Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama

Although it might be argued that the social drama is a story in [Hayden] White’s sense, in that it has discernible inaugural, transitional, and terminal motifs, that is, a beginning, a middle, and an end, my observations convince me that it is, indeed, a spontaneous unit of social process and a fact of everyone’s experience in every human society. My hypothesis, based on repeated observations of such processual units in a range of sociocultural systems and in my reading in ethnography and history, is that social dramas, “dramas of living,” as Kenneth Burke calls them, can be aptly studied as having four phases. These I label breach, crisis, redress, and either reintegration or recognition of schism. Social dramas occur within groups of persons who share values and interests and who have a real or alleged common history. The main actors are persons for whom the group has a high value priority. Most of us have what I call our “star” group or groups to which we owe our deepest loyalty and whose fate is for us of the greatest personal concern. It is the one with which a person identifies most deeply and in which he finds fulfillment of his major social and personal desires. We are all members of many groups, formal or informal, from the family to the nation or some international religion or political institution. Each person makes his/her own subjective evaluation of the group’s respective worth: some are “dear” to one, others it is one’s “duty to defend,” and so on. Some tragic situations arise from conflicts of loyalty to different star groups.

Victor Turner is professor of anthropology and a member of the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Virginia. His many publications include Schism and Continuity in an African Society, The Forest of Symbols, The Ritual Process, and, with Edith Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture

Social Dramas and Stories about Them
Victor Turner
Critical Inquiry 7 (1):141-168 (1980)

Key terms

  • Social Drama
  • Frames
  • Victor W Turner
  • David M Boje
  • Liminality
  • Meta theater
  • Meta Commentary
  • Conflict
  • Fragmentation
  • Spectcle
  • Carnival
  • Communitas
  • Anti structure
  • Mela
  • Tamasha
  • Circus
  • Khel
  • Natak
  • Nautanki
  • Leela
  • Communication
  • Reflexivity
  • Social Reflexivity
  • Public Reflexivity
  • Cybernetics
  • Higher Order Cybernetics
  • Processual
  • Performance processes
  • Interpretative Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Clifford Geertz

Below, I am reposting an article by David Boje on Victor Turner’s theory of social drama.

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama:

Implications for Organization Studies

David M. Boje, Ph.D., New Mexico State University

August 1, 2003

Abstract

I review Victor Turner’s more postmodern moves, such as process, indeterminacy, liminality, fragmentation, and metatheatre. 

The contribution to organization theory of studying Turner’s social drama is in developing a postmodern theatrics that is more processual and dynamitic than dramaturgical theories advanced by Burke and Goffman. Turner acknowledges the influence of Burke and Goffman in his postmodern theatre concepts, but moves off to explore the indeterminacy, liminality, and fragmentation aspects (defined below).  This postmodern dramaturgy allows us to explore how patterns emerged in the seeming chaos of successive situations. 

Theatre Theory

Most reviews of theatre theory focus on contrasts of Burke and Goffman (Boje, Luhman, Cunliffe, 2003; Gusfield, 1989; K’rreman, 2001; Oswick, Keenoy & Grant, 2001), while hardly mentioning Victor Turner’s work (1969; 1974, 1982a, 1982b, 1985). Goffman (1959, 1974) is often criticized, in these reviews, for using theatre as metaphor and for being less sociological than Burke. Burke (1937, 1945, 1972), by contrast, is said to view theatre as part of everyday life and extend literary criticism to politics and sociology.  Goffman is also criticized for engaging in “sociological reductionism” and for not being “particularly dramaturgical at all” (K’rreman, 2001: 96, 107).  

 Turner acknowledges roots to Burke (Turner, 1982a) and to Goffman (Turner, 1985: 181). Burke and Goffman have been applied to organization and public administration studies. Within organization studies, there is a growing body of research taking Goffman seriously. His approach fits neatly with Mintzberg’s (1973) managerial roles and more recent studies of charismatic leadership behavior as dramaturgic (Gardner & Alvolio, 1998; Harvey, 2001), emotional improvisation (Morgan & Krone, 2001) where the leader is the spokesperson and dramatist of organizational life.  Work by Czarniawska-Joerges (1997), Mangham (1990),  Mangham  and Overington (1987), and Rosen (1985, 1987) also seeks to apply tools and devices from theatre to organizational realities and the dramaturgical perspective has become quite central to charismatic leadership studies (Conger, 1991; Gardner & Alvolio, 1998; Harvey, 2001; Howell & Frost, 1989; Jones & Pittman, 1982). 

Theatre for Burke is not a metaphor used in some areas of organizational or social life; human action is dramatic (Gusfield, 1989; p. 36; K’rreman, 2001, p. 106).  As Maital (1999) puts it, “organizing is not like theatre — it is theatre” (as cited in Oswick, Keenoy & Grant, 2001, p. 219). Burke’s dramatistic pentad has been used widely to analyze organizations as theatres of action (Czarniawska-Joerges & Wolff, 1991; Mangham & Overington, 1987; Pine & Gilmour, 1999). Pine and Gilmour (1999) use Burke’s dramatism to assert work is theatre and every business is a stage. Czarniawska (1997) explores how the identities of organizational actors are constituted theatrically through role-playing and image construction.  

We see this critical postmodern integration in the writings of Guy Debord (1967) on “spectacle,” Mikhail Bakhtin (1984) on “carnivalesque,” and Augusto Boal (1972, 1992, 1995) on Theatre of the Oppressed.  

Social drama, says Turner, is defined as aharmonic or disharmonic social process, arising in conflict situations (1974: 37; 1985: 180).   Social drama is defined by Turner (1985: 196), as an eruption from the level surface of ongoing social life, with its interactions, transactions, reciprocities, its customs making for regular, orderly sequences of behavior. Turner’s social drama theory has four phases of public action:

  1. Breach of norm-governed social relations that have liminal characteristics, a liminal between more or less stable social processes;
  2. Crisis, during which there is a tendency for the breach to widen and in public forums, representatives of order are dared to grapple with it;
  3. Redressive action, ranging from personal advice and informal mediation or arbitration to formal juridical and legal machinery, and to resolve certain kinds of crisis or legitimate other modes of resolution, to the performance of public ritual. 
  4. Reintegration of the disturbed social group, or of the social recognition and legitimation of irreparable schism between the contesting parties. 

There is a sequence of processual acts and scenes across the four phases of social drama, with dynamic shifts in scripts, characterizations, rhetoric, and symbolism. The processes were more dynamic, rapid, and forceful during the crisis, and now there is a lull in the action.  There are six key concepts which we can use to explore the dialectic of spectacle and carnival, as well as reactionary counter-carnival theatrics. 

Conflict  Conflict situations between patriotic nationalism and the peaceniks make us aware of the beaches in the societal fabric. Conflict seems to bring fundamental aspects of society, normally overlaid by the customs and habits of daily intercourse, into frightening prominence (Turner, 1974).  People are divided, taking sides, using theatre to dramatize their differences.  In the weeks leading up to the war, and during the war, a cleavage occurs between antagonistic groups. At the same time in crisis, there is the flash of imaginative fire, an inspirational force to be harnessed. The conflict escalates locally, as a reflections of the globally conflict in the Middle East. Some crises spread, and more and more people turn out for vigils, marches, parades, rallies, and teach-ins. For Turner, public crisis has a liminal quality, betwixt and between, more or less stable phases of the social process. Antagonists dare and taunt each other, to deal with liminal forces. For example, the majority accept U.S. occupation of Iraq, even though no weapons of mass destruction were found. On May 30th, members of the administration disclosed that there never had been proof of WMD, but saying they were there, served as a way to rally the nation to go to war.

Within the spectacles and carnivals there are factions.  There were a series of social dramas in the U.S. that weakened the solidarity of the peace movement. Acts of repression under the U.S.A. PATRIOT act and Homeland Security were used to make peace people fearful of being blacklisted.  They have a chilling effect on free speech. We resist being reintegrated back into that social fabric of the status quo; communitas is broken, and our freedoms are curtailed.

Performance Processes  A society is defined by Turner (1985: 44, Paraphrasing) as a set of interactive processes that are punctuated by situations of conflict, with intervals between them.  Turner’s theatrical approach, being processual and dynamic, is more appropriate than Burke or Goffman’s to explore the rise and fall of social movements. In his 1985 book, (On the Edge of the Bush: Anthropology as Experience), Turner develops a postmodern treatment of social drama. He explores the contingent, ad hoc, and emergent character of the phases of social drama (breach, crisis, redress, & reintegration), focusing on how conflicts run their course. The situations interact over time. One set of interactions influence the premises for the next (Turner, 1985: 48).  During periods of intense global conflict, such as the outbreak of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, we became a dense network of social organizing. During the week leading up to March 19th war in Iraq, we had events, such as rallies, teach-ins, retreats, marches, and vigils happening daily.  We joined the millions of people who tried to persuade the administration not to go to war. Once war happened we persisted with our vigils and marches, trying to bring a swift end to the conflict.  After the administration declared an end to the war (though the fighting continued), our numbers dropped off, and many people reintegrated into more normal patterns of social life. 

As the antagonist to disputation play out the conflict phases of social drama, there is resistance to acts of suppression and repression (Turner, 1985: 44).  Contentious issues are kept in abeyance in ritual situations, but can surface again in public situations; some political situations threaten to turn violent, both in their protest and in their repression.  Solidarity of a nation at war, for example, has a chilling effect on political rivalry, so as not to threaten the safety of troops deployed in battle theatres.  The unresolved conflicts and rivalries carry over into subsequent ritual situations in ways that affect behavioral patterns. In this way as Pondy observed, conflict events are interdependent over time. 

The performance events interact such that situations develop spontaneously out of quarrels with domestic and foreign policy which rapidly acquire formalized or structural character (Turner, 1985: 45). For example, contending factions draw apart, consolidate their ranks, and develop spokesmen who represent their cases in terms of a rhetoric that is culturally standardized (p. 45). 

Liminality  Key to Turner is the ‘betwixt and between’ features that have liminal qualities (Turner, 1985: 113). Liminality is defined by Turner (1974: 52), as being ‘between successive participations in social milieu.’ There is a grander ‘liminal transition’ in the peace movement, and seemingly no way to stop the growth of fascism that embeds American governance (Turner, 1974: 47).  There is liminality in the transition from the conceptual system of democracy to another one, we in the movement call, fascism (Turner, 1974: 51). There is also liminal decay, a reluctant reincorporation into the charade and facade of polite society, into more stable social processes.  The reentry is accompanied by rituals of humiliation for the peace movement heroes, such as Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky. For example, status degradation and social leveling are indicated by the distribution of playing cards depicting peace heroes as traitors, and most wanted. The tricksters have won the symbolism wars, and liminality is existentially untenable to those of us hanging in with the peace movement. 

Each situation in the peace movement affects the premises of the next one.  There is am emergent pattern to the inter-situational events. The successive events have liminal spaces between them.  Liminal space is Turner’s concept of what is betwixt and between situated events.  In the liminality between situations, a leader is without a situation to rally around.  For example, as the Iraq invasion drew nearer, the number of local organizing events that I lead and facilitated was denser, and in the final weeks, there was an event every day.  Now that the invasion has morphed into an occupation, local events are few and far between.  This liminal space is a time for mourning our failure to get our President to stop the war; it is a time for rest and reflection, a time to plan for the next situation. For a few weeks in late April and early May, it looked like Syria would be the next campaign. But, that has subsided. The 2004 election is a bit far off to worry about. 

I am neither what I have been nor what I will become. Similarly, peace consciousness is a liminal space, not yet what it will be. The peace movement refuses reintegration until the social order transforms to something more non-violent than what it is.

Summer vacations, the exodus of students from a university town, also decreased our numbers. Our rebellion is low-key, smoldering factionalism divides us. Members of PeaceAware slip back into anonymity of daily routine. Only a few die-hards persist with vigils or demonstrations outside Congressman Peace’s events. 

Indeterminacy  Indeterminacy is always present in the background of any ritualized performance, ready to intrude. Spectacles, even with expert choreography, scripting, and stage handling, fail to contain the embedded chaos. For example, the search for weapons of mass destruction slips into a sea of indeterminacy along with the war on terror. Each emplotment unravels.  The exact meaning of a speaker’s utterance or performance is a contextualized exchange in which meaning is often indeterminate. Various stakeholders will apprehend different views of the performance. Aristotle’s poetic elements of theatre are in constant flux, with ever-shifting indeterminate plots, characters, themes, dialogs, rhythms, and spectacles. All the president’s men cannot bind chaos with the most advanced theatrics. The spectacle is always self-deconstructing.  Yet, chaos can be used to confuse. There is a sequence of rhetoric switching in the justification and legitimation for war. 

The rhetorical and speech styles have shifted since the war was a way to find weapons of mass destruction hidden from the UN inspectors, to war being way to protect the troops, to a way to support the president. On 30 May 2003, Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair, they the administration did not believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; officials thought it was best way to get officials to go to war.[1] “For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” says Wolfowitz. It was also a way to get the public on board. In this sense, the spectators cannot determine the cause for the war, and now that war is declared officially over, the original premises no loner matter. 

Spectacle cannot fix the fluidity of context, nor bind the shifting context from infecting performance processes.  The situational adjustments of President Bush’s handlers, betrays the flux and fluidity, and indeterminacy of everyday life. This indeterminacy, says Turner (1985: 185), ‘is towards postmodern ways of thinking’ about social life. 

Fragmentation – Fragmentation is definable as a persistent dialectical ‘opposition of processes’ with many ‘levels of processes’ (Turner, 1985: 185). Postmodern theory spotlights moments when fragmentation takes center stage, revealing how social reality invades spectacle during moments of conflict.  Spectacle role-playing is not able to cover the breakdowns between official perspectives and countless counter stories revealing fragmentation.  For Turner ‘the truly ‘spontaneous’ unit of human social performance is not role-playing sequence in an institutionalized or ‘corporate group’ context; it is the social drama which results precisely form the suspension of normative role-playing, and in its passionate activity abolishes the usual distinction between flow and reflection, since in the social drama it becomes a matter of urgency to become reflexive about the cause and motive of action damaging to the social fabric (Turner, 1985: 196). 

There are moments in institutionalized spectacle, where the social drama of conflict emerges, and Bush engages in reflection. In such moments the fragmentarity of the social fabric becomes temporarily visible, ‘as factors giving meaning to deeds that may seem at first sight meaningless’ (p. 196). These are moments of reflection when we can see an irreparable schism between war and peace factions.

The more the Bush handlers defragment, the more Bush’s performance processes reveal oppositions and layers. The thespian nature of his performance unmasks itself, resulting in a media that begins to reflect upon the fragmentation covered over by performance controls. The president is detected as a performing actor. 

Metatheatre – Turner (1985: 181) invents the term ‘meta-theater.’ Where for Burke and Goffman, all the world is a theatre stage, for Turner, ‘meta-theatre’ is the communication about the communication process, spectators and actors reflect upon how the actors do what they do on stage, ‘the ability to communicate about the communication process itself’ (p. 181). In contrasting his own dramaturgy work with Goffman’s, Turner (1985; 181) says that for him ‘dramaturgical analysis begins when crises arise in the daily flow of social interaction.’   Turner continues, ‘Thus, if daily living is a kind of theater, social drama is a kind of meta-theater, that is, a dramaturgical language about the language of ordinary role-playing and status-maintenance which constitutes communication in the quotidian social process’ (p. 181). Metatheatre then is for Turner, reflexivity by everyday actors about the communication system, where they consciously show spectators what they are doing. Turner studies reflexivity in crisis phase of social interaction, but also within the redressive phase.  Turner theorizes four phases, breech, crisis, redressive action, and reintegration in what he calls ‘social drama.’

Metacommentary, is a term Turner, 1982a: 104) borrows from Geertz, ‘a story a group tells itself about itself’ or ‘a play a society acts about itself.’  Metatheatre then builds upon the idea of metacommentary, ‘an interpretive reenactment of its experience’ (Turner, 1982a: 104). In the positive, metatheatre reenacts conflicts, giving them contextualization, so that with metacommentary, facets are illuminated and accessible for remedial action. Through multiple reflections, spectators are able to provoke transformations in everyday life.  On the negative side, the metatheatre distorts event and context in ways that provoke conformity. For example, our weekly street theatre is a metacommentary on global, national, and local conflicts, a time for reflection and reflexivity. Our signs are commentary, and we resist conformity. We are opposed by metacommentary of our critics, what see our acts as traitorous, seditious, and rebellious. Both sides use drama to provoke and persuade.

Metatheatre is about the dialectic process of framing through theatre, in ways that appeal to the frame of mind of the spectator; resistance is about bringing counter-frames to bear on dominant frames.

In the next section I apply Turner’s constructs of conflict, performance processes, liminality, indeterminacy, fragmentation, and metatheatre to that antagonism of the war and peace movements. 

References

Aristotle (written 350BCE). Citing in the (1954) translation Aristotle: Rhetoric and poetics. Introduction by F. Solmsen, Rhetoric. (W Rhys Roberts, Tran.); Poetics (I. Bywater, Tran.).  New York, NY: The Modern Library (Random House).  Poetics was written 350 BCE. Custom is to cite part and verse (i.e. Aristotle, 1450: 5, p. 23) refers to part 1450, verse 5, on p. 23 of the Solmsen (1954) book.  There is also an on line version translated by S. H. Butcher http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.html or http://eserver.org/philosophy/aristotle/poetics.txt

Bakhtin, M. (1981). The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (Caryl Emerson, Michael Holquist, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bakhtin, Mikhail M.  (1973). Rabelais and His World. Translated by H’ l’ ne Iswolsky. 1st ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Best, Steve & Douglas Kellner (1991) Postmodern Theory. NY: Guilford Press.

Best, Steve & Douglas Kellner (1997) Postmodern Turn. NY: Guilford Press.

Best, Steve & Douglas Kellner (2001) Postmodern Adventure. NY: Guilford Press.

Boal, A. (1992). Games for actors and non-actors. (A. Jackson, Trans). A conflation of two books, Stop C’est Magique (Paris: Hachette, 1980) and  Jeuz pour acteurs et non-acteurs (Paris: La D’couverte, 1989) with additions by Boal. London, UK: Routledge.  

Boje, David M. (2001). Carnivalesque resistance to global spectacle: A critical postmodern theory of public administration, Administrative Theory & Praxis, 23(3): 431-458.

Boje, David M. (2003). Theatres of Capitalism. NJ: Hampton Press. In press. 

Boje, David M.  John T. Luhman, & Ann L. Cunliffe (2003). A Dialectic Perspective on the Organization Theatre Metaphor American Communication Journal. Volume 6 (2): 1-16.

Bumiller, Elisabeth (2003). Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights.  The New York Times. 16 May, accessed on the web May 31 2003 at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/16/politics/16IMAG.html

Burke, K. (1937). Attitudes toward history. Las Altos, CA: Hermes Publications. 

Burke, K. (1945). A grammar of motives. Berkeley: University of California Press.  

Burke, K. (1972). Dramatism and development. Barre, MA: Clark University Press with Barre Publishers.  

Carr, Adrian (1996) Putative Problematic Agency in a Postmodern World: Is It Implicit in the Text–Can It Be Explicit in Organization Analysis? Vol 18 (1): 79-.

Debord Guy (1967). Society of the Spectacle. La Soci’t’ du Spectacle was first published in 1967 by Editions, Buchet-Chastel (Paris); it was reprinted in 1971 by Champ Libre (Paris). The full text is available in English at http://www.nothingness.org/SI/debord/index.html It is customary to refer to paragraph numbers in citing this work. 

Fox, Charles J. and Miller Hugh T. (1996) Modern/Postmodern Public Administration: A Discourse About What is Real. Vol 18 (1): 41-.  

Fox, Charles J. and High T. Miller. (1995a). Postmodern Public Administration: A short treatise on self-referential epihenomena. Administrative Theory & Praxis 15(2): 52-70. 

Fox, Charles J. and High T. Miller. (1995b). Postmodern Public Administration: Toward Discourse. Thousand Oaks :Sage Publications, Inc.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books. 

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis. New York, NY: Harper Books. 

Gusfield, J. R. (1989). The bridge over separated lands: Kenneth Burke’s significance for the study of social action.  In H. Simmons & T. Melia (Eds.), The legacy of Kenneth Burke, pp. 28-54. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. 

Hoffman, Leslie (2003). Bush Brings Tax Cut Message To Bernalillo. The Associated Press, May 12. Accessed May 31st at http://www.abqjournal.com/news/apbush05-12-03.htm

K’rreman, D. (2001). The Scripted Organization: Dramaturgy from Burke to Baudrillard. Pp. 95-111 In R. Westwood and S. Linstead (Eds.) The language of organization.  London: Sage Publications.

Kristeva, Julia (1980a) Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. Edited by L’on Roudiez. Translated by Alice Jardine, Thomas Gora and L’on Roudiez. New York, Columbia University Press, London, Basil Blackwell

Kristeva, Julia (1980b) “Word, Dialogue, and Novel.” Desire and Language. Ed. Leon S. Roudiez. Trans. Thomas Gora et al. New York: Columbia UP, pp. 64-91.

Kristeva, Julia (1986).  Word, dialogue, and the novel.    In T. Moi (Ed.), The Kristeva reader.    (pp. 35-61).   New York: Columbia University Press.

Oswick, C., Keenoy, T. & Grant, D. (2001). Dramatizing and organizing: Acting and being. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 14 (3), 218-224. 

Saunders, Doug (2003). White House insider cleans up Bush’s image on film. Globe and Mail. May 28th. On line at http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030528.ufilm0528/BNStory/International/

Swartz, Marc J., Victor W. Turner, & Arthur Tuden (1966) Political Anthropology. Chicago, IL: Aldine Publishing Company. 

Turner, Victor (1967) Carnival, Ritual, and play in Rio de Janeiro. pp. 74- 92. In Alessandro Falassi (Ed.) Time Out of Time: Essays on the Festival. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Turner, Victor (1974). Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press. 

Turner, Victor (1982a). From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. NY: PAJ Publications (Division of Performing Arts Journal, Inc.). 

Turner, Victor (1982b, Editor). Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Turner, Victor (1985). On the Edge of the Bush: Anthropology as Experience. Edith L. B. Turner (Ed). Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press. 

Zanetti, Lisa A. (1997) Advancing praxis: Connecting critical theory with practice in public administration. 27(2): 145-167.

Zanetti, Lisa A. and Carr, Adrian (1999) Exaggerating the Dialectic: Postmodernism’s ‘New Individualism’ and the Detrimental Effects on Citizenship.  AT&P Vol 21 (2) 205-.

Zanetti, Lisa A. & Carr, Adrian (1997). Putting critical theory to work: Giving the public administrator the critical edge. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 19(2): 208-224

My Related Posts

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Kenneth Burke and Dramatism

Dialogs and Dialectics

Narrative, Rhetoric and Possible Worlds

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Paradoxes, Contradictions, and Dialectics in Organizations

Key Sources of Research

Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama:

Implications for Organization Studies

David M. Boje, Ph.D., New Mexico State University

August 1, 2003

https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/theatrics/7/victor_turner.htm

‘Themes in the Symbolism of Ndemdu Hunting Ritual, 

Turner, Victor (1962)

Anthropological Quarterly 35, pp. 37-57 reprinted in Myth and Cosmos: Readings in Methodology and Symbolism, edited by John Middleton, 1967, New York: Natural History Press, pp. 249-69.

“Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage.” 

Turner, V.W. (1967)

The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual pp. 93-111. Ithaca: Cornell UP.

The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure 

Turner, V.W. (1969) 

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

Dramas, Fields and Metaphors 

Turner, V.W. (1974) 

Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press

The Anthropology of Performance 

Turner, V.W. (1988) 

New York: PAJ Publications.

From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play

by Victor Turner

Social Dramas and Stories about Them

Victor Turner

Critical Inquiry 7 (1):141-168 (1980)

Frame, Flow and Reflection: Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality

Victor Turner

Japanese Journal of Religious Studies Vol. 6, No. 4 (Dec., 1979),

pp. 465-499 (35 pages) 

Published By: Nanzan University 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/30233219

“Symbols in African Ritual,” 

Victor Turner

Science March 16, 1972, vol. 179, 1100-05.

http://thury.org/Myth/Turner2.html

Performing Ethnography

Victor Turner; Edith Turner

The Drama Review: TDR, Vol. 26, No. 2, Intercultural Performance. (Summer, 1982), pp. 33-50. Stable URL:

http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0012-5962%28198222%2926%3A2%3C33%3APE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-C

Victor Turner

https://lindseypullum.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/victor-turner/

Victor Witter Turner

https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/social-sciences-and-law/sociology-biographies/victor-witter-turner

The Drama of Social Life 

A Dramaturgical Handbook

Edited By Charles Edgley

Edition 1st Edition

First Published 2013

DOI https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315615691 

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/edit/10.4324/9781315615691/drama-social-life-charles-edgley?refId=08738592-4e3e-4260-a624-c2b9edd005f0

Notes towards an Anthropology of Political Revolutions

BJØRN THOMASSEN

Society and Globalization, Roskilde University

Comparative Studies in Society and History 2012;54(3):679–706.
0010-4175/12

# Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 2012

doi:10.1017/S0010417512000278

Variations on a theme of Liminality

Victor Turner

chapter in a book Secular Ritual

The Ritual Process

Structure and Anti-Structure

VICTOR TURNER

Acting in Everyday life, Life in Everyday Acting

Click to access Turner.pdf

Paradoxes, Contradictions, and Dialectics in Organizations

Paradoxes, Contradictions, and Dialectics in Organizations

Source: The role of paradox theory in decision making and management research

In our increasingly complex, global and fast-paced world, competing demands on individuals and teams continually surface in the context of organizational life. Individuals face challenges between work and family, learning and performing, collaborating and competing. Teams grapple with tensions between individual and collective accomplishments, specializing and coordination, and meeting creativity and efficiency goals. Leaders need to maintain both distance and closeness, treat subordinates uniformly while allowing individualism, and ensure decision control while allowing autonomy. Moreover, in an increasingly global environment, individuals and leaders must increasingly act globally, while dealing with local demands or nuances. Perhaps as an even greater challenge, they may value nationalistic concerns, while simultaneously embracing multiculturalism and a global mindset.

Key Words

  • Paradox
  • Conflicts
  • Contradictions
  • Dialectics
  • Process
  • Disequilibria
  • Disruption
  • Opposition
  • Synthesis
  • Competing Poles
  • Dilemmas
  • Trade-offs
  • Dualities
  • Polarities
  • Virtuous Cycles
  • Vicious Cycles
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Oxymora
  • This and That
  • This or That
  • Either/ Or
  • Both/And
  • Inclusion and Exclusion
  • Networks and Boundaries
  • Outside and Inside
  • Before and After
  • Japanese Zen Koans
  • Chinese Yin Yang
  • Aristotle Logic
  • Hegel Dialectics
  • Tensions
  • Ambidexerity
  • Paradox Theory
  • Ambivalence
  • Double Bind
  • Contingency Theory
  • African Ubuntu
  • Trialectics
  • Verbs: working with (through), addressing, resolving, combining, embracing, mediating, simultaneously achieving, managing contradictions, achieving balance, dealing with, coexisting, aligning, reconciling, solving the struggle between, enabling multiple interests, negotiating tensions, facing, synthesizing opposites, mastering the paradox, overcoming;
  • Nouns: coping strategies, emerging strategies, resolutions, solutions, tactics, compromises (trade-offs), framework, mediator
  • Coping strategies : the presence or absence of coping strategies in the paper and the type of coping strategies (splitting, specializing, suppressing, opposing and synthesizing).
  • Key concept (paradox, dilemma, duality, polarity, dialectic or ambidexterity)

Organizational Paradox

Source: https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199846740/obo-9780199846740-0201.xml

Organizational paradox offers a theory of the nature and management of competing demands. Historically, the dominant paradigm in organizational theory depicted competing demands as trade-offs or dilemmas that could be resolved by choosing one option. In the late 1960s, scholars such as Joan Woodward, Paul Lawrence, and Jay Lorsch introduced contingency theory, suggesting that individuals resolve these tensions by taking the context and environment into account. Paradox theory offers an alternative approach, suggesting that these tensions cannot be resolved. By depicting competing demands as tensions that are not only contradictory, but also interdependent and persistent, paradox theory argues that actors need to accept, engage, and navigate tensions rather than resolve them. Foundational work on paradox in organizations emerged starting in the late 1970s and 1980s. This work drew from rich insights across a variety of disciplines, including Eastern philosophy (Taoism, Confucianism), Western philosophies (Hegel, Heraclitus), psychodynamics (Jung, Adler, Frankel), psychology (Schneider, Watzlawick), political science (Marx, Engel), communications and sociology (Taylor, Bateson), and negotiations and conflict resolution (Follett). More recent work has advanced foundational building blocks toward a theory of paradox. Underlying the theory of paradox is ontologies of dualism—two opposing elements that together form an integrated unity—and dynamism— ongoing change. Scholars have defined paradox as tensions that are contradictory, interdependent, and persistent, noting their dynamic, everchanging, cyclical nature. Some scholars describe the origins of paradox as inherent within systems, while others highlight their social construction through cognition, dialogue, and rationality. Still others explore the relationship between the inherent and socially constructed nature of tensions, depicting tensions as latent within a system, becoming salient through social construction and external conditions. Moreover, some scholars focus more on understanding the poles of paradox, while others depict the ongoing dynamic interaction and evolution. As paradox theory continues to grow and expand, scholars have also added complexity to our understanding, emphasizing paradoxes as nested across levels and as knotted and interwoven across various tensions, while also taking into account the power dynamics, uncertainty, plurality, and scarcity of systems within which paradoxes emerge. This article identifies scholarship that depicts these varied approaches and ideas, providing the foundations of paradox theory for scholars new to this field and in-depth analysis for those seeking to expand their understanding. Section 1 offers foundational work. Section 2 introduces early scholarship that launched the field. Section 3 includes work describing foundational building blocks toward a theory of paradox. Section 4 highlights research that recognizes the nested nature of paradox and describes how this theory has been applied across different levels. Section 5 includes papers that address the meta-theoretical and multi-paradigmatic aspect of paradox theory, noting how these ideas have been applied across phenomena and across theoretical lenses. Section 6 describes papers that draw on the varied methodological traditions associated with paradox. Finally, section 7 identifies several handbooks and special issues that offer an introduction to or integration of paradox theory.

