Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Reflection and Introspection

reflectionReflection vs Introspection

When someone reflects, he thinks about himself, his actions, the way he behaves, the way he should behave and so on; when someone introspects, he does pretty much the same. Reflection also has other connotations. A reflection in a mirror for example is someone’s image being bounced back from it. Reflection is also how something or somebody is perceived. For instance if someone was in the habit of staggering out drunk on to the street every morning, it would not reflect very well on his personal image.

From an IT perspective a language with reflection is able to examine different types of objects at run time, as well as invoke or activate those objects using the specific information. Java and Smalltalk are examples of this. A language with introspection on the other hand is able to examine different objects at run time and the ability to sometimes modify or influence these. Examples of this are Objective C and Small Talk.

Going into the semantics of the term reflection, it denotes the act or state of being reflected. It also denotes a representation, image or counterpart. At the same time it implies a fixing of thoughts on something or a thought which comes to mind during the act of consideration or meditation. As described earlier reflection also has to do with casting aspersions or reproach. In terms of physics it implies the rebounding of light, heat or sound against a surface. In mathematical terms it implies replacement of very point on one side of a line by the point placed symmetrically opposite on the other side of the line.

Introspection on the other hand really has to do with the observation or examination of one’s own mental and emotional state of mind or the process of looking within. The whole tendency to self evaluate and measure is introspection. Soul searching is what sums up the essence of this term.
In essence, introspection is a deeper and more personal form of reflection. When someone reflects, he carefully examines the facts as they are available to him from the environment and try and understand why things pan out in a certain way. Introspection on the other hand is a personal and philosophical self-analysis wherein we put to test our own predilections and pre-dispositions and how these influence the way that we act. For instance if one of our car tires got punctured, reflection would make us conclude that the puncture probably occurred as a result of driving over a nail. Introspection on the other hand would cause us to believe that the puncture no doubt occurred because of the fact that one drove over a nail, but it was as much a result of not being careful and making no attempt to avoid driving over that nail!

Thus we see that two seemingly similar terms which are so often used in place of each other, have entirely different connotation both in terms of the actual meanings and connotations. Moreover the close similarity and subtle differences between the two terms occur in the IT domain as well where the two terms denote similar yet differing properties.
1.The term reflection denotes the act or state of being reflected while introspection has to do with the observation or examination of one’s own mental and emotional state of mind.
2.Reflection implies a fixing of thoughts on something or a thought while in introspection the whole tendency is to self evaluate and measure.
3.In reflection one looks at the facts while in introspection one looks at the philosophical aspects also.

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1 Comment

  1. To reflect and introspect are two very good ways for persons, who wish to become a better individual,to improve. Used correctly, one can see great improvements over time, however criticizing oneself unnecessarily in the process will do no good.

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