f s to be distinguished, i f a l l knowledge is the product of group consensus. It would seem that one has to have a basis for various b e l i e f s , i f the purpose i s to understand either the views of older people or, those of a group of gerontologists. Minimally, r a t i o n a l i t y must constitute something more than group consensus, p a r t i c u l a r l y in the s c i e n t i f i c arena, i f there i s to be any development of knowledge of any kind. In this context and with regards to the strong programme, What set off as an insight into the construction of s o c i a l objects ends as the sceptical destruction of r e a l i t y ( H o l l i s , 1982, p.83). 23 A related point is that t h i s issue of the t o t a l r e l a t i v i t y of r a t i o n a l i t y creates serious internal problems for the strong programme. That i s , while i t is held that a l l b e l i e f s are s o c i a l l y constructed or s o c i a l l y caused, yet the b e l i e f s of the 'strong programme' i t s e l f "... lay claim to a s c i e n t i f i c status" ( H o l l i s , 1982, p.81). The tendency in the strong programme is to attempt to prove, to v e r i f y empirically, that a l l knowledge is s o c i a l l y caused and thereby to debunk various kinds of heretofore accepted s c i e n t i f i c knowledge, or, at least s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c knowledge. However, this i s to be done by means of the s c i e n t i f i c method, that i s , the method of the orthodox consensus, or a similar approach. It i s this state of a f f a i r s that prompts Habermas' (1971,p.303) comment that Historicism has become the positivism of the c u l t u r a l and s o c i a l sciences. This analysis suggests a paradoxical s i t u a t i o n , i f not a contradiction. One is claiming, in essence, that X is false on the basis of the claim that X is true. Or, that a l l X's (propositions of soc i a l science) are false on the grounds that some X's are true. If this i s not so, then what could possibly be the meaning of such things as o b j e c t i v i t y and v e r i f i a b l e information in this context. The foregoing analysis indicates that there are serious d i f f i c u l t i e s with the strong programme in the sociology of knowledge as an approach to the analysis of s c i e n t i f i c assumpt ions. However, in addition to the strong programme, there is also 24 what i s c a l l e d the 'weak programme' in the sociology of knowledge. The most important distinguishing c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of t h i s position as an approach to the analysis of assumptions and biases is the claim that, ... the s o c i a l influence on mental a c t i v i t y consists e s s e n t i a l l y in giving directions (Stark,1967,p.477). The key words here are "influence" and "directions", in contradistinction to "cause" and "determinations". This orientation makes i t possible for there to be "facts" without denying that these facts may be subject to l i m i t i n g conditions, that i s , sociocultural or contextual constraints. As a consequence, under this view, i t i s not the case that gerontologists or other groups of researchers somehow decide what i s to count as knowledge or, that knowledge is exclusively constituted by a p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l group or s o c i a l context. Nevertheless, Because s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s , as well as policy-makers and other e l i t e s , contribute to s o c i a l constructions of r e a l i t y , the production of gerontological knowledge and i t s role in public policy deserves careful study (Estes, 1979, p.7). The weak programme in the sociology of knowledge acknowledges that there are such things as assumptions and biases in social s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y that contribute to what i s considered to be knowledge. Nevertheless, t h i s position does not reduce that 2 5 knowledge to these phenomena alone, as does the strong programme. The weak programme does not make as strong a claim regarding the s o c i a l construction of r e a l i t y as does the strong programme. However, proponents of the former position such as Horowitz (1961), require that whatever is studied about th i s issue is to be approached on the basis of empirical methods. That i s , the search is for the ways in which such things as the interests of p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l groups "cause" a given ideology to predominate (Simonds, 1978). The tendency i s , therefore, to seek "explanations" of the thinking of d i f f e r e n t s o c i a l groups; moreover, explanations that employ s t a t i s t i c a l or experimental methods. In other words, the tendency is to equate "knowledge" with "method", as does the orthodox consensus. The issue of what constitutes s c i e n t i f i c knowledge is complex and d i f f i c u l t and more questions have been raised in the present discussion than answers have been provided. Nevertheless, the expected outcome of the analysis of these approaches to the problem of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions i s a general c l a r i f i c a t i o n of these views, which also serves as a background for the discussion of an alternative hermeneutic approach, to be described in Chapter 3. 2 6 Conclusion The purpose of this chapter has been to explore some of the epistemological grounds and conditions that underly the problem of assumptions and biases in soc i a l science a c t i v i t y , and their relevance to psychosocial gerontology. In addition, two approaches to the analysis of these assumptions and biases were discussed. In the next chapter, there w i l l be a consideration of an alternative approach to this problem, one that w i l l be seen to have much in common with the weak program in the sociology of knowledge, and yet d i f f e r in an important way from that view. 27 CHAPTER 3 A HERMENEUTIC APPROACH TO THE ANALYSIS OF ASSUMPTIONS In t h i s chapter, an al t e r n a t i v e approach to the analysis of assumptions and biases in s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c research w i l l be explicated. In addition, t h i s approach w i l l form the basis for the analysis of selected research in psychosocial gerontology, in Chapters 4 and 5. The present chapter i s divided into two main sections. The f i r s t w i l l deal with the nature of this alternative approach and i t s epistemological and ontological foundations. The second section of the chapter w i l l consist of an e x p l i c a t i o n of the procedural aspects of this approach. 1 One of the major premises of the "Hermeneutic" approach to the analysis of assumptions i s that science i s both an empirical phenomenon or a c t i v i t y and a s o c i o - h i s t o r i c a l phenomenon.1 It follows that s c i e n t i f i c knowledge neither r e f l e c t s presuppositionless "bare f a c t s " , as the orthodox consensus holds, nor t o t a l l y s o c i a l l y constructed b e l i e f s with no l a s t i n g truth value, as is implied in the strong programme in the 1The term Hermeneutic is written in upper case in order to indicate that i t refers to the s p e c i f i c approach being discussed in this inquiry. 28 sociology of knowledge. According to this view, then, there are facts in science which are themselves constrained by socio-c u l t u r a l and h i s t o r i c a l influences. This much corresponds to the weak programme in the sociology of knowledge. However, the Hermeneutic approach d i f f e r s from the weak programme on procedural grounds, broadly speaking. The Hermeneutic approach to the analysis of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions draws i t s major insights from the works of Hans Gadamer (1975,1976,1981) and in p a r t i c u l a r , from his notion of "philosophical hermeneutics". According to Gadamer (1981) f i r s t , By hermeneutics i s understood the theory or art of explication or interpretation (p.88). And secondly, Now, interpretation refers not only to the explication of the actual intention of a d i f f i c u l t text. Interpretation becomes an expression for getting behind the surface phenomena (p.100). These quotations point to a d i f f e r e n t way of addressing the problem of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions. That i s , a l l the previously discussed approaches have in common the tendency to rely on a "method", as in "instrument" or "technique", on the basis of which one may analyse,for example, a particular text or, a group of researchers. This is true for the e a r l i e r discussed sociology of knowledge views, as well as for t r a d i t i o n a l hermeneutical approaches, in so far as the attempt is made to design techniques to determine such things as the background 29 motivations of various authors or, the p h i l o l o g i c a l significance of language presented in a h i s t o r i c a l text (Gadamer, 1975). However, there are questions that arise as to whether the employment of empirical methods i s the only way to accomplish the task of providing a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of a research t r a d i t i o n . That i s , the question may be asked whether i t is important to do some serious thinking about the very approach that a particular t r a d i t i o n has taken toward i t s research. In other words, perhaps i t is necessary to step back from the usual procedures employed in that t r a d i t i o n in order to explicate i t s basic assumptions. The tendency to seek causal explanations may, in t h i s case, contradict the purpose of the enterprise (Simonds, 1978). The foregoing discussion points to the distinguishing feature of Gadamer's notion of philosophical hermeneutics and the Hermeneutic approach. That i s , the goal of philosophical hermeneutics i s to get at what "method misses". In the s c i e n t i f i c context, t h i s approach is meant to be complementary to the work undertaken by an ongoing research t r a d i t i o n . To paraphrase Gadamer (1975, 1981), i t i s a process of distinguishing what is undecided from what i s e f f e c t i v e l y held, in order to a s s i s t in separating out true and false presuppositions by r e f e r r i n g to the broader context of meaning or, the connection of s c i e n t i f i c l i t e r a t u r e to t o t a l human experience.. The task of the Hermeneutic approach i s , then, to r e f l e c t on and question the way in which a research t r a d i t i o n 30 understands i t s e l f . That i s , i t considers the ways in which different f i e l d s of study orient themselves by virtue of. the perspective that they take up on their research, i m p l i c i t l y or e x p l i c i t l y . The phrase " t o t a l human experience" indicates a central concern for such things as the epistemological and ontological issues that arise from the analysis of a pa r t i c u l a r t r a d i t i o n that researchers find themselves in. In this sense, Hermeneutics is the r e f l e c t i v e element of the continuous appropriation of t r a d i t i o n in which we engage as h i s t o r i c a l l y existing beings (Misgeld,1976, p.169) . The idea that one always "finds oneself" engaged in a particular t r a d i t i o n i s central to the Hermeneutic approach. That i s , in agreement with Gadamer, prejudices or assumptions are not necessarily negative phenomena. They arise inevitably out of man's perspectival situation in the world, and his subsequent i n a b i l i t y to gain a value-neutral or transcendental position from which to observe his world and himself. Consequently, human beings understand their world inevitably from a pa r t i c u l a r point of view. It is not, therefore, a situation in which i f a l l biases could be eliminated, "the" truth would become evident. It should be emphasized that this does not necessarily imply a su b j e c t i v i s t understanding of perception and knowledge. Rather, i t suggests a position that claims that human beings both constitute and are constituted by their world, in a kind of c i r c u l a r causality (Merleau-31 Ponty,1962). 1 I t f o l l o w s from t h i s d i s c u s s i o n that the n o t i o n of absolute t r u t h as presupposed in the orthodox consensus, i s untenable. Furthermore, i n the Hermeneutic approach there can be no such t h i n g as a n e u t r a l "observation language". That i s , t h e search fo r t r u t h i s not an attempt to s p e c i f y a set of sense- data statements which c o u l d be t r a n s l a t e d i n t o u n i v e r s a l l y v a l i d knowledge statements. This procedure becomes i m p l a u s i b l e s i n c e any knowledge statement that c o u l d be formulated "already" c o n t a i n s t h e o r e t i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s . T r u t h i n general and in s c i e n c e r e f l e c t s , ... the i n e v i t a b l e and i n t r i c a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p between s c i e n t i f i c knowledge and the context-per s o n a l , h i s t o r i c a l and i d e o l o g i c a l - - from which such knowledge emerges (Labouvie-Vief & Chandler,1978,p.183). From the p o i n t of view of s c i e n t i f i c language, t h i s means t h a t , There are no p r i v i l e g e d o c c a s i o n s for the use of terms - no 'simple p e r c e p t u a l s i t u a t i o n s ' - which provide the r e s e a r c h e r with 'standard meanings' uncomplicated by c u l t u r a l v a r i a b l e s (Barnes & Bloor, 1982, p.38). *h d e t a i l e d d i s c u s s i o n of t h i s p o i n t , in the context of Merleau-Ponty's views, l e t alone other authors, i s beyond the scope of t h i s study. The i n t e n t i o n i s simply to i n d i c a t e in a general way the p o s i t i o n I am adopting on t h i s i s s u e and how i t f i t s i n with the o v e r a l l approach of the i n q u i r y . 32 This perspective suggests that the a c t i v i t y of questioning assumptions and meanings i s an integral part of the ongoing s c i e n t i f i c enterprise (Braybrooke, 1965; Gadamer, 1981; Giddens, 1982; Schroots, 1982). Biases, assumptions and meanings are an i n t r i n s i c part of what constitutes s c i e n t i f i c knowledge. They become problematic only when they are not made e x p l i c i t . That i s , on the one hand, as long as we ignore the p o s s i b i l i t y that they are operating, a l b e i t often t a c i t l y , then a vulnerable s i t u a t i o n i s created in which, as discussed in Chapter 1, questionable assumptions may be discovered af t e r the fa c t . On the other hand, even though t o t a l c l a r i t y may never be attained in thi s matter, by acknowledging these biases and explicating them we are at least proceeding in the right d i r e c t i o n . 1 Recently, a similar point has been made by Birren & Hedlund (1982) and Schroots (1982) with regard to the issue of metaphors in aging research. According to their analyses we are always operating e x p l i c i t l y or i m p l i c i t l y with metaphors. That i s , "perceived r e a l i t y " which gets expressed, or more correctly gets constructed through language is p a r t i a l l y metaphorical. These ontological and epistemological considerations indicate that there may be a variety of st a r t i n g points for understanding any par t i c u l a r aspect of r e a l i t y . 1 T o t a l c l a r i t y i s of course impossible in p r i n c i p l e for someone l i k e Gadamer since the si t u a t i o n i s always perspectival and dynamic. Gadamer disagrees with Habermas (1971), for example, on t h i s point in that the l a t t e r holds that ideal communication is at least in p r i n c i p l e a possible end point. 33 As Chapter 1 pointed out, i t follows that i t i s c r u c i a l to identify and analyse the content of various metaphors or basic assumptions that may be contained in a particular s c i e n t i f i c d i s c i p l i n e , since they influence the directions of the research. In other words, they guide the research towards a p a r t i c u l a r perceived r e a l i t y , both at the individual level and at the level of the " c o l l e c t i v e i n t e l l e c t " (Marton, 1981), or " c o l l e c t i v e mind" (Scheler, 1980). It i s important to analyse assumptions and metaphors for the additional reason that i t may be possible to entertain alternative assumptions or starting points in research. The f i r s t section of t h i s chapter has comprised an attempt to describe the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the Hermeneutic approach to the analysis of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions, and to distinguish i t from the positions discussed in Chapter 2. In t h i s regard,a number of the epistemological and ontological issues that underly this approach have been i d e n t i f i e d . The next section w i l l consist of a further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of this approach as well as a discussion of how one goes about applying i t to the f i e l d of psychosocial gerontology. 