The Pillars of the Paradox: Foundational Papers

The early foundational work in organizational paradox dates back to the late 1970s and 1980s, and it established paradox as a core lens through which to understand organizational phenomena. These different insights emerged out of multiple traditions. One of the earliest pieces, Benson 1977 draws on the work of Hegel, Marx, and Engels to introduce the idea of dialectics in organizations. Discussion continues to this day about the distinctions and synergies between dialectical and paradoxical perspectives (see, e.g., Hargrave and van de Ven 2017, cited under Different Traditions and Influences). Putnam 1986, a foundational work, draws its roots from communication and sociology from writers such as Taylor, Bateson, and Watzlewick, while the core insight of Smith and Berg 1987 grew out of work on psychodynamics from scholars such as Jung, Adler, Frankel, and Freud. In 2000, Marianne Lewis wrote her AMR paper, “Exploring Paradox: Toward a More Comprehensive Guide” (Lewis 2000), which brings together these traditions and has inspired the next generation of those examining paradox. In doing so, she won AMR’s best paper of the year award.

  • Benson, J. Kenneth. “Organizations: A Dialectical View.” Administrative Science Quarterly 22.1 (1977): 1–21. Benson draws heavily on insights from Marx and Engels, providing a dialectical perspective of organizations in which contradictions morph and change over time into new integrations. This piece constitutes an early introduction to thinking about organizational systems as embodiments of oppositional tensions. Benson suggests that understanding these tensions depends on four basic principles: social construction, totality, contradiction, and praxis.
  • Cameron, Kim S. “Effectiveness as Paradox: Consensus and Conflict in Conceptions of Organizational Effectiveness.” Management Science 32.5 (1986): 539–553. Cameron reviews the areas of consensus and conflicts in the literature on effectiveness and in doing so describes the inherently paradoxical nature of effectiveness in organizations. He argues that to be effective an organization must own attributes that are simultaneously contradictory, even mutually exclusive.
  • Clegg, Stewart R., ed. Management and Organization Paradoxes. Advances in Organization Studies 9. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002. Scholars debate the source of paradox as socially constructed and symbolic or inherent and material. Clegg organizes this edited volume to address this paradox of paradoxes. The first section addresses “representing paradoxes,” highlighting the role of symbols and discourse to create paradoxes. The second section focuses on “materializing paradoxes,” describing paradox within various organizational phenomena.
  • Clegg, Stewart R., João Vieira da Cunha, and Miguel Pina e Cunha. “Management Paradoxes: A Relational View.” Human Relations 55.5 (2002): 483–503. The authors offer a relational view of paradox. They discern four regularities from the literature: first, the simultaneous presence of opposites is the everyday experience in management; second, a relationship is often found between the opposing poles (synthesis); third, this synthesis emerges when the relationship’s structural side is kept at a minimal level, and the relationship is mutually reinforcing; finally, this relationship is local, it cannot be designed but emerges from situated practice.
  • Lewis, Marianne. W. “Exploring Paradox: Toward a More Comprehensive Guide.” Academy of Management Review 25.4 (2000): 760–776. This article advances foundational ideas of organizational paradox. Lewis defines paradox as “contradictory yet interrelated elements—elements that seem logical in isolation but absurd and irrational when appearing simultaneously” (p. 760). She develops a framework that starts with tensions (self-referential loops, mixed messages, and system contradictions), identifies defense mechanisms that lead to reinforcing cycles, and explores management strategies to tap into the power of paradox. She further categorizes paradoxes of learning, organizing, and belonging.
  • Poole, Marshall S., and Andrew H. van de Ven. “Using Paradox to Build Management and Organization Theories.” Academy of Management Review 14.4 (1989): 562–578. The authors explore how paradox thinking can be used to improve our approaches to theorizing. They describe paradoxes as “social paradoxes” that exist in the real world, subject to temporal and spatial constraints, and they propose four strategies for addressing social paradoxes: opposition, accepting the contradiction and using it; spatial separation, defining clear levels of analysis; temporal separation, taking time into account; and synthesis, adopting new term to overcome paradoxes. They illustrate each of these four approaches by exploring the paradoxical tension between structure and agency.
  • Putnam, Linda L. “Contradictions and Paradoxes in Organizations.” In Organization-Communication: Emerging Perspectives. Edited by Lee Thayer, 151–167. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1986. Putnam draws on theories of discourse, communication, and group relations to introduce a categorization of three types of paradoxes: contradictory messages in which words conflict with actions or in roles; paradoxes or double binds, which highlights self-referential interactions due to the dynamics between actors; and system contradictions in which the tensions are embedded within the organizational structures.
  • Quinn, Robert E., and Kim S. Cameron, eds. Paradox and Transformation: Toward a Theory of Change in Organization and Management. Cambridge MA: Ballinger, 1988. This edited volume includes essays from luminaries in organizational theory offering insights about how paradox can inform and is informed by strategic thinking, organizational change, communication, and group dynamics. These now classic essays provide foundational insights for applying paradox theory to organizational phenomena.
  • Smith, Kenwyn K., and David N. Berg. Paradoxes of Group Life: Understanding Conflict, Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987. Smith and Berg define paradox as “a statement or set of statements that are self-referential and contradictory and trigger a vicious cycle” (p. 12). They trace the roots of paradoxical thought drawing heavily on psychoanalysis, and they highlight twelve paradoxes within groups and merge them in three different categories: paradoxes of belonging, paradoxes of engaging, and paradoxes of speaking. This text offers an early approach to exploring paradox within organizational phenomena.

SWG 09: Organizational Paradox: Engaging Plurality, Tensions and Contradictions


Coordinators

Costas Andriopoulos, City, University London, United Kingdom
Josh Keller, UNSW Sydney, Australia
Marianne W. Lewis, University of Cincinnati, USA
Ella Miron-Spektor, INSEAD, Europe Campus, France
Camille Pradies, EDHEC Business School, France
Jonathan Schad, King’s College London, United Kingdom
Wendy K. Smith, University of Delaware, USA

Organizational life faces unprecedented complexity. Multiple and contradictory goals, competing stakeholder demands, and fast-paced change increasingly give rise to persistent and interwoven tensions, such as today and tomorrow, social missions and business demands, centralization and decentralization, stability and change. Whereas traditional management research emphasizes contingency approaches to make explicit choices between alternatives of a tension, a paradox approach underlines the value of embracing competing demands simultaneously (Lewis, 2000). A paradox depicts a tension’s elements as contradictory and inconsistent, yet also interdependent, synergistic, and mutually constituted (Farjoun, 2010; Smith & Lewis, 2011). Engaging competing demands simultaneously enables long term organizational sustainability.

The aim of SWG 09 is to advance our understanding of plurality, tensions, and contradictions to better engage them for managerial practice (see Putnam et al., 2016; Schad et al., 2016).

Throughout continuous sub-themes at EGOS Colloquia, we have been able to further our understanding of tensions and contradictions, and thereby define clear boundaries and definitions. Building on a thriving community of scholars, we now seek to apply new theoretical terrains and discuss methodological possibilities to uncover the full potential of paradox research.
 
This SWG aims to specifically explore and advance research on plurality, tensions, and contradictions as follow:

  • Understanding the sources of tensions: Tensions are depicted as inherent to organizing as well as socially constructed (Smith & Lewis, 2011). Recent research explains that tensions can be rooted in complex systems, which is why they can be latent and become salient (Schad & Bansal, 2018).
  • Multiple, interwoven tensions: Given the pervasiveness of multiple tensions, scholars may study co-occurrence of tensions (Jarzabkowski et al., 2013), which span levels of an organizations (Andriopoulos & Lewis, 2009), and can be interrelationships among tensions (Sheep et al., 2017).
  • Microfoundations: What are the microfoundations of paradoxes (Miron-Spektor et al., 2018)? What is the role of emotions – anxiety, ambivalence, vulnerability – in sustaining or leveraging paradoxical tensions (Vince & Broussine, 1996)? What are the consequences for management and organization (Hahn et al., 2014)?
  • Paradoxes of grand and complex challenges:Given the changing landscape of organizations and the environment they are embedded in (social values, political orientations, technological, etc.) how does paradox as a lens inform in dealing with grand and complex challenges?
  • New methods in paradox research: What are new methods or combinations of methods that can help us examine paradoxes empirically (Andriopoulos & Gotsi, 2017; Jarzabkowski et al., 2019)? Are there new ways of triangulation informed by paradox theory, combining qualitative, quantitative and experimental approaches? Can paradox theory benefit from the analysis of big data or simulations? How can paradox be used to explore tensions between theory and methods?
  • The challenge of managing paradox: Addressing paradoxes is challenging (Denis et al., 2001), since tensions surface uncertainty and ambiguity (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002). What are the risks of engaging paradoxes (Pina e Cunha & Putnam, 2019)?
     
References
  • Abdallah, C., Denis, J.L., & Langley, A. (2011): “Having your cake and eating it too Discourses of transcendence and their role in organizational change dynamics.” Journal of Organizational Change Management, 24 (3), 333–348.
  • Andriopoulos, C., & Gotsi, M. (2017): “Methods of Paradox.” In: W. Smith, M. Lewis, P. Jarzabkowski & A. Langley (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 513–528.
  • Andriopoulos, C., & Lewis, M.W. (2009): “Exploitation-Exploration Tensions and Organizational Ambidexterity: Managing Paradoxes of Innovation.” Organization Science, 20 (4), 696–717.
  • Denis, J.-L., Lamothe, L., & Langley, A. (2001): “The Dynamics of Collective Leadership and Strategic Change in Pluralistic Organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 44 (4), 809–837.
  • Farjoun, M. (2010): “Beyond Dualism: Stability and Change as Duality.” Academy of Management Review, 35 (2), 202–225.
  • Hahn, T., Preuss, L., Pinkse, J., & Figge, F. (2014): “Cognitive Frames in Corporate Sustainability: Managerial Sensemaking with Paradoxical and Business Case Frames.” Academy of Management Review, 39 (4), 463–487.
  • Jarzabkowski, P., Bednarek, R., Chalkias, K., & Cacciatori, E. (2019): “Exploring inter-organizational paradoxes: Methodological lessons from a study of a grand challenge.” Strategic Organization, 17 (1), 120–132.
  • Jarzabkowski, P., Lê, J.K., & Van de Ven, A.H. (2013): “Responding to competing strategic demands: How organizing, belonging, and performing paradoxes coevolve.” Strategic Organization, 11 (3), 245–280.
  • Lewis, M.W. (2000): “Exploring Paradox: Toward a More Comprehensive Guide.” Academy of Management Review, 25( 4), 760–776.
  • Miron-Spektor, E., Ingram, A., Keller, J., Smith, W.K., & Lewis, M.W. (2018): “Microfoundations of Organizational Paradox: The Problem Is How We Think about the Problem.” Academy of Management Journal, 61 (1), 26–45.
  • Pina e Cunha, M., & Putnam, L.L. (2019): “Paradox theory and the paradox of success.” Strategic Organization, 17 (1), 95–106.
  • Putnam, L.L., Fairhurst, G.T., & Banghart, S. (2016): “Contradictions, Dialectics, and Paradoxes in Organizations: A Constitutive Approach.” Academy of Management Annals, 10 (1), 65–171.
  • Schad, J., & Bansal, P. (2018): “Seeing the Forest and the Trees: How a Systems Perspective Informs Paradox Research.” Journal of Management Studies, 55 (8), 1491–1506.
  • Schad, J., Lewis, M.W., Raisch, S., & Smith, W.K. (2016): “Paradoxical Research in Management Science: Looking Backward to Move Forward.” Academy of Management Annals, 10 (1), 5–64.
  • Sheep, M.L., Fairhurst, G.T., & Khazanchi, S. (2017): “Knots in the Discourse of Innovation: Investigating Multiple Tensions in a Reacquired Spin-off.” Organization Studies, 38 (3–4), 463–488.
  • Smith, W.K., & Lewis, M.W. (2011): “Towards a Theory of Paradox: A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of Organizing.” Academy of Management Review, 36 (2), 381–403.
  • Tsoukas, H., & Chia, R. (2002): “On organizational becoming: Rethinking organizational change.” Organization Science, 13 (5), 567–582.
  • Vince, R., & Broussine, M. (1996): “Paradox, Defense and Attachment: Accessing and Working with Emotions and Relations Underlying Organizational Change.” Organization Studies, 17 (1), 1–21.

The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox  

Edited by Wendy K. Smith, Marianne W. Lewis, Paula Jarzabkowski, and Ann Langley

Abstract

Organizations are rife with paradoxes. Contradictory and interdependent tensions emerge from and within multiple levels, including individual interactions, group dynamics, organizational strategies, and the broader institutional context. Examples abound such as those between stability and change, empowerment and alienation, flexibility and control, diversity and inclusion, exploration and exploitation, social and commercial, competition and collaboration, learning and performing. These examples accentuate the distinctions between concepts, positing their potential opposition; either A or B. Yet the social world is pluralistic, and comprises multiple, interwoven tensions, in which the relationship between A and B persists in a dynamic, ever-changing relationship. In the last thirty years, the depth and breadth of paradox studies in organizational theory has grown exponentially, surfacing new insights and applications while challenging foundational ideas, and raising questions around definitions, overlapping lenses, and varied research and managerial approaches. In this book, renowned organizational scholars draw from diverse lenses, theories, and empirics to depict paradox within organizational studies and provide a range of lenses and tools with which to understand and conduct research into such phenomena. In doing so, we hope these chapters re-energize continued insight on organizational paradox, plurality, tensions, and contractions.

Keywords: paradoxpluralitydichotomydialecticsdualitiestensionscontradictionsprocesspracticevirtuous and vicious cycles

Dualities, Dialectics, and Paradoxes in Organizational Life

Front Cover

Moshe Farjoun, Wendy Smith, Ann Langley, Haridimos Tsoukas

Oxford University Press, Jul 26, 2018 – Business & Economics – 240 pages

Contradictions permeate and propel organizational life – including tensions between reaching globally while focusing locally; competing while also cooperating; performing reliably while experimenting, taking risks, and learning; or granting autonomy while constraining freedom. These tensions give organizational members pause, but also spur them to take action; they may be necessary for preserving the social order, but are also required to transform it. Drawing on the Eighth International Symposium on Process Organization Studies, Dualities, Dialectics, and Paradoxes in Organizational Life examines how contradictions fuel emergent, dynamic systems and stimulate novelty, adaption, and transformations. It uses conceptual and empirical studies to offer insight into how process theorizing advances understanding of organizational contradictions; to shed light on how dialectics, paradoxes, and dualities fuel persistence and transformation; and to explore the convergence and divergence of dialectics, paradox, and dualities. Taken together, it offers key insights to inform persistent, contradictory dynamics in organizations and organizational studies.

Elgar Introduction to Organizational Paradox Theory

Elgar Introductions to Management and Organization Theory series

Publication Date: July 2021 ISBN: 978 1 83910 113 7 Extent: 192 pp

Marco Berti, Senior Lecturer in Management, UTS Business, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, Ace Simpson, Reader in Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour, Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, UK, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Fundação Amélia de Mello Professor, Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal and Stewart R. Clegg, Professor, University of Stavanger Business School, Norway and Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal 

This insightful Elgar Introduction comprises the first effort to provide a succinct overview of the field of organizational paradox theory, exploring contradictions and tensions in organizational settings. By conceptually mapping the field, it offers guidance through the literature on paradox, making space for new interpretations and applications of the concept. 

Opening with a critical analysis of research to date, the authors explore ideas related to dialectics and ambidexterity in organizations, as well as pragmatic approaches to organizational paradox. Chapters propose new ways to analyse responses to paradox, bringing together influential contributions that consider the nestedness of paradox, the relation between power and paradox, and paradoxes of positive organizational scholarships.

Providing novel approaches to the discipline, this cutting-edge book is crucial for graduate students and management scholars interested in employing organizational paradox theory as a conceptual framework for their research.

‘In an era in which paradox theory, research, and practice has grown exponentially, this book is a landmark contribution to the work on organizational tensions. As a highly accessible guide to the paradox terrain, it offers a number of unique features: 1) a broad historical picture of the evolution of paradox theory, 2) a succinct and insightful discussion of both the positive and negative sides of paradox, 3) a vivid expose on paradox complexity, 4) an exploration of the role of power in exercising and responding to paradox, and 5) recommendations for extending the vitality of this theory as well as avoiding practices that might reify it. The clarity of its presentation, sophistication of its ideas, and use of rich vignettes make it a “must read” for practitioners as well as academics interested in how contradictions and tensions pervade organizational experiences.’ 
– Linda L. Putnam, University of California, Santa Barbara, US

‘Berti, Simpson, Cunha, and Clegg’s thoughtful map of the paradox terrain offers deep insight to any traveler – whether they are just stepping into this world for the first time looking to understand the landscape or whether they are a seasoned explorer who can see old experiences with a new lens. Their focus on how features of power inform our experiences of paradox offers important ideas that allows us to grapple with tensions in new ways. I found myself delighted with the ideas, eager to read more, and energized to engage with paradox studies in new ways.’
– Wendy Smith, University of Delaware, US

‘This book is a tour de force, covering the field of paradox theory and all of the key concepts whilst also sketching out a compelling vision of how paradox theorising can both provide novel insights and also be taken to the next level in studying the grand societal challenges of our time. I strongly recommend it for new and established paradox scholars and those who are “paradox-curious”.’
– Paula Jarzabkowski, Cass Business School, City University of London, UK

‘With this book, the exciting new wave of paradox studies comes of age. It encourages and enables readers to go beyond managerial “both-anding” rhetoric and approaches. It unashamedly exhorts paradox scholars to look up and look around, at the absurdity and contradictions embedded in our lives and work in a society of organizations and the role of power and politics in framing paradoxes and our responses to them. Its stronger and bolder approach to paradox theory will speak to those who feel trapped in iron cages of contradictions, excite critical scholars who wish to deepen the treatment of paradox, and broaden student’s understanding and appreciation of the tensions, dilemmas and contradictions that bedevil life inside and outside modern institutions.’
– Richard Badham, Macquarie University, Australia

‘This book is a true guide to organizational paradox theory. It offers a multifarious picture of the landscape of organizational paradox with its gently rolling hills but also its sharp cliffs and deep abysses. It does a brilliant job in offering guidance into paradox research without tracing out a path to follow. Every word of this book reflects the deep and long-lasting engagement, dedication, and passion that the authors have devoted to studying paradox. It is a great service to our burgeoning field and to those who want to join the fascinating endeavor of venturing the winding roads of researching and navigating organizational paradox.’
– Tobias Hahn, ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University, Spain

Contradictions

  • Global and Local
  • Cooperation and Competition
  • Nationalism and Globalism
  • Nativism vs Multiculturalism
  • Short Term Efficiency and Long term Development
  • Organizational Stability and Flexibility
  • Shareholders and Stakeholders
  • Conforming to and Shaping Collective Forces in the Environment
  • Nurture and Discipline
  • Respect vs Suspect
  • Consistency vs Flexibility
  • Solidarity vs Autonomy

Types of Competing Demands

Source: Analyzing competing demands in organizations: a systematic comparison

Source: Analyzing competing demands in organizations: a systematic comparison

Source: 27 years of research on organizational paradox and coping strategies: A review

Source: Dialectic, Contradiction, or Double Bind? Analyzing and Theorizing Employee Reactions to Organizational Tension

coping strategies

  • opposition
  • spatial separation
  • temporal separation
  • synthesis
  • splitting,
  • specializing,
  • suppressing

Source: 27 years of research on organizational paradox and coping strategies: A review

Leadership

Source: From Tension to Transformation
How Wise Decision-makers Transcend Paradoxes and Ambiguity

Source: From Tension to Transformation
How Wise Decision-makers Transcend Paradoxes and Ambiguity

Seven Pillars of Cultivating Paradoxical Wisdom

Source: The seven pillars of paradoxical organizational wisdom: On the use of paradox as a vehicle to synthesize knowledge and ignorance

Source: Grasping the dynamics within paradox – comparing exogenous and endogenous approaches to paradox using social systems theory

My Related Posts:

Dialogs and Dialectics

Reflexivity, Recursion, and Self Reference

Second Order Cybernetics of Heinz Von Foerster

Knot Theory and Recursion: Louis H. Kauffman

Process Physics, Process Philosophy

Boundaries and Networks

Multilevel Approach to Research in Organizations

Networks and Hierarchies

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Key Sources of Research

Metaphor, recursive systems, and paradox in science and developmental theory

W F Overton 1

Child Dev Behav. 1991;23:59-71.

doi: 10.1016/s0065-2407(08)60022-1.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1767726/

Contradictions, Dialectics, and Paradoxes in Organizations: A Constitutive Approach

  • January 2016
  • The Academy of Management Annals 10(1):65-171

DOI:10.5465/19416520.2016.1162421

Linda L. Putnam

Gail Fairhurst

Scott Banghart

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325002624_Contradictions_Dialectics_and_Paradoxes_in_Organizations_A_Constitutive_Approach

Integrating Dialectical and Paradox Perspectives on Managing Contradictions in Organizations

Timothy J Hargrave, Andrew H Van de Ven

 May 13, 2016 

https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840616640843

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0170840616640843

Contradictions, Dialectics and Paradoxes

  • January 2016
  • In book: SAGE HANDBOOK OF PROCESS ORGANIZATION STUDIES
  • Publisher: Sage
  • Editors: Ann Langley, Haridimos Tsoukas

Moshe Farjoun

  • York University

Dualities, Dialectics, and Paradoxes in Organizational Life

edited by Moshe Farjoun, Wendy Smith, Ann Langley, Haridimos Tsoukas

Oxford Univ Press

2018

Adding Complexity to Theories of
Paradox, Tensions and Dualities of Innovation and Change

Introduction to
Organization Studies Special Issue on
Paradox, Tensions and Dualities of Innovation and Change

Wendy Smith Miriam Erez Marianne Lewis Sirkka Jarvenpaa Paul Tracey

Organizational Paradox

Simone CarmineWendy K. Smith

LAST MODIFIED: 12 JANUARY 2021

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199846740-0201

https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199846740/obo-9780199846740-0201.xml

Paradox Research in Management Science: Looking Back to Move Forward.

Schad, J., Lewis, M. W., Raisch, S. & Smith, W. K. (2016).

Academy of Management Annals, 10(1), pp. 5-64.

doi: 10.1080/19416520.2016.1162422

Logics of Identity, Contradiction, and Attraction in Change

Jeffrey D. Ford and Laurie W. Ford

Published Online: 1 Oct 1994 

https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.1994.9412190218

Academy of Management Review VOL. 19, NO. 4 

https://journals.aom.org/doi/full/10.5465/amr.1994.9412190218

Contradictions, Tensions, Paradoxes, and Dialectics

Deborah Ballard-ReischPaaige K. Turner

First published: 08 March 2017 

https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118955567.wbieoc043PDF

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118955567.wbieoc043

Contradiction and Harmony

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/spirkin/works/dialectical-materialism/ch02-s11.html

Analyzing competing demands in organizations: a systematic comparison

Medhanie Gaim medhanie.gaim@umu.se

1Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Nils Wåhlin , Miguel Pina e Cunha and Stewart Clegg

Journal of Organization Design (2018) 7:6 https://doi.org/10.1186/s41469-018-0030-9

https://d-nb.info/1166551857/34

A Daoist Critique of Dialectics and Why It Matters

Joseph Pratt

Yingnan Zhao

Peking University Law School

70 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018 Last revised: 22 Dec 2020

Date Written: April 12, 2019

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3140946

The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox  

Edited by Wendy K. Smith, Marianne W. Lewis, Paula Jarzabkowski, and Ann Langley

The curse of the Hegelian heritage: “Dialectic,” “contradiction,” and “dialectical logic” in Activity Theory

Michael H.G. Hoffmann, Atlanta, USA

https://spp.gatech.edu/publications/pubFile/358

Institutional Contradictions, Praxis, and Institutional Change: A Dialectical Perspective

Myeong-Gu Seo and W. E. Douglas Creed

The Academy of Management Review 

Vol. 27, No. 2 (Apr., 2002), pp. 222-247 (26 pages) 

Published By: Academy of Management 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/4134353?seq=1

What, exactly, is a paradox? 

William G. Lycan

Analysis, Volume 70, Issue 4, October 2010, Pages 615–622, https://doi.org/10.1093/analys/anq069

Published: 28 July 2010

https://academic.oup.com/analysis/article/70/4/615/106991

Dialectic, Contradiction, or Double Bind? Analyzing and Theorizing Employee Reactions to Organizational Tension

Sarah J. Tracy

Journal of Applied Communication Research, Vol. 32, No. 2, May 2004, pp. 119–146

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0090988042000210025?journalCode=rjac20

https://asu.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/dialectic-contradiction-or-double-bind-analyzing-and-theorizing-e

Heraclitus and the Art of Paradox

Mary Margaret McCabe

In Platonic Conversations

Mary Margaret McCabe

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198732884

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732884.001.0001

https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732884.001.0001/acprof-9780198732884-chapter-2

ORGANIZATIONAL DIALECTICS

Stewart Clegg

s.clegg@uts.edu.au

Chapter prepared for The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Paradox: Approaches to Plurality, Tensions, and Contradictions, edited by M.W. Lewis, W.K. Smith, P. Jarzabkowski & A. Langley.

PARADOX AND LEARNING: IMPLICATIONS FROM PARADOXICAL PSYCHOTHERAPY AND ZEN BUDDHISM FOR MATHEMATICAL INQUIRY WITH PARADOXES

Nadia Stoyanova Kennedy State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook

Systems Intelligence in Leadership and Everyday Life

edited by Raimo P. Hämäläinen

Dialectical Opposition in Schoenberg’s Music and Thought

Michael Cherlin

Music Theory Spectrum, Volume 22, Issue 2, Fall 2000, Pages 157–176, https://doi.org/10.2307/745958

Published: 01 October 2000

https://academic.oup.com/mts/article-abstract/22/2/157/1087855?redirectedFrom=PDF

From Tension to Transformation
How Wise Decision-makers Transcend Paradoxes and Ambiguity

Dr. Peter Verhezen

Amroop

Dialectical Theory

https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dialectical-theory

The role of paradox theory in decision making and management research

David A. Waldman , Linda L. Putnam , Ella Miron-Spektor , Donald Siegel

Received 2 April 2019; Accepted 19 April 2019

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.04.006

27 years of research on organizational paradox and coping strategies: A review

Nathalie Guilmot

Louvain School of Management

nathalie.guilmot@uclouvain.be

Ina Ehnert
Louvain School of Management

ina.ehnert@uclouvain.be

https://www.strategie-aims.com/events/conferences/25-xxiveme-conference-de-l-aims/communications/3387-27-years-of-research-on-organizational-paradox-and-coping-strategies-a-review/download

Chapter 1 Why are uncertainty, ambiguity and paradox important for managers?

Managing in Uncertainty: Complexity and the paradoxes of everyday organizational life. Routledge, 2015.

https://uhra.herts.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2299/16089/1_Why_write_about_paradox_and_uncertainty.pdf?sequence=1

The Arrow of Time and the Cycle of Time: Concepts of Change, Cognition, and Embodiment

  • July 1994
  • Psychological Inquiry 5(3):215-237

DOI:10.1207/s15327965pli0503_9

Willis F. Overton

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247504074_The_Arrow_of_Time_and_the_Cycle_of_Time_Concepts_of_Change_Cognition_and_Embodiment

Paradox as a Metatheoretical Perspective: Sharpening the Focus and Widening the Scope

DOI:10.1177/0021886314522322

Marianne Lewis

Wendy K. Smith

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275418916_Paradox_as_a_Metatheoretical_Perspective_Sharpening_the_Focus_and_Widening_the_Scope

Paradox theory and the paradox of success

Miguel Pina e Cunha

Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

Linda L Putnam

University of California, USA

Strategic Organization 2019, Vol. 17(1) 95–106

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1476127017739536

The paradox of co‐operation and competition in strategic alliances: towards a multi‐paradigm approach

Colin  Clarke‐Hill, Huaning  Li, Barry  Davies

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174

Article publication date: 1 February 2003

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/01409170310783376/full/html?skipTracking=true

Twelfth International Symposium on Process Organization Studies

http://www.process-symposium.com

Theme:
Organizing beyond organizations for the common good:

Addressing societal issues through process studies

PROCESS STUDIES OF CHANGE IN ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT: UNVEILING TEMPORALITY, ACTIVITY, AND FLOW

ANN LANGLEY HEC Montréal

CLIVE SMALLMAN University of Western Sydney

HARIDIMOS TSOUKAS
University of Cyprus and University of Warwick

ANDREW H. VAN DE VEN University of Minnesota

Academy of Management fournal 2013, Vol. 56, No. 1, 1-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amj.2013.4001

The Practice Approach: For a Praxeology of Organisational and Management Studies

Davide Nicolini and Pedro Monteiro

Click to access nicolini_and_monteiro_-_the_practice_approach.pdf

The SAGE Handbook of Process Organization Studies

Ann Langley and Haridimos Tsoukas

2016

Click to access 866021353.pdf

Dealing with Paradoxes of Law: Derrida, Luhmann, Wiethölter

Translated by Iain L. Fraser

GUNTHER TEUBNER

Oren Perez and Gunther Teubner (eds.), On Paradoxes and Inconsistencies in Law, Hart, Oxford 2006, 41-64

On The Marxist Dialectic

Sean Sayers

The Influence of Biculturalism on the Development of a Dialectical Thinking

LUISS Guido Carli / Premio tesi d’eccellenza

Working paper n. 7/2016-2017

Publication date: February 2019

Dialectical Thinking and Humanistic Psychology

John Rowan

http://www.practical-philosophy.org.uk

Click to access 3-2%2020%20Rowan%20-%20Humanistic%20Psychology.pdf

PARADOXES. Their Roots, Range and Resolution.

