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Paradigm and Philosophical Assumptions of the Researcher

September 6, 2008

To continue on this thread of knowing my own beliefs leading to better research, I have written on my personal paradigm and philosophical assumptions underpinning some of my future research.

I believe that there is a reality out there that is unwavering; this is the same reality in which the murder of a young woman jogging on a trail or the beating of an innocent child is always wrong. Conversely, there is an interaction between this true reality and personal experience, motivation, and developmental level that shape each person’s perceived reality. Epistemology comes through these experiences and perceptions within reality, the interaction of the mind and body, and through knowledge of consequences of both the perceived and true realities. Ontology then is found in existing and experiencing our unique journey in this reality, it is transactional. The axiological concerns of this paradigm are centered in the intrinsic good of people, the value of health, and the ability to know about self and reality as an invaluable means for directing the care of others. These beliefs and values lend to a phenomenological existentialism view of the world. Phenomenological existentialism values the experiences and actions of beings in the world, is concerned with these actions and decisions that humans make (Woodruff-Smith, 2003).

Constructivism lends to this idea of understanding of the world through personal experience and context (Creswell, 2007), but this paradigm lacks the acknowledgement of a legitimate reality the same consequences find us all. For example, the consequence of damage to the body with continually elevated blood sugars is a legitimate outcome. Phenomenology also does not acknowledge this reality the way that positivist and postpostivist views do, but instead lends to an understanding of personal perception and personal reaction as it relates to ‘being’ in the world. The phenomenological view does provide a paradigm to view personal decisions of purposeful bodily harm by adolescent and young adult females.

The rhetoric closely tied to phenomenology includes terms like ‘lived experience’, which is literally the experience as a person lives through it (van Manen, 2000). Other important terms to this philosophy include: lived meaning, intentionality, hermeneutic, and essence (van Manen). Assumptions of this viewpoint are recognized by this author as important to this area of research and may not be the undergirding assumptions of all phenomenological existentialists. This author believes that the experience of the person and the decision for action cannot be separated. The personal narrative of the individual is key in understanding the phenomenon. Likewise, the consequence of the action is grounded in a physical reality that cannot be changed no matter what the individual’s intention.

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