2 The impetus behind the Hermeneutic approach to the analysis of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions is to provide a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of a research t r a d i t i o n (Chapter 1). Such an 34 approach operates at a broad, meta-empirical l e v e l . Borrowing from Simonds (1978), the task is to formulate a "characterization of a t o t a l s i t u a t i o n " . However, as the previous section indicated, the way that one goes about doing t h i s does not necessarily involve "causal" mechanisms or methods. That i s , an alternative procedure can be suggested as a way to deal with the general problem of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions or, what has also been termed, the relationship between ( s c i e n t i f i c ) thought and i t s e x i s t e n t i a l base (Simonds,1978). In the Hermeneutic approach the attempt is being made to perceive what is globally "questionable" in research, whether the questions pertain to c u l t u r a l , s o c i a l , epistemological or empirical considerations. There are four steps in the Hermeneutic approach. The f i r s t step i s to i d e n t i f y an i n i t i a l idea or tentative characterization, from perusing the empirical l i t e r a t u r e of a t r a d i t i o n . That i s , one attempts to identify a persistent theme in a considerable number of studies. Second, one proceeds to explicate, elaborate on, refine and c l a r i f y the o r i g i n a l insight, and continuously determine whether i t i s developing along the o r i g i n a l l i n e s of thinking. In the case of psychosocial gerontology, the i n i t i a l idea is that there appear to be two characterizations i d e n t i f i a b l e in the l i t e r a t u r e : a r e s t r i c t e d picture and an expanded picture. In the attempt to begin to refine t h i s idea, the second step consists in delineating a manageable segment of the l i t e r a t u r e in the f i e l d . A consideration of the major positions on i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence w i l l serve this purpose. The 35 reasons for this choice are that, in the f i r s t place, the major perspectives are i d e n t i f i a b l e in the l i t e r a t u r e , and secondly, these concepts point to s i g n i f i c a n t phenomena in the study of aging from a psychosocial perspective. The t h i r d step in the Hermeneutic approach is to examine statements, findings and methods contained in selected views to discover commonalities in the meanings of various phenomena. In t h i s inquiry, the a c t i v i t y i s directed to identifying commonalities in the meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence, with the general ideas of restrictedness and expansiveness in mind. Having arrived at a further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the i n i t i a l characterization of the research, the fourth and f i n a l step in the Hermeneutic approach is to place the findings in the context of what was e a r l i e r termed, t o t a l human experience. This step i s accomplished by r e f l e c t i n g on the epistemological and ontological presuppositions that are contained in the selected l i t e r a t u r e . The claim here i s that at t h i s broad l e v e l the selected research constitutes an answer to a pa r t i c u l a r question as to, for example, the nature of man. This i s what Gadamer (1981) means by ... the broader context of meaning encompassed by the question and deposited in the statement (p.106). In the present study t h i s broad questioning exercise is to be directed to the characterization of the research on i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence that was achieved in step 3. An important aspect of t h i s l a s t step i s the analysis of the 36 meanings of related phenomena. That i s , a further refinement of the characterization of psychosocial gerontology can be had by c l a r i f y i n g the meanings of aging, the older person, and death and dying, that are contained in the l i t e r a t u r e . The result of viewing the l i t e r a t u r e of psychosocial gerontology through the Hermeneutic approach i s , as discussed e a r l i e r (Prologue and Chapter 1), a further c l a r i f i c a t i o n , elaboration and legitimation of an issue that a number of researchers are already struggling with in the f i e l d . The distinguishing feature of the Hermeneutic approach in this connection is that i t attempts to explicate an overall picture or, understanding of the f i e l d , without reducing the process to any single explanatory framework, such as those discussed in Chapter 2. The Hermeneutic approach, as a more "philosophical" inquiry, (Chapter 1) has been indicated to be an important aspect of s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y , in the broad sense of that term. However, beyond t h i s , a possible objection to this procedure is that, under such an open-ended view one could e s s e n t i a l l y "do anything". In answer to t h i s , although the approach i s somewhat open-ended, involves a certain amount of i n t u i t i o n , and may produce works that are to some degree idiosyncratic, t h i s does not lead to the conclusion that "anything goes". The findings of the Hermeneutic approach are, by design, not v e r i f i a b l e or testable in the usual s c i e n t i f i c sense, that i s , by means of s t a t i s t i c a l or experimental procedures. However, they are subject to the canons of reason, and to considerations of 37 interest, effectiveness, adequacy, consistency, and usefulness . The same point has been made with regard to the idea of metaphors discussed e a r l i e r (p.31), namely, that, ... there can be no routine method for (1) detecting metaphors when they appear ... or (2) unpacking the metaphor once i t is known to be one ... (Cohen, 1978, p.9). Nevertheless, metaphors can be evaluated as to their usefulness, effectiveness and adequacy. There i s an element of detective work in this approach; however, there i s good detective work, along with bad. Furthermore, even though the Hermeneutic approach does not constitute a "method", as a "thesis of explication" (Braybrooke, 1965), i t is subject to counterexamples and c r i t i c i s m from viable alternative explications. Such an approach to the analysis of assumptions and meanings allows for both an a n a l y t i c a l dimension and a creative one, by means of which i t may be possible to gain some general insights into our understanding of aging and older persons, in psychosocial gerontology. 38 Conclusion In this chapter there has been presented an alternative approach to the problem of the analysis of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions and meanings, one which provides the perspective from which to view the empirical l i t e r a t u r e of psychosocial gerontology in Chapters 4 and 5. This position is somewhat open-ended and f l e x i b l e while s t i l l adhering to familiar forms of philosophical inquiry and reasoning. In addition, a number of reasons have been indicated in support of the claim that the Hermeneutic approach is p a r t i c u l a r l y suited to providing a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of psychosocial gerontology. 39 CHAPTER 4 RESTRICTED AND EXPANDED PERSPECTIVES ON GERONTOLOGICAL  INTELLECTUAL AND SOCIAL COMPETENCE The analysis presented in Chapter 3 has provided a particular rationale for taking a broad look at the l i t e r a t u r e of psychosocial gerontology. This rationale is based on the procedure of explicating meanings of phenomena central to the f i e l d which are "deposited" (Gadamer, 1981) in statements, findings and methods in various studies and perspectives. The present chapter w i l l consist of an investigation of t h i s l i t e r a t u r e based on the guidelines set out in Chapter 3. S p e c i f i c a l l y , t h i s chapter corresponds to the th i r d step of the Hermeneutic approach. That i s , there w i l l be an attempt to characterize the research by iden t i f y i n g commonalities in the meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence in selected perspectives, with the o r i g i n a l insights regarding restrictedness and expansiveness as reference points. In general, the r e s t r i c t e d picture r e f l e c t s an understanding of i n t e l l e c t u a l and social competence that emphasizes universal, youth centered, age related and b i o l o g i c a l l y based explanations, that almost always result in a decremental conclusion regarding advanced human aging. In contrast, the expanded picture contains an understanding of these phenomena that emphasizes contextual, gerontological or life- s p a n centered, process related views, that allow for the p o s s i b i l i t y of incremental as 40 well as decremental conclusions to be drawn regarding human aging. Selected Restricted Perspectives As indicated in Chapter 3 , the concepts of i n t e l l e c t u a l and so c i a l competence were selected to represent an appropriate focal point for the analysis of the psychosocial gerontological l i t e r a t u r e . To repeat, t h i s is the case because these areas of study concern phenomena that have been and are of central concern to researchers in this area. Furthermore, one can i n i t i a l l y identify the major perspectives that deal with these phenomena. The views which have been chosen for analysis are i l l u s t r a t i v e of the issues of concern, that i s , i l l u s t r a t i v e of competing perspectives on i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence. The selection of perspectives i s a necessary step since i t i s not possible to be exhaustive in such a wide-ranging f i e l d as psychosocial gerontology. A further point of c l a r i f i c a t i o n i s that, consistent with the Hermeneutic approach, these perspectives are viewed as presenting a particular theme rather than as members of a s t r i c t typology. That i s , the selected perspectives exhibit c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of restrictedness in di f f e r e n t ways and to varying degrees and can be i d e n t i f i e d and discussed on t h i s basis. 41 I n t e l l e c t u a l Competence Psychometric Intelligence. As a starting point for the explication of the r e s t r i c t e d picture of aging in psychosocial gerontology, consider the research on gerontological (and adult) i n t e l l e c t u a l competence. This research can be divided into two main streams or approaches; the psychometric t r a d i t i o n and the Piagetian or cognitive developmental t r a d i t i o n . The work of Wechsler (1958), Horn (1978) and Horn and Donaldson (1980) have been chosen as examples of the psychometric approach, as these perspectives contain the main elements of this p o s i tion. To begin with Wechsler (1958), consider the following claim: The peak age varies with the a b i l i t y in question, but the decline occurs in a l l mental measures of a b i l i t y , including those employed in tests of i n t e l l i g e n c e (p.135). And, in r e f e r r i n g to certain psychologists, there i s ...the refusal...to accept the indicated decline of i n t e l l e c t u a l a b i l i t y with age and by implication of in t e l l i g e n c e (p.138). These quotations are indicative of the theme of restrictedness in Wechsler's position in the following ways. F i r s t , with regard to the meaning of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence that i s contained in t h i s view, there i s v i r t u a l l y an isomorphism between age, i n t e l l e c t u a l performance, i n t e l l e c t u a l competence, and even in t e l l i g e n c e i t s e l f as a unidimensional, 42 " r e a l " faculty, and f i n a l l y , an e x p l i c i t assumption of universal decline. For Wechsler, what is measured by the tests represents " i n t e l l i g e n c e " , at least to a s i g n i f i c a n t degree. Moreover, thi s faculty is in the head of the person. In other words, int e l l i g e n c e i s something "which one has" (Fischer, 1973). F i n a l l y , t h i s faculty declines with age, a process that begins somewhere between 18 and 25 years of age. With these assumptions and meanings in place, Wechsler proceeds to view the many possible objections to his position as "anomalies" to his 'correct' view of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence. Thus, for example, the work of Bayley and Oden (1955) which shows improvement on in t e l l i g e n c e tests or lack of decline beyond age 25, is seen as a special case due to superior samples. Improved performance i s viewed by Wechsler as being a function of higher i n i t i a l a b i l i t y or, as the result of a practice phenomenon which enables these people to do better on various t e s t s . No other questions are asked. Si m i l a r l y , Wechsler refers to the notion of "sagacity" as the a b i l i t y to deal with l i f e ' s situations in terms of past experience (p.143). However, for him this sagacity i s not equivalent to i n t e l l e c t u a l a b i l i t y or general i n t e l l i g e n c e . In other words, what in t e l l i g e n c e r e a l l y " i s " , is that which is measured by the tests which in turn i s something inherent, i n t r i n s i c , unitary, perhaps inherited, but c e r t a i n l y b i o l o g i c a l l y based and subject to i r r e v e r s i b l e , inevitable decline. Sagacity or p r a c t i c a l wisdom in th i s context is nothing more than an epiphenomenon, that i s , a wispy remnant of 43 the past by means of which'adults and older persons stumble their way through l i f e on the basis of past habits. This conclusion i s not an exaggeration of Wechsler's position, in so far as there appears to be for him, no " i n t e l l i g e n c e " component in "sagacity". The same r e s t r i c t e d picture of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence may also be seen in the works of Horn (1978) and Horn and Donaldson (1980). However, there are some important differences between their work and Wechsler's. For one thing, their view makes certain assumptions more e x p l i c i t than does Wechsler's, especially with regard to the b i o l o g i c a l bases of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence. In addition, the meaning of i n t e l l i g e n c e i s more complex in this perspective. Rather than trying to specify a number of primary mental a b i l i t i e s or a r e i f i e d faculty (Spearman, 1927) measured by a composite score on i n t e l l i g e n c e tests (Wechsler, 1958) which gives a measure of in t e l l i g e n c e per se; Horn (1978) develops a set of second-order a b i l i t i e s which, in e f f e c t , measure two d i f f e r e n t types of i n t e l l i g e n c e . The dyadic theory of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence employed by Horn and Donaldson distinguishes the notions of f l u i d and c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e . According to Horn (1978) there is no pure measure of either component since, Each of these a b i l i t i e s is a conglomerate of several a b i l i t i e s indexed by many measures (Horn, 1978, c i t e d in Hultsch & Deutsch, 1981). Nevertheless, although there is no pure measure of f l u i d or 44 c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e , some tests are " r e l a t i v e l y pure measures of one or the other" (cited in Hultsch & Deutsch, 1981, p.100). With regard to the nature of these two kinds of i n t e l l i g e n c e , the f l u i d type is seen as referencing those a b i l i t i e s that are c u l t u r e - f a i r (Labouvie-Vief,1977). That i s , th i s type of intelligence has l i t t l e to do with learning and s o c i a l i z a t i o n and represents the genetic, maturational, b i o l o g i c a l component of this phenomenon. However, whereas for Wechsler the tendency i s to understand inte l l i g e n c e as being based exclusively on t h i s bio-maturational component, Horn and Donaldson claim that i t is also important to consider c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e . This second type of int e l l i g e n c e references those a b i l i t i e s that presuppose learning and acculturation. A b i l i t i e s associated with c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e are measured by c u l t u r a l l y relevant materials and represent such things as stored information and manipulated knowledge of word meanings. The important point for present purposes is that, prime facie, t h i s perspective presents an understanding of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence in which there i s at least the p o s s i b i l i t y that certain aspects of adult and gerontological intelligence are modifiable or, not subject to universal, inevitable decline. This is the case since dimensions of c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e are based on one's experience and environment. Although f l u i d i n telligence is subject to progressive decline with age due to i t s intimate connection with a b i o l o g i c a l substrate, c r y s t a l l i z e d 45 i n t e l l i g e n c e may remain stable over the life-span and even improve in certa i n cases. However, a closer look at thi s perspective w i l l show that i t contains the same major assumption as the previously discussed view. That i s , even though Horn and Donaldson allow for some incremental performance with age, in this perspective int e l l i g e n c e remains ultimately tied to a b i o l o g i c a l substrate in the strong sense of that term. S p e c i f i c a l l y , according to Horn (1970) c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e evolves out of f l u i d i n t e l l i g e n c e and eventually declines; i t just happens later in the life-span (Cited in Labouvie-Vief, 1977). I n t e l l e c t u a l competence, in toto, then, does decline, either as a result of the b i o l o g i c a l time-clock running down or as a result of outside assaults on the central nervous system (CNS) such as i l l n e s s and or injury. F l u i d and c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e are not, therefore, discrete concepts but are both causally related to b i o l o g i c a l aging. (This issue w i l l be discussed in more d e t a i l in Chapter 5). In conclusion, both of the representative perspectives discussed in this section contain an understanding of inte l l i g e n c e that indicates that there is a strong connection between age, i n t e l l e c t u a l performance, i n t e l l e c t u a l competence and universal, b i o l o g i c a l l y based decline. In fact, i f one looks at Horn and Donaldson (1980) one can see a new attempt at the development of a "G" (general intelligence) factor based on a b i l i t y i n t e r c o r r e l a t i o n s . Presumably, in so far as they are successful in thi s attempt, there would be further 'evidence' 46 for age-related decrements in i n t e l l e c t u a l competence that are b i o l o g i c a l l y , p h y s i o l o g i c a l l y , neurologically and genetically based. As a f i n a l remark, the claim could be made that " c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e " , l i k e Wechsler's "sagacity", does not represent what is " r e a l " about i n t e l l e c t u a l competence for Horn & Donaldson, but rather some sort of past-constituted a b i l i t y that c a r r i e s one through adulthood and old age. One is reminded of the aphorism that