Nicholas RESCHER

Chicago and La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 2001

Review by Mirela Saim

Click to access ReviewRescher.pdf

Culture, Dialectics, and Reasoning About Contradiction

Kaiping Peng

Richard E. Nisbett

September 1999 • American Psychologist

Vol. 54, No. 9, 741-754

Elgar Introduction to Organizational Paradox Theory

Marco Berti, Senior Lecturer in Management, UTS Business, University of Technology Sydney, Australia,

Ace Simpson, Reader in Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour, Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, UK,

Miguel Pina e Cunha, Fundação Amélia de Mello Professor, Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

Stewart R. Clegg, Professor, University of Stavanger Business School, Norway and Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal 

Elgar Introductions to Management and Organization Theory series

Publication Date: July 2021 ISBN: 978 1 83910 113 7 Extent: 192 pp

https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/usd/elgar-introduction-to-organizational-paradox-theory-9781839101137.html

Transcending Paradox: The Chinese “Middle Way” Perspective

MING-JER CHEN† chenm@darden.virginia.edu 

Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550, USA

Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 19, 179–199, 2002

SOLUTIONS TO ORGANIZATIONAL PARADOX: A PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE

XIN LI Copenhagen Business School xl.int@cbs.dk

VERNER WORM Copenhagen Business School

Submitted to Academy of Management 2015 annual conference On 8 December 2014
Submission number: 10466

Click to access Solutions%20to%20Organizational%20Paradox%20(1).pdf

Exploring Paradox: Toward a More Comprehensive Guide

M Lewis

Article in The Academy of Management Review · October 2000 

DOI: 10.2307/259204

LOGIC(S) AND PARADOX

Marco Berti

The Lived Experience of Paradox: How Individuals Navigate Tensions during the Pandemic Crisis

https://dial.uclouvain.be/pr/boreal/object/boreal%3A242317/datastream/PDF_01/view

HOW DO FIRMS MANAGE STRATEGIC DUALITIES? A PROCESS PERSPECTIVE

JULIAN BIRKINSHAW DONAL CRILLY London Business School

CYRIL BOUQUET

IMD Business School

SUN YOUNG LEE

UCL School of Management, London

Academy of Management Discoveries 2016, Vol. 2, No. 1, 51–78.
Online only http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amd.2014.0123

System of Systems Management

Brian Sauser, John Boardman, and Alex Gorod

Stevens Institute of Technology, USA

System of Systems – Innovations for the 21st Century, 

Edited by [Mo Jamshidi]. ISBN 0-471-XXXXX-X Copyright © 2008 Wiley[Imprint], Inc.

PARADIGMS, PRAXIS AND PARADOX IN THE ANALYSIS OF ORGANIZATION CHANGE: THE GENERATIVE NATURE OF CONTROL

M. Ann Welsh

Department of Management College of Business Administration University of Cincinnati
P.O. Box 210165 Cincinnati, OH 45221-0165 513-556-7136 Ann.Welsh@uc.edu

Gordon E. Dehler

Organizational Sciences Program The George Washington University 2147 F Street NW Washington, DC 20052 202-994-1880 dehlerwelsh@mindspring.com

A Paradox Approach to Societal Tensions during the Pandemic Crisis

Garima Sharma1, Jean Bartunek2, Patrice M. Buzzanell3,
Simone Carmine4, Carsyn Endres5, Michael Etter6,7, Gail Fairhurst5, Tobias Hahn8, Patrick Lê9, Xin Li7,10, Vontrese Pamphile11,
Camille Pradies12, Linda L. Putnam13, Kimberly Rocheville2, Jonathan Schad6, Mathew Sheep14, and Joshua Keller15

Journal of Management Inquiry
2021, Vol. 30(2) 121–137

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1056492620986604

Communicative dynamic to reconstruct paradoxes in organizations

Harald Tuckermann
University of St. Gallen, harald.tuckermann@unisg.ch

Thomas Schumacher
University of St. Gallen, thomas.schumacher@unisg.ch

Johannes Rüegg-Stürm
University of St. Gallen, johannes.rueegg@unisg.ch

Chapter 4

The seven pillars of paradoxical organizational wisdom: On the use of paradox as a vehicle to synthesize knowledge and ignorance

By FILIPA ROCHA RODRIGUES, MIGUEL PINA E CUNHA, ARMÉNIO REGO
in Book Wisdom Learning Edition 1st Edition First Published 2016
Imprint Gower
eBook ISBN 9781315547039

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316668071_The_seven_pillars_of_paradoxical_organizational_wisdom_On_the_use_of_paradox_as_a_vehicle_to_synthesize_knowledge_and_ignorance

From Vicious to Virtuous Paradox Dynamics: The Social-symbolic Work of Supporting Actors

Camille PradiesAndrea TunarosaMarianne W. Lewis,

 …First Published March 18, 2020 

https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840620907200

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0170840620907200

Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Paradox: a case study

Patrick bohl

Click to access VT_2015n11p25.pdf

Here Be Paradox: How Global Business Leaders Navigate Change

Janet Ann  Nelson

Advances in Global Leadership

ISBN: 978-1-78754-298-3, eISBN: 978-1-78754-297-6

ISSN: 1535-1203

Publication date: 26 November 2018

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/S1535-120320180000011001/full/html?skipTracking=true

Grasping the dynamics within paradox – comparing exogenous and endogenous approaches to paradox using social systems theory

PROS 2019 – draft version 12.05.19

Harald Tuckermann, Simone Gutzan, Camille Leutenegger, Johannes Rüegg-Stürm,

Institute of Systemic Management and Public Governance, University of St. Gallen, Dufourstrasse 40a, 9008 St. Gallen, Switzerland,

Email: harald.tuckermann@unisg.ch

Paradoxes in supply chains: a conceptual framework for packed products

Henrik Palsson
Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, and

Erik Sandberg

Department of Logistics and Quality Management, Link€oping University, Link€oping, Sweden

The International Journal of Logistics Management

Vol. 31 No. 3, 2020 pp. 423-442

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJLM-12-2019-0338/full/pdf?title=paradoxes-in-supply-chains-a-conceptual-framework-for-packed-products

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJLM-12-2019-0338/full/html

Top managers’ improvisational decision-making in crisis: a paradox perspective

DOI:10.1108/MD-08-2020-1060Authors:

Pooya Tabesh

Dusya Vera

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346361487_Top_managers%27_improvisational_decision-making_in_crisis_a_paradox_perspective

Navigate Paradox in Organizations: The Implications of Combining Theory of Paradox with Practice

Mourad Mechiche
Independent Scholar, Vihastenkarinkatu 21-23 G, Raahe, Finland

European Journal of Business and Management www.iiste.org ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online)
Vol.12, No.29, 2020

We Have To Do This and That? You Must be Joking: Constructing and Responding to Paradox Through Humor

Paula A. Jarzabkowski

City University London, UK

Jane K. Lê

The University of Sydney, Australia

Organization Studies 2017, Vol. 38(3-4) 433–462

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0170840616640846

Paradox beyond East/West orthodoxy: The case of Ubuntu

Medhanie Gaim

Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Sweden medhanie.gaim@umu.se

Stewart Clegg
University Technology Sydney, Australia & Nova School of Business and Economics, Carcavelos, Portugal

Stewart.Clegg@uts.edu.au

Responding to competing strategic demands: How organizing, belonging, and performing paradoxes coevolve

Paula Jarzabkowski

City University, UK; Cornell University, USA

Strategic Organization 11(3) 245–280.

2013

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1476127013481016

A Paradox Approach to Organizational Tensions During the Pandemic Crisis

Simone Carmine1, Constantine Andriopoulos2, Manto Gotsi3 ,
Charmine E. J. Härtel4, Anna Krzeminska5, Nkosana Mafico4,
Camille Pradies6, Hassan Raza7, Tatbeeq Raza-Ullah8,
Stephanie Schrage9 , Garima Sharma10, Natalie Slawinski11, Lea Stadtler12, Andrea Tunarosa13, Casper Winther-Hansen14 , and Joshua Keller15

Journal of Management Inquiry
2021, Vol. 30(2) 138–153

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1056492620986863

MICROFOUNDATIONS OF ORGANIZATIONAL PARADOX: THE PROBLEM IS HOW WE THINK ABOUT THE PROBLEM

Ella Miron-Spektor

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Haifa 32000, Israel
Tel: 972-4-829-4439
Fax: 972-4-829-5688
e-mail: ellams@technion.ac.il

Amy Ingram Clemson University amyi@clemson.edu

Josh Keller
Nanyang Technological University JWKeller@ntu.edu.sg

Wendy K. Smith University of Delaware smithw@udel.edu

Marianne W. Lewis University of London Marianne.Lewis@city.ac.uk

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy of Social Life

Source: An Interview With Erving Goffman, 1980

I don’t know what your feelings are an this, but mine have been, coming from Chicago, that there was the tradition. of George Herbert Mead to provide the social psychological underpinnings or background for any study. From there one could go in all kinds of directions, one of which is the one [Everett] Hughes developed: a sort of occupational Sociology and basically Urban Ethnography. And what I did up to a few years ago before I got somewhat more interested in Sociolinguistics was a version of Urban Ethnography with Meadian Social Psychology. But that Meadian Social Psychology was a social psychological underpinning for a large amount of work in American Sociology and could, sort of, be taken for granted as just part of basic Sociology.

So, I’ve never felt that a label was necessary. If I had to be labeled at all, it would have been as a Hughesian urban ethnographer. And what happened about, I suppose, six or seven years ago, was some movement in Sociology for persons to classify themselves. On the social psychologicaI side, it was probably stimulated as a response to ethnomethodologists, who labeled themselves. They were on the social psychological side, I suppose the first group that oriented to a label that excluded and included. I always felt that the introduction of the term, symbolic interactionism, as a label for some sort of group was a response of people to tendencies in sociology to fracture and fragment and, for some of the persons in the fragments, to make a “club” of their profession. So I’ve never treated the label very seriously. I don’t think it applies very much.

Source: An Interview With Erving Goffman, 1980

The dramaturgy was partly just a name people applied. Burke, Kenneth Burke, was an influence in somewhat the same way. Louis Wirth, at the time we were all students in Chicago, felt that Permanence and Change [Burke, 1935/1954] was the most important book in Social Psychology. So we all read that, and that was a real influence on all of us I think. Burke’s later work somewhat less so. But then there was interactive process-one looks around in writing one’s stuff for references for authentication, authority, and the like and so one dips into things that one might affiliate oneself with. My main influences were [Lloyd] Warner and [A. R.] Radcliffe-Brown, [Emile] Durkheim, and Hughes. Maybe [Max] Weber also.

Source: An Interview With Erving Goffman, 1980

JV: I have two other questions, to conclude. The first one-you mention at a certain moment [Alfred] Schutz. What is the meaning of Schutz for your work?

EG: again it was a late sort of thing, but the last book on Frame Analysis [I974} was influenced by him. [Gregory] Bateson quite a bit, but Schutz’s [1967] paper on multiple realities was an influence. Schutz is continuing to be something of an influence. His stuff on the corpus of experience and that sort of thing. There are some ways in which he impinges upon sociolinguistic concerns, but I can’t profess to be a close student.

Key Terms

  • Roles
  • Drama
  • Face to Face Interaction
  • Frames
  • Scenes
  • Scenarios
  • Social Simulation
  • Life as Drama
  • Social Psychology
  • Symbolic Interactionism
  • Erving Goffman
  • Kenneth Burke
  • Front Stage
  • Backstage
  • Entry and Exit
  • Performance
  • Interaction Order
  • Interaction Rituals
  • Impression Management
  • Faces and Masks
  • World as a Play
  • Universal Drama
  • Natyashastra of Bharata Muni
  • Poetics of Aristotle
  • Public and Private
  • Online and Offline
  • Faces of Men
  • Ritual Masks
  • Integral Theory
  • Integrated Self
  • Integral Psychology

Erving Goffman

Source: THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EVERYDAY LIFE

Erving Goffman (1922–1982) developed a dramaturgical theory of the self and society inspired by Mead’s basic conception of social interaction. In the selection below, excerpted from the book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman presents a theory that likens social interaction to the theater. Individuals can be seen as performers, audience members, and outsiders that operate within particular “stages” or social spaces. Goffman suggests that how we present our selves to others is aimed toward “impression management,” which is a conscious decision on the part of the individual to reveal certain aspects of the self and to conceal others, as actors do when performing on stage.

List of Publications

  • 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
  • 1961a. Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction. New York: The Bobbs- Merrill Co.
  • 1961b. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
  • 1963a. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.
  • 1963b. Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. New York: Macmillan.
  • 1967. Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. New York: Harper and Row.
  • 1969. Strategic Interactions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper and Row.
  • 1976/1979. Gender Advertisements. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press

Source: https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756384/obo-9780199756384-0228.xml

Erving Goffman

Introduction

The son of Ukrainian immigrant parents, Erving Manual Goffman was born on 11 June 1922 in Mannville, Alberta, Canada. He attended high school in Winnipeg and entered the University of Manitoba in 1939, majoring in natural sciences. However, his interests shifted toward the social sciences before he left in 1942, still some credits short of his degree. He returned to study at Toronto in 1944, obtaining a BA degree in 1945. That fall he began studies toward the MA degree in sociology at the University of Chicago. Initially influenced by W. Lloyd Warner, his 1949 master’s thesis gave an ethnographic analysis of the responses of cosmopolitan middle-class women as they refused to take entirely seriously the demands of the Thematic Apperception Test that Goffman administered. His doctoral dissertation, “Communication Conduct in an Island Community” (1953), was based on fieldwork in the Shetland Islands sponsored by the University of Edinburgh’s Social Anthropology department. In it Goffman first introduced the term “interaction order” to describe the domain of social life established by co-present persons. This was the sociological terrain he made his own. The investigation of the properties of the interaction order provided the thread that ran through the disparate topic-matters of his eleven books and more than a dozen significant journal articles. Goffman stayed another year in Chicago following the successful defense of his dissertation, drafting an original monograph (The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, first published in 1956 in Edinburgh) and papers on face-work, embarrassment, involvement, and deference and demeanor. Between the end of 1954 and 1957 he worked as a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, conducting the fieldwork and writing that led to Asylums (1961). Appointed to the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958, he rose quickly to full professor in 1962. A sabbatical year at Harvard prefigured a move to the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, where he remained until his untimely death in 1982.

Major Works

It was the publication of the enlarged Anchor Books edition of Goffman 1959 at signaled Goffman’s arrival as a distinctive voice within English-speaking sociology. He quickly consolidated his reputation with another four books appearing before the end of 1963. Goffman 1961a analyzes the mental patient’s situation. Goffman 1961b is a technical analysis of the role of fun and the mobilization of identity in interaction. Aspects of co-present behavior in public are covered in Goffman 1963a and Goffman 1971Goffman 1963b is a classic contribution to deviance studies. Calculation and risk in face-to-face dealings are explored in Goffman 1967 and Goffman 1969Goffman 1974 regrounds his sociology around the “frame” notion. Goffman 1979 is a classic contribution to visual sociology. Goffman 1981a provides unique insights into conversational interaction.

Goffman, Erving. 1956. The presentation of self in everyday life. Edinburgh: Univ. of Edinburgh, Social Sciences Research Centre.The long-established life as drama metaphor was adapted and developed to shed specific light on the details of face-to-face conduct. Goffman introduced the notion of impression management and developed his dramaturgical perspective in ingenious ways. Outlines six dramaturgical “principles”: performances, teams, regions and region behavior, discrepant roles, communication out of character, and the arts of impression management. It offered not a static classification of forms of conduct but an analysis examining dynamic issues about projecting and sustaining definitions of the situation.

Goffman, Erving. 1959. The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Anchor Books.A version of Goffman 1956 that retained the same chapter structure but expanded its content. New illustrations of dramaturgical concepts have been added to those already included in the earlier edition and illustrations previously mentioned in footnotes often relocated to the main text.

Goffman, Erving. 1961a. Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. New York: Anchor Books.Based on a year’s fieldwork at St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, DC, the book presents four essays. The first examines the mental hospital as a closed environment, a “total institution”; the second, the changes in the mental patient’s framework for judging themselves and others (their “moral career”); the third analyzes the rich “underlife” of the hospital through which the patient can express distance from the model of social being held out by the hospital; the fourth is a critique of institutional psychiatry.

Goffman, Erving. 1961b. Encounters: Two studies in the sociology of interaction. Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill.Encounters are those interactions where the participants sustain a single focus of cognitive and visual attention. Examination of the “fun in games” shows the importance of involvement and the “membrane” that selects the wider social attributes allowed to figure within the enclosed interaction. An alternative to functionalist role theory, “role distance” captures the actualities of interactional conduct expressed in the various forms of joking, irony, and self-deprecation that imply the self is other than the implied by current role demands.

Goffman, Erving. 1963a. Behavior in public places: Notes on the social organization of gatherings. New York: The Free Press.A study not of public places as such but of the kinds of interaction typically found therein. Introduces the key notions of unfocused interaction, where persons pursue their own concerns in the presence of others, and focused interaction where persons cooperate in sustaining a single focus of attention. Includes important discussions of situational proprieties, civil inattention, body idiom, involvement, and participation.

Goffman, Erving. 1963b. Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.An examination of the situation and relationships of persons disqualified from full acceptance within a situation. Drawing on studies of disability, ethnicity, crime, deviance and social problems it shows how the “discredited” and the “discreditable” manage their dealings with “normals.” Presents useful distinctions between social, personal, and ego or felt identity and introduces the now popular notion of the “politics of identity.”

Goffman, Erving. 1967. Interaction ritual: Essays on face-to-face behavior. New York: Anchor Books.Draws together journal articles mainly from the 1950s on face-work, deference and demeanor, embarrassment, alienation from interaction, and mental symptoms, each demonstrating how a sociology of interaction focuses on “not men and their moments” but “moments and their men” (p. 3). Included also is a new study based on his observations of gambling in Nevada casinos, “Where the Action Is.” Goffman’s focus on “fateful” activities and situations (i.e., those both problematic and consequential) has catalyzed further studies of gambling and other risky activities.

Goffman, Erving. 1969. Strategic interaction. Philadelphia: Univ. of Philadelphia Press.The book’s two chapters examine the role of deception and calculation in “mutual dealings.” “Expression games” explore “one general human capacity . . . to acquire, reveal and conceal information” (p. 4) concentrating on the inferences that can be made about the intentions of others. “Strategic interaction” considers the bases of decision-making in circumstances that are mutually fateful. Both chapters complicate Mead’s notion of taking the attitude of the otherand the simple notions of intersubjectivity it sometimes implied.

Goffman, Erving. 1971. Relations in public: Microstudies of the public order. New York: Basic Books.Continues the interests in unfocused and focused interaction announced in Behavior in Public Places. Its six free-standing chapters explore “singles” and “withs,” types of personal territories that help preserve the self, “supportive interchanges,” and “remedial interchanges” that keep everyday dealings in good order “tie-signs” and “normal appearances” that enable relationships, places, and situations to make sense. The 1969 article “The Insanity of Place” is appended. Deeply biographical, it outlines the havoc wrought by a mentally ill person in the home.

Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame analysis: An essay in the organization of experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.Ten years in the making, and apparently intended as his magnum opus, Goffman explores experiential dimensions of social life. Offers a conceptual terminology addressing the fundamental practical problem, What is going on here? While experience is made sense via primary frameworks, these can be transformed into keyings and fabrications. How frames are grounded and their vulnerabilities is a major analytic concern. The conceptual framework is put to work in studies of the theatrical frame (chap. 5) and talk (chap. 13).

Goffman, Erving. 1979. Gender advertisements. London and Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan.Analyzes how gender is displayed in advertising imagery using over five hundred advertisements and other public pictures. The leading themes of Goffman’s “pictorial pattern analysis” of the pictures—relative size, the feminine touch, function ranking, the family, the ritualization of subordination, and licensed withdrawal—manifest stark gender differences. Goffman’s book anticipates Judith Butler’s famed performativity thesis by over a decade.

Goffman, Erving. 1981a. Forms of talk. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Three of the book’s five chapters were previously published. “Replies and Responses” provides a critique of conversation analysis, presenting an ostensibly more open model of reference-response. “Response Cries” makes a case for a sociology of non-lexical utterances. “Footing” is a general statement about alignment: how co-conversationalists’ identities are evident in how we produce or receive talk. “The Lecture” applies much of the preceding approaches to the ceremonial lecture. “Radio Talk” concentrates on DJs’ speech errors in order to understand the features of imperfections in ordinary talk.

Emotionally Naked

  • No Defenses
  • No Guards
  • No Masks
  • No Boundaries
  • No Frontstage
  • No Backstage
  • Completely Exposed
  • Emotionally Naked.

My Related Posts

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Phenomenological Sociology

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

A Unifying Model of Arts

Boundaries and Distinctions

Boundaries and Networks

Boundaries and Relational Sociology

Networks and Hierarchies

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Recursive Vision of Gregory Bateson

Key Sources of Research

An Interview With Erving Goffman, 1980

Verhoeven, Jef C.(1993)

Research on Language & Social Interaction,26:3,317 — 348

DOI: 10.1207/s15327973rlsi2603_5 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327973rlsi2603_5

The Presentation of Self (Goffman’s Dramaturgical model)

Erving Goffman, Dramaturgy, and On-Line Relationships

Nikki Sannicolas

https://www.cybersociology.com/files/1_2_sannicolas.html

The Dramaturgical Model

Wood, J. T. (2004). Communication theories in action: An introduction (3rd ed., pp. 118– 122). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Goffman and Dramaturgical Sociology

  • January 2017

Philip Manning

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314405702_Goffman_and_Dramaturgical_Sociology

Presentation of Self in everyday life

Erving Goffman

Click to access Goffman_PresentationOfSelf.pdf

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Presentation-of-Self-in-Everyday-Life-Goffman/c9ec8a85bba8eb226be06d3e64562468d68d2546

Erving Goffman

By Dr Phil Henry, University of Derby

in Sener, O., Sleap, F., & Weller, P. Dialogue Theories II. London: Dialogue Society, pp. 157-172

The private and the public in online presentations of the self

A critical development of Goffman’s dramaturgical perspective

Fredrik Aspling

Department of Sociology 2011

Master’s Thesis, 30 ECTS Sociology
Spring 2011
Supervisor: Árni Sverrisson

Click to access FULLTEXT01.pdf

Frant and Back Regions of Everyday Life

Erving Goffman

Click to access Goffman.Front.pdf

THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EVERYDAY LIFE

Erving Goffman

Metaphorical analogies in approaches of Victor Turner and Erving Goffman: Dramaturgy in social interaction and dramas of social life

Ester Võsu

Department of Ethnology, University of Tartu Ülikooli 18, 50410 Tartu, Estonia e-mail: ester.vosu@ut.ee

SME contractors on the stage for energy renovations?

A dramaturgical perspective on SME contractors’ roles and interactions with house owners

Meaningful Performances: Considering the Contributions of the Dramaturgical Approach to Studying Family

Jessica L. Collett* and Ellen Childs

University of Notre Dame

Sociology Compass 3/4 (2009): 689–706,

10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00223.x

Click to access 2009-3.pdf

Goffman’s Dramaturgy: A case study analysis for potential inclusion in communication theory studies

Jennifer Dell August 2014

http://dc.msvu.ca:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10587/1600/JenniferDellMACThesis2014.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

The con man as model organism: the methodological roots of Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical self

Michael Pettit

York University, Canada

History of the Human Sciences 000(00) 1–17

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1004.3724&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Lecture 27: The Dramaturgical Approach

Sociology 3308: Sociology of Emotions

Prof. J.S. Kenney

Click to access EmClss27.pdf

All The Web’s a Stage: The Dramaturgy of Young Adult Social Media Use

Jaime R. Riccio 2013

Theses – ALL. 16.
https://surface.syr.edu/thesis/16

https://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1007&context=thesis

Chapter 4: Social Structure and Social Interaction

Click to access chapter%204%20outline.pdf

Public and private faces in web spaces – How Goffman’s work can be used to think about purchasing medicine online. 

Lisa Sugiura

Working Papers in Health Sciences 1: 4 Summer ISSN 2051-6266 / 20130019

When Erving Goffman was a Boy

Sherri Cavan July, 2011

A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EVERYDAY LIFE AND SECOND LIFE

NİL MİT

2014

Click to access index.pdf

12 – Erving Goffman and Dramaturgical Sociology

The Cambridge Handbook of Social Theory

Print publication year: 2020 Online publication date: December 2020

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/cambridge-handbook-of-social-theory/erving-goffman-and-dramaturgical-sociology/8D5CFDE3FC0EDED9FDE537A3825F615A

Framing Social Interaction

Continuities and Cracks in Goffman’s Frame Analysis

Persson, Anders

Published: 2018-01-01

(1 ed.) London & New York: Routledge.

Click to access 9781317133544_preview.pdf

Self-Presentation on Social Networking Sites

Houda Sassi and Jamel-Eddine Gharbi

7 October 2015

Journal of Internet Social Networking and Virtual Communities http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/JISNVC/jisnvc.html Vol. 2015 (2015), Article ID 406328, 9 pages
DOI: 10.5171/2015.406328

BACKSTAGE, FRONTSTAGE INTERACTIONS: EVERYDAY RACIAL EVENTS AND WHITE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Leslie A. Houts 2004

PhD Thesis

Click to access houts_l.pdf

Say, display, replay: Erving Goffman meets Oscar Wilde

Jean-Rémi Lapaire

Miranda: Revue pluridisciplinaire sur le monde anglophone. Multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal on the English- speaking world , Laboratoire CAS (Cultures anglo-saxonnes), 2016. halshs-01628909

https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01628909/document

Dramaturgy and Social Movements: The Social Construction and Communication of Power *

Robert D. Benford, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Scott A. Hunt, University of Kentucky

Sociological Inqiry Vol. 62, No. 1, February 1992

Social Dramaturgy: How We Develop Masks to Interact

https://exploringyourmind.com/social-dramaturgy-develop-masks-interact/

We Are All Considered Actors

Posted by VALERIE DUBROVSKY on 

https://intheswarm.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/we-are-all-considered-actors/

Extending Goffman’s Dramaturgy to Critical Discourse Analysis: Ed Burkhardt’s Performance after the Lac-Mégantic Disaster

Jennifer Dell

Mount Saint Vincent University

C.  GOFFMAN’S APPROACH TO SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM (ADAMS AND SYDIE, PP. 167-179).

Sociology 319 – Contemporary Social Theories

February 15, 2006

Symbolic Interactionism

Readings:  CST, chapter 8 and two readings from Goffman in class handout.

http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/319f1506.htm

Organizational Analysis: Goffman and Dramaturgy  

Peter K. Manning

The Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory, and Organization Studies: Contemporary Currents

Edited by Paul Adler, Paul du Gay, Glenn Morgan, and Mike Reed

Print Publication Date: Oct 2014 Publication Date: Jan 2015

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199671083.013.0012

https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199671083.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199671083-e-012

Frame Analysis: An essay on organization of experience

Erving Goffman

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

Phenomenology and Symbolic Interactionism

Key Terms

  • Phenomenology
  • Symbolic Interactionism
  • Interactionism
  • Interpretivism
  • Ethnomethodology
  • Hermenutics
  • Phenomenology Sociology
  • Individual and Collective
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Meaning making
  • Interiority
  • Hermeneutic-phenomenological tradition
  • Transcendental Phenomenology
  • Subjectivity

What is Sociology?

Social Theories

Phenomenology

Source: Phenomenological Sociology – The Subjectivity of Everyday Life

The Phenomenological Movement

The movement of phenomenology is more than a century old. In fact, the inauguration of the movement can be dated precisely to 1900-1901, the years in which the two parts of Edmund Husserl’s (1859-1938) Logical Investigations were published. Husserl was originally a mathematician, whose interests in the foundational problems of mathematics led him to logic and philosophy. Despite the title, the Logical Investigations does not merely address logical problems narrowly conceived. Rather, Husserl advanced what he believed is the right approach to philosophical problems in general: instead of resorting to armchair theorizing and speculation, we must consult the ‘the things themselves’, or that which ‘manifests itself’ or ‘gives itself’ (Greek: phainomenon). On this basis, Husserl claimed that the traditional notion of the mind as an inner, self-contained realm is misguided. Rather, the mind is in various ways directed upon objects external to it. Influenced by the Austrian psychologist and philosopher Franz Brentano (1838-1917), Husserl labels this object-directedness ‘intentionality’. To watch a soccer game, to want a new bicycle, and to recall last year’s summer holidays, are examples of different experiences which have the character of ‘intentionality’, of being directed at an ‘object’ (the soccer game, a new bicycle, and last year’s holidays, respectively).

The Logical Investigations made Husserl widely known, and contributed to the formation of phenomenological schools in Göttingen, where Husserl himself taught from 1901, and Munich, where, among others, Max Scheler (1874-1928) advocated a phenomenological approach. However, in his second magnum opus, entitled Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy I, Husserl pushed his phenomenology in a direction that many other phenomenologists considered problematic. The Logical Investigations had emphasized a purely descriptive approach, and Husserl had remained neutral on the question concerning the ontological status of the mind (or consciousness) and its objects. Many phenomenologists in Göttingen and Munich had consequently regarded the Logical Investigations as fully compatible with their own realist views. In this context, ‘realism’ is the view that the nature and existence of reality is completely independent of the mind. In the Ideas, however, Husserl argued that the world is ‘constituted’ by consciousness or ‘transcendental subjectivity’. Although Husserl denied that transcendental subjectivity ‘creates’ the world in any conventional sense, his new position did imply that the world cannot be conceived of as completely independent of a world-cognizing subject. This ‘idealism’ was unacceptable to many of the original adherents of the phenomenological movement. Yet, even though Husserl, in later works such as Cartesian Meditations and The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, increasingly emphasized that transcendental subjectivity must be embodied and embedded in a community of subjects, he never abandoned the ‘transcendental phenomenology’ introduced in the Ideas.

