re: Process Thinking – ETHICS – a Thought for Tuesday

In recent discussion towards ‘process thinking’ we began to allude to ‘ethics’, but without reference or comprehensive conclusiveness (shocking behaviour I know!)…

‘Ethics is a different matter from philosophy – but I would suggest that consistency and coherence are useful touchstones to help us decide and act.’

Were we maybe referring to a liberal use of the term ‘ethos’ perchance (in appropriate pose, or not)? (Although, and of course, from an ecozoic perspective the differentiation must be within an energetic relational context!?). I guess I would use it to mean the fundamental orientation or direction of a behavioural stance implied by and within a philosophy…

Ethos ( /ˈiːθɒs/ or /ˈiːθoʊs/) is a Greek word meaning “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology.

 Ethos (ἦθος, ἔθος, plurals: ethe (ἤθη), ethea (ἤθεα)) is a Greek word originally meaning “accustomed place” (as in ἤθεα ἵππων “the habitat of horses”, Iliad 6.511), “custom, habit”, equivalent to Latin mores.

Ethos forms the root of ethikos (ἠθικός), meaning “moral, showing moral character”. Late Latin borrowed it as ethicus, the feminine of which (ethica, for ἠθική φιλοσοφία “moral philosophy”) is the origin of the modern English word ethics.

 Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice, etc.

from Wikipedia

 Isn’t it shocking where bad spelling can get you?! – Asteroid Eros Reconstructed (image from – astronomy picture of the day) 

During my degree I was ‘brought up short’ in a crit by a tutor who questioned the fundamental notion behind a project which was based in my understanding that people are essentially ‘good’ and that nature is progressively benign rather than a malignant energetic entity. My tutor’s argument was that as a Catholic, he believed that we are inherently evil – that we are the ‘Original Sin’ – and that our ‘natural tendencies’ must be controlled, transcended or suppressed for us to live together in peace!

As I am sure you can imagine and appreciate there was/is no answer to such inflexibility of ‘belief’ but the experience gave me great recourse to further thought and pontification, (be gads) …

  • I now wonder whether the ‘ethics’, or behavioural code, of a philosophy is dictated/implied by such fundamentally dualistic dichotomy within its intrinsic logic (although of course there is now the more fluid ‘third’ position of non-determinant expansive energetic orientation)?
  • I have also found it useful as a means to determine or ponder the logically implied ‘motivational’ and practical stance within and basis of any action or policy before committing my involvement, however temporarily, to its purpose and thus to state such ‘ethos’ as a precursor to any discourse to avoid a ‘conflict’.

As per usual I have completely lost myself in my effusive enjoyment of the written word, but thought it might be interesting to raise the point – are the processes that we might adopt as artists to communicate with or engage an audience essentially determined by our basic belief/understanding/perception of whether we think that we and/or the universe are determinately ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘indifferent’ or ‘expansively emergent’?

Or, for example, if we embark on our practice under the premise that people are whole, intelligent beings whose engagement with our work allows a deeper sense of connection to our essential nature as part of the universal emergence, then is this a more appropriate response to the ideals of the ecozoic/process thinking, than assuming that through our actions we are educating people, who begin life as an essentially ‘blank sheet’ to be formed, added to and manipulated by experiential and phenomenal means, from a position of ‘greater awareness and wisdom’ and hence reinforcing such hierarchies that the philosophies are attempting to escape? And then, of course, again how do such insights or attitudes determine the physical manifestation of our work, or implicitly manifest themselves in our work?

  ants 1, farnham (pward 2011)

As spuriously convoluted as this high-minded philosophical nit picking may seem I believe it to be at the very heart of our role as artists and communicators, and determines the ways and means by which we make our choices both in our work and in our everyday lives, from the way we hold a paintbrush or manipulate language, or the way we might bring up children, to how we perceive our futures and our role within them, and may hold the key to our effectiveness as communicators…

PW 2011

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