once you have learned to ride a bicycle, you never forget; or, more precisely, i t takes longer to forget. The analysis presented in t h i s section, following the procedure developed in Chapter 3, of questioning and explicating the meaning of gerontological i n t e l l e c t u a l competence in the psychometric t r a d i t i o n , has provided a preliminary characterization of that research. In the next section, attention w i l l be directed to the cognitive developmental t r a d i t i o n for the purpose of showing that the same basic assumptions regarding i n t e l l i g e n c e are evident. Piagetian Intelligence. The works of Hooper, Fitzgerald and Papalia (1971) and Papalia (1972), have been chosen as representative instances of the cognitive developmental . or Piagetian approach to i n t e l l e c t u a l competence in adulthood and old age. As with the views discussed in the previous section, the present perspective w i l l be shown to argue for inevitable, 47 i r r e v e r s i b l e and normal decline with age, with respect to cognitive 'development'. In fact, in this view there i s an e x p l i c i t attempt to connect Piagetian measures of adult cognitive development with the f l u i d i n t elligence measures in Horn's theory (Papalia, 1972, p.238). These views w i l l also be seen to be similar in the sense that adult cognitive functioning is taken to be causally related to a neural, maturational base. The d i s t i n c t i v e feature of Papalia's position is the thesis that in adulthood and old age there is a return to childhood in l o g i c a l functioning. That i s , persons are portrayed as losing certain a b i l i t i e s acquired in young adulthood and furthermore, this regression i s assumed to retrace the same law-like path by means of which one o r i g i n a l l y acquired these a b i l i t i e s or structures. Thus, formal operations are thought to be the last to appear and the f i r s t to go, followed by certain concrete operational structures, and so on. These structures are indexed by various conservation tests which are thought to reference d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of cognitive functioning. For example, conservation of volume is generally held to be an index of formal operational a b i l i t y , whereas conservation of number is thought to be associated with concrete operations. Older people are thought by Papalia et a l to f a i l these tests in the order of their d i f f i c u l t y , that i s , the most complex tests are f a i l e d f i r s t as one progresses across the lif e - s p a n . A further elucidation of thi s perspective can be had by examining the following quotations: Ajuria Guerra and his colleagues noted the 48 disintegration of object permanence, time concepts, and conservation of physical quantity with advanced age and .accompanying s e n i l i t y (Papalia, 1972 , p.231). And, disintegration of l o g i c a l operations a b i l i t i e s i s thought to be an indication of neural decrement and, perhaps impending death (p.241). This last remark regarding "impending death" presents a clear instance of a decline metaphor in thi s approach. The reference here is to the "terminal drop" argument (Riegel & Riegel,1972). The claim of this study is that certain decrements in i n t e l l e c t u a l functioning can be seen as normal when they occur near death, that i s , there i s a steep decline in the last few years of l i f e . When this steep decline i s confounded with o v e r a l l scores, then i t appears as though more ontogenetic decrement is taking place than actually is the case , except for those persons who are, after the fact, seen to have been close to death. However, these findings, are interpreted by Papalia as indications that i f an older person is showing cognitive decrement, for example, loss of formal operational structures,that i s , f a i l u r e on conservation of volume tests, then he or she i s on the way to s e n i l i t y and death. Despite the claim of Papalia and her colleagues, there are reasons to raise questions concerning the appropriateness of 49 using tests of formal operations as a way of indexing general i n t e l l i g e n c e This issue has been addressed in at least three important ways. One way has been to show that i t is possible that few persons of any age have achieved the formal operational level (Dulit,1972). This is s i g n i f i c a n t since one of the basic premises of Papalia's position i s that older people who are claimed to have lost t h i s l e v e l of functioning did in fact once have i t . Since one cannot lose that which one has never had, the question is how can f a i l i n g these conservation tests necessarily indicate decline. A second argument has centered around the attempt to show that formal operational functioning may contain educational or experiential components and that therefore the observed 'regression' is a function of generational and not ontogenetic change (Labouvie-Vief,1977). Third, the suggestion has been made that the formal operational level lacks ecological v a l i d i t y , that i s , i t does not r e f l e c t the way that older people go about their world making decisions and solving problems. In this context, i t has been argued that mature i n t e l l i g e n c e involves paradoxical, d i a l e c t i c a l thinking and not an abstract consideration of formula-like alternatives in vacuo (Chandler,1975). A further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of th i s perspective can be had by examining the Hooper et a l (1971) study. In the discussion of animistic and egocentric thinking among the e l d e r l y (p.8), i t i s claimed that there i s a return to childhood concepts in senescence, a point already considered. However, in addition, the claim i s made that, 5 0 This change is presumably due to the decline in mental a b i l i t y which accompanies s e n i l i t y (p.8). It i s important to point out that Hooper et a l are not referr i n g only to groups of senile elderly persons. The claim is a normative one, that i s , the assumption here is that s e n i l i t y i s an expected outcome of human aging. In summary, there i s in this perspective, similar to the discussion of the psychometric position, an understanding of adult i n t e l l i g e n c e that r e f l e c t s a very strong connection among age, cognitive functioning, decline, and even approaching death. Moreover, this state of a f f a i r s i s seen as inevitable and i r r e v e r s i b l e since i t i s b i o l o g i c a l l y produced, that i s , i t i s part of the human time-clock. In concluding to thi s point in the chapter, the application of the approach developed in Chapter 3 , which permits an investigation of statements and findings contained in selected perspectives, has shown that there are certain understandings or meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence common to a l l the foregoing research. Moreover, t h i s common understanding r e f l e c t s what i s being termed a r e s t r i c t e d picture of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence in the l a t e r years. The next section w i l l consist of a similar analysis of gerontological s o c i a l competence. 51 Social Competence A second major domain relevant to the explication of the r e s t r i c t e d picture in psychosocial gerontology i s that of s o c i a l competence. There i s included in the general notion of s o c i a l competence, a certain amount of psychological as well as s o c i o l o g i c a l material and, consequently, the discussion under thi s heading centers around the issue of gerontological psychosocial competencies. As with the previous section, the intention here is to ident i f y selected perspectives as " r e s t r i c t e d " , by explicating the special meanings of s o c i a l competence contained in these studies. The l i t e r a t u r e in this area presents an even greater selection problem than does the i n t e l l i g e n c e l i t e r a t u r e and i s b a s i c a l l y comprised of a highly amorphous body of information. Consequently, a number of central perspectives that have emerged in research w i l l be considered as selected examples of these positions. Di sengagement Theory. What has been referred to as "disengagement theory" (Cumming,1964; Cumming & Henry,1961; Henry,1965), deserves considerable attention in the present context since i t i s in many ways the quintessential r e s t r i c t e d perspective in the area of s o c i a l competence. As was the case with the previously discussed perspectives in the area of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence, i t w i l l be shown that there are very strong presuppositions within disengagement theory which connect the phenomena of age and disengagement with i r r e v e r s i b l e , 52 inevitable, biomaturational, universal, normative, decline and death. That this i s so can be seen by examining the argument set forth by Cumming & Henry (1961, pp.210-218). The basic argument which they present can be summarized in the following five points. F i r s t , despite individual differences, "the expectation of death is universal and decrement of a b i l i t y is probable, therefore a mutual severing of t i e s w i l l take place between a person and others in his society" (p.211). According to this view, death i s the only t o t a l disengagement, but "this side" of death, t o t a l disengagement refers to "basic l i f e functions". The second major point i s that since the person i s assumed by Cumming and Henry to be s o c i a l l y constituted, that i s , since s o c i a l norms "found" personality and since with age, these norms become less structured, a process is set in motion by means of which the older person disengages s o c i a l l y and psychologically due to the freedom from s o c i a l control and increasing eccentric or i n t e r i o r behavior (pp.211-212). Third, i t i s assumed that disengagement may be i n i t i a t e d on the one hand by an individual who sees that he is declining in "knowledge and s k i l l " (p.213), that i s , who is f a i l i n g on production-oriented competencies (Chapter 5). On the other hand, in an i n d u s t r i a l i z e d society disengagement may be i n i t i a t e d by "organizational imperatives" based on age-graded mechanisms which allow for a kind of planned obsolescence and replacement. It is not that such a procedure is meant to insult older people, i t is just that they have reached a certain age, 53 the obsolete age. Disengagement, according to Cumming and Henry, is consequently seen as being b u i l t in, l i k e maturation (p.213). A fourth and related point i s that the only situation in which real problems occur for older persons is i f society wishes to disengage them and they do not want to. In other words, as long as one conforms to the larger picture, for one's own and society's good, an overall equilibrium is maintained. In any case, disengagement is not so bad, these authors claim, since there are hobbies, l e i s u r e , and " . . . s a t i s f a c t i o n with what has been, rather than a pride in what i s " (p.216). The assumption of this perspective is that s o c i a l competence r e f l e c t s an a b i l i t y to "wait" for the ultimate disengagement (death). The f i f t h and f i n a l point which these authors make is that disengagement, l i k e f l u i d i n t e l l i g e n c e , is a "culture-free" phenomenon, although i t w i l l take d i f f e r e n t forms in di f f e r e n t cultures, unlike the l a t t e r . Disengagement i s culture-free presumably because i t is ultimately t i e d to a b i o l o g i c a l base, that i s , the physical man tends to be the whole of man in young and old (p.221). Thus, in disengagement theory, there i s agreement with the view discussed in the previous section, that there is a "regression to i n f a n t i l e behavior" in the old person. In t h i s section attention has been focused on the o r i g i n a l formulation of the disengagement theory, as proposed by Cumming S< Henry (1961). Later versions of the theory, by Cumming (1964) and Henry (1965) do not r e f l e c t substantial changes in the theory. Although certain problems or anomalies have been 54 pointed out in the intervening years, the authors maintain the basic tenets of their o r i g i n a l p o s i t ion. This is the case even though Cumming (1964) states that The additions to the theory are u n t i d i l y grafted onto the o r i g i n a l formulation without regard to whether or not these contradict i t or s h i f t i t s focus (p.18). The second view that deserves attention in this section i s the sometimes c a l l e d psychological disengagement theory (Havighurst, Neugarten & Tobin, 1968; Neugarten, Havighurst & Tobin, 1968). This- perspective is similar to the position set forth by Cumming and Henry in the sense that the thrust of t h e i r work was to determine the mechanisms of disengagement. That i s , the purpose was to show that disengagement is i n i t i a l l y a developmental phenomenon that precedes so c i a l disengagement. In th i s view, disengagement i s a function of lowered ego-energies in later l i f e and not primarily a function of s o c i a l factors. In this way the theory attempts to separate the notion of " a c t i v i t y " from the notion of "engagement". That i s , one can be active but not engaged, not investing ego-energy in s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s . As a r e s u l t , one can get a better assessment of disengagement by making th i s d i s t i n c t i o n than by simply counting the number of roles or interactions a person i s involved i n . It should be pointed out that although t h i s perspective provides ...convincing evidence of decline in both s o c i a l and psychological engagement with increasing age (Havighurst, Neugarten & Tobin, 1968, p.171). 55 i t does indicate that there are d i f f e r e n t styles or ways of aging and that the uniformity of disengagement, and what i t means to any particular person, must be questioned. In p a r t i c u l a r , t h i s view does not assume that there i s an isomorphic relationship among a c t i v i t y (that i s , s o c i a l roles, or lack of s o c i a l r o l e s ) , engagement, and l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n or happiness. In t h i s version of the psychological disengagement theory, the focus s h i f t s from the outcome of s o c i a l disengagement to the processes which influence personality factors in aging. It is claimed that these factors are the products of l i f e l o n g development, and determine to a great extent, the pattern of successful aging by a person (See also Reichard, Livson & Peterson, 1968). Social competence, in this perspective has to do with how one disengages successfully from such things as mainstream s o c i a l l i f e and work, and success depends on one's personality; something which in turn, appears to be largely, a "given". To recapitulate, disengagement theory in a l l of i t s several manifestations, argues that there are mechanisms by which society and the individual mutually part company when the individual attains a certain age. Moreover, this process is seen as normal, and i s thought to be good for the individual and for society. As Hochschild (1976) points out, The independent variables are the individual's age (with i t s implied r e l a t i o n to death) and society's stance toward disengagement. The dependent variable 56 is disengagement (p.59). On the side of the equation representing the individual, there are various i n t r i n s i c processes which are thought to take place at a certain age, such as loss of object cathexis and a lack of a central task in l i f e . These phenomena are ultimately linked to b i o l o g i c a l , maturational processes including impending death. In psychological disengagement theory these- processes are seen to involve personality factors including l i f e - l o n g character patterns. On the soci e t a l side of the equation, there is mandatory retirement which f a c i l i t a t e s a 'natural' disengagement and completes the cycle. There are two important c r i t i c i s m s of the disengagement theory that have emerged which w i l l a s s i s t in the further characterization of this perspective on soc i a l competence. The f i r s t of these c r i t i c i s m s has to do with what Hochschild (1976, p.55) c a l l s the "escape clause problem". E s s e n t i a l l y , the claim is that, on the one hand, disengagement i s seen to be universal, inevitable and i n t r i n s i c , and on the other hand, the "form" and "timing" of disengagement i s thought to vary, depending on the culture and or individual under consideration. Consequently, when part i c u l a r groups of people do not appear to disengage, this is seen by Cumming and Henry (1961) and Henry (1965), as an anomaly due to the presence of some b i o l o g i c a l or psychological e l i t e group. Or, conversely, i t is assumed that these people have not "successfully" disengaged. There i s always a disengagement or decline explanation proferred, and no real counterevidence i s possible. This fact supports the claim that 57 there i s a "decline" bias in the disengagement theory in that other questions are simply not asked. In other words, there are diff e r e n t ways to "interpret" counterevidence, but only one way is considered. The second important c r i t i c i s m of the disengagement theory centers around the "omnibus variable problem" (Hochschild, 1976, p.59). In ef f e c t , this means that, as was discussed in the context of in t e l l i g e n c e , the attempt is being made to r e i f y disengagement as a unitary, one-dimensional process, which actually exists in the real world. The analysis of the foregoing perspectives indicates that they r e f l e c t the r e s t r i c t e d picture of gerontological s o c i a l competence. That i s , as with the discussion of in t e l l i g e n c e , the assumption i s that s o c i a l competence in the later years is to be understood as universal, age related, b i o l o g i c a l l y based decline. A c t i v i t y Theory. The disengagement theory, discussed in the previous section, and the related notion of " a c t i v i t y theory" (Lemon, Bengtson & Peterson, 1972) to be considered in this section, have in common the idea that successful aging amounts to an adjustment to changes in an individual's role structure. These views specify various b i o l o g i c a l , psychological and s o c i a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s that best account for this adjustment. Social competence., then, i s seen to be equivalent to successful adjustment as indexed by various instruments such as l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n and morale scales, role counts and responses to the Thematic Apperception Test. In the 58 disengagement theory, s o c i a l competence r e f l e c t s a strategic decline in interaction between the individual and his or her society; a decline which moreover, r e f l e c t s a declining person. By contrast, what is c a l l e d a c t i v i t y theory argues that the loss of s o c i a l roles that sometimes accompanies aging is negatively correlated with l i f e - s a t i s f a c t i o n or adjustment. The claim i s that older persons are a homogenous group in the sense that their needs and wants are similar to persons in middle age, and that the society p u l l s away from the older person, against his wishes. According to a c t i v i t y theory, then, the process of disengagement is not mutual, as i t is portrayed as being in c l a s s i c a l disengagement theory. In fact, withdrawal in this view is seen as dysfunctional and the older person should optimally develop substitute role systems that approximate those of middle-age, that have been withdrawn, in order to remain s o c i a l l y and psychologically adjusted. A new equilibrium must be restored at the l e v e l previously held in middle age. The logic of the a c t i v i t y theory is as follows. F i r s t , a c t i v i t y (interpersonal-formal and informal, and s o l i t a r y ) provides role support. Secondly, role support constitutes the self-concept of the person. Therefore, increased a c t i v i t y leads to a stronger self-concept, provides high l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n , successful adjustment to old age and indicates s o c i a l competence. In addition, the most important type of a c t i v i t y is the interpersonal type; s o l i t a r y a c t i v i t y does not improve the self-concept s i g n i f i c a n t l y , due to the fact that there is only a "symbolic" audience. 