After Husserl became professor of philosophy in Freiburg in 1916, the phenomenological movement became increasingly influential outside the old phenomenological strongholds. In Freiburg, Husserl became acquainted with the young philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889- 1976), who soon convinced Husserl of his great potential. When Husserl retired in 1928, he appointed Heidegger as his successor. By then, Heidegger was already something of a celebrity in philosophical environments across Germany, in particular on account of his unorthodox but enormously popular lectures. Heidegger’s early masterpiece Being and Time (1927/1962) is undoubtedly an important phenomenological work; but it is controversial to what extent Heidegger remains faithful to Husserl’s program (see Overgaard 2004). Being and Time revolves around an extremely complex problematic that Heidegger labels ‘the question of the meaning of Being’. Central to this question is an analysis of the peculiar mode or manner of Being that characterizes the human being (or Dasein, as Heidegger prefers to say). In continuation of Husserl’s analyses of intentionality, Heidegger claims that the human being cannot be understood independently of the world in which it is experientially and practically engaged. As he puts it, the Being of Dasein is ‘Being-in-the-world’. Heidegger is particularly concerned to emphasize the practical involvement of humans in their environment. A human being is not primarily a spectator on its environing world, but an agent in it; and the world is not a collection of neutral objects or things, but more like a web of functional relations between practical ‘tools’ or ‘equipment’.

It is in the space between Husserl and Heidegger that one must locate the main inspiration for the later French phenomenologists. Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995) studied philosophy in Freiburg when Heidegger succeeded Husserl. Even though the ostensible topic of Lévinas’s dissertation The Theory of Intuition in Husserl’s Phenomenology, published in 1930, was Husserl’s thought, Heidegger’s influence is pronounced. Moreover, Husserl and Heidegger remain essential interlocutors in Lévinas’s later works, such as Totality and Infinity (1969) and Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence (1974), in which he attempts to develop an independent phenomenological ethics centring on the notion of respect for the other human being. Jean-Paul Sartre’s (1906-1980) phenomenological magnum opus Being and Nothingness, published in 1943, draws upon Husserl, Heidegger, and Hegel, in an attempt to articulate a radical distinction between consciousness, which Sartre labels ‘Being-for-itself’, and all types of objective being, which he collects under the heading ‘Being-in-itself’ (Sartre 1943/1956). Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s (1908-1961) phenomenology of body and perception, elaborated in the 1945 masterpiece Phenomenology of Perception, is to some extent a continuation of Husserl’s later works. But Heidegger’s influence is also tangible, not least in Merleau-Ponty’s contention that the phenomenon of human embodiment is an aspect of the structure that Heidegger calls ‘Being-in-the-world’ (Merleau-Ponty 1945/1962).

The influence of phenomenology, however, extends beyond philosophy. Philosophical phenomenology offers general ideas of relevance to the social sciences (anthropology, economy, law, political science, and so on). But in addition to this, there are phenomenological traditions in psychology and psychiatry, and, more relevant in the present context, there is a distinct phenomenological approach to sociology, which was developed by Alfred Schutz (1899-1959) and his students. Schutz’s main inspiration was drawn from Husserl’s later thoughts on intersubjectivity and the life-world.

Phenomenology and Intersubjectivity

It is sometimes claimed that phenomenology has nothing valuable to offer sociology. Jürgen Habermas, for example, accuses Husserl’s philosophy – and by extension phenomenology as such (Habermas 1992:42) – of being solipsistic, that is, of being able to conceive of the existence of only one single subject (solusipse is Latin for ‘only I’). Thereby, Habermas obviously questions the relevance of phenomenology for social thought in general.

However, there is reason to regard Habermas’ claim with a good deal of scepticism. For the criticism seems based on a misunderstanding of the phenomenological perspective on sociality. Instead of viewing the individual and society – or subjectivity and sociality – as mutually exclusive options, phenomenology explicitly attempts to combine them. Husserl’s claim that a subject can only be a world-experiencing subjectivity insofar as it is member of a community of subjects (Husserl 1995:139) suggests a key phenomenological claim: the individual subject qua world-experiencing is dependent on other world-experiencing subjects. But on the other hand, one should not downplay the role of the individual subject. Phenomenology insists on understanding sociality in its most fundamental form as intersubjectivity (see Zahavi 2001a). It only makes sense to speak of intersubjectivity if there is a (possible) plurality of subjects, and intersubjectivity can therefore neither precede nor be the foundation of the individuality and distinctness of the various subjects. Thus, one cannot invoke the notion of intersubjectivity without committing oneself to some form of philosophy of subjectivity. Yet, on the other hand, Husserl maintains that a sufficiently radical and thorough phenomenological reflection not only leads us to subjectivity, but also to intersubjectivity (Husserl 1962:344). Accordingly, he sometimes refers to his project as that of sociological transcendental philosophy (Husserl 1962:539), and states that a full elaboration of transcendental philosophy necessarily involves the move from an egological to a transcendental-sociological phenomenology (see Zahavi 1996, 2001b).

The Life-World

As part of their ongoing concern with the relation between science and experience, phenomenologists have often emphasized the importance of the ‘life-world’. The life-world is the world we ordinarily take for granted, the pre-scientific, experientially given world that we are familiar with and never call into question. The life-world needs rehabilitating because, although it is the historical and systematic sense-foundation for science, the latter has forgotten or ignored the life-world. Even the most exact and abstract scientific theories rely on the type of pre-scientific evidence that the life-world offers. And life-worldly evidence does not merely function as an indispensable but otherwise irrelevant station that we must pass through on the way toward exact knowledge; rather, it is a permanent source of meaning and evidence (Husserl 1970:126). In pursuit of exact knowledge, science has made a virtue of its radical transcendence of bodily, sensory, and practical experience, but thereby it has overlooked the extent to which it is made possible by those kinds of experience. When experiments are designed and conducted, when measurements are noted down, when results are interpreted, compared and discussed, scientists rely on the common life-world and its common kinds of evidence. Even though scientific theories transcend the concrete, perceptible life-world in terms of precision and degree of abstraction, the life-world remains the meaningful foundation and ultimate source of evidence (Husserl 1970:126). However, the relation between science and the life-world is not static but dynamic. Science is founded on the life-world, and bit-by-bit it may, as it were, sink into the ground on which it stands. With the passing of time, theoretical assumptions and results may be absorbed by everyday practice and become part of the life-world.

When phenomenologists emphasize the significance of the life-world it is not at the expense of science. Phenomenologists have no desire to deny the immense value of science, and they agree that science has the potential to profoundly expand and alter our conception of reality. They do reject, however, the tendency within the natural sciences to advocate scientism and objectivism. A critical attitude towards the scientist self-image of science is one thing, and hostility toward science as such is a very different thing. Phenomenology has none of the latter. It is no coincidence that a famous manifesto of Husserl’s was entitled Philosophy as a Strict Science.

According to scientism, it is natural science alone that decides what is real; reality is thus identical with what can be conceived and explained by natural science. Historically, reflections of this kind led to the claim that only the form, size, weight and movement of an object – that is, those characteristics that, in principle, could be described quantitatively with mathematical exactness – were objective properties. On this view, colour, taste, smell, and so on, were considered merely subjective phenomena that lacked real, objective existence. In the course of centuries, this classical distinction between primary (or objective) qualities and secondary (or subjective) qualities has consistently been radicalized. Ultimately, it was not merely the objectivity of certain characteristics of the appearing object that was questioned, but rather the objectivity of anything that appears. The appearance or manifestation as such was regarded as subjective, and it was this appearance, this phenomenal manifestation as such, which science, according to its understanding of itself, had to reach beyond in order to achieve knowledge of the real nature of things. A consequence of this view is that the world in which we live is very different from the world that the exact sciences describe, the latter having an exclusive claim to reality. The life-world, by contrast, is a mere construction, a result of our response to the stimuli we receive from physical reality.

Phenomenology, however, rejects the idea that natural science is the sole judge of what is real and what is not, and that all concepts that we wish to take seriously must be reducible to concepts of the exact sciences. According to phenomenology, the exact sciences do not describe a world that is different from the ordinary world. Rather, they simply employ new methods to describe and explain the world we already know and thereby enable us to obtain more precise knowledge about it. The scientific ambition of describing reality objectively – that is, from a third-person point of view – is a thoroughly legitimate one. Yet, one should not forget that any objectivity, any explanation, understanding and theoretical construct, presupposes a first-person perspective as its permanent ground and precondition. To that extent the belief that science can provide an absolute description of reality – a description purged of any conceptual or experiential perspective – is an illusion. Science is rooted in the life-world: it draws upon insights from the pre-scientific sphere and it is conducted by embodied subjects. For the phenomenologists, science is not simply a collection of systematically related, well- established propositions. Rather, science is something that people do; it is a particular – markedly theoretical – way of relating to the world.

Phenomenology does not attempt to explain human nature through science. Rather, it aims to make sense of scientific rationality and practice through detailed analyses of the cognizing subject’s various forms of intentional experience. A central task is thus to give an account of how the theoretical attitude that we adopt when we are doing science – including sociology – arises out of, as well as influences and changes, our everyday ‘Being-in-the- world’. The phenomenological examination of the life-world obviously constitutes an important part of this project. Husserl himself articulated the basic ideas for such an analysis, and other phenomenologists such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, made important contributions. All of these thinkers, however, considered the analysis of the life-world a mere part of a larger philosophical project. A more independent interest in the phenomenology of the life-world – in particular its social structure – is found, above all, in Alfred Schutz and his successors within phenomenological sociology.

Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology

Martin Heidegger

Hermeneutic-Phenomenology 

The word hermeneutics is derived from ancient Greece (Hermes, the messenger). The origin of hermeneutics was in the interpretation of ancient texts, originally scriptural (exegis) and later the study of ancient and classic cultures. From medieval times hermeneutics included the study of law and the interpretation of judgements in the context of when and where the judgement was made with an attempt to take into account social and cultural mores of the times. In contemporary management research, marketing academics in particular are comfortable with hermeneutic phenomenology as a research methodology and the term is used for qualitative studies in which interviews with one or a few people are analyzed and interpreted.

Philosophers whose inspiration is more ontological, such as Heidegger, emphasize the uncovering of Being from the perspective of the experiencing human being, and how the world is revealed to this experiencing entity within a realm of things whereas the pragmatist school as epitomized by Mead concentrate on the development of the self and the objectivity of the world within the social realm, “the individual mind can exist only in relation to other minds with shared meanings” (Mead, 1934 p 5).

Heidegger’s philosophical hermeneutics shifted the focus from interpretation to existential understanding, which was treated more as a direct, non-mediated, way of being in the world than simply as a way of knowing (Heidegger, 1927). For example, Heidegger called for a “special hermeneutic of empathy” to dissolve the classic philosophic issue of “other minds” by putting the issue in the context of the being-with of human relatedness. Heidegger used the word texts to cover written and spoken expression and suggested it is a tautology that the written or spoken word cannot be studied using positivistic numerical methods. In the 21st century ‘‘texts’’ has expanded to include all forms of multi-media including the people who produce them. As texts are expressions of the experience of the author, in the Heidegger tradition interpretation of a text will reveal something about the social context in which it was formed, and more significantly, provide the reader with a means to share the experiences of the author. The reciprocity between text and context is part of what Heidegger called the hermeneutic circle (Weber, 1920; Heidegger 1927; Agosta, 2010). Gadamer, a celebrated student of Heidegger, goes further to assert that methodical contemplation and reflection is the opposite of experience on its own and that truth comes from understanding and mastering our experience. Gadamer claims experience is not static but is always changing with hints of further changes. He sees the growth of individual comprehension as being important. With continued improved, and hopefully enlightened, comprehension prejudice is a non fixed reflection of our growing comprehension. There are obvious examples of changes in prejudice over the last 50 years (e.g. legalisation of same sex marriages). Gadamer sees that being alien to a particular tradition is a condition of understanding and he further asserts that we can never step outside of our tradition; all we can do is try to understand it. This further elaborates the continuous nature of the hermeneutic circle (Gadamer 1960; Agosta, 2010)

Heidegger’’s hermeneutics is not just a matter of understanding linguistic communication. Nor is it about providing a methodological basis for research. As far as Heidegger is concerned, hermeneutics is ontology; it is about the most fundamental conditions of man’s being in the world. The hermeneutics of ““facticity””, as he called it, is primarily what philosophy is all about (Heidegger, 1927).

This reflects back on Heidegger’s definition of terms such as understanding, interpretation, and assertion. Understanding, in Heidegger’s account, is neither a method of reading nor the outcome of a carefully conducted procedure of critical reflection. It is not something we consciously do or fail to do, but something we are. Understanding is a mode of being, and as such it is characteristic of human being, of Dasein. We have a pragmatic basic intuitive understanding of the world as we see it. This understanding of our life world is limited by the manner in which we, without consciously thinking and without theoretical considerations, orient ourselves in the world. Heidegger argues, we do not understand the world by gathering a collection of neutral facts by which we may reach a set of universal propositions, laws, or judgments that, to a greater or lesser extent, corresponds to the world as it is, ergo life world is only our conception of the world. Through the synthesizing activity of understanding, the world is disclosed as a totality of meaning, a space in which Dasein is at home. Dasein is distinguished by its self-interpretatory endeavors. Dasein is a being whose being is the issue. Fundamentally Dasein is embedded in the world and therefore it is not possible to understand ourselves or others without knowing the world, and the world cannot be understood if Dasein is ignored (Heidegger 1927, Gadamer 1960, Agosta 2010).

Phenomenology of the Social

  • Phenomenology – Hermenutics
  • Phenomenological Sociology
  • Mundane Phenomenology
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Phenomenology + Symbolic Interactionism
  • First Person + Second Person
  • Life world
  • I and We
  • I and Me
  • Being in the World

Symbolic interactionism

  • George Herbert Mead / University of Chicago
  • Charles Cooley
  • Herbert Blumer /Chicago School
  • Two other important schools of thought are those of the ‘Iowa school’ and the ‘Indiana School’, represented by Manford Kuhn and Sheldon Stryker respectively. Both of them gave alternative methodologies to what had been proposed by Blumer. They were more inclined to go for positivist, quantitative methods. 
  • ERVING GOFFMAN AND THE DRAMATURGICAL APPROACH

Source: Symbolic Interactionism in Sociology of Education Textbooks in Mainland China: Coverage, Perspective and Implications

2. A Historical Review on Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic interactionism is arguably one of the primary theoretical traditions in the discipline of sociology (Collins, 1994). According to the interactionists, the fundamention of symbolic interactionism is the manner in which the individual is connected to the social structure and the possible interplay between the individual and others. The interactionist perspective maintains that human beings engage in social action on the basis of meanings acquired from social sources, including their own experience. These meanings are both learned from others and to some extent shaped or reshaped by those using the symbols. As humans learn and use symbols and develop meanings for objects in their social contexts, they develop a “mind” that is both reflecting and relexive. Mind is not a structure but a process that emerges from humans’ efforts to adjust to their environment (Turner,2004:345). Sociologists who identify themselves as interactionist would agree that the central figure in this tradition is George Herbert Mead (1863-1931), who made the great breakthrough in understanding the basic properties of human social interaction. A crucial concept of Mead is the self. The self and the mind are dialectically related to one another, neither can exist without the other. Thus, one cannot take oneself as an object (think about oneself) without a mind, and one cannot have a mind, have a conversation with oneself, without a self (Ritzer, 2004:56). Basic to the self is reflexivity, or the ability to put ourselves in others’ places, humans are both actors and reactors and the human sense of “self” is a product and process, as the self is simultaneously shaped by the larger society.

In addition to providing discussions of many elements about the relationship between the society and the individual, Mead articulates the origins and actions of the self. He argues that the self is comprised of two componets which allow for both dialectical and reflexive processes. According to Mead (2005), the part of the self that takes the attitudes of others is termed the “me”. However, we can never predict exactly how their responses may play out. We have a general feel for the way in which interactions take place. Yet, it remains possible for someone to react in an unexpected manner.

This reaction to a stimuli arising during interaction is the “I” and is made possible because of the “me” (Taylor, 1997). As Ritzer’s (2004:59) statement, “we are never totally aware of the I, with the result that we sometimes surprise ourselves with our actions.”

Given Mead’s dichotomous approach to the architecture of the self, it is not surprising that two rather distinct views of symbolic interactionism have developed over the past decades: one emphasizes aspects and consequences of the “I”, the other emphasizes aspects and consequences of the “me”. These two views of symbolic interactionism are often referred to, respectively, as the Chiago school and the Iowa school of symbolic interaction theory.

2.1 The Chicago School

The central figure and major exponent of Chicago school is Herbert Blumer(1900-1987), who coined the label “symbolic interaction”. According to Collins, in Blumer’s hands, symbolic interactionism turned into a full-fledged dynamic sociology (Yu, 2002:159).

In his writings, Blumer championed a position and a methodology that emphasized the processes associated with the Meadian “I” (Blumer, 1969). In his view, Mead’s picture of the human being as an actor differs radically from the conception of man that dominates current psychological and social science. Mead simply meant that the human being is an object to himself. The human being may perceive himself, have conceptions of himself, communicate with himself, and act toward himself (Blumer, 1966). Meanwhile, such self-interaction takes the form of making indications to himself and meeting these indications by making further indications.

As mentioned, Blumer and his followers pay special attention to how humans interpret and define actions of their own and others. The focus of Chicago school interaction theory is on the reflecting, creative, acting self, which is constantly apprehending meaning for objects in the environment while simultaneously altering those meanings in service of larger issues of the self (Blumer, 1969). For Blumer, it is not possible to study the structure of a society through the use of variables because this would imply a relationship of causation, which would be impossible since anything is capable of being instantly redefined. Therefore, fixed social variables are impossible to measure, and any attempts to explain human social behavior with such constructions are unproductive. In addition, Gusfield (2003) tackles characters of symbolic interactionism and presents his understandings which are most valuable guidelines:

Whatever SI may be to my readers, for me it was not and is not today a theory in the sense of a body of thought providing substantive generalizations or abstracted propositions about some social activity. There are no substantive predictions or explanations to which it confidently leads. In fact, … “The Methodological Position of Symbolic Interactionism”(1969), Blumer refers to SI as an choose to call it a “perspective” or a “way of seeing,” both terms central to the writings of another and major influence on me, Kenneth Burke. Four aspects of this symbolic interactionist “way of seeing” seem significant in my thinking and in my work: meaning; interaction, emergence, and situatedness; language and symbolism; and the humanistic thrust. (Gusfield, 2003)

In sum, Blumer and those who follow in his disciplinary footsteps are primarily attuned to the actions and consequences of Mead’s “I”. Throughout the development of the discipline of sociology, the Chicago school has dominated the analysis and understanding on interactionist theory by most sociologists. Yet developing parallel to this view was another version of the theory, the Iowa school which placed more emphasis on the ways in which features of the social structure influence and shape common meanings.

2.2 The Iowa School

The most influential advocate of the Iowa school of symbolic interaction is Manford Kuhn (1911-1963), who studied with Kimball Young in the Universtity of Wisconsin and was on the faculty of the University of Iowa from 1946 to 1963. Unlike other interactionists, especially Blumer, Kuhn focuses on the processes associated with Mead’s “me” and incorporates role theory (Stryker and Statham, 1985). He points out “ambiguities and contradictions” in the work of Mead while he sharply criticized other interactionists for interpreting then as “dark, inscrutable complexities too difficult to understand”(Kuhn, 1964a).

Kuhn and his students put Mead’s concept of the self at the cornerstone of their approach to understand human behavior. They saw the social object self as firmly lodged in an actor’s social group memberships and activities, and thus as stable as these memberships and activities. Furthermore, consistent with Mead, they saw the self as an object present in all social activity. They were guided by the belief that if the structure of selves could be understood, it would aid in the development of a general theory of social behavior. (Buban, 1986:27)

The Iowa school has been subjected to severe criticism from other interactionists. In particular, Kuhn was accused of grossly distorting Mead’s position by conceptualizing the self as a permanent, imprinted structure that determines behavior. This notion is exposed in the chief research tool developed by Kuhn and his colleagues, which is a pencil-and-paper measure of self-attitudes known as the Twenty Statements Test (TST) (Kuhn and McPartland, 1954).

While it is true that the employment of the TST explicitly treats the self as a structure, a perusal of Kuhn’s work reveals 15

that he was well aware of the fact that as social situations change, persons’ self attitudes also change (Kuhn, 1964b). According to this apparent contradiction, Kuhn was simply reacting to a belief that other interactionists, Blumer in particular, had distorted the concept self by conceptualizing it as overly fluid, as totally lacking any order or structure:

Some theorists … discuss self-change as if it were most volatile and evanescent; the self shifts with each new indiction one makes to himself, and these indications are the constant accompaniments of experience. (Kuhn, 1964a: 61)

Another criticism of the Iowa school is that they, in employing a pencil-and-paper measure of the self, ignored the most basic feature of human social behavior: temporal process. However, Kuhn was deeply frustrated with the general lack of advancement by symbolic interactionists toward developing a theory of social conduct. His impatience with other interactionists, especially those of the Chicago school, can be clearly observed in his classic review of the field (Kuhn, 1964a). However, for the study of interaction processes, it must be concluded that the TST research inspired by Kuhn is of virtually no value. Even though critics of the Iowa school (Meltzer et al., 1975) have made several misleading inferences regarding both Kuhn’s interpretation of Mead and Kuhn’s philosophical stance, they are quite correct in charging him with ignoring process in his research endeavors. Nevertheless, the contribution of Kuhn’s legacy must not be underestimated.

To sum up, Kuhn and those who follow in his disciplinary footsteps are primarily attuned to the actions and consequences of Mead’s “me”. Several decades later, building on the legacy of the “old” Iowa tradition, the “new” Iowa school places great emphasis on the order or structure of human interaction, which are influenced by Kuhn apparently. Also evident is Kuhn’s insistence that a theory of social life can only be built upon a solid foundation of data which has been collected in a controlled, systematic fashion.

Symboliic Interactionism

My Related Posts

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Human Rights and Human Development

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Key Sources of Research

Symbolic Interactionism and Ethnomethodology 

Alex Dennis

University of Salford

Click to access Ethnomethodology%20and%20SI.pdf

Contemporary Social Theory: An introductory overview

Simone Pulver Associate Professor, Environmental Studies UC Santa Barbara

SESYNC Sociology Immersion January 11, 2016

intersubjectivity

https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100008603

CHAPTER 9

PHENOMENOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY: DIVERGENT INTERPRETATIONS OF A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP 

Thomas S. Eberle

An introduction to phenomenological research 

Stan Lester

Stan Lester Developments, Taunton

The Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the “We”

De Gruyter | 2017DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jso-2017-0003

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/jso-2017-0003/html

MODERN SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY

AUTHOR-SUBRATA SATHPATHY

The Phenomenological Understanding of Social Life

Asst. Prof. Kire Sharlamanov,

International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Volume 4, Issue 5, May-2013 1924 ISSN 2229-5518

What is Sociology?

Interactionism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactionism

Phenomenology (sociology)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_(sociology)

Interpretative Research Paradigms: Points of Difference

Nevan Wright and Erwin Losekoot
Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Auckland, New Zealand

Symbolic interaction theory

Nilgun Aksana*, Buket Kısaca, Mufit Aydına, Sumeyra Demirbuken

Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 1 (2009) 902–904

https://pdf.sciencedirectassets.com/277811/1-s2.0-S1877042809X00029/1-s2.0-S1877042809001633/main.pdf?X-Amz-Security-Token=IQoJb3JpZ2luX2VjEOr%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2FwEaCXVzLWVhc3QtMSJHMEUCIQDvUPrYJ%2Bifr%2F3zzUcHp5ZRKyC%2Baxhco%2FyoQnxA4gojIQIgCIsDsSWo40HsIuViIGZmHZmk6LNWehe1dwtNW7fHVvUqtAMIUhADGgwwNTkwMDM1NDY4NjUiDFubUrXGlnH0BEYxDCqRA7A54VEOLYiiss5nDLp2wnndbuISUMBpew3kpnX0wNlgVbFKhK3KGXIMLAYnc%2BbD3730d2S%2BbA8Zfv46saq01klK33yctc0cXAj0yeS8QOqf456jwmdDn74SZlVXnWQXoKD3CyPSVk1b2ZKSLAzRroQo5blte1bWnIvQMOQoVcpbcGtVkYoUX%2FvpRnElSw3xtiqknWG7rtQ91KrsYX1XivNIMC%2FQYiEuCqxtQTm9a3XmNL1WyqiBQRENTjlHRs0UF67yTFNbB1qDKg80mR7Trkue6n1G7RCUf%2Fz2cjWM5QSU803xrmDeIv%2BZC0SwU7T5NiRlZVLhAIy3EdGF2XkidMuORnPW2oE%2F4kvsDEZqFg2%2FFHiEgJqEZ6xNLyR9DifuWo%2Bia7Y1gafjctuJp7h2vt85CcSy6U%2Fhy64dH26JE1Z4fov2kNzEyx8IDZmbgCXvEejRokHtHTYpzo918n7YNkeJuymccXIFCgdJwgZu%2FLflAVWNAVZyzPhnIYlHnnCkPTvS%2FyziKBRxTkfQa8I79H3AMKSO7oMGOusBg8%2BYJCLRev8QYmmhZY30c09MBrX3fvQLUDmo4CEcrM1c%2Bo9sNmiMzhSvt8FhrMkFvjFusM3Xj7Hs0K9wJiit3WXPSHA1H1XwsWzBlI0jU19DpkG54XjXDId9TsDfMqK23n6Ium9Zaqpie8n%2BOD%2FkHKal7vUoV1Kcfod27Zg2JXfk7Jt9srMYLzBQtxguJQVxI9TGfYHWmj85NPu%2BgaqGH8dAp3vCmeP3QO%2BQNPXOHWhqSXfTlmWtB8WHW%2FE8AQw5EMbhVlLaF%2B0DDyHYz4syU0ZuZic0H%2BrfYXPgXDCax6hpKUtsPW7I%2FhBVwA%3D%3D&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Date=20210418T025530Z&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Expires=299&X-Amz-Credential=ASIAQ3PHCVTY3R5HQX6U%2F20210418%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Signature=770d1586933cc0a74e47348366305b59c4a5ca319c7c572d0f09b9575df819f2&hash=3150a1a60eb66989c786834008d4fd76866c095eac627a725727cc9beb06611b&host=68042c943591013ac2b2430a89b270f6af2c76d8dfd086a07176afe7c76c2c61&pii=S1877042809001633&tid=spdf-614fb83f-3df0-46ee-8313-ee5270301110&sid=84b03a564f10d247c01ab4f3ba887aff47c1gxrqa&type=client

The phenomenology and development of social perspectives 

Thomas Fuchs

UNIT 6 SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM

Click to access Unit-6.pdf

The cyberself: the self-ing project goes online, symbolic interaction in the digital age

Laura Robinson

New Media Society 2007; 9; 93 DOI: 10.1177/1461444807072216

Click to access Robinson_Cyberself.pdf

Blumer’s symbolic interactionism: Methodological implications.

Jan Spurway Marks University of Windsor

1971

Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6691.
https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/etd/6691

Symbolic Interactionism and Ethnomethodology 

Alex Dennis

University of Salford

Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 349-356

Click to access Ethnomethodology%20and%20SI.pdf

Basic Concepts of Symbolic Interactionism

John Hewitt, Self & Society, 9th Edition, Allyn & Bacon, 2002.

Click to access Basic%20Tenets%20of%20Symbolic%20Interactionsim.pdf

Symbolic Interactionism in Sociology of Education Textbooks in Mainland China: Coverage, Perspective and Implications

Xuan Dong
College of Education Administration, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China Tel: 86-10-5880-1300 E-mail: xuandong@live.cn

Symbolic Interactionism 

Mark V. Redmond

Iowa State University, mredmond@iastate.edu

English Technical Reports and White Papers. 4.

http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/engl_reports/4

Symbolic interactionism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbolic_interactionism

Introducing Social Psychology and Symbolic Interactionism

George Herbert Mead

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mead/

Phenomenological Sociology – The Subjectivity of Everyday Life

Søren Overgaard & Dan Zahavi

George Herbert Mead (1863—1931)

George Herbert Mead

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/George_Herbert_Mead

George Herbert Mead

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Herbert_Mead

Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics

  • Aesthetics and Ethics are interdependent on each other
  • Steps to an Ecology of mind

Why do good? Why be moral?

  • Do good because its a good value for a virtuous person
  • Do good out of compassion and love for others
  • Do good because it is good for one’s self
  • Do good because world outside is none other than yourself. (Vedantic Perspective)

Aesthetics

  • of Design
  • of Arts
  • of Performance Arts
  • of Rituals
  • of Traditions
  • of Narrative Arts
  • of Culture
  • of Architecture
  • of Actions
  • of Thoughts
  • of Senses
  • of Emotions
  • of Values
  • of Experience

Key Terms

  • Virtues
  • Values
  • Aesthetics
  • Arts
  • Morals
  • Ethics
  • Good ness
  • Art and Morals
  • Aesthetics and Ethics
  • Beauty and Goodness
  • Ist person and 2nd Person
  • Integral Theory
  • Ken Wilber
  • Self, Culture, Nature
  • I, We, It/Its
  • Immanual Kant
  • Wittgenstein
  • Sameness and Otherness
  • Difference
  • Boundaries and Networks
  • Hierarchy and Networks
  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Action Learning
  • Reflexive Action
  • Social Ethics
  • Communities of Goodness
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Inter-objectivity
  • Inter-subjectivity
  • Subject and Object
  • Phenomenology and Hermenutics
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Development and Relations
  • Internal vs External
  • Individual vs Collective
  • Culture, Society, and Ethics
  • Narrative Arts
  • Intentions and Actions
  • Sewa and Service
  • Altruism
  • Philosophy of Arts
  • Aesthetics of living culture
  • Traditions, Rituals, and Culture
  • Classical Education
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Dance, Music and Performance Arts
  • Universals
  • Transcendentals
  • Ethnomethodology
  • Nondual Vedanta (Advait Vedanta)
  • Steps to an Ecology of Mind
  • Value Theory
  • Virtue Theory
  • Art Criticism
  • Taste, Style, Manners
  • Relational
  • Aesthetics and Relatedness
  • Consciousness
  • Nondual Awareness
  • Interconnectedness

Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’S Critique of Moralization of Ethics

This study found a new idea of ethics to bridge the gap between morality and aesthetics. This new idea is called aesthetics morality. This study concluded as follows: 1) ethics as morality is in the form of teleology, deontology and virtue ethics; 2) ethics is a synthesis of aesthetics and morality; and 3) ethics is aesthetics in the form of care of the self. 

