Ethical Communication 1: Philsophy and Wisdom

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Ethical Communication 1: Philsophy and Wisdom

  1. 1. Ethical communication Dr Megan Poore meg@meganpoore.com
  2. 2. Overview • Lectures: Big picture • Tutes: Conversational approach • Philosophy • Philosophical ethics • Human flourishing • Communication
  3. 3. LECTURES BIG PICTURE
  4. 4. Lectures: four big topics 1.Philosophy and communication: why bother with philosophy? Wisdom, self- knowlege, the art of life 2.Oppression: Ideology, dogma, false generosity, domestication, transformation
  5. 5. Lectures: four big topics 3.Democracy: Authoritarianism vs liberalism; despotism; democracy, free interaction, mutual interests, shared values, freedom, variety 4.Liberation: Dialogical communication, ontological vocation, humanism, freedom, critical consciousness, historicity
  6. 6. Lectures: Framework •Provide you with an intellectual framework for developing (and continuing to develop) your own core values for living a good life, however that might look for you.
  7. 7. Lectures: Reasoning •If you are aware of the principles, values and ideals that govern your life, you can then decide how you want to interact with others. •The aim for this course is to reflect upon how our actions (and 'inactions') and conduct impact upon individuals and groups.
  8. 8. Lectures: Two key questions So, two key questions for the lectures: •What principles, values or ideals should govern my life and how I interact with others? •How do my actions (and 'inactions') and conduct impact upon others?
  9. 9. Lectures: More questions •How should I act? What should I do? •Did I act wisely? Did I act well? •What are my motivations? •Are my feelings morally justified? •What could be done better? What do I need to do to make the situation better? •Have I learnt anything from you?
  10. 10. Lectures: Stick with it •For some of you this course will make sense straight away. •For others, it won’t come together until the final week. •Today’s lecture, in particular, will cover what may seem to be a lot of unrelated ground. •Stick with it.
  11. 11. Lectures: The language •Some of the language may be unfamiliar to you because it is the language of Ethics. •Sometimes precise definitions do not exist and you will need to develop your own understanding.
  12. 12. Lectures: The language We may be talking about things such as •Human flourishing •Becoming ‘more fully human’ •Being ‘historical’ •‘Intervening in the world’ •The ‘whole’ human person It will all make sense eventually!
  13. 13. Lectures: The language •Some of the language may make you feel uncomfortable. •We will be using words that don’t often get used in an academic environment: love, humility, faith, compassion, hope ... •Again, stick with it. This is important stuff.
  14. 14. TUTORIALS CONVERSATIONAL APPROACH
  15. 15. Key tutorial questions About you •How do I communicate? •Why do I communicate in this way? (ie, what is my own story or history in relation to this?) •What thoughts, emotions, expectations, and feelings underpin this style of communication for me?
  16. 16. Key tutorial questions About you •What is currently happening to keep this style of communication in place for me? •Is context important as regards how I act? •How might I see things differently?
  17. 17. Tutes: Conversation •The tutorials aim to provide a safe environment for you to think about about how you communicate with others and why they communicate with you in particular ways. •In particular, we want to surface some of your expectations and assumptions around your (and others’) communicative practices.
  18. 18. Tutes: Conversation •Through conversation, I want you to feel safe to voice any ‘difficult truths’ about yourself, your attitudes and opinions. •We need to get at how you actually think and act, not how you would like to think and act.
  19. 19. Tutes: Conversation •The idea is for yourself and for others to understand how you have arrived at your communication style.
  20. 20. Tutes: Conversation •This course is not about telling you how to think or act or that the ways in which you think or act are 'wrong'. •It's about exploring issues and uncovering assumptions that might or might not be limiting in your relations with others.
  21. 21. Tutes: Conversation •Some of it will be difficult, confronting, challenging. •It will require honesty, good faith, trust, openness, compassion.