59 An example of formal i n t e r p e r s o n a l a c t i v i t y i s that which takes plac e in the work environment. Informal a c t i v i t y r e f e r s to such t h i n g s as i n t e r a c t i o n s with f r i e n d s and f a m i l y . S o l i t a r y a c t i v i t y r e f e r s to, for example, reading a book. For a c t i v i t y theory, the l a s t of these kinds of a c t i v i t y i s l e a s t conducive to s u c c e s s f u l aging, s i n c e i t does not i n v o l v e a c t u a l s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n , but only a v i c a r i o u s i n t e r a c t i o n through the authors that one reads. A c t i v i t y theory r e f l e c t s the r e s t r i c t e d p i c t u r e i n that a l l o l d e r people are h e l d to a standard set by g a i n f u l l y employed middle-aged persons. As such, they must s t r u g g l e against impending d e c l i n e i n s o c i a l competence brought on by f a c t o r s such as mandatory r e t i r e m e n t , which are e x t e r n a l l y imposed on them. The assumption of t h i s view i s that in so f a r as o l d e r persons are unable to r e p l a c e t h e i r o c c u p a t i o n a l r o l e s (formal i n t e r p e r s o n a l a c t i v i t y ) , they w i l l have a d i f f i c u l t time remaining s o c i a l l y and p e r s o n a l l y competent. T h i s i s the case s i n c e both younger and o l d e r persons are regarded as e s s e n t i a l l y s o c i a l beings. (This i s s u e w i l l be d i s c u s s e d in more d e t a i l i n Chapter 5). Under these c o n d i t i o n s , d e c l i n e i s the expected outcome. A L i f e Course Perspect i v e . Another p e r s p e c t i v e that deserves a t t e n t i o n in t h i s s e c t i o n i s represented by the works of Neugarten (1969), Neugarten & Datan (1973) and Neugarten & Hagestad (1976). T h i s view may a l s o be seen to r e f l e c t the r e s t r i c t e d p i c t u r e , although in a d i f f e r e n t manner from the p e r s p e c t i v e s p r e v i o u s l y mentioned. The d i s t i n g u i s h i n g f e a t u r e 60 of this version of the L i f e Course view is that i t attempts to deal e x p l i c i t l y with the "intersection" of personality and so c i a l variables as they bear upon the problem of s o c i a l competence, and consequently does not view older persons as exclusively s o c i a l beings. However, i t is s t i l l a r e s t r i c t e d view since i t presumes both personal r i g i d i t y and a s t a t i c society. This interpretation can be supported in the following way. In the Neugarten et a l perspective there i s a presumed intersection between b i o l o g i c a l time, social time and h i s t o r i c a l time. B i o l o g i c a l or " l i f e t i m e " is divided up into s o c i a l l y relevant units and, Lifetime becomes translated into social time, and chronological age into s o c i a l age (Neugarten & Hagestad, 1976, p.35). In addition, individuals are assumed to be regulated by t h i s s o c i a l age as a function of the fact that they internalize a soc i a l clock "...that t e l l s them whether they are on time or off time" (1976, p.35). Although the pa r t i c u l a r behaviors that are prescribed by society d i f f e r by culture and h i s t o r i c a l time, there are thought to be i d e n t i f i a b l e modal patterns of behavior that are normative for that society. Neugarten (1969,p.122) maintains, for example, that in western culture older persons should begin the "...yielding up of a sense of competency and authority...", and ought to "...maintain a sense of i n t e g r i t y in terms of what one 61 has been, rather than what one i s . . . " . The basic assumption contained in these statements is that b i o l o g i c a l age determines appropriate s o c i a l behavior. The further assumption i s that human beings decline b i o l o g i c a l l y to the point that the expected outcome, at least in western culture i s best described as obligatory disengagement. The foregoing analysis notwithstanding, there are a number of statements contained in t h i s perspective that might lead one to question the present characterization of Neugarten's views. For example,there is discussion in her work of the fact that the person, and e s p e c i a l l y the adult person, . . . i s a s e l f - p r o p e l l i n g individual who manipulates the environment to attain his goals (Neugarten, 1969, p.123) . And, In addition to cohort and other group differences, there are wide individual variations and idiosyncracies in the timing of role t r a n s i t i o n s (Neugarten & Hagestad, 1976, p.50). There is also the claim that in a complex society, the age-norms and expectations can change rapidly and there may even be a movement toward an age irrelevant society. These statements cannot be reconciled e a s i l y with other central assumptions of t h i s perspective. That i s , i t appears contradictory to state that, on the one hand, s o c i a l age 62 "regulates" a person fundamentally (that i s , "constitutes" the person) and, on the other hand, to maintain that people have choices. It i s also d i f f i c u l t to understand what is l e f t of the idea of an "...ordered and predictable l i f e course..." (1976, p.45) in a society that may be becoming age-irrelevant. Despite this apparent contradiction, however, the dominant meanings and assumptions contained within this perspective argue for the appropriateness of c l a s s i f y i n g i t as s t i l l another instance of what is described here as the r e s t r i c t e d picture of aging. A L i fe-Event Perspect ive. The f i n a l perspective to be considered in t h i s section is the l i f e - e v e n t framework that has been developed by Hultsch & Deutsch (1981). It i s t h i s and related approaches to life-span development that McPherson (1983,p.125) has in mind when he c a l l s the life-span perspective a "normative" view. However, not a l l life-span research f a l l s into this category and some exceptions w i l l be discussed in the next section. Nevertheless, i t is i n s t r u c t i v e to explicate the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of this version of the life- s p a n approach. Support for the position that the Hultsch and Deutsch l i f e -event perspective r e f l e c t s an understanding of s o c i a l competence that i s similar to those views already discussed comes from i t s emphasis upon po t e n t i a l l y "universal" stages in the l i f e - c y c l e (Levinson , 1 978, c i t e d in Hultsch & Deutsch,1981, p.229). There is also an emphasis on past personality as a determinant of present behavior (p.239), and a description of "coping strategies" which portrays them as d e b i l i t a t i v e experiences (p.245), p a r t i c u l a r l y for older persons. 63 Another indication of the r e s t r i c t e d picture contained within the Hultsch and Deutsch position is their assumption that theories such as Erikson (1963) are " e l i t i s t " , on the grounds that few people are thought to at t a i n higher lev e l s of int e g r i t y and wisdom (Hultsch & Deutsch,1981,p.316). This conclusion is both unwarranted and biased. It is unwarranted since i t is not possible at the present time to know how many people do or do not a t t a i n these higher levels, since i t is not obvious how one is to assess these l e v e l s . Second, the conclusion is biased in that i t assumes that a decremental d i r e c t i o n is more tr u l y representative of development. But even i f i t were to prove to be the case that most people are not "wise", however we measure wisdom, t h i s does not necessarily imply that t h i s "should" be or must be so. The Hultsch and Deutsch life-event perspective points out a number of important aspects of psychosocial behavior. The problem i s that i t interprets these phenomena in such a way that there i s l i t t l e room for other things to happen or other questions to be asked. On the whole, some attempt is made to accomodate the " d i v e r s i t y " of developmental t r a j e c t o r i e s v i s a v i s adult and gerontological s o c i a l competence; however, the underlying image is one of universal, age related decline. 1 1This c r i t i q u e of Hultsch & Deutsch (1981) is appropriate despite their inclusion of Riegel's (1975) perspective on the same issue as part of their framework. I s h a l l suggest in the next section that Riegel's perspective presents a d i f f e r e n t understanding of th i s matter. 64 Conclus ion The foregoing analysis,which r e f l e c t s the approach outlined in Chapter 3, supports the claim that a l l the views summarized contain common meanings or understandings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and soci a l competence. These common meanings center around a r e s t r i c t e d picture of aging as a process of universal decrement and decline. The next section w i l l provide a characterization of a number of alternative perspectives emerging in the l i t e r a t u r e of psychosocial gerontology which present a s i g n i f i c a n t l y d i f f e r e n t understanding of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence in the later years. Selected Expanded Perspectives The same rationale w i l l be followed in t h i s section as was employed previously. That i s , there w i l l be an attempt to explicate a number of emerging perspectives that contain s i m i l a r meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence. As was the case in the previous section, these perspectives are also selected views. Further, as the following exposition w i l l make c l e a r , there are degrees of "expansiveness" in these selected perspectives. In this connection, a number of views to be discussed f i r s t , w i l l be seen to c l e a r l y possess c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s unlike those explicated e a r l i e r ; yet, they remain in some ways r e s t r i c t e d r e l a t i v e to other s t i l l more extreme expanded views. For purposes of explication this family of moderately expanded 65 views w i l l be referred to as " p a r t i a l l y expanded" perspectives. I n t e l l e c t u a l Competence Adult Intelligence: P a r t i a l l y Expanded Views. The following perspectives on i n t e l l e c t u a l competence are placed in thi s section since, on the one hand/ they r e f l e c t an attempt to understand adult and gerontological i n t e l l e c t u a l competence in i t s own right, rather than viewing i t in re l a t i o n to youth. In addition, they argue for the p o s s i b i l i t y of i n t e l l e c t u a l growth throughout the l i f e - s p a n . On the other hand, these views a l l suffer from conceptual and theoretical d i f f i c u l t i e s which tend to make them somewhat r e s t r i c t e d . S p e c i f i c a l l y , the reference here i s to authors such as A r l i n (1975), F l a v e l l (1970), Kohlberg (1973), Riegel (1973b) and Schaie (1982). These p a r t i a l l y expanded views have as their s t a r t i n g point the assumption that there are d i f f e r e n t stages of cognitive (or moral) development that r e f l e c t competencies which are unique to adults and older persons. Thus, A r l i n (1975), for example, proposes a 5th stage of cognitive development termed a "problem-finding" stage which goes beyond Piaget's formal operational l e v e l . Although this account involves an i n i t i a l attempt at including such things as creative thinking in i t s characterization of adult i n t e l l e c t u a l competence, and consequently comprises an example of "new h e u r i s t i c s in adult thought" ( A r l i n , 1975, p.606), th i s view nevertheless suffers from the theoret i c a l d e f i c i e n c i e s that characterize certain r e s t r i c t e d views. 66 That i s , i t is not clear that one can postulate this 5th stage, which presupposes the' attainment of the formal operational l e v e l , i f , as discussed in the previous section (p.48), the universal or even usual attainment of the formal operational l e v e l i s i t s e l f questionable. In addition, this view deals with young adults (college seniors) and becomes problematic when generalized to older adults, since i t describes older persons only "by analogy". S i m i l a r i l y , the issue of cognitive developmental stages in adulthood has also been addressed by F l a v e l l (1970). F l a v e l l ' s main point i s that whereas childhood is characterized by b i o l o g i c a l , maturational development with a l l that this implies in the developmental framework (that i s , u n i v e r s a l i t y , u n i d i r e c t i o n a l i t y and i r r e v e r s i b i l i t y ) adulthood may be characterized by more environmental, experiential factors. For F l a v e l l , there is nothing developmental, s t r i c t l y speaking, about adulthood. This indicates that, in agreement with the e a r l i e r discussion, the post-Piagetian conceptual framework does not lend i t s e l f to an understanding of adult development. This conclusion is supported by F l a v e l l ' s assertion that an organismic, or more maturationally based approach provides an appropriate model for c h i l d development, but a more mechanistic, or s i t u a t i o n a l l y based model i s required to understand adulthood. F l a v e l l ' s approach conflates two very d i f f e r e n t ways of understanding and thinking about this issue, that i s , i t mixes paradigms or world-views. Such an orientation does not lend i t s e l f to a coherent understanding of adult i n t e l l e c t u a l 67 competence, p a r t i c u l a r l y i f one is interested in a life-span perspective. The most adequate and useful perspective on adult development that has i t s roots in the Piagetian t r a d i t i o n i s that of Riegel (1973b). More w i l l be said about th i s perspective presently. Before turning to a consideration of Riegel's work, however, there is another issue that deserves attention. The issue concerns those d i f f i c u l t i e s inherent in any stage theory of gerontological i n t e l l i g e n c e . The view expressed by Kolhberg (1973) exemplifies the nature of these d i f f i c u l t i e s and represents another attempt to specify certain more positive and s p e c i f i c a l l y adult cognitive competencies. Kohlberg's postulated 7th stage of moral reasoning is thought to require considerable life-experiences and p a r t i c u l a r l y experiences with moral dilemmas and r e f l e c t s a "cosmic" attitude or wisdom of old age (Kohlberg, 1973). Although t h i s perspective r e f l e c t s an attempt to ident i f y a positive and interesting way of understanding adult and gerontological i n t e l l e c t u a l competence, i t also suffers from serious t h e o r e t i c a l d e f i c i e n c i e s . As Kohlberg himself points out, there i s no single stage 7 structure, that i s , the instantiation of this stage is both c u l t u r a l l y r e l a t i v e and r e l a t i v e to individual l i f e h i s t o r i e s . Again, the d i f f i c u l t i e s with the cognitive developmental framework become apparent when i t i s placed in the gerontological context. In so far as these views must acknowledge the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the cognitive developmental paradigm or presuppose them, they appear to 68 generate problematic accounts of gerontological and adult cognitive competence. There i s a d i f f e r e n t kind of stage theory of life-span development that does not appear to be based on as s t r i c t conditions as the foregoing views. According to Schaie (1982), there are q u a l i t a t i v e l y d i f f e r e n t developmental tasks at varying points in the life-s p a n and these tasks r e f l e c t or depend on diffe r e n t forms of i n t e l l e c t u a l