Ethics as Style:
Wittgenstein’s Aesthetic Ethics and Ethical Aesthetics

An inquiry into Wittgenstein’s ethics and aesthetics has to start with the following questions: Can an aesthetics and/or ethics be extracted from his philosophical texts at all? If yes, what kind of aesthetics and/or ethics does Wittgenstein offer beyond his well-known aphoristic comments on the subject? Finally, how can we understand the meaning of his claim that ‘‘ethics and aesthetics are one’’? This article responds to the above questions by presenting an account of Wittgenstein’s ethical aesthetics and aesthetic ethics, elucidating both through the prism of his notion of style as ‘‘general necessity seen sub specie eterni.’’ It explains how logical necessity implodes within the limits of propositional language to open onto the realm of style, within which ethical necessity is to be understood in terms of aesthetic life-form and aesthetic expression is to be understood in terms of ethical enactment.

Es ist klar, daß sich die Ethik nicht aussprechen läßt. Die Ethik ist transzendental.
(Ethik und Ästhetik sind Eins.)

[It is clear that ethics cannot be expressed. Ethics is transcendental.
(Ethics and aesthetics are one.)]
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection

This book brings together a number of new essays in an area of growing concern, namely the intersection or overlap of aesthetics and ethics. Recent developments aside, for the past thirty years or so in Anglo-American philosophy, aesthetics and ethics have been pursued in relative isolation, with aesthetics being generally regarded as the poorer, if flashier, cousin. The attention aestheticians have recently given to moral aspects of art and art criticism, and that ethicists have recently paid to aesthetic aspects of moral life and moral evaluation, give hope of ending this rather artificial isolation, though without necessarily forcing us to accede in Wittgenstein’s gnomic dictum that “ethics and aesthetics are one.”

The intersection of aesthetics and ethics can be understood to comprise three spheres of inquiry. The first is that of problems or presuppositions common to aesthetics and ethics, the two traditional branches of value theory. The second is that of ethical issues in aesthetics, or in the practice of art. And the third sphere is that of aesthetic issues in ethics, theoretical and applied.

As it turns out, the concerns of the present collection do not span the full intersection of aesthetics and ethics as just explained. For reasons of both unity and manageability, the decision was made to foreground aesthetics in the present venture. The result is that the essays fall under the first and second, but not the third ways of understanding the intersection of the two fields.

2 – Three versions of objectivity: aesthetic, moral, and scientific

How does the objective validity of aesthetic judgments compare with the objective validity of moral judgments and scientific beliefs? There are two traditional answers. According to one, aesthetic and moral appraisals both utterly lack the cognitive authority of scientific inquiry, since neither kind of appraiser has access to a fact independent of her own judgments and neither is in a position to claim that all who are adequately qualified would share her judgment. For example, emotivists deprive both aesthetic and moral judgments of both kinds of objectivity. According to the other tradition, well-formed aesthetic and moral judgments have the same cognitive authority as wellformed scientific beliefs, because in all three realms the judgment maker is often in a position to assert a truth independent of her judgments, in a claim to which all adequately qualified inquirers would assent. For example, Kant puts the three realms on a par in both ways.

Each of these traditions has distinctive liabilities, which jointly suggest the need to explore a third alternative. The debunking tradition, depriving both aesthetic and moral judgments of all the authority of science, is hard to reconcile with the pervasive aspirations to truth and interests in impersonal argument of apparently rational people engaged in moral and aesthetic judgment. On the other hand, the claims to universality in the elevating tradition often seem wishful thinking.

Elsewhere, I have defended a view of morality and science that rejects the association in both traditions of rational access to appraiser-independent truth with epistemic universality.

5 – Art, narrative, and moral understanding

With much art, we are naturally inclined to speak of it in moral terms. Especially when considering things like novels, short stories, epic poems, plays, and movies, we seem to fall effortlessly into talking about them in terms of ethical significance – in terms of whether or which characters are virtuous or vicious, and about whether the work itself is moral or immoral, and perhaps whether it is sexist or racist. Undoubtedly, poststructuralists will choke on my use of the phrase “naturally inclined,” just because they do not believe that humans are naturally inclined toward anything. But that general premise is as needlessly strong a presupposition as it is patently false. And, furthermore, I hope to show that my talk of natural inclinations is hardly misplaced here, for we are prone to respond to the types of works in question in the language of moral assessment exactly because of the kinds of things they are.

Moreover, we do not merely make moral assessments of artworks as a whole and characters in particular; it is also the case that these moral assessments are variable. That is, we find some artworks to be morally good, while some others are not; some are exemplary, while some others are vicious and perhaps even pernicious; and finally other works may not appear to call for either moral approbation or opprobrium. So, though we very frequently do advance moral assessments of artworks, it is important to stress that we have a gamut of possible evaluative judgments at our disposal: from the morally good to the bad to the ugly, to the morally indifferent and the irrelvant.

Problems at the Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

The Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

Ever since the publication of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, the concept of taste has been severed from its moral sense and reduced to a merely aesthetic one.1 Since then two trends have predominated in moral philosophy. The first is a rationalist view of ethics, which proposes the need to subsume particular actions under universal laws. Deontological and utilitarian theories both have this paradigm in common. The second is the refraction of this position, which marginalizes any discussion of moral feeling as a psychological question of emotivism or subjectivism.2 This trend of positivism dismisses feelings as mere emotive states, questions of psychology, subjective, and therefore not binding.

In order to recapture the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience, one needs a view of aesthetics that is not limited to reflections on the beautiful and sublime in nature or art and that is not reducible to an allegiance to taste and manners; and one needs a continuity principle that enables reflection on morality to be true to experience. Two process philosophers, Alfred North Whitehead and John Dewey, present a metaphysics of experience which enriches ethics by illustrating the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience. Where the traditions outlined above view reason as the pivotal faculty in navigating the moral landscape, process philosophy emphasizes the aesthetic categories of feeling and imagination as operative in moral experience.

Those skeptical of “aestheticizing morality” often invoke the show-stopping reference to the Nazi Regime, one which consciously and politically recruited aesthetic ideals toward the crystallization of immorality.3 This is the Reductio ad Hitlerum to which the title refers. Fascism and Nazism in particular habituated a marriage between politics and aesthetics, and took up the goal of making politics a triumphant and beautiful spectacle.4 Art, music, and aesthetic symbols were recruited as instruments toward fulfilling this goal.5 Nazi Germany held “countless historical pageants, Volk festivals, military parades, propaganda films, art exhibitions and [erected] grandiose buildings”6 in order to exemplify “the fascist desire to invent mythic imperial pasts and futures,”7 while stirring the passions of the people for its war efforts. The Nazis denounced any allegiance to liberal political texts such as the Versailles Treaty “in favor of decisive political action based on fatal aesthetic criteria — beautiful vs. ugly, healthy vs. degenerate, German vs. Jew.”8 It is warranted to invoke this as the problem for those who “aestheticize” morality. The Nazi problematic, illustrated by an analysis of two films surrounding the immorality of the Nazi Regime, James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day (1993) and István Szabó’s Taking Sides (2001) illuminates the limitations and failures of the tendency to “aestheticize” morality. These films help show the nuances that reside at this tense intersection between aesthetics and ethics. However, tension between aesthetics and ethics, as depicted by the two films, dissolves once one’s understanding of aesthetics ceases to be reductive and narrow.

The aesthetic dimensions of moral experience in the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and John Dewey provide a basis for defining the continuity between ethics and aesthetics. For Whitehead, an aesthetic vision which builds on insights of his descriptive metaphysics enables us to see moral experience as aesthetic. For Dewey, the imagination works on the possibilities at hand in order to resolve morally problematic situations, and the grist for the imagination’s mill is experiential, perceptual, and aesthetic, not merely rational or conceptual. Thus, the broad use of aesthetics advocated herein enables us to draw moral distinctions in the face of Nazi atrocities instead of blindly serving the ideal of artistic creation. Nor does it reduce aesthetics to a fetish for manners. Rather, as including imagination, perception, taste, and emotion, an aesthetic orientation to ethics can encompass the limits posed by these films, and it can morally condemn the Nazi Regime and avoid the Hitler-reductio.

A.N. Whitehead at the Intersection

A sketch of Whitehead’s metaphysics is necessary in order to show how the foundations for moral action may be subsumed under the category of aesthetic experience. According to Whitehead’s systematic metaphysics, the world is a process of becoming. It is ultimately composed of self-creating “actual occasions.”9 The act of self-creation is the “concrescence” of an actual entity, “the final real things of which the world is made up.”10 Thus an “entity” describes an occasion or event in the mode of concrescense, the act of an occasion having prehended its environment. Events create themselves by virtue of their interdependence. The mode of relation each entity has toward others and toward its possibilities in general is “feeling.” “Prehensions” are the feelings which each entity has of its environment, which includes the entire universe, as each entity pulsates and vibrates throughout the cosmos in its process of self-creation.11 Since Whitehead holds that relations are more fundamental than substance, these prehensions constitute the actual entity. Where in traditional metaphysics, substance is primary and the relations among substances are described as secondary attributes, in Whitehead’s description entities are internally related, constituted by their relations. In this process metaphysics, relations are not secondary but primary in that they constitute the entities. When an actual entity prehends its environment, the entity constitutes itself and makes itself what it is.12Each entity serves as the subject of its own becoming and the “superject” of others, imparting itself to other entities in their becoming.13 Actual entities, in process metaphysics, are events, occasions in time, and always situated in a complex, interdependent environment of other entities. Thus, Whitehead’s speculative metaphysics is relational, not atomistic.

This speculative picture of reality lends itself to reflections on moral experience, including an account of Whitehead’s theory of value. In Process and Reality, Whitehead’s theory of value uses strong aesthetic language. He describes intensity of experience as “strength of beauty”: the degree of feeling in an occasion’s prehension of its environment. 14 Further, as John Cobb notes, “The chief ingredients [to beautiful experience] are emotional.”15 The actual entity prehends its environment, feeling its aesthetic surrounding in a chiefly emotional comportment. Because the locus of value is the intensity and harmony of an experience and the emotional sphere contributes chiefly to beautiful experience, emotion need not be corralled by reason, but channeled toward the achievement of beauty. Further, Whitehead shows that philosophers who treat feelings as merely private are mistakenly taking a phase of concrescence to be the whole of experience. For Whitehead, “there is no element in the universe capable of pure privacy.”16 The impossibility of pure privacy undermines the conceptual option of positivists and others who atomize and privatize feeling in order to dismiss its role in moral experiences as subjectivism or emotivism, both of which result in relativism.

Moral experience and aesthetic experience work dialectically: “The function of morality is to promote beauty in experience,”17 but emotions inform morality by adding to the value of experience. Sensation and emotion are not passively received, private reifications; instead, they seamlessly compose the environment we inhabit. Cobb contends that “the purely aesthetic impulse and the moral one exist in a tension” and that “the good aimed at for others is an aesthetic good — the strength of beauty of their experience.”18

Whitehead writes:

In our own relatively high grade human existence, this doctrine of feelings and their subject is best illustrated by our notion of moral responsibility. The subject is responsible for being what it is in virtue of its feelings. It is also derivatively responsible for the consequences of its existence because they flow from its feelings.19

That our existence flows from our feelings reveals the foundation of moral action on aesthetic, αἰσθηματικός, “sensuous” experience. When Whitehead contends that our moral actions flow from our feelings, he places a primacy upon our emotional comportment. The main contribution we make to others is our spirit or attitude.20This spirit is a comportment and temperament, an angle of vision. If our vision is broad and seeks to contribute to the strength of beauty of others’ experience, it is continuous with moral experience. Moral vision is attitudinal and acting according to calculation, deliberation, and reason, while poor in spirit, is not moral action. Whitehead posits a theory of value where our goal is to realize a strength of beauty in our immediate occasions of action. Taking a calculating attitude towards future consequences endangers this goal.21 It is misleading to think that one can calculate rationally toward that best action.22 Rather, such moral rationalism can justify activity that we feel is inhumane, evil, ugly, unjust, and wrong. It can sever means from ends and justify that which our sentiments would impeach.

Whitehead’s speculative metaphysics, by using humanistic and aesthetic language, includes a description of moral experience. Occasions of activity become harmonious with their environment by acting in the service of beauty. Actions emanate from feelings, and right action is not the function of rational deliberation, but of whole-part relations, of fitting the variety of detail and contrast under the unity of an aesthetic concrescence. Whitehead’s is a seductive account of reality, but nowhere in it do we find something like evil. Those skeptical of such an aesthetic description of moral experience may ask, “Where is the Holocaust in this picture?” Thus, below a recourse to two films about Nazism, aesthetics, and morality enables the skeptic to reexamine the continuity between ethics and aesthetics and consider a broader, less reductive, understanding of aesthetics itself. Before addressing this question, another account of how process philosophy maintains continuity between ethics and aesthetics is in order.

John Dewey at the Intersection

In order to outline Dewey’s description of the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience, a cursory illustration of the continuity at work in his metaphysics of experience and theory of inquiry is in order. Dewey described the generic traits of human experience as both precarious and stable.23 Indeterminate situations produce the conditions of instability.24 Subjecting a precarious situation to inquiry constitutes it as problematic, enabling an agent to identify possible means of resolving the situations within the constituent features of the uniquely given situation. Our employment of imaginative intelligence directs our activity in an effort to resolve the situation by rearranging the conditions of indeterminacy toward settlement and unification.25

In a manner similar to Whitehead, Dewey refers to the creative integration of the entire complex situation with the term “value.”26 One constituent in the activity of unifying the problematic situation is the end-in-view, which functions as a specific action coordinating all other factors involved in the institution and resolution of the problem. The value is the integration and unification of the situation. When the end-in-view functions successfully toward the integration of the situation, the resultant unification is a “consummatory phase of experience.”27 Dewey wrote, “Values are naturalistically interpreted as intrinsic qualities of events in their consummatory reference.”28 Their naturalistic interpretation renders the experience of value and the process of valuation continuous with other natural processes. That is, the ends-in-view, whether or not these are moral ideals, do not exist antecedent to inquiry into the complex, historical, and uniquely given situation, as the rationalists would have it. The general traits of moral experience are found within aesthetic experience — dispelling the need dichotomize experience into the cognitive and the emotional — because values are qualities of events.

The ability to examine the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience depends on the way Dewey defines an aesthetically unified and integrated experience as consummatory. The consummation refers to the experience of the unification of meaning of all of the phases of a complex experience.29 Thus, the aesthetic experience gives a holistic meaning to the precariousness of its parts. The value of an experience, including moral value, refers, as in Whitehead’s description, to whole-part relations and the unification of various elements therein.

Art is the skill of giving each phase its meaning in light of the whole. Art unifies each function of the experience, giving reflection, action, desire, and imagination an integrated relation both to each other and to the possibility of meaningful resolution.30 Thus, Dewey refuses to parcel out a separate faculty at work in isolation in any meaningful experience, whether that is reason in cognition or emotion in sympathetic attention to a friend. The consummatory experience is one in which we employ imaginative intelligence in appropriating aesthetic, felt elements of experience above and beyond their immediacy and one in which the instability of their immediacy is seen imaginatively as a possibility toward its meaningful integration.31

Thus, artful conduct includes moral conduct, but in a way that both avoids the need to import ideals transcendent to our experience and gives moral ideals their reality in the meaning that ensues in the consequences of their enactment. The features of artful conduct inherent in moral behavior concern the ability to see possibilities in the elements of precariousness, “to see the actual in light of the possible.”32 Where the rationalist searches for a universal concept to justify a given, isolated action whose justification could be known but not felt, the moral imagination enables the agent to envision in her environment the constituent possibilities in order to reconstruct the situation.

Both Whitehead and Dewey treat moral experience as continuous with the aesthetic experience of intensity, meaning, unification, and harmony found in the consummatory phase of experience, or in Whitehead’s terms, in concrescence. Both treat vision and imagination, not calculative rationality, as operative in navigating morally problematic situations. The general trend running through these process philosophies that maintains continuity between ethics and aesthetics concerns whole-part relations. The individual in morally charged situations must harmonize her particular conduct to the whole of her environment broadly construed. She must imaginatively find the proper fit of her conduct with her greater cultural context. If she succeeds, she harmonizes her experience and the part coheres with the whole. Value, harmony, and stability ensue. Whitehead and Dewey describe our moral experience at a sufficient level of abstraction, one which could include the hosting of a dinner party or the conducting of an orchestra. Each part must cohere with the whole — harmony is the motivating ideal.

Much like Whitehead, Dewey gives us a processive account of reality which seems to cohere with personal experience; however, Dewey’s description of the pattern of inquiry has been accused of being so broad and vague that the Nazi resolution of the Jewish problem could be described according to it..33 The Germans under Hitler constituted their situation during the Great Depression as problematic. Their economy was in shambles, and their national pride was wounded. They found within their situation the constitutive elements, marginally-German, supposed conspirators and enemies of all sorts, to employ in resolving their situation. They achieved a sort of integration of their experience and a distorted sort of harmony in armament and invasion to reincorporate native Germans outside of their truncated borders. They consciously recruited aesthetic ideals and played on the national emotions of soil and blood. Thus, according to the Hitler-reductio, to condemn morally their actions with the language of Dewey or Whitehead is no easy task. The reductio causes moral philosophers to long for universality in any of its rationalist iterations.

The British Problem at the Intersection: The Remains of the Day

The philosophical depiction of aesthetic experience, of which moral dimensions compose a part, is problematic if individuals acting under aesthetic norms, guided by manners and in service of harmonizing part-whole relations, engage in outright immorality or shy away from moral duty in the face of evil. This is the “British” problem because to highlight it, we must attend to the British characters in The Remains of the Day. While much has been written on the film (and the Ishiguro novel upon which it is based), about the role of class and the symbolic nature of British imperial politics, the film also serves as an excellent test case for the continuity between aesthetics and ethics.34 The setting of The Remains of the Day, the aristocratic estate of Darlington Hall in rural England, announces an aesthetic emphasis on beauty and order which persists throughout the film. Most of the action in the film occurs in the pre-war 1930s, but the film flashes forward to the post-war 1950s to show “present” character interactions. The central characters are an emotionally-repressed butler, Mr. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins), his superior and owner of the estate in the 1930s, Lord Darlington (James Fox), and his fellow caretaker of the estate, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). The problematic relationship between aesthetic orientation and morality comes into view by focusing on Lord Darlington’s demeanor throughout the events of the 1930s, and Mr. Stevens’s comportment to the politically and morally problematic events that unfold at Darlington Hall.

Lord Darlington had a friend in Germany against whom he fought in the First World War, with whom he intended to sit down and have a drink after the war. But this never happened, as the German friend, ruined by the inflation that ensued in the post-Versailles Weimar Republic, took his own life. Lord Darlington exclaims to Mr. Stevens, “The Versailles Treaty made a liar out of me.” Darlington laments that the conditions of the treaty, (debt reparations, guilt clause) were too harsh: “Not how you treat a defeated foe,” as Darlington puts it. With this as his proximate motivation, Lord Darlington uses his influence to broker the policy of appeasementtoward Nazi Germany. It appears that Lord Darlington puts manners before moral duty. He hosts the delegates from Germany, France, and the United States at his home, and they dine dressed in black tie, served by the army of under-butlers commanded by Mr. Stevens.

One is tempted to view Lord Darlington’s behavior as kind, if not for other telling incidents. He temporarily agrees to employ two Jewish refugees at his estate, and it is made clear to the viewer that he understands the dangers they faced in Germany and that his home is serving as a sanctuary. However, after reading the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Lord Darlington orders that two German, Jewish maids should be discharged, as he considers their employment inappropriate for his German guests. Mr. Stevens carries out the order without reflection, while Miss Kenton threatens to resign in protest, but fails to follow through out of self-admitted weakness.35 Thus, Darlington knew of the Nazi policies in Germany, understood the potential plight of the maids, but fired them anyway in service of behavior “appropriate” for his German guests.

Darlington’s elevation of manners above duty reappears as he cannot even tell his godson (Hugh Grant), whose father has died and who is soon to be married, about the birds and the bees. He asks Mr. Stevens, his butler, to do it for him. Darlington seems unwilling to confront the issue of sexuality as it offends his Victorian manners and sensibilities. Thus, manners, while they can be seen as the outward display of inner character, here get in the way of the more difficult, unmannerly, and inappropriate conduct commanded in the face of negotiation with the Germans, the employment of the Jewish maids, and the acceptance of surrogate fatherly duties.

Mr. Stevens’s motivations are more opaque to the audience. He is so univocally driven to serve and fulfill his duty to Lord Darlington, that he almost fails to portray any moral subjectivity.36 But as the head butler, his service is also for the aesthetic ideals of orderliness and cleanliness. The prospect of a dustpan being left on the landing frightens him, such that he rushes to retrieve it before his employer notices his shortcoming. Mr. Stevens’s single-minded focus is best displayed when his own father, also an employee, is dying. Stevens attends to the dinner of the foreign delegates without pain or pause, while his own father lies on his death bed. His relationship with Miss Kenton, central to the development of his character, reveals his coldness, emotional repression, and narrowly driven service toward aesthetic ends. Miss Kenton first extends kindness to Mr. Stevens by putting flowers in his office, but he asks that they be removed so as not to distract him. She falls in love with Mr. Stevens and ends up in tears when she tries to break through his emotional wall and communicate her love to him. But he ignores her and asks to be excused to attend to his duties. Before her eventual departure and engagement to another man, she insults Stevens out of manifest distress that he has never expressed any emotional interest in her, but he still remains unmoved. After his reunion with her in the 1950s, Stevens departs for Darlington Hall in a deluge of rain. Kenton cries, but Stevens, still fails to demonstrate any feeling and only raises his hat out of politeness. While Stevens’s class-based subordination could explain his failure to fulfill his duty to his father, his coldness to Miss Kenton illustrates that he was a cold rationalist in service of aesthetics — thinly defined aesthetics.

Reflecting on Mr. Stevens’s relationship to Miss Kenton reveals two sides of the problem at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics. First, because he serves only the aesthetic ideals of order, beauty, and cleanliness, he does a disservice to the human and intersubjective dimensions of moral experience. He is polite but inattentive and stoic in the face of obvious human suffering, from the firing of the Jewish maids, to the death of his father, to the jilted and regretful Miss Kenton. Does this pose a problem for the continuity between aesthetics and ethics? Stevens serves beauty at the cost of moral duty but also interpersonal sympathy. Since an emotional angle of vision is the necessary condition for attending to moral circumstances, his aesthetic orientation is too narrow. While he has an aesthetic ideal as his motive, he has a rational methodology to achieve it. He acts in each situation as if subsuming his particular action under the universal conceptual criteria of serving beauty and order. He does not allow his actions to flow from his feelings as Whitehead would prescribe. His contribution to others is his spirit, but this is a cold, deliberate, and rational spirit. Thus, with Mr. Stevens as a test case, a conception of aesthetic experience needs to be broad enough to include emotional comportment. Failing to do so through operating in service of a narrow ideal of beauty reveals an impoverished sense of aesthetics which results in immorality.

American Congressman, Mr. Lewis (Christopher Reeve) of The Remains of the Dayserves as a pivot to the American problem at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics discussed at length below. Laughed at as nouveau riche by the British delegates, Lewis attends the conference with the intent of resisting the policy of appeasement. Because he fails to recruit the French delegate, Dupont d’Ivry (Michael Lonsdale), to his side (D’Ivry is busy attending to his sore feet), Mr. Lewis resorts to making an impolite toast at the black tie dinner. He argues in favor of the Realpolitik of professionals, rather than that of “honorable amateurs,” which is his epithet for the noblemen in his company and the Lord who is his host. In his toast “to the professionals” he embodies the moral high ground against the Nazis and the unmannerly and barefooted behavior of a stereotypical American on aristocratic soil; thus he hammers in the wedge that separates manners from morals. Apparently, Americans stand up for right against wrong even at the expense of politeness and pretty conduct. Lewis is a representative character for those skeptical of continuity between aesthetics and ethics. He knows that aesthetic ideals, when reducible to the appreciation of good taste and mannerly behavior, can dull moral distinctions. Yet he fails to unify the precariousness of his situation in a manner which Whitehead or Dewey describe.

The American Problem at the Intersection: Taking Sides

Taking Sides tells the story of Dr. Wilhelm Furtwängler, (Stellan Skarsgård), one of the most respected German conductors of the 20th century, who chose to remain in Germany during the Nazi regime. After Germany’s defeat, he fell victim to a ruthless investigation by the Allies. The major in charge of the investigation is a stereotypically uncultured American, Major Steven Arnold (Harvey Keitel), who works in the insurance business. Arnold tries to uncover how complicit Furtwängler was. Furtwängler was appointed to the Privy Council, he was Hitler’s favorite conductor, and Goebbels and Goering honored him. However, he never joined the Nazi party, he helped numerous Jews escape, and several witnesses testify that he tried to protect Jewish musicians under his direction.

The audience is left to judge Furtwängler morally. On the one hand, Arnold has the moral high ground. The Nazis perpetrated the Holocaust, and the Allied victory ended it. Justice awaits the guilty. But Major Arnold is no Congressman Lewis, who has the outward appearance of a British Peer but falls short of their mannerly conduct only by degree. Arnold is a bullying interrogator, somewhere between the caricature of an ugly American and a down-to-earth pragmatist who thinks musical genius is no excuse for collusion with Nazism, and he is willing to employ an overbearing rudeness to expose this. For Arnold, the question is all about strength of will, and he deems Furtwängler weak. However, Arnold seems to misunderstand most of Furtwängler’s replies to his questions, and at times, his interrogation seems like self-righteous taunting and badgering. The viewer is left wondering whether the distressed conductor or the clinched-fist interrogator is acting more like a Nazi.

In one telling exchange, Furtwängler claims that art has mystical powers, which nurture man’s spiritual needs. He confesses to being extremely naïve. While having maintained the absolute separation of art and politics, he devoted his life to music because he thought through music he could do something practical: to maintain liberty, humanity, and justice. Arnold replies with sarcastic disdain, “Gee, that’s a thing of beauty. […] But you used the word “naïve.” Are you saying you were wrong in maintaining the separation of art and politics?”37 Furtwängler replies that he believed art and politics should be separated, but that they were not kept separate by the Nazis, and he learned this at his own cost. Furtwängler is in an obvious bind here. He cannot hold the following propositions together without internal contradiction: (1) Art has mystical power which nurture’s man’s spiritual needs; (2) Art and politics should be kept separate; (3) Art can maintain liberty, justice and humanity; (4) Art was not kept separate from politics during Nazi rule in Germany, and this was a bad thing. If art nurtures man’s spiritual needs, but art must be kept separate from politics, are man’s spiritual needs distinct from questions of community and well-functioning societies? Put otherwise, can music perform its practical function of maintaining justice, while being separate from politics? It would not seem so.

In what follows this interrogation, Arnold accuses Furtwängler of weakness, of selling out to the Nazis for ordinary petty reasons of fear, jealousy of other conductors, and selfishness. Arnold’s two subordinates are offended by his demeanor and his denigration of a national artistic genius and hero. His assistant eventually refuses to participate. She claims that Arnold is embodying the demeanor of the S.S., which she witnessed firsthand. But Arnold shows her a film of corpses being bulldozed into mass graves, and he tells her that Furtwängler’s friends did this, and by virtue of the fact that Furtwängler actually helped some Jews escape, he knew what they were doing.

The moment of supposed revelation for the viewers of the film comes by way of archival footage, in which Furtwängler is shown shaking hands with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels after a concert. Furtwängler’s face reveals the complexity of emotions at work — placidness, fear, and contempt. Furtwängler wipes his hand on his leg, revealing his disdain for his patron, but remains reserved and inoffensive. At once the viewer feels he is redeemed, because his true feelings for Goebbels and the Nazi project are revealed, but Furtwängler’s weakness is evident, as Arnold would have pointed out. Ultimately Furtwängler served the harmonious sensibility of artistic creation. Indeed, throughout the film the German admiration of him is severe, especially when contrasted to Arnold’s unimpressed frankness with him. The German temperament and faithfulness to aesthetic appreciation is manifest in a scene where the German audience stands in the rain, listening to Furtwängler conduct a symphony. To leave would offend, and service to the aesthetic ideals cannot give way to pragmatic considerations — how “American” that would be! One imagines Arnold thinking “what insensible dolt stands in the rain to listen to music?” Perhaps Congressman Lewis’s willingness to offend at the black tie dinner can be seen as a middle ground between Arnold’s bullying and Furtwängler’s and Darlington’s inverted values. However, this might only translate conduct into class, hiding the one true moral question beneath another layer of social convention. Arnold would insist that knowing where your salad fork belongs may not prevent you from colluding with murderers.

The Continuity between Ethics and Aesthetics

For both Whitehead and Dewey there are no universal moral situations. Our occasions of experience are always contextual and specific, never occurring in vacuous actuality. But this calls for a more general approach to descriptive ethics, not a more particularized prescription of universal moral laws. Both philosophers begin with a description of the general traits of experience and each uses highly aesthetic language. Each treats imagination and vision, not rationality, as operative in navigating morally problematic situations. Whitehead, by making feeling a metaphysical category, gives emotion a primary role; Dewey, in collapsing the gap between scientific, practical, and moral inquiries, gives imaginative intelligence primacy.

Neither of our two films presents the ideal character, with an emotional comportment and an intensity of experience able to serve as the causally efficacious and morally demanding superject in its environment. Nor do they offer a character of superior imaginative intelligence who finds and applies the elements of her problematic situation as means toward the valuable integration of meaning. This is not a surprise. England appeased the Nazis; the Holocaust occurred and so did the very limited prosecution of the guilty by the Allies afterwards. Furthermore, ugly, but welcomed, Americans plodded onto European soil either on the model of Major Arnold, at worst, or on that of Congressman Lewis at best. (He eventually buys Darlington Hall and retains Mr. Stevens as his butler, but he installs a ping-pong table there, of all aesthetic affronts). Does the “American” problem recur in summer retreats to European museums and cafes? Americans plod, loud and entitled, over the artistic feats of the Continent, and their European hosts translate aesthetic missteps into moral offense.