  22. 22. Tutes: Conversation The aim is to create an atmosphere that is • Dialogical • Civil • Respectful • Non-defensive • Non-judgmental • Ideologically neutral • Safe • Open
  23. 23. Ethical communication Module 1 Dr Megan Poore meg@meganpoore.com
  24. 24. PART I PHILOSOPHY
  25. 25. TRANS •Some preliminaries ... •I need to tell you a bit about philosophy so that the approach we’re taking to this course makes sense.
  26. 26. What is philosophy? •Philosophy is the study of central and fundamental problems, especially those connected with knowledge, concepts, values and reason. •These problems recur in all disciplines. •Philosophy looks at the big stuff.
  27. 27. Disciplines and philosophy •It might be easiest to describe what philosophy is if we look at how it is different from the disciplines
  28. 28. Disciplines have objects of study Discipline Object of study Biology Living organisms Geography The earth, landforms, environment Anthropology Society, culture Theology Religion Physics Matter, energy
  29. 29. Philosophy = underlying questions Discipline Philosophy Biology is about living organisms What is a living organism? Psychologists study the mind What is a mind? Sociology is about society Must we be social? Theologans use reason What is reason? Physicists study the universe Why is there a universe?
  30. 30. What is philosophy? •It is about the nature of things and why things are as they are
  31. 31. TRANS •We might get a better understanding of philosophy if we compare it with theory •This course takes a philosophical approach to communication, rather than a theoretical one. •What’s the difference?
  32. 32. What is theory? •A proposition, abstraction or hypothesis that seeks to explain the concrete •A way of explaining ‘reality’ in an abstract way, using general concept
  33. 33. Theory vs philosophy •Theory posits that •Communication happens in XYZ ways •Philosophy asks, •What is the nature of communication? •Why communicate?
  34. 34. Comparision Philosophy Theory Deals with the nature of things and central problems An explanation for things, using abstract concepts What is the nature of communication? Why communicate? Communication happens in XYZ ways
  35. 35. Why philosophy? •If we have a philosophical understanding of ‘what is communication?’ and ‘why communicate’... •... then we are in a position to address and understand the different forces that come to bear on our everday communication practices ... •and that affect our everyday relationships
  36. 36. PART II PHILOSOPHICAL ETHICS
  37. 37. TRANS •We have seen how philosophy is the study of central and fundamental problems, especially those connected with knowledge, concepts, values and reason.
  38. 38. Philosophical ethics •Ethics is a branch of philosophy that explores how we ought to live, act •Sometimes called ‘moral philosophy’
  39. 39. Philosophical ethics •Ethics is one of the major branches of Western philosophy •Others include •Aesthetics (art and beauty) •Epistemology (knowledge) •Metaphysics (existence) •Logic (reason)
  40. 40. Philosophical ethics •Ethics is the study of •Right and wrong •Good and evil •Virtue and vice •A central question is, How should I act? (or, What should I do?)
  41. 41. Philosophical ethics •Moral philosophers believe that by applying reason and logic, we can answer these questions •These lectures are designed to give you an outline of moral philosophy as it applies to relating to, and communicating with, others to help you decide what to do ...
  42. 42. A caveat •None of this, of course, undercuts any religious beliefs that we may hold ... •Moral Philosophy merely provides us with a framework for understanding moral issues, based on reason •This can be quite compatible with religious perspectives
  43. 43. Philosophical ethics •Why is this important? •Because you are presented with ethical dilemmas in your relationships with others every day •Every communicative act is a moral one because every communicative act involves another person.
  44. 44. Why ethics and communication? •Communication can be humane and humanising ... or inhumane and dehumanising •In communication we can change others (and ourselves) for the better ... or not. •Communication can make us ‘more’ human ... or less.
  45. 45. Why ethics and communication? •Fundamentally, communication can liberate or oppress people -- therefore to communicate is a moral act. •Which is why problems of what is right, fair, just and virtuous are always present.
