Gene Wise

During my research for this project, I have developed a great deal of sympathy for the ideas in Gene Wise's American Historical Explanations: A Strategy for Grounded Inquiry. I see in Wise's work an effort to set up a process much like the one I propose, except that Wise concentrates on that socio-historical context while I focus on the individual. Wise argues for a historical model that involves an examination of both scholars and their contexts. He explains that "scholars and historical reality itself are invariably connected to particulars in the world, and any model for reconstructing historical experience must be prepared to move into and through these particulars."1 I agree with this statement, but would add that we should try to provide this type of analysis on ourselves while doing our work. If thhe examination of context can help us understand the work and processes of those who came before us, it should also be able to help us understand ourselves and our own processes.

These grounded types of inquiry (to use Wise's phraseology) heop us to integrate rather than aggregate experience.2 By looking at as many relationships in our enterprises as possible, we can make more and varied ties in our body of knowledge, rathern than just adding to the huge hulk of information out there. This integration sets us on a path to wisdom, rather than to simple factual accumulation. By thinking through contextual perspectives we also consciously recognize the subjectivity of experience, and we can begin to ask new questions.3 In acknowledging how we experience what we experience, we can form more pointed approaches to our work.


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1Wise, Gene. American Historical Explanations: A Strategy for Grounded Inquiry. 2nd ed, rev. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980, p. 40.

2Wise, p. 15.

3Wise, p. 72-4.