competencies. Thus, for example, the "task s p e c i f i c s k i l l s " required for the adolescent or young adult at college are di f f e r e n t from the "meaning-oriented" s k i l l s required at the "reintegrative" stage of the older adult. Consequently, "...common psychometric tests of inte l l i g e n c e are l i k e l y to prove inadequate..." (Schaie, 1982, p.267) at the la t e r periods of applying or interpreting l i f e s ituations, for assessing i n t e l l e c t u a l competence. This is p a r t i c u l a r l y the case with older people who may pay "...selective attention to cognitive demands that remain meaningful or atta i n new meaning" (Schaie, 1982, p.268). For Schaie, t h i s view requires rather drastic revisions in test items and and demands that test materials be high in ecological v a l i d i t y . This perspective more c l e a r l y r e f l e c t s the expanded picture than the other views so far considered; however, there i s a cautionary note to be made. One must be very careful not to r e i f y the stages proposed. In this connection Schaie acknowledges the contribution by Neugarten (1969) to his theory and the la t t e r has been described e a r l i e r as an example of a position that r e f l e c t s the r e s t r i c t e d picture 69 in that i t presumes u n i v e r s a l , normative stages of a d u l t development. As mentioned e a r l i e r , the f i n a l p e r s p e c t i v e to be c o n s i d e r e d i n t h i s s e c t i o n i s that of R i e g e l (1973b). R i e g e l ' s p e r s p e c t i v e on a d u l t i n t e l l e c t u a l competence has a good deal of t h e o r e t i c a l content, i n that he shows, w i t h i n the context of P i a g e t ' s framework, that there i s a l e v e l of c o g n i t i v e f u n c t i o n i n g beyond the formal o p e r a t i o n a l l e v e l . T h i s higher l e v e l , termed " d i a l e c t i c a l o p e r a t i o n s " , emerges from e a r l i e r l e v e l s of f u n c t i o n i n g . " D i a l e c t i c a l o p e r a t i o n s " r e f e r s to such things as a c a p a c i t y to l i v e with c o n t r a d i c t i o n s and an a b i l i t y to s y n t h e s i z e knowledge, as a r e s u l t of greater l i f e e xperience. On the b a s i s of h i s a n a l y s i s , R i e g e l c l a i m s that formal o p e r a t i o n s cannot represent the measure of mature i n t e l l i g e n c e . The n o t i o n t h a t t h i n k i n g at any age i s e s s e n t i a l l y d i a l e c t i c and not e q u i l i b r i u m - o r i e n t e d leads to a p o s i t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of c o g n i t i v e aging, i n that older people may not do w e l l on formal o p e r a t i o n a l measures but may do w e l l on d i a l e c t i c a l measures. The c l a i m i s that perhaps older people "should not" do w e l l on formal o p e r a t i o n a l t e s t s since these t e s t s are designed to assess an e a r l i e r l e v e l of i n t e l l i g e n c e that may no longer be dominant in o l d e r persons, since i t has been superseded by the d i a l e c t i c a l l e v e l . T h i s p e r s p e c t i v e t i e s in with Schaie's (1982) view that understanding i n t e l l i g e n c e i n adulthood i n v o l v e s more than the c o n s i d e r a t i o n of t a s k - s p e c i f i c s k i l l s which are h i g h l i g h t e d at the formal o p e r a t i o n a l stage of c h i l d r e n or a d o l e s c e n t s . For 70 R i e g e l , . . . f a c t o r s of i n t e r e s t s and m o t i v a t i o n s , p r a c t i c a l and s o c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e codetermine o p e r a t i o n s , o r i g i n a l l y thought of as being u n i v e r s a l q u a l i t i e s ( R i e g e l , 1973b, p.21). Conversely, formal o p e r a t i o n a l f u n c t i o n i n g i s seen to represent a process of i n c r e a s i n g a l i e n a t i o n of thought ( R i e g e l , 1973b). In summary, t h i s s e c t i o n has c o n s i d e r e d a number of p e r s p e c t i v e s which, d e s p i t e c e r t a i n t h e o r e t i c a l d e f i c i e n c i e s , suggest that i n t e l l e c t u a l growth i s p o s s i b l e throughout the l i f e - s p a n , and that there are phenomena unique to the i n t e l l e c t u a l development of o l d e r persons. In the f o l l o w i n g s e c t i o n a t t e n t i o n w i l l be turned to a number of p e r s p e c t i v e s on i n t e l l e c t u a l competence which even more c l e a r l y r e f l e c t the expanded p i c t u r e . These views b u i l d on some of the i n s i g h t s of the p o s i t i o n s c o n s i d e r e d in the present s e c t i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y those of R i e g e l and Schaie. Life-Review. An i n t e r e s t i n g example of an expanded view of g e r o n t o l o g i c a l i n t e l l e c t u a l competence i s B u t l e r ' s (1982) notion of l i f e - review. Contrary to the more common c l a i m that r e m i n i s c i e n c e i n the e l d e r l y r e f l e c t s s e n i l i t y and approaching death, B u t l e r sees the l i f e - review as a " . . . n a t u r a l l y o c c u r r i n g , u n i v e r s a l mental p r o c e s s . . . " ( B u t l e r , 1982, p.221). Prime f a c i e , there would seem to be a conceptual l i n k between t h i s phenomenon, Schaie's (1982) " r e i n t e g r a t i v e " stage and E r i c k s o n ' s (1963) " i n t e g r i t y " stage. 71 The assessment of the nature and content of this l i f e review is seen by Butler to be a function of the present experiences of the person and the "... l i f e l o n g unfolding of character" (Butler, 1982, p.221). Moreover, the measurement of whether a particular person's life-review is seen to be successful or not involves the consideration of such things as the meaning that a person has placed on his experiences and not only the experiences themselves. In other words, a phenomenological dimension must be included in the analysis and one must attempt to find out certain things from the person him or herself, as a basis for perhaps more generalizable claims. The life-review approach i s very d i f f e r e n t from the search for developmental stages, in that although Butler suggests that t h i s process is a universal phenomenon, there is no predetermined outcome of the life-review. That i s , there may be growth or decline as a result of the l i f e - review process or even some of each; i t depends on the person and his past and present circumstances. In this regard, the life-review perspective r e f l e c t s the expanded picture to a greater degree than, for example, that of Schaie (1982), in that the l a t t e r view suggests a more d e f i n i t e characterization of the "reintegrative" stage of i n t e l l e c t u a l functioning. Wisdom. A second example of the expanded view of adult i n t e l l e c t u a l competence which i s presently emerging is that of Dittman-Kohli and Baltes (1984). This view presents the idea that adult intelligence can best be characterized by a notion of 7 2 pragmatic wisdom. It i s proposed that t h i s concept, as a prototype of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence, w i l l allow for a more comprehensive understanding and assessment of growth and decline in functioning in this area. Wisdom in this perspective i s defined as an " . . . a b i l i t y to exercise good judgement about important but uncertain matters of l i f e " (Dittman-Kohli and Baltes, 1984, p.1). Underlying t h i s formulation of adult i n t e l l i g e n c e is the assumption that, In each individual l i f e course, a pattern of general ontogenetic, s o c i a l - s t r u c t u r a l , and idiographic conditions j o i n t l y define the form of i n t e l l e c t u a l aging (Dittman-Kohli and Baltes, 1984, p.3). The important point here is that, as with Butler's l i f e -review perspective, the understanding of adult i n t e l l e c t u a l competence presupposes the consideration of the person's past and present circumstances. The suggestion i s that in t h i s way i t may be possible to interpret observed decrements as often involving the measurement of s k i l l s and a b i l i t i e s that are superfluous or irrelevant to the further development of a p a r t i c u l a r person. Or, a b i l i t i e s that although subject to decline, are compensated for in a variety of ways by d i f f e r e n t persons. The notion of wisdom, l i k e the notion of life-review i s more a h e u r i s t i c concept, than a " r e i f i e d " universal developmental end-point, and in t h i s way r e f l e c t s a d i f f e r e n t understanding of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence from the positions discussed in the f i r s t part of this chapter. That i s , the 73 postulation of a general concept does not mean that a l l persons become wise or that people are wise in the same way. One can specify certain general c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of adult i n t e l l e c t u a l competence within a certain range but this i s a very different conceptualization of the problem from that which postulates the d e f i n i t i o n of adult i n t e l l i g e n c e . For example, one can specify that f l u i d i n t e l l i g e n c e i s l i k e l y to decline more than c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e , or that there is a great deal of v a r i a b i l i t y in i n t e l l e c t u a l development in adults. There are observed structural r e g u l a r i t i e s ; however, these r e g u l a r i t i e s play themselves out in a myriad of ways in practice. The r e g u l a r i t i e s are guidelines and not r e i f i e d r e f l e c t i o n s of r e a l i t y . A possible objection to th i s perspective on wisdom is that i t seems to be based on a previously discussed r e s t r i c t e d view of adult i n t e l l e c t u a l competence, namely, the f l u i d -c r y s t a l l i z e d d i s t i n c t i o n of Horn and Donaldson. S p e c i f i c a l l y , i f wisdom i s an outgrowth of c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e , which in turn has evolved out of a b i o l o g i c a l l y based f l u i d i n t e l l i g e n c e , then in the f i n a l analysis, this putative expanded view is r e a l l y a r e s t r i c t e d perspective. In response to this objection, Dittman-Kohli and Baltes (1984,p.22) make i t e x p l i c i t that in their view the dimension of c r y s t a l l i z e d i n t e l l i g e n c e i s a co-equal with f l u i d i n t e l l i g e n c e and that the former is not necessarily derived from the l a t t e r . (This issue w i l l be treated in more d e t a i l in Chapter 5). A f i n a l remark about t h i s perspective has to do with the 7 4 issue of wisdom related tasks or, the basis of measurement strategies of wisdom. The emphasis is on such things as expertise, contextual richness, pragmatics of l i f e , uncertainty and relativism. The focus then i s on the complexity of the problem and the c r u c i a l importance of si t u a t i o n a l conclusions. A second approach to the study of wisdom is that of Holliday (1983). In attempting to identify a more positive s t a r t i n g point for the understanding of adult cognitive functioning, that i s , one which would allow for the p o s s i b i l i t y of growth in aging, this perspective suggests that ...the word "wise" references a dif f e r e n t set of psychological attributes than does the word " i n t e l l i g e n t " (Holliday, 1983, p.13). The insight behind this study is that, by starting from the way that the term "wisdom" or "wise person" is used by people in the s o c i a l , or ordinary language context, one may generate a prototype which re f l e c t s ideal members of the category wise. This procedure, i t is claimed, can be a r i c h source of information about the "attribute structure" of wisdom. In addition, such an analysis can serve as a f i r s t step in the "...systematic investigation of the nature and function of wisdom" (Holliday, 1983, p.78). This perspective organizes and c l a r i f i e s much history and diverse t r a d i t i o n connected with the notion of wisdom and provides some interesting r e s u l t s and questions for further research. The most interesting result for present purposes is 75 the characterization or attribute structure of wisdom that emerges from the study and how i t corresponds to the previously discussed view of Dittman-Kohli and Baltes (1984). In general, the meaning of wisdom refers to such things as (1) proper behavior, (2) basic competency related to the conduct of l i f e ; (3) social adeptness, interpersonal judgement and (4) the capacity to take a more panoramic view of issues. In connecting the phenomenon of wisdom to adult development, the theme emerges again that mature i n t e l l e c t u a l functioning has to do with the insertion of more t r a d i t i o n a l intelligence-type s k i l l s within a larger s o c i a l , contextual framework. A major assumption of this view is that i t remains an open question as to how well one must perform on these various t r a d i t i o n a l test-s p e c i f i c s k i l l s in order to be considered wise. F i n a l l y , the perspective does not assume that wisdom is a universal developmental end point. Wisdom i s neither exclusively an old age and death related phenomenon (Erikson,1963) nor is i t necessarily part of every person's developmental trajectory. It r e f l e c t s rather, a s i g n i f i c a n t l y d i f f e r e n t understanding of. adult cognitive functioning that deserves further attention. As Holliday (1983,p.200) points out, Viewing wisdom in terms of a movement toward greater integration does not, however, imply that there i s any normative i n e v i t a b i l i t y in becoming wise. Adults become many things, one of which i s to be become wise. 76 Self-Construction. Another perspective that contains many of the same basic assumptions regarding adult cognitive development i s that of Birren and Hedlund (1982). In this view, the general dimension of self-construction i s closely related or perhaps even presupposes a certain kind of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence. That i s , in adult and gerontological i n t e l l e c t u a l functioning there i s , along with the hereditary and environmental factors that influence a person's development, a dimension of choosing or, "doing something with what one has." A comprehensive understanding of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence, in order to account for these three influences, must acknowledge both the culture and society in which a person l i v e s , and the ways in which d i f f e r e n t persons l i v e that c u l t u r e . 1 Wisdom and self-construction are connected in the sense that The wise person i s able to understand the environment well enough to know the l i m i t s of i t s p l a s t i c i t y so that she/he does not upset the balance of the system (Birren and Hedlund, 1982, p.70). This means that wisdom as i n t e l l e c t u a l competence includes the capacity to discern appropriate action in a pa r t i c u l a r context. The measurement or assessment of this kind of 1The work of R.W.White (1973,1975,1976a) i s also an excellent example of an attempt to understand this aspect of human development. More w i l l be said about White's views in the section on s o c i a l competence. 77 competence or " i n t e l l i g e n c e " requires an evaluation that i s highly contextual and r e l a t i v e . This section of the inquiry has presented an explication and characterization of a number of emerging perspectives on gerontological i n t e l l e c t u a l competence. On the basis of this analysis, which u t i l i z e s the approach developed in Chapter 3, that i s , an inquiry into meanings and assumptions contained in the l i t e r a t u r e , i t has been indicated that these emerging perspectives r e f l e c t very similar "understandings" of the nature of i n t e l l e c t u a l competence in the later years. In the next section, attention w i l l be directed to selected perspectives which r e f l e c t t h i s same expanded orientation upon the issue of s o c i a l competence. Soc i a l Competence Riegel's Life-Event Perspective. A clear example of a perspective which r e f l e c t s the expanded picture in the area of s o c i a l competence i s that of Riegel (1975, 1976). In this view the study of s o c i a l competence includes an e x p l i c i t consideration of, broadly speaking, a changing person in a changing s o c i a l structure. Thus, Riegel advocates a s h i f t away from universal claims about one aspect or another of so c i a l competence which result in an oversystematized order being placed on the l i f e cycle, to more context-specific claims about the concrete actions of individuals in a concrete s o c i a l world 78 (Riegel, 1976). For Riegel, this change in emphasis allows for the p o s s i b i l i t y that the entire person-environment situation is "workable", in that both the person and the society are viewed as changeable through physical, psychological and s o c i a l intervention. Furthermore, a comprehensive understanding of social competence is seen to presuppose the consideration of a l l these aspects. According to this perspective, there are progressions along different types of events in the l i f e cycle. F i r s t , individuals develop along an inne r - b i o l o g i c a l progression (including maturation, and the experience of sensory-motor d e f i c i e n c i e s in late l i f e ) which gains i t s s o c i a l significance in the normative, age-graded system of any p a r t i c u l a r society. Second, there i s an outer-physical progression which involves such things as earthquakes, accidents and the death of a spouse. Third and fourth are, in turn, the dimensions of individual-psychological and c u l t u r a l - s o c i o l o g i c a l progression which involve the "readiness" for a person to interact in p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l situations and the society's expectations for behavior at different points in the l i f e cycle and at d i f f e r e n t h i s t o r i c a l periods. For Riegel, what is " i n t e r e s t i n g " about s o c i a l competence and human development in th i s context is that there i s not a smooth t r a n s i t i o n from stage to stage in the interaction between the person and the s o c i a l structure, or at least there i s no single prescribed t r a n s i t i o n route to "adjustment". Rather, 79 development occurs through the "asynchronies" among the four dimensions l i s t e d above. These asynchronies create c r i s e s and catastrophes for individuals and society. Furthermore, these c r i s e s should be seen as "...meaningful phases in one's l i f e . This is true for incapacitations and even for death" (Riegel,1976,p.693). The d i f f e r e n t ways that d i f f e r e n t persons resolve these c r i s e s and exhibit social competence must be understood in a highly s i t u a t i o n a l manner and one must attempt to determine the positive value or meaning of c o n f l i c t and disruption in human development. In commenting upon viewpoints less interactive than his own, Riegel (1976) points out that, Without any debate i t has been taken for granted that a state of balance, s t a b i l i t y and rest is more desirable than a state of upheaval, c o n f l i c t and change (p.690). Under his own contrasting interpretation, change and c r i s i s can be seen as posi t i v e developmental phenomena, and whether a pa r t i c u l a r instance of a c r i s i s is positive or negative for a pa r t i c u l a r person requires a contextual assessment that includes the meaning of the event for the person as he or she sees i t . On a broader l e v e l , i f c e r t a i n asynchronies are dysfunctional for a group of people, for example, older persons who do not want mandatory retirement, then one can attempt to adjust the person or the environment and, more importantly, the person can make certai n choices himself. 