Where did each character fall short, and what did their shortcomings reveal about the intersection of aesthetics and ethics? Lord Darlington employed his servants to erect a mannerly and orderly veneer between him and that which is ugly. However, he can be viewed as a tragic figure because his mild manners and sensitivity to common cultural (and aesthetic in the narrow sense) values with the Germans were used against him. He ended in disgrace as the news of his involvement in the appeasement was publicized by the press. But his heightened sense of manners disabled him from confronting the soil of moral problems as he did not want to get dirty — (that’s what the servants are for). The head butler, Stevens, was not the emotionally comported or spontaneously active character tacitly advocated for by Whiteheadian ethics, but the coldly rational and deliberative agent serving a narrow aesthetic end. Miss Kenton and Furtwängler demonstrated a weakness of will in the face of wrong-doing, and for that they are condemned, not by an aesthetic measure, but by a pragmatic one. Their beliefs were their propensities to act, and their inability to act revealed a weak belief in their moral ideals.38 But the American characters are not morally pure. As the victors, the

tools they had at their disposal to resolve their situations were ready at hand, and they too were constituted by their prehensions of their environment. Denigrating an artistic genius does not show the service of a moral ideal, but only the privileged position of Major Arnold of judging Furtwängler’s weakness from outside his context.

These films do illustrate the tension at work at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics. While both films depict the limitations and failures of the tendency to “aestheticize” morality, they do not prove the need to import a falsely universal moral ideal antecedent to the experience of a particular problematic situation in order to judge right from wrong. Insofar as the tools needed to make these judgments are had in experience, they have been, accurately described by figures like Whitehead and Dewey, in aesthetic language. The Reductio ad Hitlerum only succeeds if the meaning of aesthetics is deflated and reduced to something much narrower than either Whitehead or Dewey intended, such as reflection on artistic creation. The broad use of aesthetics advocated here does not fail to draw moral distinctions in the face of Nazi atrocities while blindly serving the ideal of artistic beauty or mere manners. Rather, as including imagination and emotion, an aesthetic orientation to ethics encompasses the problems posed by the characters’ shortcomings, even if their moral shortcomings run parallel to their heightened aesthetic and misguided sensibilities.


  1. Hans Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, (London: Continuum, 2006), 31. Nöel Carroll makes the further claim that because of Kant’s aesthetic theory and its interpretation, twentieth century philosophers have neglected the ethical criticism of art. (Noël Carroll, “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research,” Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp 350). ↩︎
  2. Thomas Alexander, “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination: Beyond Putnam and Rorty toward a Postmodern Ethics,” Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society, Vol. XXIX, No. 3, (Summer 1993), 373. ↩︎
  3. For a complex examination of this problematic, see George Kateb, “Aestheticism and Morality: Their Cooperation and Hostility,” Political Theory, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 5-37. ↩︎
  4. See Noël Carroll, “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research,” Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp. 350-387. Carroll highlights the problematic relationship between ethics and art criticism by examining the immorality and aesthetic value of The Triumph of the Will, among other artifacts. ↩︎
  5. Boaz Neumann, “The National Socialist Politics of Life,” New German Critique, No. 85, Special Issue on Intellectuals (Winter, 2002), p 120. ↩︎
  6. Paul Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), 546. ↩︎
  7. Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism,” 547. ↩︎
  8. Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism,” 547. ↩︎
  9. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, (London: The Free Press, 1978), 18. ↩︎
  10. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 18, 22. ↩︎
  11. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 19. ↩︎
  12. Harold B. Dunkel, “Creativity and Education,” Educational Theory, Volume XI, Number 4, (1961), 209. ↩︎
  13. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 29. ↩︎
  14. John B. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value,” religion-online.org Accessed 2/27/2015. ↩︎
  15. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  16. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 212. ↩︎
  17. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  18. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  19. Process and Reality, 222. ↩︎
  20. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  21. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  22. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  23. Dewey, Later Works Vol. 1, Ed. Boydston, (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990) 42-45. ↩︎
  24. Dewey, Logic The Theory of InquiryLW 12: 110. ↩︎
  25. Dewey, LW 12: 121. ↩︎
  26. James Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, (New York: Humanities Press, 1972), 132. ↩︎
  27. Dewey, LW 10: 143. ↩︎
  28. Dewey, LW 1: 9. ↩︎
  29. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 150. ↩︎
  30. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 151. ↩︎
  31. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 152. ↩︎
  32. Alexander, “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination,” 384. ↩︎
  33. Richard Posner*, Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy*, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), p. 45. Posner claims that pragmatism, via Darwinism, has nurtured philosophies including Nazism. ↩︎
  34. See, for example, Meera Tamaya, “Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day: The Empire Strikes Back,” Modern Language Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2 (spring, 1992), pp. 45-56. Tanaya focuses on the relationship between Darlington and Stevens as one of colonizer and colonized, subject and object. ↩︎
  35. See Geoffrey G. Field, Evangelist of Race: The Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981). ↩︎
  36. See McCombe, “The End of (Anthony) Eden: Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day” and Midcentury Anglo-American Tensions,” 78. ↩︎
  37. See Page R. Laws, “Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood; India Ink by Tom Stoppard,” (review), Theatre Journal, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 107-108. Laws makes note of the fact that the Nazis used art in the service of politics. ↩︎
  38. Charles Sanders Peirce, Collected Papers (1958-1966), Vol. 5, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, eds., (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), 400. ↩︎

References: 

Alexander, Thomas. “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination: Beyond Putnam and Rorty toward a Postmodern Ethics.” Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society. Vol. XXIX. No. 3. (Summer 1993).

Betts, Paul. “The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism.” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 37. No. 4. (Oct., 2002).

Carroll, Noël. “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research.” Ethics. Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp. 350-387.

Cobb, John B. Jr. “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” www.religion-online.org.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 1, Ed. Boydston, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 10. Ed. Boydston, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 12. Ed. Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dunkel, Harold B. “Creativity and Education,” Educational Theory. Vol. XI. No. 4. (1961).

Field, Geoffrey G. Evangelist of Race: The Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Gadamer, Hans Georg. Truth and Method. London: Continuum, 2006.

Gouinlock, James. John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value. New York: Humanities Press, 1972.

Ivory, James. The Remains of the Day. Merchant Ivory Film, 1993.

Kateb, George. “Aestheticism and Morality: Their Cooperation and Hostility.” Political Theory. Vol. 28. No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 5-37.

Neumann, Boaz. “The National Socialist Politics of Life.” New German Critique. No. 85. Special Issue on Intellectuals (Winter, 2002), pp. 107-130.

Peirce, Charles Sanders, (1958-1966) Collected papers. Vols. 1- 6, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, eds., (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).

Posner, Richard. Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Szabó, István. Taking Sides. Paladin Production S.A., 2001.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality. London: The Free Press, 1978.About the Author: 

Seth Vannatta earned his PhD in philosophy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Morgan State University, where he won the university award for research and scholarship in 2012. He studies the history of philosophy and American philosophy and is interested in philosophy’s relationship to other dimensions of culture including law, politics, education, and sport. He is the author of Conservationsim and Pragmatism in Law, Politics, and Ethics(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and editor and contributor to Chuck Klosterman and Philosophy: The Real and the Cereal (Open Court, 2012). He has published articles in The Pluralist, Contemporary Pragmatism, The European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, Education and Culture, and others.

Notes on Ecological Aesthetics and Ethics

By David George Haskell

A sense of beauty is a rigorous, perhaps even objective, foundation for environmental ethics. Our human aesthetic judgment integrates many strands of experience: intellect, emotion, bodily senses, and all we know from our interactions with others, both human and non-human others. From this integration, we understand the good.

Of course, an aesthetic sense is subject to the whims of desire, passing fads, and superficial impressions. So a well-grounded ethic depends for its rigor on a mature sense of aesthetics. By “mature,” I mean a sense of aesthetics that emerges from many years of lived relationship with a place and its community of life, both human and non-human. Such experience allows us to “unself” our judgment into the wider experience of the community. Our aesthetic and then our ethic will thus emerge not just from the limited confines of our own self, but from the knowledge that lives within the networks from which communities are made.

Once we—collectively—have an integrated sense of aesthetics, we can begin to discern what is beautiful and what is broken about a place, and, from there, I believe we can begin to form an objective—or near-objective—foundation for ethical discernment. Answers emerge from the community of life itself, filtered through human experience and consciousness.

What do I mean by that? Years of experience in a particular place will open us to the lives of other people and other species in that place, so our sense of aesthetics will incorporate their realities. Once we have that, we have a ground for moving forward and making ethical decisions that are actually deeply rooted in the physical, biological realities of a place, rather than coming only from abstractions of a seminar room or dogmas in a philosophy born in another ecosystem.

Aesthetics is often presented as something that’s very subjective, divorced from the reality of the world. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. A sense of ecologic aesthetics comes from a very gritty, sensually rich experience that has its tendrils in the realities of a place.

None of this can answer the ethical nihilist who poses the question, “So, what? Ethics are vaporous illusions carved into the human nervous system by evolution.” But if some ground for ethics does exist in this universe, then a sense of aesthetics can, I think, help us find this ground by a process that fully acknowledges and embraces our existence as evolved members of ecological communities. This is a fully biological foundation for ethics.

On a practical level, if we try to answer questions about how to live in particular places without first listening to the realities and particularities of the place itself, our answers are going to be unmoored and will have terrible consequences. Understanding how to live ethically in a place is an extraordinarily complicated, important, and difficult challenge. Moving forward with answers that are not based on deep engagement with a place and its inhabitants is a recipe for disaster. So action in the world demands, first, a practice of listening.

Religious and philosophical traditions have known this for many millennia: contemplation and action go together, just as the inhale and the exhale go together. Monastic communities are deeply contemplative, but also have engaged in action in the world—whether that action is caring for other people in hospitals, or agricultural action, or caring for the sick. This history evinces the truth that we need open, contemplative spaces within our lives, especially lives of action. I think there’s a hunger for that kind of open space. Without it, we feel a desperation and a feeling that we’re up against the wall without a good way forward. Contemplative practices create spaces for new ideas, new connections to emerge. That sounds like a rather goal-oriented way of putting it, but I do think that one of the fruits of contemplation is an increased ability to come up with new ideas or to see old ideas in a new light.

In the environmental community, there are some instances of people making decisions about the fate of ecosystems when the decision-makers have never experienced the ecosystem at stake. When NGOs, governments, or businesses have decision-making structures that are divorced from the lived experience of a place, then the outcomes will most likely not be good for that place or the people in them. We need to bring lived experience of ecosystems back into the decision-making process.

Call: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age – British Society of Aesthetics Conference

Published: AUGUST 20, 2020

Call for Abstracts

British Society of Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age
27th and 28th May 2021
Cambridge, UK
https://fass.open.ac.uk/research/conferences/AEDA

Submission deadline: 31st December 2020

Submissions are invited for the upcoming conference British Society of Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age. The conference will take place on 27th and 28th May 2021 in Cambridge, UK.

The aim of this conference is to explore some developments in recent practice that raise new and interesting questions for the philosophy of art. Artists, working independently in different parts of the world, are creating new forms of technological interfaces and experimenting with the biological, the nano and the digital. At the heart of all their works is a deep ethos of balancing the aesthetic and the ethical in how we relate with others and our environment, whether in the same physical space or as distributed bodies. The spheres of the arts, sciences, and (in particular) technology overlap both to explore and to attempt to change the way in which we live in the world. These artistic practices raise questions about the interaction between aesthetics and ethics that go beyond those familiar to us in discussions over the past decade or so.

Abstracts of up to 1000 words should be submitted as an email attachment to Satinder Gill (spg12@cam.ac.uk) and Derek Matravers (derek.matravers@open.ac.uk). Please include the talk title, author’s name, affiliation and contact details in the body of email; and please write “BSA Conference Submission” in the subject line.  Abstracts should outline a talk lasting 25 minutes, on a topic related to the topic of the conference. The deadline for submissions is the end of 31st December 2020.

There will be no registration fee for the conference. UK-based contributing speakers will be encouraged to apply for the BSA Travel Stipend to cover travel and accommodation costs. The conference will adhere to BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme.

The conference website is https://fass.open.ac.uk/research/conferences/AEDA. For more information, please email Satinder Gill or Derek Matravers (emails above).

This conference is generously supported by the British Society of Aesthetics.

https://materialworldblog.com/2015/03/aesthetics-and-ethics-an-enquiry-into-their-relationship/

The relationship between aesthetics and ethics has long been the topic of scholarly debates, from Kant’s (1928[1790]) insistence that the experience of beauty involved disinterested contemplation and, subsequently, the separation of aesthetics from ethics, or Wittgenstein’s (1961[1889]) enigmatic proposition that ‘ethics and aesthetics are one’, to the numerous enquiries into the ethical aspects of art and art criticism or the aesthetic aspects of moral life and moral evaluation (e.g. Bourdieu 1984, Foucault 1985, 1986, Eco 1986, Eagleton 1990, Guattari 1995, Korsmeyer 1998, Levinson 2001, Rancière 2006, Osborne and Tanner 2007).
How has anthropology related to these debates? Thompson (2006[1973)], Bateson (2006[1973)], or Boone (1986), for example, in the tradition of a holistic anthropology, have analysed local concepts of beauty and illustrated the ways in which these concepts articulated with religious and moral values. Gell (1998), to give another example, through his notion of the artwork as an index, which enables the observer to make causal inferences about the artist’s intentions, has theoretically paved the way for inquiries into the morality of intentions. Furthermore, how can anthropology contribute to these debates, especially in light of its increasing interest in ethics (e.g. Lambek 2010, Faubion 2011, Robbins 2013, Keane 2013, 1014, Fassin and Lézé 2014, Laidlaw 2014)?

Participants have been invited to address the relationship between aesthetics and ethics in anthropology and to consider the following questions:
i) do the definitions of aesthetics and ethics currently in use in anthropology help or hinder us in our reflections on their relationship?
ii) when are the questions of aesthetics and ethics similar?
iii) what kind of theoretical framework is appropriate for reflecting on this relationship? (e.g. value theory; then the questions might be: how does aesthetic value relate to the notion of value generally? how does ethical value relate to the notion of value generally? are these types of value incompatible?)
iv) what kind of ethnographic topic is appropriate for reflecting on this relationship? (only those where there is an explicit expectation that aesthetic principles are guided by ethical considerations, such as Qur’anic art and Islamic fashion?)
v) should a third term, that is, politics, be also taken into consideration in order to better understand the relationship between aesthetics and ethics?

https://philpapers.org/browse/aesthetics-and-ethics

About this topic 

SummaryBroadly construed, Aesthetics and Ethics concerns the relationship between art and morality. Here we ask: Can artworks provide moral knowledge? Can artworks corrupt and instruct morally?  More narrowly construed, the category concerns the relationship between aesthetic and moral value. The chief question is this: Do moral flaws with works of art constitute aesthetics flaws? In addition, we can ask if aesthetic value is morally significant. This last issue has important implications for environmental ethics.
Key worksThe most important collection on the topic is Levinson 1998. The majority of the work on the topic is in essay form, but there are a few influential books. Gaut 2007 is an important, recent monograph. 
IntroductionsAlthough a bit out of date, Carroll 2000 provides an excellent overview of the area.  Gaut 2001 is also an excellent introduction.

References

Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research.

Noël Carroll – 2000 – Ethics 110 (2):350-387.

Art and Ethics.

Berys Gaut – 2001 – In Berys Nigel Gaut & Dominic Lopes (eds.), 

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. Routledge. pp. 341–352.

Art, Emotion and Ethics.

Berys Gaut – 2007 – Oxford University Press.

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection.

Jerrold Levinson (ed.) – 1998 – Cambridge University Press.

AESTHETICS & ETHICS: OTHERNESS AND MORAL IMAGINATION FROM ARISTOTLE TO LEVINAS AND FROM UNCLE TOM’S CABIN TO HOUSE MADE OF DAWN

In recent years, American Studies have taken a turn toward the political. However, although poststructuralism and deconstruction have undermined numerous of the moral-philosophical dogmas of the Western metaphysical tradition, many of the political claims that the revisionist turn in American Studies has voiced still rest, if tacitly, on these moral and ethical assumptions. As the latter often collide with the theoretical axioms that inform these revisionist works, some resort to what one could call the “pathos of marginality” and rather vague concepts of “otherness.” Moreover, these political-ideological readings often completely blot out aesthetic aspects, as these are suspected to be carriers of implicit and hegemonic strategies of representation.

In the first part, this study analyzes what role “otherness” plays in the most influential moral-philosophical approaches to date – from Aristotle and the Neo-Aristotelians (Alasdair MacIntyre, Martha Nussbaum) via Kantianism and its deconstructors (Jean-François Lyotard, J. Hillis Miller) to the works of Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas – and sheds light on its highly problematic status in Western notions of justice. Moreover, on the background of these analyses it examines the role that aesthetics plays not only for, but within these approaches, with a special focus on what task literature is accorded to dramatize the clash of sameness and otherness.

Starting from a revised notion of the sublime, the second part “applies” the different approaches to four American novels: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor, Richard Wright’s Native Son, and N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, and examines how far the moral-philosophical systems carry to elucidate these texts. What becomes clear is that none of these works can be captured in their complexity by either one moral philosophy or one political agenda, in that every literary “exemplification” of such theory inevitably falls prey to the treacherous dynamics of the example – a dynamics that inhabits literature and haunts ethics, and that defies literature’s instrumentalization by either ethics or ideologies.

Keywords: American Studies, Aesthetics, Ethics, the Sublime, the Other, Otherness, Immanuel Kant, Jean-François Lyotard, J. Hillis Miller, Martha Nussbaum, Alasdair MacIntyre, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Herman Melville, Billd Budd, Richard Wright, Native Son, N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn, Ecology.

Contents

List of Abbreviations for Reference Works

Introduction

American Studies Today

Enter (And Leave): The Aesthetic

Difficult Neighbors: Ethics and Aesthetics

The Novels

I. The Kantian Legacy of Deconstruction

1. Kant – for Example

2. The Ethics of Reading and the End of History

2.1. Ce dangereux exemple…

2.2. De Man’s Demands

2.3. …close the gap!

2.4. Giving the Li(f)e to Miller’s Lie

3. Toward a Politics of the Sublime: Jean-François Lyotard

3.1. The Idea of the “Idea”

3.2. Lyotard Just Gaming?

3.3. The Sacrificial Sublime

II. The Return of Aristotle: Alasdair MacIntyre and Martha Nussbaum

4. Going Back Home: MacIntyre and the Greek Polis

4.1. The Price of Historicization

4.2. The Polis Rebuilt

4.3. Virtual Ethics and Virtuous Reading

4.4. Ethics, Practice, and the Narrative Unity of a Human Life

5. A Mind too Refined to be Touched by an Idea: Martha Nussbaum’s Aristotelian Liberalism

5.1. Aristotle and the Virtues

5.2. The Tragic Muse as Éducation Sentimentale

5.3. The End of Tragedy and The Limits of Identification

III. Approaching the Other: Emmanuel Levinas and Paul Ricoeur

6. Oneself for the Other: Emmanuel Levinas

6.1. Facing The Other

6.2. Ethics, Politics, and Literature

6.3. The Other Sublime

7. Oneself as Another: Paul Ricoeur

7.1. Toward a Narrative Ethics

7.2. Narration and Alterity

7.3. A Tragic Encounter – Narrating the Other

IV. Toward an Ethics of Literature

8. Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

8.1. How to Turn a Thing Into a Man, or: Categorical Imperative vs. Golden Rule

8.2. Sentimentalism as Aesthetic and Ethical Strategy

8.3. The Economy of Religion and Politics

8.4. Face/Off

9. Herman Melville: Billy Budd, Sailor

9.1. Phronimos Goes To War

9.2. Literature, Responsibility, and Political Philosophy: Hannah Arendt and Paul Ricoeur

9.3. (Ef-)facing the Other – Melville’s Silences, Ethics, and War

9.4. Singular Madnesses, Maddening Singularities: Vere, Billy, and the “Hebrew Prophets”

10. Richard Wright: Native Son

10.1. Polis into Metropolis, or: How to Identify with a Rat

10.2. Whose Narrative Is It, Anyway?

10.3. The Racial Sublime

10.4.  Re(w)ri(gh)ting Native Son, Or: Who’s Afraid of Bigger Thomas?

11. N. Scott Momaday: House Made Of Dawn

11.1.  Polis into Pueblo, or: How to Identify with a Bear

11.2. “Evil Was”: Balance, Control, and the Ethics of Myth

11.3. To Kill or Not to Kill

11.4.  Excursus: Is there an other Other? Toward an Environmental Ethics

Conclusion

References

Index of Names

My Related Posts

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

On Aesthetics

On Beauty

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

On Classical Virtues

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Human Rights and Human Development

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Key Sources of Reserach

AESTHETICS AND ETHICS: THE STATE OF THE ART

Jeffory Dean

https://aesthetics-online.org/page/DeanState

Aesthetics and ethics

Tanner, Michael

https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/aesthetics-and-ethics/v-1

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/aesthetics-and-ethics/44B8E5696692AEEEF09A034CFDE57B8C

Problems at the Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

Seth Vannatta (Morgan State University)

https://responsejournal.net/issue/2016-08/article/problems-intersection-aesthetics-and-ethics

‘ETHICS AND AESTHETICS ARE ONE’

Diané Collinson

The British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 25, Issue 3, SUMMER 1985, Pages 266–272, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjaesthetics/25.3.266Published: 01 March 1985

Aesthetics and Ethics in Gadamer, Levinas, and Romanticism: Problems of Phronesis and Techne

David P. Haney

PMLA Vol. 114, No. 1, Special Topic: Ethics and Literary Study (Jan., 1999), pp. 32-45 (14 pages) Published By: Modern Language Association 

The Marriage of Aesthetics and Ethics

Series: Critical Studies in German Idealism, Volume: 15

Editor: Stéphane Symons

https://brill.com/view/title/31979

Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’S Critique of Moralization of Ethics

October 2019

Project: Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’s Critique of Moralization of Ethics

Erwin Arellano Mallo

University of Southern Mindanao

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336242982_Ethics_as_Aesthetics_Foucault%27S_Critique_of_Moralization_of_Ethics

“One and the Same? Ethics, Aesthetics, and Truth.” 

Eaglestone, Robert.

Poetics Today 25, no. 4 (2004): 595-608. muse.jhu.edu/article/177238.

Notes on Ecological Aesthetics and Ethics

By David George Haskell

Aesthetics & Ethics: Otherness and Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn

Thomas Claviez

Aesthetics & Ethics: Otherness and Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn

(Heidelberg: Winter, 2008) 

http://www.claviez.de/?page_id=41

Wittgenstein’s Aesthetics

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein-aesthetics/

Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics  

Richard Eldridge

The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

Edited by Jerrold Levinson

The Ethics of Aesthetics

Don Ritter Berlin, Germany

“Ethics and Aesthetics are One”: The Case of Zen Aesthetics

Bai, H. (1997).

Canadian Review of Art Education, 24(2), 37-52.

Ethics as Style:
Wittgenstein’s Aesthetic Ethics and Ethical Aesthetics

Kathrin Stengel

Independent Scholar, New York

Seyyed Hossein Nasr: On Islamic Philosophy

Seyyed Hossein Nasr: On Islamic Philosophy

Key Terms and People

  • Perennial Philosophy
  • Sanatan Dharma
  • Traditional Studies
  • Islamic Studies
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • Islamic Cosmology
  • Frithjof Schuon
  • Titus Burckhardt
  • Marco Pallis
  • Martin Lings
  • Rene Guenon
  • Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr

 

I first came to know of Professor Nasr through my interactions with Ernest G. McClain, a famed Archeo-musicologist.

Ernest has written several books and numerous papers on musical structures in world mythology and religious texts.

His three books are available for anyone to download from this link below.

Bibliography

Ernest used to live in Washington DC area and had friendship with Professor Nasr.

Professor Nasr has written many books on Islam, Islamic Science, Philosophy, and Cosmologies which are available to download through the Internet Archive.  See the link below.

https://archive.org/details/HosseinNasr/page/n5/mode/2up

I must admit that I have not yet read books by Prof. Nasr but they are on my reading list.

Professor Nasr uses perspective of perennial philosophy (sophia perennis) to guide his views on comparing world religions.  In Hinduism, the perennial philosophy is known as Sanatan Dharma, the eternal immutable law.

Please see the link below to access works published by the Perennial Philosophy school:

Home

I share below a biographical essay available from the website of his foundation.

 

https://www.nasrfoundation.org/biography.html

About Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Introduction
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, currently University Professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. is one of the most important and foremost scholars of Islamic, Religious and Comparative Studies in the world today. Author of over fifty books and five hundred articles which have been translated into several major Islamic, European and Asian languages, Professor Nasr is a well known and highly respected intellectual figure both in the West and the Islamic world. An eloquent speaker with a charismatic presence, Nasr is a much sought after speaker at academic conferences and seminars, university and public lectures and also radio and television programs in his area of expertise. Possessor of an impressive academic and intellectual record, his career as a teacher and scholar spans over four decades.

Born in 1933, Professor Nasr began his illustrious teaching career in 1955 when he was still a young and promising, doctoral student at Harvard University. Over the years, he has taught and trained an innumerable number of students who have come from the different parts of the world, and many of whom have become important and prominent scholars in their fields of study.

He has trained different generations of students over the years since 1958 when he was a professor at Tehran University and then, in America since the Iranian revolution in 1979, specifically at Temple University in Philadelphia from 1979 to 1984 and at the George Washington University since 1984 to the present day. The range of subjects and areas of study which Professor Nasr has involved and engaged himself with in his academic career and intellectual life are immense. As demonstrated by his numerous writings, lectures and speeches, Professor Nasr speaks and writes with great authority on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from philosophy to religion to spirituality, to music and art and architecture, to science and literature, to civilizational dialogues and the natural environment.

For Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the quest for knowledge, specifically knowledge which enables man to understand the true nature of things and which furthermore, “liberates and delivers him from the fetters and limitations of earthly existence,” has been and continues to be the central concern and determinant of his intellectual life.

Brief Biography
Seyyed Hossein Nasr was born on April 7, 1933 (19 Farvadin 1312 A.H. solar) in Tehran into a family of distinguished scholars and physicians. His father, Seyyed Valiallah, a man of great learning and piety, was a physician to the Iranian royal family, as was his father before him. The name “Nasr” which means “victory” was conferred on Professor Nasr’s grandfather by the King of Persia. Nasr also comes from a family of Sufis. One of his ancestors was Mulla Seyyed Muhammad Taqi Poshtmashhad, who was a famous saint of Kashan, and his mausoleum which is located next to the tomb of the Safavid king Shah Abbas, is still visited by pilgrims to this day.

As a young boy, Nasr attended one of the schools near his home. His early formal education included the usual Persian curriculum at school with an extra concentration in Islamic and Persian subjects at home, as well as tutorial in French. However for Nasr, it was the long hours of discussion with his father, mostly on philosophical and theological issues, complemented by both reading and reaction to the discourses carried on by those who came to his father’s house, that constituted an essential aspect of his early education and which in many ways set the pattern and tone of his intellectual development. This was the situation for the first twelve years of Nasr’s life.

Nasr’s arrival in America at the young age of twelve marked the beginning of a new period in his life which was totally different and therefore, discontinuous from his early life in Iran. He attended The Peddie School in Highstown, New Jersey and in 1950 graduated as the valedictorian of his class and also winner of the Wyclifte Award which was the school’s highest honor given to the most outstanding all-round student. It was during the four years at Peddie that Nasr acquired his knowledge of the English language, as well as studying the sciences, American history, Western culture and Christianity.

Nasr chose to go to M.I.T. for college. He was offered a scholarship and was the first Iranian student to be admitted as an undergraduate at M.I.T. He began his studies at M.I.T in the Physics Department with some of the most gifted students in the country and outstanding professors of physics. His decision to study physics was motivated by the desire to gain knowledge of the nature of things, at least at the level of physical reality. However, at the end of his freshman year, although he was the top student in his class, he began to feel oppressed by the overbearingly scientific atmosphere with its implicit positivism.

Furthermore, he discovered that many of the metaphysical questions which he had been concerned with were not being asked, much less answered. Thus, he began to have serious doubts as to whether physics would lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality. His doubt was confirmed when the leading British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, in a small group discussion with the students following a lecture he had given at M.I.T, stated that physics does not concern itself with the nature of physical reality per se but with mathematical structures related to pointer readings.

The shock of discovering the real nature of the subject he had chosen to study, together with the overbearingly scientific atmosphere at his Department, led Nasr to experience a major intellectual and spiritual crisis during his second year. Although the crisis did not destroy his belief in God, it shook certain fundamental elements in his worldview, such as his understanding of the meaning of life, the significance of knowledge and the means to find the Truth. He was prepared to leave the field of physics and M.I.T. and depart from America in quest of the Truth. However, the strong discipline in him, inculcated by his father, prevented him from abandoning his studies altogether. He remained at M.I.T. and graduated with honors, but his heart was no longer with physics.

Having realized in his second year that a study of the physical sciences would neither lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality nor deal with some of the metaphysical questions he was concerned with, Nasr decided to look at other fields of study for his answers. He started to read extensively and to take many courses in the humanities, especially those taught by Professor Giorgio Di Santillana, the famous Italian philosopher and historian of science. Under Professor Di Santillana’s instruction, Nasr began his serious study of not only the ancient Greek wisdom as contained in the philosophies of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus but also European, Medieval philosophy, Dante’s highly mystical and symbolic Divine Comedy, Hinduism and a critique of modern Western thought. It was also Di Santillana who first introduced him to the writings of one of the most important traditionalist writers of this century, Rene Guenon. Guenon’s writings played a decisive role in laying the intellectual foundation of Nasr’s traditionalist perspective. Nasr also had the great fortune of having access to the library of the late Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, the outstanding Singhalese metaphysician and historian of art. The library had an incredible collection of works on traditional philosophy and art from all over the world. It was in this library that Nasr first discovered the works of the other traditionalist writers such as Frithjof Schuon, Titus Burckhardt, Marco Pallis and Martin Lings and who were to have tremendous and enduring intellectual and spiritual influence on Nasr.