  46. 46. Why ethics and communication? •So, if communication is a moral act, then we need to develop ways of arriving at what is right and good in any situation that involves other people. •And the first thing we can do it to look to ourselves and to ask ourselves, ‘What is the purpose of life?’ ‘What gives life meaning?’ •That’s where philosophy comes in.
  47. 47. PART III HUMAN FLOURISHING
  48. 48. INTRO •Now, we’ll look at the ideas of two philosophers, Vico and Whitehead •Both believe that the attainment of wisdom -- in its different forms -- is central to becoming a ‘whole’ person, central to what it means to be human •And both believe that we are losing sight of this purpose in modern life
  49. 49. Portrait of Vico by Francesco Solimena (1657–1747) Vico (1668 - 1744)
  50. 50. Vico: Background •Italian philosopher and historian •1668 - 1744 •Between 1699 and 1707 he gave the inaugural orations at the University of Naples to kick off the academic year •His topic was humanistic education
  51. 51. Vico: Humans as a total course •Vico sees the human as a total course (‘holistic’ might be the modern term!) •We are always learning about ourselves •That, as humans, we are an ongoing project (it is wrong to ‘finish’ ourselves and others) •This project lacks clarity and is unfinished -- and that is a good thing! Verene, D. P., 'Introduction: On Humanistic Education', in G. Vico, On Humanistic Education (Six Inaugural Orations 1699 - 1707), trans G. A. Pinton and A. W. Shippee, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1993, pp. 1 - 27.
  52. 52. Vico: Lost telos •For Vico (and Aristotle and many others) the telos of life -- its end point -- is human flourishing •Vico says that modern life has lost its telos -- that we have lost the goals of self- knowledge and human flourishing •But more on this later ... Verene, D. P., 'Introduction: On Humanistic Education', in G. Vico, On Humanistic Education (Six Inaugural Orations 1699 - 1707), trans G. A. Pinton and A. W. Shippee, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1993, pp. 1 - 27.
  53. 53. •What is Vico’s view of the whole person? it is someone who exhibits 1.Self-knowledge, wisdom, know thyself 2.Knowledge of the world, ability to speak on a whole topic 3.Prudence, practical wisdom Verene, D. P., 'Introduction: On Humanistic Education', in G. Vico, On Humanistic Education (Six Inaugural Orations 1699 - 1707), trans G. A. Pinton and A. W. Shippee, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1993, pp. 6 - 8. Vico: Person as a ‘total course’
  54. 54. Vico: Person as a ‘total course’ Verene, D. P., 'Introduction: On Humanistic Education', in G. Vico, On Humanistic Education (Six Inaugural Orations 1699 - 1707), trans G. A. Pinton and A. W. Shippee, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1993, pp. 6 - 8. 1. Knowledge of oneself, wisdom, ‘know thyself’ 2. Knowledge of the world, ability to speak on a whole topic 3. Prudence, practical wisdom Human flourishing The person as a total course
  55. 55. |Know thyself, therefore, O youth, so that you can attain wisdom, since you are born for wisdom — Giambattista Vico, On Humanistic Education, Oration I
  56. 56. Whitehead •Whitehead also sees humans as being a ‘total course’ •So let’s see what he has to say ...
  57. 57. Whitehead (1861 - 1947) he looks friendly!
  58. 58. Whitehead: Background •English philosopher and mathematician •1861 - 1947 •Highly influential in logic and in analytical philosophy
  59. 59. Whitehead: Culture and knowledge •(Whitehead also sees humans as being a ‘total course’) •He says that people should possess both “culture and expert knowledge” because ...