80 P e r s o n a l i t y as Process. A second important p e r s p e c t i v e in the context of s o c i a l competence i s that of Thomae (1980). This view i s important for at l e a s t two reasons. F i r s t , i t p r o v i d e s a c o n c i s e c r i t i q u e of d e c l i n e p e r s p e c t i v e s by i n d i c a t i n g v a r i o u s d e f i c i e n c i e s i n sampling, t e s t i n g and by p r o v i d i n g s t u d i e s that i n d i c a t e the r e v e r s i b i l i t y of decremental outcomes. Si n c e much of t h i s has been d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r , i t w i l l not be repeated in d e t a i l . However, i t i s u s e f u l to i n d i c a t e i n summary form the dimensions considered by Thomae. These ar e : a c t i v i t y -disengagement, depression, l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n and morale, adjustment, i n t e r i o r behavior, r i g i d i t y , a n x i e t y and c a u t i o u s n e s s . Thomae's general c l a i m i s that t r a i t o r i e n t e d p e r s p e c t i v e s which attempt to make u n i v e r s a l , a g e - r e l a t e d claims on the b a s i s of l a r g e l y c r o s s - s e c t i o n a l or l o n g i t u d i n a l methods; and which u s u a l l y end up showing d e c l i n e with age, are open to s e r i o u s q u e s t i o n . For example, the view that d e p r e s s i o n i s b a s i c to the aging p e r s o n a l i t y can be shown to be mistaken s i n c e other s t u d i e s have shown that there are no s i g n i f i c a n t age d i f f e r e n c e s i n " d e pressive syndrome" (Thomae, 1980, p.288). A l s o , d e p r e s s i o n , even in the e l d e r l y , may be a r e s u l t of a l t e r e d s o c i a l circumstances, and t h e r e f o r e i t s e l f be a l t e r a b l e . Another i l l u s t r a t i o n i s the c l a i m that there i s a c o r r e l a t i o n between age and l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n (Disengagement-Activity T h e o r i e s ) . For Thomae, l i f e s a t i s f a c t i o n may be f a r more s t r o n g l y c o r r e l a t e d with h e a l t h , S.E.S.(socio-economic s t a t u s ) and " s i g n i f i c a n t o t h e r s " . 81 The second aspect of Thomae's perspective is his emphasis on process centered approaches to the understanding of s o c i a l competence. That i s , in this perspective, the contextual and personal dimensions are c r u c i a l . In referring to e a r l i e r research, he points out that there has been an ...underestimation of s i t u a t i o n - s p e c i f i c inconsistencies of behavior and of the discriminative f a c i l i t y of the human actor (Thomae, 1980, p.293). In addition to t h i s , Thomae, in agreement with Riegel, argues that the emphasis on the notion of equilibrium or homeostasis may be useful as a guideline in certain situations, but i t leads to the danger of assuming that there is a "modal adjustment pattern" which one must l i v e up to in order to be considered competent. Since many older people do not l i v e up to this hypothetical pattern, they are therefore mistakenly seen as deficient or incompetent. As an alternative to this scenario, Thomae (1980,p.302) points to the idea that there are many instances of "cognitive restructurations", which are related to adaptation to situations, that do not r e f l e c t achievement a c t i v i t y , external adaptation to i n s t i t u t i o n s , and or aggression. More simply put, people can develop novel, creative and personal competency strategies that r e f l e c t genuine choices. For Thomae, there i s a complex relation between the perceptions of r e a l i t y of older persons, coping strategies and s o c i a l competence or incompetence that requires assessment in a si t u a t i o n . Thus, competence d i f f e r s across persons, across 82 situations and across time for the same person. Behavior X at time T for person A does not necessarily imply behavior- Y at Time T+l, for person A (nor for person B). A f i n a l quotation which characterizes Thomae's perspective on s o c i a l competence i s the following: Social competence i s (sic) a global measure for the individual's capacity to meet social and b i o l o g i c a l demands and the society's capacity to meet individual needs and capacities (Thomae, 1980, p.303). Individual L i fe-Patterns. The t h i r d and f i n a l perspective on gerontological and adult s o c i a l competence to be discussed is that of White (1973, 1975, 1976a). This view i s e s s e n t i a l l y consistent with those of Riegel and Thomae, already discussed. For White, one must abandon the idea of quietude, equilibrium and rest and acknowledge that there are always c r i s e s and catastrophes that people (and societies) must move through. Adjustment and rest are the negative end-point of what i s r e a l l y interesting about development. More important are questions l i k e , "How do people accomplish things such as adjustment to retirement or loss of spouse and can they be assisted to do i t better"? In addition, how could society help them do i t better. According to White, ...adaptation does not mean either a t o t a l triumph over the environment or t o t a l surrender to i t , but rather a s t r i v i n g toward acceptable compromise (White, 1976a,p.22). 83 A related point is that in t h i s perspective human beings are seen as active and are not thought to maintain a personal homeostasis. That i s , basic b i o l o g i c a l and cognitive functioning are necessary but not s u f f i c i e n t to explain human development. Human beings also attempt to attain greater and greater autonomy, which implies learning, c o n f l i c t and change. Another way to state t h i s point is to say that for White adaptation involves, in addition to the a b i l i t y to derive continued information from the environment (basic intelligence) and the capacity to maintain a basic internal organization (health, self-esteem); the capacity or perception of autonomy or freedom of movement in a situ a t i o n (White, 1976a). In t h i s regard, such things as mandatory retirement may have very serious consequences for many people since, It can be a threat of disastrous proportions to discover in the midst of l i f e that a l l avenues are blocked to further personal development (White, 1976a, pp.23-24). An important aspect of White's perspective i s his emphasis on the notion of individual l i f e - p a t t e r n s . People grow and develop towards greater autonomy in highly idiosyncratic ways. The attempt to categorize people according to t r a i t s and especially a set of t r a i t s that add up to a mature personality is therefore seen by him to be highly r e s t r i c t i v e . Rather than putting ...the highest value on a person who, in a well-rounded fashion embodies a l l conceivable virtues 84 (White, 1973, p.6) one must r e a l i z e that each person has a f i n i t e space influenced by time, energy and the s i t u a t i o n . Each person makes decisions and follows one path and not another, and in order to understand and assess competence, one must discover the areas relevant to that person. One of the most sal i e n t points to be drawn from White's perspective i s that i f something l i k e autonomy is a l i f e - l o n g i n t r i n s i c human c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , then one can see the constraining impact of certain s o c i a l and personal crises in the later years as frustrations of that autonomy and the causes of possibly many putative age-related decrements. The investigation of statements, methods and findings contained in the foregoing expanded perspectives has shown that there is a common understanding of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence evident in a l l these views. This common understanding r e f l e c t s the expanded picture of these phenomena and as such, emphasizes context-specific, l i f e - s p a n , process related interpretations that allow for both decline and growth to take place in human aging. Conclusion In t h i s chapter, following the procedure outlined in Chapter 3, i t has been shown that there are two broad characterizations of research on i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l 85 competence in gerontology, namely, a r e s t r i c t e d and an expanded picture. The r e s t r i c t e d picture is youth centered and tends to emphasize b i o l o g i c a l l y based, age related understandings of the phenomena of aging. As a result, advocates of t h i s view reach decremental conclusions regarding human aging. In contrast, the expanded picture i s life-span and gerontological centered, and includes process related views that allow for an understanding of aging that involves growth and decline. This part of the inquiry may be seen as a preliminary step toward reaching the purposes of. the study mentioned in the prologue. That i s , i t brings together a variety of disparate views in one place, discusses them in a u n i f i e d fashion and elaborates on their thinking. The next chapter, which corresponds to step 4 of the Hermeneutic approach discussed in Chapter 3, w i l l consist of a refinement of this a c t i v i t y . S p e c i f i c a l l y , the discussion w i l l s h i f t to a broader l e v e l and there w i l l be a further consideration of the basic assumptions that are contained in a l l the perspectives discussed under the r e s t r i c t e d picture and, correspondingly, under the expanded picture. This c l a r i f i c a t i o n w i l l be carried out by means of an explication of the contrasting ontological presuppositions that may be seen to underly these two characterizations of the research. 86 CHAPTER 5 VITAL EXISTENCE AND PERSONAL EXISTENCE In the previous chapter two major characterizations of research in psychosocial gerontology were explicated. S p e c i f i c a l l y , selected perspectives on i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence were seen to contain meanings of these phenomena that r e f l e c t , in d i f f e r e n t ways and to varying degrees, either a r e s t r i c t e d or an expanded picture of l i f e - s p a n development. In the attempt to take this analysis one step further the present chapter, which corresponds to the fourth step in the Hermeneutic approach described in Chapter 3, w i l l consist of a discussion of the contrasting ontological presuppositions that may be seen to be contained in these two characterizations. In what follows, the term "ontological" refers to a consideration of basic images or understandings of human nature that can be explicated in the s c i e n t i f i c l i t e r a t u r e . As discussed in Chapter 3, the intention is to interface i d e n t i f i a b l e s c i e n t i f i c meanings of various phenomena with a conceivable wider context of t o t a l human experience. This goal is assisted by questioning the research as to i t s understanding of the nature of man, the nature of human aging and the meaning of death and dying, along with the meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence considered from t h i s broader perspective. The purpose of this step i s to provide a further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the way in which psychosocial gerontology 8 7 understands i t s e l f as a f i e l d of study by explicating i t s basic assumptions. It is worth repeating here that the primary intention of thi s inquiry is not to explain "why" this s e l f -understanding has emerged, but to c l a r i f y "what" appears to be happening. Human Nature as V i t a l Existence The r e s t r i c t e d picture characterized in the previous chapter r e f l e c t s a general understanding of human nature as v i t a l existence. " V i t a l existence" refers to the tendency to view human beings as e s s e n t i a l l y bio-physical e n t i t i e s . That i s , as the Disengagement Theory phrases i t , the physical man tends to be the whole of man (p.52). In addition, in the re s t r i c t e d picture human beings are not only viewed as predominantly bio-physical beings or organisms, they are also seen as b i o l o g i c a l l y determined e n t i t i e s . This determinism manifests i t s e l f in the view that human cognitive and psychosocial functioning are understood as being controlled by the physical state of the organism. There is a one way re l a t i o n between the mind and the body and to a si g n i f i c a n t extent, the body determines the mind. A further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of these basic assumptions about human nature presupposed in the r e s t r i c t e d picture can be had by r e f l e c t i n g again on the meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and so c i a l competence. In the r e s t r i c t e d picture the tendency i s to understand i n t e l l e c t u a l and soc i a l competence as an a b i l i t y to maintain a 88 "global homeostasis". That i s , competence or incompetence has to do with a capacity for self-preservation. The maintenance of this global homeostasis becomes an increasingly d i f f i c u l t task as one ages since the assumption is that there i s a net, b i o l o g i c a l l y produced decline in b i o l o g i c a l , cognitive and so c i a l functioning. This understanding is evident in the r e s t r i c t e d picture of int e l l i g e n c e in that the tendency i s to claim that in the later years and often in adulthood, l i t t l e new learning is possible. One should rely on cumulative or habitual knowledge (sagacity, c r y s t a l l i z e d intelligence) which requires l i t t l e e f f o r t , to maintain everyday a c t i v i t i e s . S i m i l a r i l y , from the point of view of human social competence, the concern in the r e s t r i c t e d picture i s for maintaining an acceptable number of so c i a l interactions (informal or formal), and therefore a healthy s e l f -concept, despite s i g n i f i c a n t changes in the person's s o c i a l structure ( A c t i v i t y Theory). Or, conversely, one should re l i n q u i s h most s o c i a l a c t i v i t y and emphasize emotive-leisure pursuits to ensure a successful disengagement (Disengagement Theory). The same understanding i s evident from a psychosocial perspective. The main point here is that human beings attempt to maintain an emotional equilibrium in spite of increasing 'natural' anxiety, depression and r i g i d i t y . As a result, concern with what one has been, i s encouraged (Neugarten). In a l l these elements of the r e s t r i c t e d picture the tendency is to view the older human being as an inevitably declining b i o l o g i c a l 89 organism. T h i s organism s t r u g g l e s to maintain necessary b i o l o g i c a l , c o g n i t i v e and s o c i a l f u n c t i o n i n g or, a g l o b a l homeostasis. I t would not be h y p e r b o l i c a l to suggest that "what" ages i n the r e s t r i c t e d p i c t u r e i s e s s e n t i a l l y a b i o l o g i c a l organism with v a r i o u s s h o r t - l i v e d epiphenomenal c o g n i t i v e and s o c i a l competencies. This a n a l y s i s suggests that human aging i n the r e s t r i c t e d p i c t u r e has to do with e a r l y m a t u r i t y f o l l o w e d by gradual but s i g n i f i c a n t d e c l i n e to probable s e n i l i t y , and death. Human aging, at a l l l e v e l s r e f l e c t s , ... a moment of optimal f u n c t i o n i n g bracketed by immaturity on the one hand and i n f i r m i t y on the other (Labouvie-Vief & Chandler,1978,p.200). It should be emphasized that i n the r e s t r i c t e d p i c t u r e the c o g n i t i v e and p s y c h o s o c i a l aspects of human aging are sub j e c t to these c o n d i t i o n s s i n c e the assumption i s made that there i s a p h y s i c a l s u b s t r a t e which determines what w i l l occur i n higher areas of human f u n c t i o n i n g . The understanding of human nature as v i t a l e x i s t e n c e i s a l s o evident i n the image of human death and dying that emerges from the r e s t r i c t e d p i c t u r e . As has been p o i n t e d out in a s i m i l a r c o n t e x t , "death" here r e f e r s to "the f u n c t i o n a l demise of a machine" ( F a s t i g g i , 1982; Kenyon, 1980; Marcel, 1956). Again, the focus tends to be on the b i o - p h y s i c a l aspects of t h i s phenomenon i n that death i s viewed as the b i o l o g i c a l t e r m i n a t i o n of a member of a s p e c i e s . The r e s t r i c t e d p i c t u r e , given t h i s 90 understanding of human nature, suggests that the only proper or appropriate attitude to dying and eventual death would be resignation to a " f a i t accompli". It i s important to include the issue of death and dying in this discussion since the meanings of aging, dying and death are closely linked in the r e s t r i c t e d picture. In thi s view an aging person i s , in an important sense, a dying person, or one who is "nearly dead". Rastenbaum (1979,p.84) sums up this point by saying that, from t h i s perspective, (1) there is no point in being dead, since death i s anni h i l a t i o n , (2) there is l i t t l e point in dying and, (3) there is no point in being old. A l a s t issue that points to the understanding of human nature as v i t a l existence in the r e s t r i c t e d picture centers around the nature of the person and in part i c u l a r the older person. In addition to the points already made on this topic, in this picture, the human being i s viewed as an indi v i d u a l , egoistic and reactive entity. As indi v i d u a l s , people are interchangeable and the emphasis i s on species-wide claims. (The d i s t i n c t i o n between an individual and a person w i l l become evident in the next section). Consequently, within certain ranges a l l older people are seen as being similar in the r e s t r i c t e d picture. In addition, human beings are seen as e n t i t i e s that are egoistic in that, as discussed in Chapter 4, they function c o g n i t i v e l y and s o c i a l l y apart from an environment. That i s , cognitive development i s seen as taking place in the head of the person apart from si t u a t i o n a l factors. Moreover, s o c i a l l y people are seen as 91 being determined by the s o c i a l structure, without in turn being able to a f f e c t i t . In this way, older individuals are viewed as being over against a s o c i a l structure and not as an integral part of i t . In the r e s t r i c t e d picture the older individual reacts to this s o c i a l structure. As Marshall (1980b,p.96) puts i t , the individual i s viewed as ... nothing but a bundle or summation of roles. Furthermore, these roles are "constitutive" of the self (Marshall,1980a). F i n a l l y , the older individual simply reacts to inevitable changes in his or her b i o l o g i c a l and psychosocial make-up.1 The purpose of this section has been to show that by r e f l e c t i n g on the meanings of various important phenomena that are contained in the r e s t r i c t e d picture discussed in Chapter 4, one can identify an understanding of human nature or, an ontology that has to do with v i t a l existence. In the next section, a d i f f e r e n t set of ontological presuppositions w i l l be explicated on the basis of the expanded picture presented in Chapter 4. It w i l l be suggested that this alternative view r e f l e c t s a more comprehensive understanding of human nature and human aging, per se. 1 I t i s not the case that a l l the r e s t r i c t e d perspectives (Chapter 4) assume that the older individual is reactive in every way. However, each view understands the older individual as being reactive in at least one way, that i s , either b i o l o g i c a l l y , psychologically or s o c i a l l y . 92 Human Nature as Personal Existence The l i f e of personality i s not self-preservation as that of the individual but self-development and s e l f -determination (Berdyaev,1960,p.56).1 The picture of human nature presented in the previous section may be necessary to an understanding of older persons; however, i t i s not s u f f i c i e n t . That i s , the emphasis on aspects of v i t a l existence tends to present a limited and one-sided or re s t r i c t e d picture of human nature. In contrast, the expanded picture discussed in Chapter 4 r e f l e c t s d i f f e r e n t ontological presuppositions, and as such, a di f f e r e n t understanding of human nature and human aging; moreover, one which deals more comprehensively with tot a l human experience. The discussion in this section w i l l follow the same order as the previous one. 'That i s , there w i l l be a general discussion of the way in which the expanded picture views the human being, followed by a consideration of the meanings of competence, aging, death and dying, and the older person. In the expanded picture the consideration of human beings as b i o l o g i c a l e n t i t i e s provides only a necessary starting point for understanding human nature. That i s , in addition to the physical man, there are psychological, s o c i a l and personal aspects of human existence which are irreducible to physical explanations. Consequently, a f u l l understanding of human 1The term "personality" refers to the philosophical notion of the nature of the person and not to i t s referent in "personality" psychology. 93 nature must account for these s p e c i f i c a l l y human q u a l i t i e s . In this sense man, can only be understood through the higher and not through the lower (Berdyaev,1960,p.46). Further, whereas in the r e s t r i c t e d picture human beings are seen as b i o l o g i c a l l y determined, the expanded picture presupposes an interactive mind-body position. This means that the body or b i o l o g i c a l component of human nature influences the mind, but does not determine i t s operation, at least not on a one to one basis. Paraphrasing White (1976b, p.153), b i o l o g i c a l considerations such as genetic endowments are predispositions that f a c i l i t a t e the development of certain human q u a l i t i e s rather than others. However, they do not impose a precise destiny on human development. The expanded picture presents a s i g n i f i c a n t l y d i f f e r e n t starting point for the task of understanding human nature, human beings and human aging. This di f f e r e n t ontological orientation i s evident in i t s understanding of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence. As discussed e a r l i e r , the assumption of this view is that there are psychological and so c i a l explanations for aging phenomena that are not ultimately reduced to a b i o l o g i c a l referent. With th i s d i f f e r e n t basic assumption in place, i t becomes coherent to discuss a number of other p o s s i b i l i t i e s which take one beyond the notion of v i t a l existence or global homeostasis discussed in the previous section. For example, whereas intelligence was seen as an ess e n t i a l l y b i o l o g i c a l l y based phenomena in the r e s t r i c t e d 94 picture, in the expanded picture there are s p e c i f i c psychological and even s o c i a l components to i n t e l l i g e n c e . The assumption i s that i t i s neither known to what degree the body influences the mind, nor how much the mind influences the body. Furthermore, the assumption is not made that the body declines in the ways that i t is said to in the r e s t r i c t e d picture. The expanded picture presents a view of human nature that deals with what people do after basic needs or requirements for s e l f -preservation are taken care of. But more fundamentally, i t acknowledges that there are other aspects of human nature to be considered in their own r i g h t . On the whole, unless a person is i l l (Birren,1963,cited in Labouvie-Vief,1977) the body is not assumed to be a powerful determinant of cognitive behavior. In the expanded picture i n t e l l i g e n c e has to do with such s p e c i f i c a l l y human or personal dimensions as a concern for autonomy or self-determination (White, Birren & Hedlund), making sense of one's l i f e (Butler) and achieving wisdom (Dittman-Kohli & Baltes, Holliday). When i t comes to s o c i a l competence, in the r e s t r i c t e d picture one is competent either by successfully acquiescing to the loss of middle-aged roles or by replacing them with surrogate middle-aged ones. In addition, a l l persons are assumed to age s o c i a l l y in a similar way. But more than t h i s , the meaning of s o c i a l competence has to do with " s o c i a l " a c t i v i t y per se, whether formal or informal, that i s , a c t i v i t y that involves other people. As discussed e a r l i e r (p.58), s o l i t a r y a c t i v i t y with i t s "symbolic audience" i s not thought to 95 be conducive to a properly adjusted, equilibrated successful aging or, to global homeostasis. A second point i s that 'emotive-expressive' a c t i v i t y , which is often s o l i t a r y , i s thought to be an appropriate indication of gerontological s o c i a l competence since i t r e f l e c t s a declining, disengaging being. In contrast, the expanded picture presents an understanding of a c t i v i t y that allows for many things to count as gerontological s o c i a l competence. S o l i t a r y a c t i v i t y , for example, may at any age indicate a considerable amount of personal strength in r e s i s t i n g the s o c i a l pressures of conformity, p a r t i c u l a r l y in our culture. A l l persons need not be seen as p o l i t i c i a n s , executives or c i v i l servants in order to be assessed as s o c i a l l y competent. S o l i t a r y a c t i v i t y may indicate s p i r i t u a l development, a l i f e - l o n g habit, or a temporary or long-term dysfunction due to i l l n e s s or g r i e f . A similar point can be made with regard to the notion of emotive-expressive behavior. In the r e s t r i c t e d picture, this kind of a c t i v i t y i s seen as a substitute for main-line a c t i v i t y . However, th i s formulation leaves out e n t i r e l y the consideration of human dimensions such as c r e a t i v i t y , personal development, serious philosophical deliberation and the value and meaning of the a c t i v i t y of r e l i g i o u s orders. Idiosyncratic behavior may be the key to mental and so c i a l health and not a sign of incompetence, in many or even most cases. A related point is that s o c i a l competence does not mean "adjustment" in the expanded picture. "Being older" does not refer (or only refer) to a period of l i f e that i s necessarily 96 characterized by quietude, rest, serenity and thoughts of the past. In addition to some of the more positive things just discussed, Butler (1975) has pointed out that there can be much going on in later l i f e ; poverty, i l l n e s s , g r i e f , chronic discomfort and lowered self-esteem from diminished s o c i a l and personal status. Under such conditions one can observe that, The strength of the aged to endure c r i s e s is remarkable, and t r a n q u i l i t y i s an unlikely as well as inappropriate response under these circumstances (Butler, 1975, p.10). Under this more expanded view, gerontological psychosocial competence neither r e f l e c t s an image of, on the one hand, a "disengaged organism", nor on the other hand, an "equilibrated sage". P a r t i c u l a r l y in western culture, with i t s emphasis on bi o l o g i c a l reproduction (family) and economic productivity (work and materialism), i t i s possible that many older people are facing serious e x i s t e n t i a l issues once they do not have the so c i e t a l l y imposed s o c i a l obligations and constraints. These e x i s t e n t i a l issues regarding l i f e and death and what constitutes meaningful a c t i v i t y , are seldom included at a l l in the re s t r i c t e d picture. Borrowing Cole's (1983) phrase, in this sense the r e s t r i c t e d picture r e f l e c t s a series of " e x i s t e n t i a l evasions". In contrast, the expanded picture advocates the e x p l i c i t consideration of these aspects of human nature and human aging as a component of psychosocial competence. The issue of psychosocial competence provides another area where one can see s i g n i f i c a n t differences between the r e s t r i c t e d 9 7 and expanded pictures. In the re s t r i c t e d picture i t was indicated that older persons must attempt to deal with increasing incidents of such things as 'natural' depression, anxiety and r i g i d i t y . These " t r a i t s " are expected outcomes of normal aging given the b i o l o g i c a l happenings underpinning and determining gerontological development. The r e s t r i c t e d picture may be seen to represent an answer to the question, "What are the s p e c i f i c causes of universal, b i o l o g i c a l l y based depression in older subjects"? In contrast, the expanded picture represents an answer to the question, "Why are there observed instances of depression in some older persons"? These questions r e f l e c t two very di f f e r e n t orientations. The f i r s t assumes that i f one observes depression and anxiety, i t i s a normal, expected outcome of aging and the attempt is made to a s s i s t older persons in maintaining v i t a l psychosocial functioning in spite of these inevitable f a i l i n g s . The second orientation assumes much less about the nature of depression and anxiety, the reasons for i t s occurrence and the meaning i t has for any pa r t i c u l a r older person. As with the understanding of a c t i v i t y , the tendency in the r e s t r i c t e d picture is to ignore this l a s t aspect of the problem. In the expanded picture depression in an older person may indicate the presence of pathology as can decrements in i n t e l l e c t u a l functioning, but i t may also indicate a natural reaction to c r i s i s ; for example, the loss of one's spouse or mandatory retirement (Riegel, Thomae, White). In fact, depression may even indicate personal development. As 98 Dabrowski, Kawczak and Piechowski (1970) suggest, depression and anxiety may indicate the beginning of a self-questioning that w i l l lead to further psychic development. This development can occur at many level s and may include an e x i s t e n t i a l l e v e l , per se. In this case, an individual feels a need to arrive at a philosophy concerning the ultimate r e a l i t i e s of l i f e , the meaning of l i v i n g , the meaning of development, etc. (Dabrowski et a l , 1970, p.53). The point here i s that depression, as an instance of psychosocial functioning does not necessarily indicate decline or growth, absolutely speaking. It is also not necessarily the case that depression i s a natural, b i o l o g i c a l l y produced outcome of human aging. The discussion of various aspects of competence in the expanded picture indicates that i t contains an understanding of human nature as personal existence. That i s , i t acknowledges that there are several related but irreducible aspects of human competence. As a result, in the expanded picture psychosocial competence is not the dependent variable in a relation in which b i o l o g i c a l functioning i s the sole independent variable. In this view, older human beings as a group are neither understood as declining b i o l o g i c a l organisms, nor as "equilibrated sages". Human aging in general i s seen as a multifaceted phenomenon. Moreover, the assumption i s not made, as i t was in the r e s t r i c t e d picture, that psychological and personal maturity correspond to b i o l o g i c a l maturity. In the 99 expanded picture maturity takes place on many l e v e l s . Moreover, cognitive, psychosocial and perhaps s p i r i t u a l maturity may or may not occur in the young and old. The discussion in the previous section indicated that in the r e s t r i c t e d picture there i s a s t r i c t connection made between the aging or older person, and dying and death. Moreover, death i s understood as the demise of a b i o l o g i c a l organism or machine. In the expanded picture an aging person is not a dying or nearly dead person except either in the self-evident, but not t r i v i a l sense that we are a l l dying, or, in the sense that some older people and some younger people are de facto, dying. In the gerontological l i t e r a t u r e , the d i s t i n c t i o n between aging or being older and dying can be supported by a consideration of the "terminal drop" phenomenon. Research in thi s area has shown that there are marked declines in i n t e l l e c t u a l functioning (Riegel & Riegel, 1972) and psychosocial functioning (Lieberman and Coplan, 1970) within a few years prior to actual death. 1 The suggestion is that there may be a period of actual dying which has l i t t l e to do with normal aging i t s e l f . A similar point has been made in the biomedical context with regard to the notion of the squaring of the mortality-morbidity curve (Fries, 1980). The assumption here i s that normal human aging, given medical discoveries and certain a l t e r a t i o n s in the s o c i a l structure, w i l l come to resemble an 1 I t was shown in Chapter 4 that the r e s t r i c t e d picture understands the terminal drop phenomenon as an indicator of closeness to death. 100 es s e n t i a l l y healthy life-span, with a short but steep decline to death in very old age. A l l the foregoing supports the claim that the meaning of aging and being older are not equivalent to the meanings of dying, and death. To conclude, a major difference between the r e s t r i c t e d and the expanded picture on this issue is that there is a clear d i s t i n c t i o n made between, on the one hand aging, and on the other hand, dying and death. A related difference centres around the meanings of death and dying themselves. In the expanded picture human death does not refer to simply the termination of a member of a species. In the expanded picture death and dying become e x i s t e n t i a l issues in the sense that there are different conceivable ways of relating to these phenomena in the human context. The relevant question for human beings i s , How can we orient ourselves throughout l i f e both to the immediate challenges of being "here today" and to the mind-bending prospect of being "gone tomorrow" (Kastenbaum, 1981, p.318). Under this interpretation, death and dying become d i s t i n c t l y human phenomena which may provide opportunities for growth and development through the acceptance of what cannot be avoided. In t h i s way the expanded picture r e f l e c t s a view that allows for there to be a possible "value" to human dying and death. This i s not to suggest that there i s one way to view death so that i t has value. There can be many differences in orientation toward, and meanings of death, that i s , within persons and between persons (Kenyon,1981). It follows that i t 101 may be t o t a l l y inappropriate, in agreement with Kastenbaum (1975), to view death as anything l i k e a "normative l i f e c r i s i s " . The l a t t e r view i s implied in the r e s t r i c t e d picture in so far as death is seen as a stage through which a l l persons pass through v i r t u a l l y in the same way; that stage is b i o l o g i c a l termination. 