Thursday, 3 March 2011

Chris Port Blog #110 Manifesto For Drama Education in the Twenty-First Century


© Chris Port, Central School of Speech and Drama, 2000 

Reflecting on this analysis from 10 years ago, what strikes me now is how painfully right my dire predictions were. If anything, I should have been more brutal...

Drama Education has now been completely hijacked by the language games of commerce. Faculty management are practically illiterate in the language of art.

Drama and theatre have become incapable of the rhizomatic interconnections of knowledge performed so consummately by television, computer games and the Internet.

'... theatre is so dead, as a form, that it isn’t possible for anything interesting to happen on the contemporary stage. It is a heritage activity rather than in any sense an “art”.' (Lanchester 1999: A1).

But it's worse than that. On the predominantly male side, right-wing organizational mafias (masonic), imported from corporate management, have utterly politicized drama and theatre in schools to reflect their personal partisan views.

On the predominantly female side, lipstick feminist mafias, imported from cruise ship entertainment, have utterly trivialized drama and theatre in schools to the point where it is little more than an unsponsored offshoot of Simon Cowell Incorporated.

Britain once led the world in drama and theatre. Now, in our education system at least, we've been gelded. It is now truly that 'dead heritage activity' of which Lanchester warned. Drama teachers enthusing about Glee... Jesus H. Christ (in the profane sense)...  

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      * 

'It is difficult to escape the conclusion that drama in schools, having launched itself in the age of innocence, is now in need of some theoretical revitalization if it is to prosper and flourish in the cold light of the age of experience.' (Hornbrook 1998:13).

The following essay discusses the development of the philosophy of drama education in relation to the age that it occurred in. It considers the factors that influenced the dominant discourse of each era. A manifesto for drama education in the twenty first century is outlined, bounded by the specific context of the placement school in 2000. 

Contents

Introduction: The Fallacy of Dominant Discourses in the Wider Context of Postmodernism.

  1. Drama as ‘self-expression’
  2. Drama as ‘social engineering’
  3. Learning ‘through’ Drama
  4. Learning ‘in’ Drama
  5. Drama as ‘pick and mix’
  6. Manifesto: The dramatization of philosophy.

Bibliography 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Introduction: The Fallacy of Dominant Discourses in the Wider Context of Postmodernism.
 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
(Yeats cited in Cohen 1960:429).

The above quotation from Yeats’ poem The Second Coming (cited in Cohen 1960) seems an appropriate place to start. It neatly signals the main contention of this discussion: that the discourses of drama education in the United Kingdom, in common with all other Eurocentric discourses since the Second World War, can be located in two contexts: the historical and the philosophical. However, while the historical context might purport to discuss these discourses as a chronological sequence of facts and ideas, the philosophical context will not allow this centre of logic to hold.

To explain: the discourses of drama education can usually be accurately described in the first (and narrower) context, that of the changing socio-political climates and the prevailing economic winds; however, the second, much broader context, is that of the philosophical undercurrents which have characterized the sea-changes in post-war intellectual debate about the nature and purpose of artforms, from the surface pristine clarity of Modernism to the floundering of definitions under the murky blanket term of Postmodernism.


Steven Connor (1992) summarizes Modernism as ‘endless experimentation and innovation in artistic form’ and Postmodernism as ‘a simultaneous refusal and intensification of modernism’ (Connor 1992:288). Our history of discourses is a fallacy. In discussing the dominant discourses of each era (in Postmodernist terms) we are dealing with an endless regression of Poststructuralist contradictions (c.f. Baudrillard, Derrida and Foucault cited in Powell 1998).


It is an obvious (but easily overlooked) contradiction of the following discussion that it must, in itself, attempt to
be a dominant discourse. We are discussing, here, the fragmentation of previous ideas and their reassembly into a current idea (even a potted ‘history’ makes selections of dominance: the choice of calendar; the choice of ‘facts’).