According to Nasr, it was the discovery of traditional metaphysics and the philosophia perennis through the works of these figures which settled the crisis he had experienced and gained an intellectual certitude which has never left him since. From then on, he was certain that there was such a thing as the Truth and that it could be attained through knowledge by means of the intellect which is guided and illuminated by divine revelation. His childhood love for the attainment of knowledge returned to him but on a higher and deeper plane. The traditional writings of Schuon with their singular emphasis on the need for the practice of a spiritual discipline as well as theoretical knowledge, were especially instrumental in determining the course of Nasr’s intellectual and spiritual life from that time onward.

Upon his graduation from M.I.T., Nasr enrolled himself in a graduate program in geology and geophysics at Harvard University. After obtaining his Master’s degree in geology and geophysics in 1956, he went on to pursue his Ph.D. degree in the history of science and learning at Harvard. Nasr wanted to study other types of sciences of nature apart from the modern Western and also to understand why modern science had developed as it had. He planned to write his dissertation under the supervision of George Sarton, a great authority on Islamic science. However, Sarton passed away before he could begin his dissertation work and since there was not another specialist in Islamic science at Harvard then, he wrote his dissertation under the direction of three professors. They were I. Bernard Cohen, Hamilton Gibb and Harry Wolfson.

It was also at Harvard that Nasr resumed his study of classical Arabic which he had left since coming to America. He struggled with philosophical Arabic while getting some assistance from Wolfson and Gibb. However, the mastery of philosophical Arabic was only attained after he studied Islamic philosophy from the traditional masters of Iran after his return to his homeland in 1958.

During his Harvard years, Nasr also traveled to Europe, especially to France, Switzerland, Britain, Italy and Spain, widening his intellectual horizon and establishing important and fruitful contacts. It was during these travels to Europe that Nasr met with the foremost traditionalist writers and exponents of the philosophia perennis, Frithjof Schuon and Titus Burckhardt, who made a tremendous impact and decisive contribution to his intellectual and spiritual life. He also traveled to Morocco in North Africa, which had great spiritual significance for Nasr who embraced Sufism in the form taught and practiced by the great Sufi saint of the Maghrib, Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi. Thus, the years at Harvard witnessed the crystallization of the major intellectual and spiritual elements of Nasr’s mature worldview, elements which have since dominated and determined the course and pattern of his scholarship and academic career.

At twenty-five, Nasr graduated with a Ph.D. degree from Harvard and on the way to completing his first book, Science and Civilization in Islam. His doctoral dissertation entitled “Conceptions of Nature in Islamic Thought” was published in 1964 by Harvard University Press as An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. Although he was offered a position as assistant professor at M.I.T., Nasr decided to return permanently to Iran.

Back in Iran, Nasr was offered a position as an Associate Professor of philosophy and the history of science at the Faculty of Letters in Tehran University. A few months after his return, Nasr married a young woman from a respected family whose members were close friends of his family. Five years later at the age of thirty, Nasr became the youngest person to become a full professor at the University. He used his position and influence to bring major changes to strengthen and expand the philosophy program at Tehran University which like many of its other programs, was very much dominated by and limited to French intellectual influence. Nasr initiated the important move of teaching Islamic philosophy on the basis of its own history and from its own perspective and to encourage his Iranian students to study other philosophies and intellectual traditions from the point of view of their own tradition. He maintains that one cannot hope to understand and appreciate one’s own intellectual tradition from the viewpoint of another, just as one cannot see oneself through the eyes of another person. He also created greater awareness and interest in the study of Oriental philosophies among the students and faculty members. Since Tehran University was the only university in Iran to offer a doctorate in philosophy, these changes introduced by Nasr had far reaching influence. Many universities in Iran integrated these changes into their philosophical studies and until today Nasr’s perspective that Iranian students should study other philosophical traditions from the view of their own tradition instead of studying their tradition from the perspective of Western thought and philosophy remains widely influential. The students he has trained and who have become scholars and university professors of philosophy have enabled this perspective to have enduring influence in Iran.

Apart from the philosophy program, Nasr was also involved in the university’s doctoral program in Persian language and literature for those whose mother tongue was not Persian. He strengthened the philosophical component of this program and had many outstanding students from outside of Iran to receive training, not only in Persian language, but also the rich treasury of philosophical and Sufi literature written in Persian. Many of the students trained in this program have since become important scholars in this field such as the American scholar, William Chittick and the Japanese woman scholar, Sachiko Murata.

Furthermore, from 1968 to 1972, Nasr was made Dean of the Faculty and for a while, Academic Vice-Chancellor of Tehran University. Through these positions, he introduced many important changes which all aimed at strengthening the university programs in the humanities generally and in philosophy, specifically. In 1972, he was appointed President of Aryamehr University by the Shah of Iran. Aryamehr University was then the leading scientific and technical university in Iran and the Shah, as the patron, wanted Professor Nasr to develop the university on the model of M.I.T. but with firm roots in Iranian culture. Consequently, a strong humanities program in Islamic thought and culture, with a particular emphasis upon an Islamic philosophy of science, was established at Aryamehr University by Nasr. Nasr’s pioneering effort has led Aryamehr to create one of the first graduate programs in the Islamic world in the philosophy of science based upon the Islamic philosophy of science, some ten years ago. In 1973, the Queen of Iran appointed Professor Nasr to establish a center for the study and propagation of philosophy under her patronage. Hence, the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy was established and very soon became one of the most important and vital centers of philosophical activities in the Islamic world, housing the best library of philosophy in Iran and attracting some of the most distinguished scholars in the field, both from the East and the West, such as Henry Corbin and Toshihiko Izutsu. The Academy also organized important seminars and lecture series given by philosophers, offered fellowships for short and long term research work in Islamic philosophy, and comparative philosophy and undertook a major publication program of works in this field in Persian, Arabic, English and French.

Another very important dimension to Nasr’s intellectual activities after his return to Iran in 1958, was his program in re-educating himself in Islamic philosophy by learning it at the feet of the masters through the traditional method of oral transmission. He studied hikmah for twenty years under some of the greatest teachers in Iran at the time, reading traditional texts of Islamic philosophy and gnosis, three days a week at the Sepahsalar madrasah in Tehran and also in private homes in Tehran, Qom and Qazwin. Among his venerable teachers were Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Assar, an alim who was an authority on Islamic law, as well as philosophy, and a very close friend of Professor Nasr’s father; the great luminary and master of gnosis, Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai and Sayyid Abul-Hasan Qazwini, a great authority on Islamic law and the intellectual sciences who knew mathematics, astronomy and philosophy extremely well. Nasr read and studied several of the major texts of Islamic philosophy under these masters such as the al-Asfar al-arbaah of Mulla Sadra and the Sharh-i manumah of Sabziwari and benefited greatly from the invaluable insights and commentaries provided by them orally. In this way, Nasr had the best educational training both from the modern West and the traditional East, a rare combination which put him in a very special position to speak and write with authority on the numerous issues involved in the encounter between East and West, and tradition and modernity, as demonstrated very clearly by his writings and lectures.

During the years Professor Nasr was in Iran, he wrote extensively in Persian and English and occasionally in French and Arabic. His doctoral dissertation was rewritten by him in Persian and it won the royal book award. Nasr also brought out the critical editions of several important philosophical texts such as the complete Persian works of Suhrawardi and of Mulla Sadra and the Arabic texts of lbn Sina and al-Biruni. Nasr’s great interest in the philosophy of one of the greatest later Islamic philosophers, Mulla Sadra resulted in the publication of the Mulla Sadra written by the traditional masters of Islamic philosophy. Nasr was also the first person to introduce the figure of Mulla Sadra to the English speaking world.

With the assistance of William Chittick, Nasr prepared An Annotated Bibliography of Islamic Science in three volumes, with Persian and English annotations. He also wrote Three Muslim Sages and completed and published Science and Civilization in Islam which he had written while still a student at Harvard. Both of these books were translated into several languages very quickly and were reprinted in Iran many times and have been used for the past three decades as textbooks for courses in Islamic philosophy and science in Iranian universities. Three Muslim Sages, which presents the whole of the Islamic intellectual tradition from within, grew out of three lectures which Nasr gave in 1962 as the first visiting professor at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. Ideals and Realities of Islam, which is one of Nasr’s most widely read book on the Islamic religion and which opens up the world of Islam, revealing some of its most universal and profound dimensions, was based on the text of the first six of fifteen lectures which he delivered at the American University in Beirut as the first Aga Khan Professor of Islamic studies in 1964-65.

In 1966 Nasr was invited to deliver the Rockefeller Lectures at the University of Chicago and to speak on some aspects of the relation between religion, philosophy and the environmental crisis. Consequently, Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man, which deals with the philosophical and spiritual roots of the question and the first work to predict the coming of the environmental crisis was written for the occasion. Nasr also brought out Islam and the Plight of Modern Man, Sufi Essays and The Transcendent Theosophy of Sadr al-Din Shirazi. Both Islam and the Plight of Modern Man and Sufi Essays have proved to be very popular and have been translated into many European and Islamic languages and reprinted several times since their first appearance.

In 1964-65, Nasr spent an academic year at the American University of Beirut as the first Aga Khan professor of Islamic Studies. Besides Ideals and Realities of Islam, Nasr also brought out Islamic Studies, which is a collection of articles discussing several fundamental aspects of the Islamic tradition. This work was later expanded and published under the title, Islamic Life and Thought. During this period in Lebanon, Nasr also met with and had intellectual discourses with several important Catholic and Shi`ite thinkers and scholars. He also had the opportunity to meet with the woman Sufi saint Sayyidah Fatimah Yashrutiyah, daughter of the founder of the Yashrutiyah order, a branch of the Shadhiliyah Sufi order.

Although Nasr lived in Iran, he maintained strong contacts with America and many of the major universities in the country. He taught at Harvard in 1962 and 65 and conducted short seminars at Princeton University and the University of Utah. He also had close associations with several important American scholars such as Huston Smith, professor of philosophy and comparative religion, Jacob Needleman, editor of the well-known work, Sword of Gnosis which includes Nasr’s essays, and a number of Catholic and Protestant philosophers and theologians. Nasr also helped with the planning and expansion of Islamic and Iranian studies in several universities such as Princeton, the University of Utah and the University of Southern California. In 1977, he delivered the Kevorkian Lectures on Islamic art at New York University on the meaning and philosophy of Islamic art.

In 1979 at the time of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Nasr moved with his family to the United States where he would rebuild his life again and secure a university position to support himself and his family. By 1980, Nasr began to write again. He started to work intensively on the research and text of the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh to which he received an invitation shortly before the Iranian Revolution took place. Nasr had the honor of being the first non-Westerner to be invited to deliver the most famous lecture series in the fields of natural theology and philosophy of religion in the West. Thus, Knowledge and the Sacred, one of Nasr’s most important philosophical works, one which had a great impact on scholars and students of religious studies, came to be prepared amidst the strain of trying times and the strenuous commute between Boston and Philadelphia. However, Nasr discloses that the actual writing of the text of Knowledge and the Sacred came as a gift from heaven. He was able to write the texts of the lectures with great facility and speed and within a period of less than three months, they were completed. Nasr says that it was as though, he was writing from a text he had previously memorized.

In 1982, Nasr was invited to collaborate on a major project to bring out the Encyclopedia of World Spirituality together with Ewert Cousins, chief editor and professor of Medieval philosophy at Fordham University, and many other leading philosophers and scholars of religion. Nasr accepted to edit the two volumes on Islamic Spirituality, which came out in 1989 and 1991. Both volumes have since become invaluable reference material in English for those interested in this subject. In 1983, Nasr delivered the Wiegand Lecture on the philosophy of religion at the University of Toronto in Canada. He also helped in the establishment of the section on Hermeticism and perennial philosophy at the American Academy of Religion.

Nasr was soon recognized in American academic circles as a traditionalist and a major expositor and advocate of the perennialist perspective. Much of his intellectual activities and writing since being in exile in America, are related to this function and also in the fields of comparative religion, philosophy and religious dialogue. He has participated in many debates and discussions with eminent Christian and Jewish theologians and philosophers such as Hans Kung, John Hick and Rabbi Izmar Schorch. In 1986, Nasr edited The Essential Writings of Frithjof Schuon and in 1990, he was selected as a patron of the Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations of the Sally Oaks College in Birmingham. In addition, he has played an active role in the creation and activities of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He has also attended many conferences on this subject including the famous 1993 Parliament of World Religions.

He continues to travel to Europe often, giving lectures and being involved with intellectual activities. He gives lectures at Oxford, University of London and a few other British universities and is a member of the Temenos Academy. In 1994, he was invited to deliver the Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham and a major work entitled Religion and the Order of Nature was produced by Nasr for this occasion.

Nasr also continues to travel to Spain, especially southern Spain which still has an Islamic presence and which reminds him very much of his home country, Iran. It was also during some of his journeys to Spain, that Nasr was inspired to compose several poems related to Spanish themes. Nasr has brought out recently a collection of forty English poems on spiritual themes, which were written within the past fifteen years, under the title Poems of the Way.

Although Professor Nasr continues to have a very busy teaching and lecturing schedule, he still manages to allocate much of his time and energy to writing. 1987 saw the publication of two of his books: Islamic Art and Spirituality and Traditional Islam in the Modern World. Islamic Art and Spirituality which deals with the metaphysical and symbolic significance of Islamic art, poetry and music is Nasr’s first book on this subject. Traditional Islam in the Modern World discusses several important dimensions of the Islamic tradition and its relation to the West. Nasr also wrote a book specifically for young Muslims entitled, A Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World which addresses some of the major problems and challenges which the modern world presents to them.

Recently, Nasr together with the British scholar of Islamic and Jewish philosophy, Oliver Leaman, edited a two volume work, History of Islamic Philosophy which consists of articles written by important scholars in this field, discussing the different aspects and schools of Islamic philosophy and its development in the different parts of the Islamic world. Nasr’s continued interest in science is made evident by his latest book on this subject, The Need for a Sacred Science. Also, together with one of his former students, Mehdi Amin Razavi, Nasr is now bringing out a major four volume work, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia which will be published by Oxford University Press. Razavi also edited earlier, The Islamic Intellectual Tradition in Persia, which is a collection of Nasr’s articles on Islamic philosophy in Persia written during the last forty years.

Another important aspect to Nasr’s intellectual activities in Washington D.C. is his active involvement in the activities of the Foundation for Traditional Studies. The Foundation which is devoted to the dissemination of traditional thought was established in 1984 under the direction of a board presided by Nasr. The Foundation has published several books including the festschrift of Frithjof Schuon entitled, Religion of the Heart, edited by Nasr and William Stoddart and In Quest of the Sacred: The Modern World in the Light of Tradition which Nasr co-edited with the executive director of the Foundation, Katherine O’Brien. In Quest of the Sacred is a collection of essays presented by some of the major traditionalist writers in an important conference held in Peru, organized by the Foundation and the Peruvian Instituto de Estudios Tradicionales. The Foundation also publishes the journal, “Sophia,” which carries essays on traditional thought written by the leading authorities in this field. Together with the Foundation, Nasr is also involved in the production of a major documentary television series on “Islam and the West,” which deals with some of the more important and profound aspects of the encounter between the Islamic and Western civilizations.

At sixty-six, Seyyed Hossein Nasr leads an extremely active intellectual life with a very busy schedule of teaching at the university and lecturing at many institutions in America and around the world, writing scholarly works, being involved in several intellectual projects simultaneously and meeting individuals who are interested in traditional thought. At the same time, he leads a very intense spiritual life spent in prayer, meditation and contemplation and also providing spiritual counsel for those who seek his advice and guidance. Exiled from his homeland, Seyyed Hossein Nasr has found his home in the inviolable and sacred Center which is neither in the East nor the West.

 

Please see my related posts:

Myth of Invariance: Sound, Music, and Recurrent Events and Structures

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

 

 

Sources of Research

Frithjof Schoun

http://www.frithjof-schuon.com/start

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Frithjof-Schuon.aspx

http://www.frithjofschuon.info/english/home.aspx

 

Sophia Perennis

Home

http://www.sophia-perennis.com/index_english.htm

 

Ananda K Coomaraswamy

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Ananda-K-Coomaraswamy.aspx

https://archive.org/search.php?query=Ananda%20Coomaraswamy

 

 

Rene Guenon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/René_Guénon

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Rene-Guenon.aspx

 

Titus Burckhardt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titus_Burckhardt

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/authors/Titus-Burckhardt.aspx

 

On Synchronicity

On Synchronicity

There are invisible ties between us.

 

Click to access Synchronicity2010.pdf

Causality has to do with events that happen in sequence, a cause producing an effect, whereas synchronicity has to do with events that happen together.

Synchronicism is the prejudice of the East, causality is the modern prejudice of the West.  – Carl Jung, 1929

 

 

Key Terms

  • Synchronicity
  • Serendipity
  • Interconnected Universe
  • Quantum Entanglements
  • Fractal Universe
  • Recursive Universe
  • Platonic Solids
  • Carl G Jung
  • Events in Sequence
  • Events in Parallel
  • Space Structure
  • Ether
  • Geometry of space
  • Complex Numbers
  • Shri Yantra Geometry
  • Mind and Matter
  • Brain and Mind
  • Parapsychology
  • Occult
  • Esoteric

 

https://coincider.com/about-coincidences/history/ 

History

The history of coincidence studies can be told through the stories of thefour people who coined words for the types of coincidences they noticed in their lives. The most famous is Carl Jung and synchronicity, but he was not the first.

Serendipity: Horace Walpole (1717-1797)

Horace_Walpole_by_John_Giles_Eccardt

Horace Walpole, a member of the British House of Commons in the 18th century, recognized in himself a talent for finding what he needed just when he needed it.A gift in the form of a portrait of a Grand Duchess whom Walpole had long admired arrived from his distant cousin in Florence, Italy. Walpole needed a coat of arms to decorate the new picture frame and just happened to find it an old book. On January 28, 1754, Walpole, thrilled with this coincidence, wrote to his cousin Horace, giving a name to his ability to find things unexpectedly—serendipity.

He got the name from a fairy tale called “The Travels and Adventures of Three Princes of Sarendip.” Sarendip (or Serendib) is an ancient name for the island nation Sri Lanka off India’s southern coast. The king of the fable recognized that education requires more than learning from books, so he sent his sons out of the country to broaden their experience. Throughout the story, the clever princes carefully observed their surroundings, and then used their observations in ways that saved them from danger and death.

For Walpole, serendipity meant finding something by informed observation (sagacity as he called it) and by accident. The main ingredients of serendipity include luck, chance, active searching, and informed observation.

Seriality: Paul Kammerer (1880-1926)

PaulKammerer

Biologist Paul Kammerer spent hours sitting on benches in various public parks in Vienna noting repetitions among the people who passed by. He classified them by sex, age, dress, whether they carried umbrellas or parcels, and by many other details. He did the same during the long train rides from his home to his office in Vienna. Kammerer was not particularly interested in meaning—only repeated sequences of numbers, names, words, and letters. Two examples can illustrate his thinking: His wife was in a waiting room reading about a painter named Schwalbach when a patient named Mrs. Schwalbach was called into the consultation room.A second example involved his friend Prince Rohan. On the train his wife was reading a novel with a character “Mrs. Rohan.” She then saw a man get on the train who looked like Prince Rohan. Later that night the Prince himself unexpectedly dropped by their house for a visit.

He defined “seriality” as “a recurrence of the same or similar things or events in time and space” which, “are not connected by the same acting cause.”  To him these repetitions were simply natural phenomena.

Kammerer thought these similarities were part of the structure of natural law, and in his 1919 book Das Gesetz Der Serie outlined what he thought these laws to be along with a broad set of classifications of their types and qualities.

Synchronicity: Carl Jung (1875-1961)

Psychologist Carl G. Jung

Carl Jung grew up in Swiss family that, on his mother’s side, embraced the paranormal. His personal experiences included apparitions (the disembodied figure of another person) and poltergeists (troublesome ghosts), spiritualistic communications (communication with people after their deaths), and materializations (creation of matter from unknown sources). His experiences also included telepathic, clairvoyant, and precognitive dreams, prophetic visions, psychokinetic events, and out-of-body and near-death experiences.

He invented the word synchronicity from the Greek syn—with, together—andchronos—time. Synchronicity means moving-together-in-time. Its fundamental characteristic is the surprise that occurs when a thought in the mind is mirrored by an external event to which it has no apparent causal connection. He also used the word synchronicity to refer to “an acausal connecting principle” that he placed on equal status with causation.

He included many strange events under the synchronicity umbrella including telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance, along with poltergeists, apparitions, divination (e.g. the I Ching), and astrology. The definition of synchronicity has been stretched in many different directions.

Simulpathity: Bernard Beitman (1942–) Founder of Coincidence Studies

BernardBeitman

The term “simulpathity” defines a specific subclass of meaningful coincidences: the simultaneous experience at a distance by one person of another person’s distress. The experience occurs without the two people being together in the same place and sometimes without conscious awareness of its source. One person is in pain and another person feels distress for no apparent reason. Sometimes the distress is very similar to the other person’s pain. Often, the two people share a strong emotional bond. The largest number of simulpathity reports comes from twins, although reports involving mothers and their children are also prominent.

Simulpathity suggests that the individuals are more closely bonded than current scientific thought holds possible.

Simulpathity — from the Latin simul (simultaneous) and the Greek pathos (suffering) — differs from “sympathy.” The sympathetic person is aware of the suffering of the other but does not usually feel it. In the experience of simulpathity, one person suffers along with the other person and can experiences some form of that suffering. Only later is the simultaneity of the distress recognized, although some twins know just why they are feeling pain—the other twin is now feeling it.

Please see my related posts:

Interconnected Pythagorean Triples using Central Squares Theory

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

The Great Chain of Being

On Holons and Holarchy

Mind, Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement

Geometry of Consciousness

Systems View of Life: A Synthesis by Fritjof Capra

Consciousness of Cosmos: A Fractal, Recursive, Holographic Universe

Myth of Invariance: Sound, Music, and Recurrent Events and Structures

Shape of the Universe

Reflexivity, Recursion, and Self Reference

Key Sources of Research

 

Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe

·
Joseph Cambray

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26905461_Synchronicity_Nature_and_Psyche_in_an_Interconnected_Universe

 

 

Synchronicity and Healing

BERNARD D. BEITMAN, ELIF CELEBI, AND STEPHANIE L. COLEMAN

 

Click to access 18-Beitman-Chap18.pdf

 

 

 

SYNCHRONICITY
An Acausal Connecting Principle

CG Jung

https://archive.org/details/223463118SYNCHRONICITYAnAcausalConnectingPrincipleJung

 

 

 

CHANGING VIEWS OF SYNCHRONICITY-
FROM CARL JUNG TO ROBERT PERRY

Christopher Jargodzki

 

Click to access Synchronicity2010.pdf

Synchronicity, Mind, and Matter

Wlodzislaw Duch

 

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.79.8651&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

 

Synchronicity: did Jung have it right?

Kurt Forrer

 

Click to access bb26804cdc465b355e2f2e09c574d50dc4bb.pdf

 

 

 

C.G. Jung’s Synchronicity and Quantum Entanglement:  Schrodinger’s Cat ‘Wanders’ Between Chromosomes

 

Click to access Limar.Synchronicity.pdf

Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind

F. David Peat
Bantam Books (1987)

Emotions Over Time: Synchronicity and Development of Subjective, Physiological, and Facial Affective Reactions to Music

C. G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity

By Robert Aziz

Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal

By Carl Gustav Jung

 

 

Synchronicity and Emergence

JOSEPH CAMBRAY

Click to access Cambray.pdf

Jung, synchronicity, & human destiny: Noncausal dimensions of human experience.

Synchronicity: Science, Myth, and the Trickster

Allan Combs
Marlowe & Co. (1996)

Synchronicity, Science and Soul-Making: Understanding Jungian Synchronicity …

By Victor Mansfield

Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe

By Joseph Cambray

Political Emotions: Why Love matters for Justice

Political Emotions: Why Love matters for Justice

 

What are the values and beliefs of citizens to make a democratic society a just society?

 

Key Terms

  • Social Justice
  • Social Injustice
  • Social Ills
  • Emotions
  • Inter -Personal
  • Cross National
  • Inter Regional
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Political Philosophy
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Human Development
  • Human Rights
  • Human Capabilities
  • Political Emotions
  • Love
  • Love of Humanity
  • Compassion
  • Narrative Imagination
  • Higher Education
  • Theory of Justice – John Rawls
  • Capabilities Approach — CA
  • Amartya Sen
  • Martha Nussbaum
  • Ravindra Nath Tagore
  • Religion of Men
  • Phenomenological Sociology
  • I and We

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-12-24 at 4.26.49 PM

 

https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674503809&content=reviews

Political Emotions

Why Love Matters for Justice

“[Nussbaum] maps out the routes by which men and women who begin in self-interest and ingrained prejudice can build a society in which what she calls ‘public emotions’ operate to enlarge the individual’s ‘circle of concern’… Those who would extend the sympathy individuals feel to include fellow citizens of whatever views, ethnicity, ability or disability must ‘create stable structures of concern that extend compassion broadly.’ Those structures cannot be exclusively rational and philosophical—as they tend to be in the work of John Rawls and other Kantian liberals—but must, says Nussbaum, be political in the sense that they find expression in the visible machinery of public life… It is one of the virtues of Nussbaum’s book that she neither shrinks from sentimentality (how could she, given her title and subtitle?) nor fears being judged philosophically unsophisticated.”—Stanley Fish, The New York Times

“Continuing her philosophical inquiry into both emotions and social justice, Nussbaum now makes the case for love, arguing that emotions rooted in love can foster commitment to shared goals and keep fear, envy and disgust at bay…To sustain democratic institutions, Nussbaum claims, a liberal society should cultivate the emotions that underpin imagination and sympathy for others, and the way to do this is through education and the arts. Imaginative capacities will be developed very early in the family, and should be furthered via art, poetry, music and literature. These skills enable us to see each person’s fate in every other’s, and to picture it vividly as an aspect of our own. For Nussbaum, the liberal tradition should not cede emotion to anti-liberal forces (fascism, for example, was particularly good at using emotions for political ends). But all political principles need a proper emotional basis to ensure their stability over time, and all decent societies need to guard against division by cultivating appropriate sentiments of sympathy and love. This is why political emotions, narrative imagination, and love matter for justice.”—Marina Gerner, The Times Literary Supplement

“Martha Nussbaum has been a productive and creative commentator on the questions raised by A Theory of Justice, and her book Political Emotions is a long and thoughtful discussion of one of them: How can we engage the citizens’ emotions…on behalf of a more just, more inclusive, gentler, and more imaginative society? …Nussbaum takes Rawls’s account of justice as her starting point, but she greatly extends its range. She wants to turn away from hypothetical and bloodless contractors behind the veil of ignorance to focus on our actual flesh-and-blood selves.”—Alan Ryan, The New York Review of Books

“Impressively erudite.”—Julian Baggini, Financial Times

“There’s no more interesting or persuasive writer on the wider and connected subjects of emotions and social justice than Martha Nussbaum… Here she brings together strands that go back to her own The Fragility of Goodness (1986), and in the process delivers a book as important in its way as John Rawls’s definitive but slightly bloodless A Theory of Justice. Here, she draws on aesthetics as well as philosophy to make her point… It’s a great book, though, and goes straight on the shelf beside John Rawls. Political morality for the new age.”—Brian Morton, The Glasgow Herald

“Martha Nussbaum’s is one of the most influential and innovative voices in modern philosophy. Over the past four decades, a steady stream of books and articles has issued from her prodigious mind. She stands out among her contemporaries for insisting that philosophy must be rigorous and, above all, useful… The book demonstrates how people of different identities can be brought together around a common set of values and political principles through the power of art and symbol… As a culmination of her monumental contribution to academia, in Political Emotions she has produced an incandescent work that will not only be an inspiration to scholars and lay readers alike, but be a beacon for societies that aspire to justice and goodness.”—Govindan Nair, The Hindu

“Nussbaum [is] one of the finest theorists on law and ethics… Her journey is a tour de force that travels through Greek and Indian epics, the music of Mozart in ‘The marriage of Figaro,’ the poems of Rabindranath Tagore and Walt Whitman, the rhetorical speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., the writings of John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, B.R. Ambedkar, Auguste Comte and John Rawls to make a case for establishing just societies by foregrounding emotions that can be developed through critical reasoning… Then she, with incisive brilliance, investigates three emotions that pose special problems for compassionate citizenship: fear, envy and shame and also explain that some societies instead of combating them make the situation worse… Her magnum opus.”—A. S. Panneerselvan, The Hindu

“This volume is impressive for its breadth of references in liberal political philosophy to literature and art theory, but all the more impressive for the care and enthusiasm expressed for the subject matter. The heart of the book, and what makes it a rather novel contribution, is Nussbaum’s attention to the psychology of emotions, particularly in how she draws upon the lessons of attachment theory to inspire lessons for building a caring, loving society and a rich notion of political justice… Political Emotions is an exciting contribution to liberal political theory. Nussbaum’s recent forays in bridging political philosophy with attention to aesthetic affect, emotion and attachment have genuinely enriched the terrain of liberal theory. Hopefully the discussions Nussbaum introduces here will help to enrich our collective public life as well.”—Michael Larson, Metapsychology

“[Nussbaum] reinstates the role of emotion in politics and draws attention to and rejects any kind of false emotionalism vis-à-vis nationalism. She examines how figures like Rabindranath Tagore and B. R. Ambedkar, through their emotional appeal on relevant issues, were able to build the right kind of nationalism. In the very contemporary context of Hindutva and its very particular link to patriotism, I would recommend this book to everyone.”—Indira Jaising, Outlook India

“Genuinely bracing.”—Brian Morton, The Tablet

Political Emotions is an important work, and Nussbaum has created valuable space for love and human imperfection to be weighed more heavily in the search for justice.”—Geraldine Van Bueren, Times Higher Education

“Reading [Political Emotions] has reinforced, but more importantly broadened, my understanding of love’s significance in political life and how it can be fostered there… I find much political wisdom in Nussbaum’s book.”—Walter Moss, LA Progressive

“Nussbaum stimulates readers with challenging insights on the role of emotion in political life. Her provocative theory of social change shows how a truly just society might be realized through the cultivation and studied liberation of emotions, specifically love. To that end, the book sparkles with Nussbaum’s characteristic literary analysis, drawing from both Western and South Asian sources, including a deep reading of public monuments. In one especially notable passage, Nussbaum artfully interprets Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, revealing it as a musical meditation on the emotionality of revolutionary politics and feminism. Such chapters are a culmination of her passion for seeing art and literature as philosophical texts, a theme in her writing that she profitably continues here. The elegance with which she negotiates this diverse material deserves special praise, as she expertly takes the reader through analyses of philosophy, opera, primatology, psychology, and poetry. In contrast to thinkers like John Rawls, who imagined an already just world, Nussbaum addresses how to order our society to reach such a world. A plea for recognizing the power of art, symbolism, and enchantment in public life, Nussbaum’s cornucopia of ideas effortlessly commands attention and debate.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Justice is hard. It demands our devotion as well as our understanding. For that reason, it must grip our emotions. We must feel its absence and its presence with the depth of feeling that we associate with love. That is the compelling message in Martha Nussbaum’s remarkable—and remarkably original—account of political emotions. She explores the place of love in a decent society that aspires to be just. And she explains—with great intellectual and emotional force—how we can cultivate a political love with the kind of complexity that does justice to our humanity.”—Joshua Cohen, author of The Arc of the Moral Universe and Other Essays

“In her sweeping panorama of society and culture, Nussbaum skillfully and flexibly uses her understanding of public emotions to produce a book of considerable wisdom and merit. Her study is anchored in a well-rounded view of a complex but largely unexplored theme in the West as well as in South Asia.”—Mushirul Hasan, author of Faith and Freedom: Gandhi in History

Political Emotions is a remarkable synthesis of two of the most distinctive strands of Martha Nussbaum’s thought—a conception of the emotions as essential to our understanding of the world and a political liberalism attuned to the fostering of human capacities. Readers will not fail to be enlightened and moved.”—Charles Larmore, author of The Autonomy of Morality

“Martha Nussbaum rises above all the disciplinary boundaries. This wise and engaging study of what patriotism is and how to cultivate it is written by a philosopher, a political theorist, a psychologist, a literary critic, and a historian—all of them at their best and all of them one amazing person.”—Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study

https://www.law.uchicago.edu/news/professor-martha-nussbaum-saving-liberal-arts

Professor Martha Nussbaum on Saving the Liberal Arts

Saving the Liberal Arts

CHICAGO — It’s a familiar question: Do the liberal arts need saving? The answer here Thursday at a conference on the topic — yes — was familiar, too. But keynote speakers at the opening of the conference at the University of Chicago focused less on the question itself than on from what and whom a broad education needs rescuing.

