Longer observation (7): Science and Self-Knowledge: It is easy to have views about things, even strong views, even certainties, and to be wrong. Science does not guarantee truth, but the scientific method is an attempt to subject our views, even our certain views, to a slow and methodic and public scrutiny, filled with checks and safe-guards to try to filter out as many false views as possible.
Everybody has views of the world and also of themselves. Others may not see us the way we see ourselves, and all kinds of disputes follow from this.
Now some people, some percentage of people (though not necessarily a large percentage) enter psychotherapy, because they want to learn about themselves, want self-knowledge. They are willing to examine themselves and look at the truth. They want to know the difference between their own subjective views of themselves and what they are in reality.
It might seem that science could jump in to the rescue, but this is not true. Science may study human beings but not individuals. Also it takes science years and years to make even small progress on small questions, but human life is short, comparatively speaking. In other words, if a person wants to study him or herself scientifically, and not people in general, perhaps there are a few things that can be learned about themselves based on what science has learned about people in general, but these will be general principles and will be of little use in the myriad circumstances of daily life.
Is there a method a person who wants to be objective about him (or her) self can apply to himself? Here are a few thoughts on the subject:
1) Observation, careful observation, is a critical first step in all science, and it is here also.
2) It is possible to do experiments on oneself. These will not be double-blind, scientifically reliable and valid experiments, and there is always the possibility of self-delusion, but it still is possible. You can set yourself into different situations and watch your reaction, and so on.
3) A scientific attitude where the truth is valued as one of the highest values — more important than the need to feel good — is important, even though this value can lead to false negatives.
4) Gathering the views of others about oneself can be a help. It gives other points of view besides your own. However, even if the majority view differs from your own it doesn't necessarily that yours is wrong, though it might be.