1 The meaning of death and dying that emerges from the expanded picture also accommodates the notion that mental health and competence do not always amount to adjustment, equilibrium or serenity. That i s , whereas in the r e s t r i c t e d picture, We do not picture the mentally healthy person as i l l or tormented as burdened, stressed or forced to the absolute l i m i t s of capacity (Kastenbaum, 1981, p.319) in the expanded picture, the prospect of death i s seen as something that may i n i t i a t e powerful reactions, such as fear, anxiety and depression. Furthermore, combinations of these reactions may be experienced at d i f f e r e n t times by any particular person. Yet, these occurrences do not necessarily imply that there is serious mental i l l n e s s or psychosocial incompetence, except perhaps as a temporary problem. The same person may at another time relate to death and dying with serenity and acceptance, having grown through a period of 1A more f l e x i b l e version of a stage-type theory of the place of death and dying in the life- s p a n i s Marshall's (1980a) view of aging as a "terminal status passage". The important point in the present context is that there i s an active, personal component to t h i s stage. 102 understanding his or her own death. In t h i s regard,it has also been suggested that i t is possible to develop a " f l o a t i n g " position with regards to the prospect of one's own death (Kenyon, 1981), by means of which one attempts to leave the question open. To recapitulate, the understanding of death and dying contained in the expanded picture r e f l e c t s the ontology of personal existence in that i t views these phenomena as possessing d i s t i n c t l y human aspects. The f i n a l issue by means of which i t i s possible to identify the ontology of personal existence contained in the expanded picture is that of the nature of the human person and older person. One of the most important differences between the res t r i c t e d and the expanded pictures concerns the d i s t i n c t i o n between an individual and a person. As has been discussed, in the r e s t r i c t e d picture the human being i s viewed as an individual organism in nature, an instance of a species, and largely replaceable by any other' member. In addition, the individual i s an egoistic and reactive being. In contrast, o n t o l o g i c a l l y , the expanded picture acknowledges that there i s something di f f e r e n t about the nature of human beings. That i s , human beings are not simply another part of nature, l i k e a l l the others. As Berdyaev (1960,p.46) states i t : Man i s not merely a product of the natural world, although he l i v e s in i t and participates in the processes of nature. He is dependent upon his natural environment and at the same time he humanizes i t and 103 introduces a new pr i n c i p l e into i t . This quotation indicates that human beings are e n t i t i e s who, as part of nature, are embodied and f i n i t e . That i s , human beings are born, grow and die. However, i t also suggests that human beings are e n t i t i e s who "fi n d " themselves in thi s s i t u a t i o n , they are self-aware. This issue can be c l a r i f i e d by considering, as examples, Heidegger's (1962) notion of "Dasein", Sartre's (1956) "en-soi,pour-soi", and Merleau-Ponty's (1962) " t a c i t cogito". The salient insight of these views is that human beings are e n t i t i e s who exist in situations, that i s , they are fundamentally r e l a t i o n a l creatures in that they are connected to other persons and to a physical environment. It should be emphasized that t h i s i s not the same thing as saying that human beings are reactive s o c i a l creatures. Rather, since human beings are self-aware, they, in ef f e c t , are interpersonal e n t i t i e s with s o c i a l and personal aspects. Another way to say this i s that people can make choices, one of which may be to not act i v e l y choose. In the expanded picture, as mentioned e a r l i e r , the person is not understood as a b i o l o g i c a l l y or indeed, s o c i o b i o l o g i c a l l y determined entity. This is due to the fact that there are s p e c i f i c a l l y "human" dimensions or capacities that make our situation d i f f e r e n t from that of animals. Human beings are not t o t a l l y i n s t i n c t u a l , driven creatures. They have the capacity to think about their i n s t i n c t u a l heritage, both i n d i v i d u a l l y and 1 04 as a human species. This may be true even at the genetic l e v e l . Singer (1981, p.169), for example, claims that: Understanding how our genes influence us makes i t possible for us to challenge that influence. The basis of t h i s challenge must be our capacity to reason. When i t comes to being an older person this means that one is constrained and influenced by b i o l o g i c a l , s o c i a l , c u l t u r a l and psychological forces. However, as De Beauvoir (1973,p.240) suggests, there i s an "inner aging" by means of which older persons feel not very different from when they were young. That i s , our image of our own aging is something that to some extent, comes from the "outside" aspect of my r e l a t i o n to other persons, Yet our private, inward experience does not t e l l us the number of our years; no fresh perception comes into being to show us the decline of age. The expanded picture views the older person and human aging as paradoxical phenomena in that, on the one hand, human beings are subject to to many influences and constraints. However, on the other hand, human beings can relate to situations in a variety of ways. There is an element of choice which makes the situation workable, both on the individual and at the s o c i e t a l l e v e l (Birren & Hedlund, Riegel, White). In sum, the expanded picture r e f l e c t s the ontology of personal existence in that i t understands the older human being as a person rather than an e s s e n t i a l l y b i o l o g i c a l or reactive 105 s o c i a l organism. Moreover, there i s an attempt to accommodate the view that older human beings as a group are just that, that i s , they are not children, not middle-aged persons and not dying persons. In this chapter i t has been shown that the r e s t r i c t e d and expanded pictures explicated in Chapter 4 r e f l e c t contrasting ontological presuppositions. These presuppositions center around understandings of human nature as v i t a l existence and personal existence. The contrasting basic assumptions about human nature were i d e n t i f i e d by r e f l e c t i n g again on the meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and so c i a l competence, along with aging, death and dying, and the nature of the person contained in the two pictures. 1 06 CONCLUSION In Chapter 1 of this inquiry there was a consideration of the h i s t o r i c a l development of the f i e l d of gerontology, including a discussion of where the d i s c i p l i n e stands at the present time. In addition, the history of gerontology was discussed from the point of view of a basic d i r e c t i o n that has been taken in research. That i s , from a thematic viewpoint, i t was seen that there has been, u n t i l very recently, a v i r t u a l l y exclusive emphasis on, and search for the decrements of human aging, so that "aging" had increasingly come to be understood as a process of universal decline. Chapter 1 also pointed out that a serious problem arises in connection with t h i s orientation, in that such a conclusion may be rooted in a number of factors other than s c i e n t i f i c facts, s t r i c t l y speaking. That i s , i t appears that there are epistemological, c u l t u r a l , s o c i a l and perhaps other kinds of prejudices or assumptions operative upon the s c i e n t i f i c gerontological understanding of human aging which have contributed to such a one-sided d i r e c t i o n in research. In addition, i t was suggested that a r e f l e c t i v e appropriation of the f i e l d might contribute to a solution to thi s problem. By way of an i n i t i a l c l a r i f i c a t i o n and evaluation of the problem of s c i e n t i f i c understandings of aging , Chapter 2 demonstrated some of the important reasons for questioning such unreflected s c i e n t i f i c meanings, assumptions and biases. Also, there was a consideration of several extant ways of proceeding 1 07 with this l i n e of thinking. Then, in Chapter 3 , an alternative Hermeneutic approach was suggested as a possible useful additional a l t e r n a t i v e . Chapters 4 & 5 consisted of a discussion of the way that such a Hermeneutic approach can be applied in an examination of the gerontological l i t e r a t u r e . That i s , in Chapter 4 an i n i t i a l selection and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of central perspectives was undertaken and r e s t r i c t e d and expanded pictures were i d e n t i f i e d . These two pictures were explicated on the basis of an analysis of the meanings of i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o c i a l competence evident in findings and statements contained in selected views. This was followed in Chapter 5 by an explication of contrasting ontological orientations that were seen to be contained in the same perspectives. In the next and f i n a l chapter, there w i l l be a consideration of the results of the study, as well as anticipated contributions and l i m i t a t i o n s . 108 CHAPTER 6 RESULTS, CONTRIBUTIONS, SPECULATIONS There are four main results of the study. F i r s t , a further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of why i t is important to raise the question of s c i e n t i f i c assumptions and biases in gerontology has been provided. In addition, some of the d i f f i c u l t i e s associated with th i s procedure were addressed. Secondly, a d i f f e r e n t approach to the problem of assumptions, namely, the Hermeneutic approach, was outlined in i t s application to gerontology. Third, this new approach has assisted in the further c l a r i f i c a t i o n and understanding of the different meanings of gerontological i n t e l l e c t u a l and social competence in the f i e l d . The analysis has indicated that two main pictures or, ways of understanding these phenomena can be i d e n t i f i e d , a r e s t r i c t e d and an expanded view. F i n a l l y , a further analysis of these two pictures has resulted in an explication of some of the philosophical underpinnings of the s c i e n t i f i c research. S p e c i f i c a l l y , i t has been shown that there are d i f f e r e n t ontological orientations presupposed in the r e s t r i c t e d and expanded pictures. Namely, an understanding of human nature as v i t a l existence in the instance of the r e s t r i c t e d perspective and as personal existence in the case of the expanded picture. This result suggests that the differences between these two pictures are more than methodological. 109 Contributions and Significance of the Study In point form, the following contributions are anticipated. 1. The study provides an e f f e c t i v e way of f a c i l i t a t i n g cross-d i s c i p l i n a r y "conversations" and enables one to come to some general insights and understandings about the f i e l d of gerontology. In addition, i t a s s i s t s in the c l a r i f i c a t i o n of how psychosocial gerontology understands i t s e l f as a f i e l d of study. 2 . The analysis of s c i e n t i f i c meanings has contributed to the effo r t to bring together diverse approaches to research in gerontology on, for example, adult intelligence and cognitive and s o c i a l competencies and represents a modest step towards the integration of the f i e l d at a conceptual l e v e l . 3. The study builds on what has been done, that i s , i t remains close to the l i t e r a t u r e in the f i e l d and may be seen to have assisted in the e f f o r t to develop cumulative knowledge in psychosocial gerontology. 4. The study has attempted to increase the understanding of imp l i c i t and e x p l i c i t images, meanings and conceptualizations of aging contained in the s c i e n t i f i c l i t e r a t u r e . In addition, i t may suggest new ways of viewing aging and the older person as a result of the a c t i v i t y of thinking c r i t i c a l l y about how the empirical l i t e r a t u r e r e f l e c t s and relates to general meanings of aging and the nature of the older person. As mentioned in the prologue, s c i e n t i f i c gerontology i s enriched by a contribution from the study of human development and human nature in general. 1 10 5. F i n a l l y , the study constitutes an instance of the way in which philosophy, as part of stage ( i i i ) in Chapter 1, can contribute to the further development of basic knowledge in psychosocial gerontology. This is true from the point of view of the further c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the epistemological foundations of s c i e n t i f i c gerontology and also in the context of the discussion of the ontological considerations that are connected to the s c i e n t i f i c l i t e r a t u r e . Limi tat ions The study represents a type of research that is increasingly being seen as important in the f i e l d of gerontology. Nevertheless, i t is a new approach in that i t attempts to a l t e r the boundaries of several t r a d i t i o n a l d i s c i p l i n e s . This makes for a situation in which there are not always clear guidelines to follow, both from a methodological point of view and from an assessment perspective. Consequently, there are lim i t a t i o n s as to how much one can relate this study to mainstream research in individual d i s c i p l i n e s . As a result, t h i s work must be evaluated to a greater extent on i t s own merits as to such things as coherence and usefulness. A second l i m i t a t i o n i s that the thesis suffers to some extent in depth for what i t gains in breadth. That i s , on the one hand, as an attempt at a new approach, much energy is devoted to the explication of a number of basic connections among several f i e l d s , in p a r t i c u l a r , philosophy, psychology and 111 gerontology. In this sense, the study sets out some groundwork. On the other hand, i t i s not possible to provide exhaustive d e t a i l of a number of important issues that are raised in the study. For example, the study does not solve the problems that are created by the s h i f t to the view that science is not value neutral. Nevertheless, the study does deal with some of the important ramifications of such a position v i s a vis the s c i e n t i f i c study of aging. Another example i s the discussion of di f f e r e n t approaches to the analysis of assumptions in Chapter 2 . This area could provide the basis for a dissertation in i t s e l f . The same can be said about the discussion of ontology in Chapter 5 . These areas were not developed any more than they were in order that the overa l l purpose of the study could be achieved. Implications for Intervention The major issue that arises from t h i s study with regard to the problem of intervention, whether i t be policy, research, treatment or education is that one must be very careful about making generalized statements about older persons. It would appear that a contextual or s i t u a t i o n a l orientation is warranted in gerontology, since human aging is such a multivariate and multidimensional phenomenon. It follows that the training of both researchers and p r a c t i t i o n e r s should r e f l e c t this orientation and that more emphasis should be placed on c r i t i c a l 1 1 2 thinking and learning how to work with various conceptualizations of aging and older persons. In this way one becomes more aware of one's own assumptions and other possible assumptions, a procedure which in turn f a c i l i t a t e s s c i e n t i f i c a l l y and e t h i c a l l y responsive intervention. Such an approach to t r a i n i n g would emphasize exposure to many d i f f e r e n t perspectives and methods, some of which are t r a d i t i o n a l l y found only in one p a r t i c u l a r d i s c i p l i n e . This i s not to advocate that everyone undertake i n t e r d i s c i p l i n a r y research, but i t is to advocate that a broad background tends to make for a better command of the problems found in gerontology. Coneluding Remarks and Future Research From a personal point of view, the time and e f f o r t spent engaged in this research has provided me with the basic t r a i n i n g and knowledge required to pursue a career in the f i e l d of gerontology. Although in a way, the study has raised more questions about the nature of human aging and the s c i e n t i f i c study of this phenomenon than i t has provided answers, I regard t h i s as a p o s i t i v e outcome in that i t indicates that there is much work to be done. In t h i s connection, my future interests are to address the problem of the construction of theories of aging, an area that requires that one come to terms with such things as a contextual understanding of science. Another question that is of interest to me is that concerned with the d i s t i n c t i o n between endogenous and exogenous factors of aging. 1 1 3 That i s , what can be said to be i n t r i n s i c to the aging process and what is only associated with t h i s process. The present study has indicated that there are no quick answers to these questions, p a r t i c u l a r l y when i t comes to human aging. 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