  60. 60. |Their expert knowledge will give them the ground to start from, and their culture will lead them as deep as philosophy and as high as art. — Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education, Ch 1
  61. 61. Whitehead: Wisdom •And, as with Vico, Whitehead points to the importance of wisdom in our being human. •But he also discusses knowledge ... •He says, in fact, that wisdom is both “vaguer but greater, and more dominating in its importance”
  62. 62. Whitehead: Wisdom •Because for Whitehead, you need some base of knowledge in order to attain wisdom, but that you can have knowledge and be “bare of wisdom” •It’s almost like there’s a hierarchy: data - information - knowledge - wisdom
  63. 63. Whitehead: Inert ideas •But, like Vico, Whitehead is also concerned that modern life has lost its telos •He says we have to be careful of ‘inert ideas’, that is, “ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilised, or tested, or thrown into fresh combinations”
  64. 64. Whitehead: Inert ideas •So, for us, then the problem is how to keep knowledge alive, how to “[prevent] it from becoming inert” •Whitehead hates ‘dead things’, things that are ‘anti-life’
  65. 65. Whitehead: Fading of ideals •So, when does a situation of inertia come about? •Whitehead’s concern is that “[t]he fading of ideals is sad evidence of the defeat of human endeavour” ... •i.e., inertia comes when we lose sight of ideals
  66. 66. Whitehead: Ideals and practice •And that “gradually, our ideals have sunk to square with our practice” (ouch!) •For example, I can say how much I hate gossip (that’s an ideal) but as soon as I gossip about someone, I have descended to a lower level.
  67. 67. TRANS •So, what links ideals with practice? •Communication. •Communication exposes our ideals through the ways in which we interact with, and behave towards, others.
  68. 68. PART IV COMMUNICATION
  69. 69. INTRO •Now that we’ve got some definitions out of the way, let’s look at one scholar’s philosophy of communication.
  70. 70. John Dewey Democracy and Education (1916)
  71. 71. Dewey (1859 - 1952) •Philosopher (logic, ethics, democracy) •Educational reformer (social constructivism, democracy)
  72. 72. Communication and society •Dewey believes that communication is central to how we live together •It is central to society Dewey, J. (2004/1916) Democracy and Education. Dover Publications, Mineola, New York.
  73. 73. Communication and society •Dewey says that people make a society not by living in close proximity but in communication •His example is letter-writing and living in the same household, but it could these days just as easily apply to Twitter and Facebook. Dewey, J. (2004/1916) Democracy and Education. Dover Publications, Mineola, New York.
  74. 74. Communication •All communication is educative •We cannot but be affected by it •And through communication we gain understanding Dewey, J. (2004/1916) Democracy and Education. Dover Publications, Mineola, New York.
  75. 75. Communication •To receive a communication we need to ‘get outside’ of our own experience and see the world as another sees it •To consider what ‘points of contact’ exist •Both the recipient and giver of communication are affected Dewey, J. (2004/1916) Democracy and Education. Dover Publications, Mineola, New York.
  76. 76. | To be a recipient of a communication is to have an enlarged and changed experience. — John Dewey, Democracy and Education, I, 2
  77. 77. A story for you ... •Ceduna •Let me also tell you about Skip (and an elbow in the guts)
  78. 78. Communication •And through communication we gain understanding •Both the recipient and giver of communication are affected Dewey, J. (2004/1916) Democracy and Education. Dover Publications, Mineola, New York.
  79. 79. | All communication is like art. — John Dewey, Democracy and Education, I, 2
  80. 80. Wrapping up
  81. 81. Philosophy and ethics •Philosophy is the study of central and fundamental problems •It is about the nature of things and why things are as they area •Ethics is a branch of philosophy that explores how we ought to live, act •Ethics is important in communication because every communicative act is a moral one
  82. 82. Human flourishing •Human flourising is the ultimate goal of life •It's about becoming a 'whole' person, about attaining wisdom •Some philosophers feel that we have lost this ultimate goal, that our ideals are sinking to match our practice
  83. 83. Commnication •Communication exposes our ideals through the ways in which we interact with, and behave towards, others. •To communicate fully we need to enter into another's experience of the world •Both the recipient and giver of communication are affected
  84. 84. Making sense of it all •Go home, think about it. •Talk the lecture through with your family, housemates, friends, whatever. •Tell them what you’re not clear about
  85. 85. Thanks for coming!
  86. 86. |Education is the guidance of the individual towards a comprehension of the art of life — Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education, Ch 3

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