Any focused discussion must necessarily have an agenda; that agenda must necessarily exclude more than it includes; any discussion is therefore partial and fragmented in itself. Thus, rather than claiming a spurious impartiality, this discussion will clearly locate its foci within the wider discourse(s) of Postmodernism.

Here we reach an immediate problem. Postmodernism is not, in itself, a dominant discourse but the
fracturing of dominant discourses. How can we focus our reflections on the past using the intellectual equivalent of a broken mirror? The answer is by gluing our metaphorical mirror back together again on the understanding that the idea of an unfragmented mirror was a distortion in the first place. While our history ‘tree’ of discourses will follow a vertical chronology, our analysis of it will be rhizomatic, rearranging interconnections outside of their contemporaneous discourses (c.f. Deleuze and Guattari cited in Powell 1998).

Our ‘distorted’ agenda is therefore as follows:

  1. Drama as ‘self-expression’
  2. Drama as ‘social engineering’
  3. Learning ‘through’ Drama
  4. Learning ‘in’ Drama
  5. Drama as ‘pick and mix’
  6. Manifesto: The dramatization of philosophy

Agenda items 1. to 5. simulate developments in Drama Education from the 1950s to the 1990s; item 6. outlines a manifesto for the twenty first century.

1) Drama as ‘self-expression’

There were notable practitioners and benchmarks in drama education throughout the first half of this century (e.g. Harriet Finlay-Johnson; the Hadow Report 1927; the Spens Report 1938; the Norwood Report 1943). Peter Abbs (1994) describes the history of the English arts curriculum (both pre and post-war) as ‘a story of division and dislocation’ (Abbs 1994:73).

Our arbitrary correlation with the Postmodernist timeline starts with the end of the Second World War. This bookmark in the metanarrative of modernism showed the world that the Enlightenment values of science and rationality had led ultimately to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, the skies over Hiroshima and the rubble of Europe. Intellects, subordinated to the grand narratives of Nazism, Stalinism, and the Democracies, had created mechanized states of inhuman destructive power. The betrayal of rational Eurocentric world-views, started by the slaughter of some ten million people in the First World War, found its nadir in the extermination of more than fifty million people in the Second World War. It is hardly surprising that, in the wake of such blood-letting, at Darwin’s tail-end to religious faith and the headstart of consumerism in the West, progressivism turned from these metanarratives to what Brian Appleyard has termed the ‘survival of the atomised self’ (Appleyard 1999:39).

During the 1940s and 1950s there was a growing anti-intellectualism amongst the progressive movement together with an increasing preoccupation with notions of free-expression and self-expression.

Peter Slade (1958) advocated a dramatic version of child art, emphasizing the therapeutic effects of spontaneity and self-expression. Rather than a conventional teacher/pupil relationship, Slade proposed that teachers should act as ‘loving allies’, drawing a group’s attention to ‘some little piece of beauty they may have missed’ (Slade 1958:39). Harnessing the natural instinct of children toward dramatic play, Slade trusted them to acquire self-evident learning skills and meanings.

However, in Slade’s view of Drama Education, there does not seem to be much education. There is no set agenda and no means of assessing the children’s levels of learning or achievement beyond that of close personal appreciation. Here we begin to see the growth of
non-judgmentalism where any overt assessment or criticism (even constructive criticism) might be seen as stunting the child’s creativity.

How can you ‘assess’ creativity when all the metanarratives have broken down and there is only the ‘atomised self’? Slade’s theories dispensed with the historical context of drama. Instead of being used as a gradual initiation of the child into the variegated world of aesthetics and the theatre, drama was little more than supervised play in the classroom.

2) Drama as ‘social engineering’

A slightly more ambitious approach to the use of improvisation and role play was Brian Way’s theories about personal development. Way was also more adamant in his rejection of the traditions of the theatre in Drama Education: ‘We are concerned with developing people not drama (and certainly not theatre)’. (Way cited in Hornbrook 1991:ix). He was not concerned with the theatre but with developing children in a benevolent form of social engineering, viewing Drama Education as primarily about making better, more developed individuals. Here we begin to see the transition of Drama in Education from that of free play to that of a guided process (with hints of benevolent social engineering).