[…]

Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at Chicago, also described challenges to quantifying the value of the liberal arts. It’s good news, she said, that the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and other bodies have begun collecting better data on who’s studying the humanities — and the finding that community colleges awarded some 40 percent of their degrees to humanities students in 2014 is especially heartening.

It “would be all too easy for such community college programs to slide toward narrow vocational education, thus creating a class-based two-tier system, where liberal education is increasingly an opportunity for elites,” she said. “This has not happened, and it’s very important to prevent it from happening.”

Yet available data focus primarily students who major in the humanities, Nussbaum said, missing the real point.

“We should not measure the impact of the humanities simply by counting numbers of majors,” she said. “The whole design of the liberal arts system is that courses in the humanities are required of all students, no matter what their major. … Students can major in computer science or engineering, but in such a system they are also required to take general liberal arts courses in history, philosophy and literature. This system has striking advantages, preparing students for their multiple future roles in much more adequate way than a narrow single-subject system.”

Nussbaum adapted her remarks from the introduction to the second edition of her book, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Princeton University Press). It’s seen a surprising amount of interest abroad, she said, including in countries with no liberal arts tradition and in which students are single-tracked into studying only their major. So opportunities to simply study the liberal arts — not necessarily major in them — are important, too, she said.

For Nussbaum, there are three main arguments for a liberal education: its ability to shape citizenry in a democracy — ever more important in an increasingly global society — along with its ability to foster innovation in business and help us understand our lives.

To the last point, she said, “We all seek a deeper understanding of love, death, anger, pain and many other themes treated in great works of art, literature and philosophy. No matter how we earn our living, we all need to confront ourselves, our own life and death.” While it’s easy to forget about these deeper themes when one is young, she added, “it’s then that an initial acquaintance plants seeds for fruitful later rumination.” It’s no surprise that one major growth area for the humanities is in continuing education for adults, for example, she said.

Conversations about the liberal arts sometimes center on “unprecedented” threats, and indeed there have been a host of attacks on these disciplines from politicians in particular in recent years. While both Brewer and Nussbaum expressed concerns about negative influence on the humanities and other fields from skeptical lawmakers and metrics-driven administrators, they avoided claims of urgency. Instead, both scholars said the humanities have always been under threat because they are by nature threatening to institutions. What’s important is recognizing current threats, or at least their “contours,” as Brewer put it, so they may be combated effectively.

“Socratic questioning is unsettling, and people in power often prefer docile followers to independent citizens able to think for themselves,” Nussbaum said. “Furthermore, a lively imagination, alert to the situations, desires and sufferings of others, is a taxing achievement; moral obtuseness is so much easier. So we should not be surprised that the humanities are under assault, now as ever. The battle for responsible democracy and alert citizenship is always difficult and uncertain. But it is both urgent and winnable, and the humanities are a large part of winning it.”

Read more at Inside Higher Ed

Please see my related posts:

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Key Sources of Research:

 

Why Love Matters for Justice: Martha Nussbaum’s Political Emotions // Workshop Session 1

 

Newman and Nussbaum on the Purpose of Higher Education

Rik Peels, Jeroen de Ridder, and René van Woudenberg Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Click to access Newman_and_Nussbaum_on_the_Purpose_of_Hi.pdf

Martha Nussbaum on Capabilities and Human Rights

by Dr. Jan Garrett

 

https://people.wku.edu/jan.garrett/ethics/nussbaum.htm

Political Emotions
Why Love Matters for Justice page1image935565248 page1image935565808 page1image935566192 page1image935566448 page1image935567328

Dr. Leemamol Mathew

http://www.stic.ac.th/ojs/index.php/sjhs/article/viewFile/136/78

Book Review: Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice

Click to access Book_Review_Political_Emotions_Why_Love_Matters_for_Justice_LSE%20Review%20of%20Books.pdf

On Making Moral Citizens

Victor L Worsfold

 

https://tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2202/1940-1639.1281

 

 

 

an inteRVieW With MaRtha CRaVen nussBauM: PolitiCal eMotions. Why loVe MatteRs foR JustiCe

e. caminada universität zu Köln, B. malVestiti università degli Studi di milano

 

Click to access 15_Intervista-NUSSBAUM.pdf

On Classical Virtues

On Classical Virtues

 

 

Keywords:

  • Aristotle
  • Ethics
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy
  • Cardinal virtues
  • Temperance
  • Fortitude
  • Prudence
  • Justice

 

 

Aristotle’s Cardinal Virtues:
Their Application to Assessment of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy

The roots of virtue theory lie in pre-Socratic times but commenced in earnest with Socrates’ infuriating questioning of the values and beliefs of his fellow Athenians. The theory was significantly advanced by Plato and was definitively elaborated by Aristotle himself in his two ethical treatises, the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics. Aristotelian thought was preserved by Arab scholars during the so-called Dark Ages and rediscovered by Christian thinkers during the high Middle Ages. Aristotelian moral philosophy was then incorporated into Christian moral theology/philosophy, particularly by Thomas Aquinas.

Of course, the elaboration of virtue ethics did not cease with Aristotle but continued as a major philosophical theme of the Stoics, Cynics, Epicureans, and other ancient philosophical schools. As one author put it, ‚virtue ethics persisted as the dominant approach in Western moral philosophy until at least the Enlightenment‛ (Hursthouse, 2007, p.1), and it survives today, alongside its rivals, deontology and consequentialism. However, the present essay is based solely on Aristotle’s views.

Screen Shot 2019-12-09 at 10.48.15 AMScreen Shot 2019-12-09 at 11.22.31 AMScreen Shot 2019-12-09 at 11.23.13 AM

How are virtues assigned?

  • By profession – Class System
  • By family ? – Caste System

 

Virtues and Classes in Greece

Temperance was common to all classes, but primarily associated with the producing classes, the farmers and craftsmen, and with the animal appetites, to whom no special virtue was assigned; fortitude was assigned to the warrior class and to the spirited element in man; prudence to the rulers and to reason. Justice stands outside the class system and divisions of man, and rules the proper relationship among the three of them.

And what about development? Can virtues be acquired?

Through life practice

  • Contemplation
  • Meditation
  • Tapasya
  • Hatha Yoga

Through Karma/action

  • Charity
  • Devotion

Aristotle, being the grounded empiricist he was, noted a number of variables that either enhance or hinder a person’s development of virtues; and he stated that, in order to develop higher levels of virtues, a person must have the ‘good fortune’ to be in circumstances that favour the enhancement variables. Perhaps the most crucial of these variables is the family. Aristotle clearly recognized that virtues spring from appropriate socialization within the family and, thus, have a strong developmental underpinning. Children learn virtuous character traits by specific training in those dispositions, ideally accomplished in a strong, two parent family unit. He clearly believed that one of the impediments to acquiring virtue was the lack of a family structure capable of such training. In fact, contrary to Plato, he argued in favour of the value of the family and condemned adultery as always wrong because it undermines family structure—specifically, the relation- ship between husband and wife.

Aristotle believed that childhood training was a sine qua non for the full flowering of virtue but never sufficient in and of itself. Mature virtue is gained in adulthood when cognitive processes are developed enough to reflect on goals in life. Kraut (2007, p.6) summarizes this developmental process as follows:

We approach ethical theory with a disorganized bundle of likes and dislikes based on habit and experience; such disorder is an inevitable feature of childhood. But what is not inevitable is that our early experience will be rich enough to provide an adequate basis for worthwhile ethical reflection; That is why we need to be brought up well. Yet such an upbringing can take us only so far <we must systematize our goals so that as adults we have a coherent plan of life. We need to engage in ethical theory, and to reason well in this field if we are to move beyond the low-grade form of virtue we acquired as children.

Other variables Aristotle recognized as influencing our ability to develop virtues include the culture in general, sufficient income, enough power to resist being overwhelmed by the less virtuous, a positive body image, parents who live long enough to raise you, and peer support. Had Aristotle lived in the 20th/21st centuries, he might have added a number of variables to the list: sufficient cognitive ability to learn, an intact central nervous system free of genetic elements generating psychopathology and/or learning disabilities, birth into one of the developed countries with access to education, and many others. Clinicians everyday see how these and related deficits interfere with the proper socialization of children.

 

And, use of virtues in Psychotherapy and Psychopathology

 

In addition, Aristotle recognized certain ‘internal disorders’ that appear to have some similarity to various psychopathologies in today’s understanding and can lead to virtue deficiency. These virtue deficits occur when emotions, such as an appetite for pleasure, anger, fear, depression and such, exert pressure on the rational expression of virtue. The first—the ‘incontinent’—are less able than the truly virtuous to resist the counter pressures of emotion and conflict as they threaten breakthrough. A variety of mental disorders, as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (2000) might well fall under this category, and the persons affected would present with a plethora of combinations of psychological and neuro- psychological negatives and histories of family dysfunction. The second—the ‘evil’ (kakos in Greek)—refuse to behave according to virtuous standards. Aristotle seemed to believe they have decided virtues have no value; and, therefore, they seek domination of others and sensual pleasures. In modern psychopathology these individuals might fall under the antisocial personality disorder category, and they would not be seen as making studied rational choices about whether or not to practice virtue.

Of course, the parallels between Aristotle’s recognition of these disorders and modern understandings are far from precise; yet, Aristotle showed great depth of understanding in recognizing that disorders of emotion can disrupt virtue formation.

 

From Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinal_virtues

Four cardinal virtues were recognized by Plato and in the Bible, classical antiquity and in traditional Christian theology:

  • Prudence (φρόνησις, phronēsis; Latin: prudentia; also Wisdom, Sophia, sapientia), the ability to discern the appropriate course of action to be taken in a given situation at the appropriate time.
  • Courage (ἀνδρεία, andreia; Latin: fortitudo): also termed fortitude, forbearance, strength, endurance, and the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation
  • Temperance (σωφροσύνη, sōphrosynē; Latin: temperantia): also known as restraint, the practice of self-control, abstention, discretion, and moderation tempering the appetition. Sōphrosynē can also be translated as sound-mindedness.
  • Justice (δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosynē; Latin: iustitia): also considered as fairness, the most extensive and most important virtue;[1] the Greek word also having the meaning righteousness

These principles derive initially from Plato in Republic Book IV, 426–435 (and see Protagoras 330b, which also includes piety (hosiotes)). Cicero expanded on them, and Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquinas[2] adapted them while expanding on the theological virtues.

The term cardinal comes from the Latin cardo (hinge);[3] virtues are so called because they are regarded as the basic virtues required for a virtuous life. They also relate to the Quadrivium.

In classical antiquity

The four cardinal virtues appear as a group (sometimes included in larger lists) long before they are later given this title.

Plato identified the four cardinal virtues with the classes of the city described in The Republic, and with the faculties of man. Plato narrates a discussion of the character of a good city where the following is agreed upon. “Clearly, then, it will be wise, brave, temperate [literally: healthy-minded], and just.” (427e; see also 435b) Temperance was common to all classes, but primarily associated with the producing classes, the farmers and craftsmen, and with the animal appetites, to whom no special virtue was assigned; fortitude was assigned to the warrior class and to the spirited element in man; prudence to the rulers and to reason. Justice stands outside the class system and divisions of man, and rules the proper relationship among the three of them.

Plato sometimes (e.g., Protagoras 349b; cf. 324e, 329c, 330b, 331a-c) lists holiness (hosiotes, eusebeia, aidos) amongst the cardinal virtues. He especially associates holiness with justice, but leaves their precise relationship unexplained.

In Aristotle’s Rhetoric we read: “The forms of Virtue are justice, courage, temperance, magnificence, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence, wisdom.” (Rhetoric 1366b1)

The Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero (106–43 BC), like Plato, limits the list to four virtues:

“Virtue may be defined as a habit of mind (animi) in harmony with reason and the order of nature. It has four parts: wisdom (prudentiam), justice, courage, temperance.” (De Inventione, II, LIII) [4]

Cicero discusses these further in De Officiis (I, V and following).

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius discusses these in Book V:12 of Meditations and views them as the “goods” that a person should identify in one’s own mind, as opposed to “wealth or things which conduce to luxury or prestige.”[5]

The cardinal virtues are listed in the Bible. The deuterocanonical book Wisdom of Solomon 8:7 reads, “She [Wisdom] teaches temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life.”

They are also found in the Biblical apocrypha. 4 Maccabees 1:18–19 relates: “Now the kinds of wisdom are right judgment, justice, courage, and self-control. Right judgment is supreme over all of these since by means of it reason rules over the emotions.”

Catholic moral philosophy drew from all of these sources when developing its thought on the virtues.

From Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_virtues

Cardinal virtues

Main article: Cardinal virtues

The Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato, regarded temperance, wisdom, justice, and courage as the four most desirable character traits. The Book of Wisdom is one of the seven Sapiential Books included in the Septuagint. Wisdom 8:7 states that the fruits of Wisdom “… are virtues; For she teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful for men than these.”

The moral virtues are attitudes,and good habits that govern one’s actions, passions, and conduct according to reason; and are acquired by human effort.[2] Immanuel Kant said, “Virtue is the moral strength of the will in obeying the dictates of duty”.[3] The cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

  • Prudence from prudentia (meaning “seeing ahead, sagacity”) is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason.[4] It is called the Auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues) as it guides the other virtues.[5]
  • Justice is the virtue which regulates man in his dealings with others. Connected to justice are the virtues of religion, piety, and gratitude.[6]
  • Fortitude which Thomas Aquinas ranks third after prudence and justice and equates with brave endurance.[3] Patience and perseverance are virtues related to fortitude.
  • Temperance is the virtue which moderates in accordance with reason the desires and pleasures of the sensuous appetite. Related to temperance are the virtues of continence, humility, and meekness.[6]

Philosophers recognized the interrelatedness of the virtues such that courage without prudence risks becoming mere foolhardiness. Aquinas found an interconnection of practical wisdom (prudentia) and moral virtue. This is frequently termed “the Unity of the Virtues.”[7] Aquinas also argued that it not only matters what a person does but how the person does it. The person must aim at a good end and also make a right choice about the means to that end. The moral virtues direct the person to aim at a good end, but to ensure that the person make the right choices about the means to a good end, one needs practical wisdom.[8]

 

These seven virtues do not correspond to the seven heavenly virtues arrived at by combining the cardinal and theological virtues. Furthermore, efforts in the Middle Ages to set the seven heavenly virtues in direct opposition to the seven capital sins are both uncommon and beset with difficulties. “[T]reatises exclusively concentrating on both septenaries are actually quite rare.” and “examples of late medieval catalogues of virtues and vices which extend or upset the double heptad can be easily multiplied.”[9] And there are problems with this parallelism.

The opposition between the virtues and the vices to which these works allude despite the frequent inclusion of other schemes may seem unproblematic at first sight. The virtues and the vices seem to mirror each other as positive and negative moral attitudes, so that medieval authors, with their keen predilection for parallels and oppositions, could conveniently set them against each other … Yet artistic representations such as Conrad’s trees are misleading in that they establish oppositions between the principal virtues and the capital vices which are based on mere juxtaposition. As to content, the two schemes do not match each other. The capital vices of lust and avarice, for instance, contrast with the remedial virtues of chastity and generosity, respectively, rather than with any theological or cardinal virtue; conversely, the virtues of hope and prudence are opposed to despair and foolishness rather than to any deadly sin. Medieval moral authors were well aware of the fact. Actually, the capital vices are more often contrasted with the remedial or contrary virtues in medieval moral literature than with the principal virtues, while the principal virtues are frequently accompanied by a set of mirroring vices rather than by the seven deadly sins.[10]

 

Please see my related posts:

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening

Key Sources of Research

 

Aristotle’s Cardinal Virtues:
Their Application to Assessment of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy

James M. Stedman

 

Click to access 229bb7ab418d868027e526372d22073236d4.pdf

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

Its beauty which brings one closer to truth and goodness.

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

Key Terms

  • Fundamental Triplicity
  • Satyam Shivam Sundram
  • Sat Chit Ananda
  • Truth Beauty Goodness
  • Platonic Triad
  • Socratic Trinity
  • Ken Wilber AQAL Model
  • Victor Cousin
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Semiotics
  • I – You – We – It

From Awakening Wonder:

A Classical Guide to TRUTH, GOODNESS & BEAUTY

The True, the Good, and the Beautiful

It is in this civilizational context that we first encounter the emergence of the cosmic values known as the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. The Greek term aletheia (“truth”) literally means “nonconcealment,” the negation of lethein, “to elude notice, to be unseen.”9 Aletheia thus connotes a sense of disclosure: “truth in the sense of the unhiddenness . . . and disclosedness of the state of affairs which exhibits itself and is therefore perceived in its actuality.”10 The term agathos (“good”) as an adjective connoted “the significance or excellence of a thing or person” and was eventually developed by philosophers to designate the goal, purpose, or meaning of existence.11 Likewise, kalos (“beauty”) is generally rendered as “beautiful,” “healthy,” “excellent,” “strong,” or “good.”12 It is during the fifth century BC that we find two of the three terms used together. For example, kalos is first used together with agathos in a political or social context: the kaloi and agathoi are leading citizens who embody the virtues of the polis, the Greek city-state. Indeed, the synonymity of the terms contracted into a single word, kalokagathia.

Plato and the “Socratic Trinity”

However, it is not until the writings of Plato that these three terms converge into mutually interpreting concepts, in what has been termed the “Socratic trinity” or “Platonic triad.” Though Plato did not provide a systematic treatment of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, it is not coincidental that the first clear presentation of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful historically comes from a fifteenth-century commentary on Plato’s Philebus by the Italian humanist scholar Marsilio Ficino.13

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty for Plato were divine concepts; they make up what he called the eidon, the eternal transcendent world of the ideas or forms. This Socratic trinity is the eternal source of life in which the totality of our cosmos participates as an eikon, a temporal, finite image or icon of the eternal transcendent world of the Ideas or Forms. For Plato, the universe is very much alive, or at least inextricably bound up with divine activity, and is thereby considered an object of veneration. In the Timaeus, the world is animated by a rational soul, which is the macrocosmic basis for the microcosmic human soul.14 Humans, as microcosmic replications of the larger macrocosmic world, are composed of tripartite souls that loosely correspond to the Socratic trinity: logos, thymos or ethos, and eros or epithymetes. The logos involves our rational capacities; the thymos or ethos involves our emotional, ethical, or moral capacities; and the epithymetes or eros involves our desires and aesthetic capacities.15 And it is through the tripartite soul that was forged in the world of the forms before our birth and embodiment (Plato held more or less to a doctrine of reincarnation) that the individual human can mirror, reflect, or image the virtues of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, and thus exemplify and participate in divine life.

Now, for Plato, the dilemma is that we as tripartite souls already possess a knowledge of the virtues, literally the divine order of the eternal ideas or forms—the imprint—of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, but this knowledge has been forgotten as the result of our birth and embodiment. As he made clear in his Meno, knowledge does not derive from inductive or deductive processes or an investigation into the nature of things, but rather knowledge is a recollection, what Plato termed anamnesis, a recovery of Truth insofar as our souls have experienced it prior to our embodiment.16 So the key here is that knowledge needs to be awakened. And it is philosophia, the love of wisdom, that seeks to recover human perception of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful so as to restore the human soul to its participation in divine life. This pursuit of Truth in the Phaedrus and Gorgias, of Goodness in the Republic, and of Beauty in Diotima’s speech in the Symposium, in effect reorients the human person to the divine world of the eternal and immutable, and thereby effects a harmonious relationship with the cosmos, which itself participates in divine life.

The Platonic Conception of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

The precise relationship between the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in Plato is very difficult to determine, largely because these concepts are not treated systematically but rather are spread out among his works. But we can map out a broad, general model for how they work together in relation to the tripartite soul.

For Plato, the Good is not simply a thing or a value; the Good is universal priority in which all true things participate and from which they exist. In book VII of the Republic, Plato considered the Good to be the universal principle, the self-sufficient source of all being and the irreducible essence of reality:

[I]n the region of the known the last thing to be seen and hardly seen is the idea of Good, and that when seen it must needs point us to the conclusion that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful, giving birth in the visible world to light, and the author of light and itself in the intelligible world being the authentic course of truth and reason.17

For Plato, the Good is not simply a thing or a value; the Good is universal priority in which all true things participate and from which they exist. The Good is “beyond being” and is thus the foundation of all hypotheses which requires no hypothesis; that Idea from which all Ideas emerge and on which they depend.18 According to his allegory of the cave in book VII of the Republic, the Good is to the world of Ideas much like what the sun is to our perceptible, physical world. As such, the Good, the divine source of life, is in itself unknowable, being the essence, the light, by which all things are known and perceived. The Good itself must thus be revealed; it must be communicated to the human mind by means of aletheia or “Truth.”19 Drawing from the allegory of the cave, we might say that Truth is the splendor of the Good that can be perceived by the soul.20 For Plato, Truth involves understanding how all things in our world, all particulars, participate in and derive their nature from the Good.21 Thus, concomitant with its etymology, it is the nature of Truth to reveal or disclose reality, the priority of the Good, to the human mind or logos.

However, the Good is not merely revealed to the mind through Truth. A desire, an eros, is awakened for the Good within the human soul through kalos or “Beauty.” In Diotima’s speech in the Symposium, Beauty is the object of eros or love.22 And it is here that Plato revealed the means by which the soul encounters the True and the Good. In awakening eros, Plato’s conception of Beauty becomes inextricably linked with Grecian physics, in that eros constitutes the law of attraction. Empedocles had envisioned the cosmos as a whole and all the particulars within it, including humans, as directed by eros and eris, literally “desire” and “strife,” which served as the opposing forces of attraction and repulsion. In accordance with Greco-Roman physics, this love, this desire awakened through Beauty, serves the indispensable role of momentum or motivation in intellectual, moral, and spiritual pursuits. This is why we associate Beauty with “attraction”; through Beauty we are drawn to the True and the Good. By awakening eros within us, Beauty provides us with the allure, the momentum, the gravitational pull toward the True and the Good and thus unites us with the divine source of life:

When a man has been thus far tutored in the lore of love, passing from view to view of beautiful things, in the right and regular ascent, suddenly he will have revealed to him, as he draws to the close of his dealings in love, a wondrous vision, beautiful in its nature; and this, Socrates, is the final object of all those previous toils. . . . Beginning from obvious beauties he must for the sake of that highest Beauty be ever climbing aloft, as one the rungs of a ladder, from one to two, and from two to all beautiful bodies; from personal Beauty he proceeds to beautiful observances, from observance to beautiful learning, and from learning at last to that particular study which is concerned with the beautiful itself and that alone; so that in the end he comes to know the very essence of Beauty.23

The important point here is that Beauty, because of its divine nature, is always linked with the True and the Good. In order for something to be truly beautiful, it must by definition draw one to the True and the Good. When eros or love is amputated from Truth and Goodness, say in the case of pornography, it is no longer love but rather lust or epithymia.24 The Greeks alluded to this differentiation in the mythologies of the Muses and the Sirens: the Muses are the daughters of Zeus who inspire Beauty and Truth, while the Sirens are water nymphs who lure sailors to their deaths through their bewitching songs. So we see here a highly ethical significance to this encounter with the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Because Beauty communicates the True and the Good through its radiance, the awakening of eros always involves the awakening of arête—the classical virtues (wisdom, moderation, justice, and courage)—which occurs when the logos, thymos, and epithymetes or eros constituting the tripartite human soul reflect the balance or harmony of the cosmos.25 Thus Plato saw an inextricable link between virtue and a true knowledge of the world.

The important point here is that Beauty, because of its divine nature, is always linked with the True and the Good. In order for something to be truly beautiful, it must by definition draw one to the True and the Good.

Encountering Truth, Goodness, and Beauty through Paideia

For Plato, the educational project of paideia involves teaching students to repudiate what deserves repudiation and to love what is in fact lovely and deserving of our desires.26 This involves what amounts to be a three-stage process.

First, there is the need to realize there is in fact a problem, that one is in fact ignorant and incapable of accounting for reality. This admission of personal impoverishment, what the Greeks called aporia and the Latins called pietas, is the rationale for the Socratic Dialogue; Socrates was able to impart wisdom only when his interlocutor admits ignorance and perplexity.

Second, this intellectual and spiritual vacuousness, this virtue of humility, can then be filled—and filled not merely with facts but with a recollection of the knowledge of the world as it relates to that which is eternally True, Good, and Beautiful. This stage involves a twofold purification by which students cultivate a detachment from false things and an attachment to true things. The twofold purification consists of a moral and an intellectual purification. Moral purification involves the practice of the virtues, which in effect distances the soul from the confines and temptations of the body. Intellectual purification, or theoria, involves contemplation of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, particularly in mathematics, where students are able see the reality that lies beyond appearances. Thus, all subjects in an educational curriculum serve as lenses through which the True, the Good, and the Beautiful can be encountered. Gymnastics cultivate the virtue of enkrateia or self-mastery; music and poetry provide the chief means by which the rhythm and harmony of the cosmos can be communicated through the body and sunk deeply into the recesses of the soul.27

Third, there is ultimate theoria, the union of the soul with the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, a beatific vision that one simply cannot experience while embodied. One experiences this vision only at death.28

Summary

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty emerge historically in a world very much removed from our own. This world was characterized by cosmic piety, the sense that the universe was alive with divine presence and thus obligated all people born into the world to live a particular kind of life, one that oriented the self into a harmonious relationship with the world and others. This obligation was lived out in the life of the polis, the city-state, which served as the civic center for communion between men and the gods. In order to foster a harmonious relationship with the cosmos and city, the Greek educational project called paideia sought to instill within students a love for the cosmic values: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. As particularly developed in the work of Plato, these values served as the harmonious model for cultivating a comparable harmony in one’s own soul, which one then lived out in harmony with one’s fellow man, and thus exemplified and perpetuated the cosmic harmony that sustained the world.

The educational project of paideia involves teaching students to repudiate what deserves repudiation and to love what is in fact lovely and deserving of our desires.

Plato’s philosophy provides us with the cosmic, anthropological, and civic frames of reference for the emergence of a distinctly Christian development of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, and it is to this Christian reappropriation that we now turn.

Please see my related posts:

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Cyber-Semiotics: Why Information is not enough

The Great Chain of Being

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

On Holons and Holarchy

Interconnected Pythagorean Triples using Central Squares Theory

Shapes and Patterns in Nature

Consciousness of Cosmos: A Fractal, Recursive, Holographic Universe

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Myth of Invariance: Sound, Music, and Recurrent Events and Structures

Mind, Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement

Understanding Rasa: Yoga of Nine Emotions

Geometry of Consciousness

Key Sources of Research:

Lectures on the true, the beautiful, and the good

Victor Cousin

Translation by O. W. Wight

Click to access cousin.PDF

Awakening Wonder:

A Classical Guide to TRUTH, GOODNESS & BEAUTY

Stephen R. Turley, PhD

Click to access prod059505_smpl0.pdf

THE GOOD, THE TRUE, AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Click to access SeeNoEvil_Chapter3.pdf

THE BIRTH OF THE TRUE, THE GOOD, AND THE BEAUTIFUL:

TOWARD AN INVESTIGATION OF THE STRUCTURES OF SOCIAL THOUGHT

John Levi Martin

Click to access The%20Birth%20of%20the%20True,%20the%20Good,%20and%20the%20Beautiful.pdf

Beauty as a transcendental in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger

John Jang

University of Notre Dame Australia

https://researchonline.nd.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1116&context=theses

Quotes by Victor Cousin