Exploring Inter-Being and Inter-Becoming - as Ethos-Making -- Ian Wight

This paper explores the concept of ethos, and the intersubjective cultivation or "making" of ethos, in the context of professional and inter-professional development and practice.  I had some difficulty initially warming to the paper or appreciating its ideas because the language throughout most of it remained at a high level of abstraction, giving (me) the impression of a relatively ungrounded circulation of buzz-words: integral, inter-professional, inter-being, inter-becoming, etc.  The author seemed to be speaking postmodern hyphen-ese (which is a dialect in which I have also indulged) -- and while I appreciate the generative potentials to be found in the many tensions, flows, and crossings that show up at the hyphenated 'borderlands' between disciplines, cultures, worldviews, etc, and thus am sympathetic to Wight's inter-professional or inter-disciplinary orientation, I wanted to be shown more substance, more concrete details, in the main body of the text.  Some of this hoped-for substance was delivered in the appendices, and after reading them, I found a second reading of the paper more rewarding.

Some of the highlights from the essay for me:

  • Wight's trialectic of praxis, ethos, and poiesis (as key elements of an integral (inter)professionalism) -- reminding me of Bhaskar's similar trialectic of (new ways of) being, perceiving, and acting.
  • The exploration of the relation of ethics and ethos, with the latter conceived as prior to ethics, as a holistic field (of value/vision), as being "made of praxis" (rather than "applied in practice"), and as ideally "always on" or habitually ever-in-play (as a collectively enacted guiding vision and mode of being/practice).  These points link ethos to poiesis or becoming, and find resonance also in Varela's distinction between ethical know-what and ethical know-how (with the latter being the more fundamental, once developed and acquired, as an intuitive, on-the-fly, embodied mode of ethical being-knowing).
  • The concept that ethos, conceived as a lively intersubjective or "We" practice and an ethical space of habitation, provides a "congenial locus for integration" which touches on and gathers in all quadrants.
  • The call for the (re-)docking of "role" and "soul" in professional contexts (here, explicitly, in the context of community planning, development, place-making, etc).  (I might relate the concept of soul here, especially in relation to the "roles" of community planners, developers, builders, etc, to Sloterdijk's twin notions of co-immunity and transformative practice, with the former aimed at the co-creation of spheres of thriving and the latter at on-going depth- and growth-work).
  • On a related theme, Wight's triple pairings of Self+Service, Soul+Role, and Spirit+Purpose -- which, when braided together, better support an ethos and a praxis which serve communal well-being or the cultivation (in Bhaskar's terms) of a eudaimonistic society.
  • On a more personal note for me, given the topic of my own ITC paper, I appreciated Wight's emphasis on prepositions:  "As professionals our core ‘being+meaning+discerning’ situates us as being on tap, not on top, in synch with our audiences and with our central selves. Paying particular attention to prepositions, we seek to temper our technocratic planning FOR people, by empathetically planning WITH people. We aspire throughout to authentically empower planning BY, and ultimately a caring-filled planning THROUGH, people themselves – the epitome of place-making. This all manifests in a common quest for comprehensive wellbeing, that is ultimately an elegantly simple wholeness: self aligned with service; soul aligned with role; and spirit aligned with purpose – a higher flourishing all-round, telling our we-story to the future."

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