In our rhizomatic Postmodernist timeline, it would be a mistake to view this optimistic approach as a return to a metanarrative, that of well-adjusted individuals in a kinder, more cohesive society (although it may have appeared this way to the practitioners of the day). Instead, from our current fragmented perspective, we might view Way’s division of drama (as socialization) from theatre (as a separate aesthetic product) in Deconstructionist terms.


Although usually applied to textual analysis and the interplay of language, there is no reason why we cannot transpose this term onto Way’s categorization of drama and theatre as binary opposites (c.f. Derrida cited in Powell 1998). By placing drama and theatre in opposition (with drama as the privileged category) Way was inadvertently creating a dichotomy, freezing the interplay of drama and theatre and marginalizing the latter. Only after the agitations of theatrophiles such as Abbs (1987; 1994) and Hornbrook (1989; 1991; 1998) has the process/product opposition been decentred and subverted; now (arguably) a new binary opposition has been created with aesthetics, theatre conventions and neo-positivist assessment criteria as the ascendant opposites (although this is continually being decentred and subverted by the agitations of ‘pick and mix’ practitioners).


3) Learning ‘through’ Drama

The emphasis on Drama in Education as a means to personal, social (and, by implication, moral) improvement was taken up and enhanced during the 1970s and 1980s by the work of Dorothy Heathcote and Gavin Bolton. Heathcote proposed elevating the traditional identification process of role play into a cross-curricular inquiry process ‘
... without members of the class falling into their traditional role of students/learners’ (Heathcote and Bolton 1995:16) .

The status of role play was elevated into an approach termed ‘mantle of the expert’. If role play could be described as a game where the objective is to identify with another person’s thoughts and feelings, then mantle of the expert could be said to be taking the game more seriously. Heathcote was dissatisfied with simply ‘labeling’ students as experts in their role play. Instead, they should actually become experts in the fictional context by acquiring the skills necessary to investigate and resolve whatever problem has been implanted in the exercise by the teacher. The teacher’s task is to facilitate/manipulate the students’ learning while supplementing dramatic conventions for real life technicalities otherwise ‘... their inexpertness would become immediately apparent’ (Heathcote and Bolton 1995:18). In this way, Heathcote believed that a mantle of the expert approach achieves deepening layers of meaning and an appreciation of human universals.

This explicit and progressivist view of Drama in Education attracts the criticism that, in being child-centred, role play/mantle of the expert lacks any external quality control. Also, its presumption of human universals may be ego/ethnocentrically flawed, creating Baudrillardian ‘myths of origin’, for example, creating a ‘primitive tribe’ in Heathcote’s image of what a primitive tribe
ought to be (c.f. Baudrillard cited in Powell 1998). Even if the mantle of the expert model is accurate (a nonsensical proposition in Baudrillard’s world-view of simulacra) as John O’Toole (1992) points out, the depth of identification and learning achieved by role play may not be as profound as that assumed by its advocates as the context of the setting, the school, unlike a theatre, militates against suspension of disbelief:

'The expectations of the participants are that non-fictional events are what normally take place, that the ‘learning’ which goes on in a classroom is part of the ‘real world’. Objectivity holds sway.' (O’Toole 1992:55).


One response to this questioning of Drama’s place in an educational environment is to propose its effectiveness as a service in relation to other, more conventionally academic, subjects. Dorothy Heathcote emphasized that her elevation of role play into mantle of the expert could only be understood from the perspective of the whole curriculum. The critical learning area (for example, the harmful consequences of bullying) ‘will emerge when the time is ripe’ (Heathcote 1995:6).

In a sense, mantle of the expert is really a covert educational operation since the significant message (such as bullying has harmful consequences) is not assumed to be self-evident nor is it made explicit (since this would negate the need for a cross-curricular inquiry process). The intended outcome of the exercise may be planted by the teacher amidst the inquiry tasks where it will be ‘discovered’ by the students from examining clues, ostensibly under their own auspices. This seems to be a cynical manipulation far removed from Slade’s optimistic advocacy of play therapy.


4) Learning ‘in’ Drama

In the smaller socio-political context, the seeds of change seem to have been planted in 1976 when James Callaghan made his ‘Ruskin Speech’ proclaiming that ‘the educational system was out of touch with the fundamental need of Britain to survive economically in a highly competitive world through the efficiency of its industry and commerce’ (cited in Abbs 1994:7). According to Abbs, this is when a reductionist pragmatism crept into the British educational system with the ‘competitive energies of a market-economy ruthlessly transposed to the nursery, the school, the college and the university’ (Abbs 1994:5).

The Education Reform Act 1988 instituted the National Curriculum and relegated Drama to the status of a minor satellite of the English curriculum. This relegation prompted a reconsideration of Drama’s academic status (or lack thereof). One of the problems identified by Peter Abbs (1987) was that the ‘desire for immediate spontaneity of expression [c.f. Slade 1958 and Way 1967] ousted stylistic constraints - and hence, the formal possibilities - of inherited culture’. (Abbs 1987:44). Abbs (in Hornbrook 1991) subsequently complained that the rejection of the language and conventions of theatre in favour of improvisation had created artificial conflicts of interest. Thus, in his preface to Hornbrook’s
Education in Drama (1991), Abbs wrote:

'For four decades the practice of drama seemed to rest on a number of simple and falsifying dichotomies - drama versus theatre, process versus performance, the child versus the inherited culture, the open space versus the stage space - dichotomies which only required for their resolution a critical broadening of categories.'
(Abbs in Hornbrook 1991:ix-x).

In considering the case for promoting Drama in the National Curriculum as an autonomous core subject, Hornbrook does not dismiss the value of Drama Education as a source of creativity. However, he does emphasize that, in order to be a subject worthy of study, drama must differentiate itself in language, conventions and content from other art forms (in much the same way as music does) and that the natural context for these differentiations is the theatre. He also goes some way to addressing the problems of assessing a qualitative art form (Drama) in a quantitative environment (Education) by proposing academic standards of attainment.

The educational success of role play in itself may be difficult to quantify but the study, understanding, acquisition and demonstration of prescribed drama skills, according to assessment descriptors and within the broad scope and tradition of the theatre is more accessible to assessment.

 5) Drama as ‘pick and mix’
 
'We have to remember that the schools are not producing sausages, they are producing human beings which are all different.'
(Evening Echo, 10 December 1999:12).

The above apposite quote by an unnamed Essex education spokesman, commenting on the 1999 school league tables, neatly encapsulates the mentor’s philosophy of drama education in the Phases A to C placement school. On first inspection, the mentor’s aims and objectives appear to be a personal and eclectic evolution of ideals rather than a theoretical exposition. However, on reflection they can be loosely contextualised as an amalgamation of all of the following influential post-war developments in drama education:

Peter Slade’s child-centred and psychological philosophy of drama in schools (circa 1950s);

Brian Way’s philosophy of personal development (circa 1960s);

Dorothy Heathcote’s and Gavin Bolton’s model of drama as a learning medium (circa 1970s/1980s);

David Hornbrook’s emphasis on drama as a product based artform with development and criteria based assessment of student skills (circa 1990s).

A key text to the Mentor’s pragmatic ‘pick and mix’ philosophy is David Self (1975) A Practical Guide to Drama in the Secondary School. This is in itself an eclectic work (rhizomatic in our Postmodernist jargon). Although it does not compare and contrast philosophies, its ideological assumptions can be decentred in different ways. Take the following assertion:

'Ultimately, the aim of every teacher is to prepare the teenager to enter the adult world; the drama teacher is probably in the best position to make that debut as painless as possible. (Self 1975:30).

This could be used to deconstruct Slade (1958) by the binary opposition of free play and preparation for work; alternatively, it could be used to decentre Way (1967) by the binary opposition of teenage and adult worlds; the Heathcote and Bolton (1995) model of drama as a learning medium could be deconstructed by the binary opposition of skills acquired through drama and skills acquired in drama; likewise Hornbrook (1989; 1991; 1998). While the text is of its time (probably poised somewhere between Slade and Way) it is also of our time; its importation can be used to mean whatever we want it to; it actually means nothing.

Unsurprisingly, the Mentor does not reflect on his drama methodologies with our Postmodernist broken mirror. He just makes the (rhizomatic) interconnections which suit his various purposes. In the Mentor’s words, the aims of drama in the school should be ‘to create positive and confident people through exploration of creativity and sociability’ (cited in Port 1999:1). Objectives should be:

'... to increase pupils’ skills in language, communication and empathy; to explore social issues; to develop awareness of literature, aesthetics and criticism of the media, building on these aims and objectives in Years 10 and 11 while developing drama skills into theatre skills’.
(cited in Port 1999: 1).

On a personal level, the Mentor is also keen that drama in school should ultimately be ‘a source and place of joy’ (cited in Port 1999:1).

There is enough in these aims and objectives for us to place them in whatever theory of drama education we choose to mention.


Reducing our scrutiny to the narrower socio-political and economic context, however, the current emphasis on exam results and league tables (as perceived by Headteachers anxious to attract parents, new students and funding) has led to a banding system being introduced. The Mentor has objected to this banding in drama on the grounds that it is socially divisive and causes ‘sink’ groups. Thus we have an example of the Mentor’s philosophy of Drama Education being over-ruled by the smaller pragmatic considerations of the educational marketplace under the reductionist philosophy of Catoism (c.f. Abbs 1994:7).

Drama practitioners can only ‘pick and mix’ to the extent that their employers’ policies will allow them to. Employers’ policies appear to be remarkably resilient to philosophical overtures in this latest of Postmodern eras, that of late global capitalism which dominates the language of most current dominant discourses (except this one).

6) Manifesto: The Dramatization of Philosophy

In brief, we have contextualised some of the highlights of the dominant discourses in Drama Education since the Second World War in two contexts: the narrower context of socio-political and economic trends, and the broader contest of the breakdown of metanarratives under Postmodernism.


Any pragmatic manifesto for Drama Education in the twenty first century would need to outline how our subject can participate more deeply in the language games of commerce since (in the narrower context) this is the dominant discourse of our current era.


In the broader context of Postmodernism, however, it could be argued that we need a paradigm shift,
away from philosophies of drama education and towards the dramatization of philosophy itself. At present, drama and the theatre do not seem capable of the rhizomatic interconnections of knowledge performed so consummately by television, computer games and the Internet. John Lanchester (1999) believes that:

'... theatre is so dead, as a form, that it isn’t possible for anything interesting to happen on the contemporary stage. It is a heritage activity rather than in any sense an “art”.' (Lanchester 1999: A1).

If Lanchester is correct then, rather than teaching a living artform, we may be teaching a ‘dead’ heritage activity which will render the old process versus product debate obsolete in a way never envisaged by any of the protagonists. A manifesto for drama education in the twenty first century will probably best be served in the short term by adopting Hornbrook’s (1998) eclectic subject curriculum, in particular the promotion of interculturalism (c.f. Sita Brahmachari in Hornbrook 1998) which, as a sophisticated pragmatic relativistic perspective, is well suited to the fragmentation of narratives in this Postmodernist era. In the longer term, however, the relevance of that broad church subject curriculum may still fade with interest in the artform itself. Unless theatre in the public domain can dramatize the philosophical implications of Postmodernism itself (which, curiously, seems to have affected Drama more than its literary parent, English) then Drama Education is still living on borrowed time.

The Modernist obsession of experimentation with form has long outlived its relevance or welcome. The prolonged skepticism of Postmodernism has produced a skepticism about theatre itself. Theatre needs a new content, new ideas. Whether such new content or ideas are even possible after Postmodernism is not yet clear, but one thing is clear; if they are possible, then it will be new writers who will have to provide them. A Drama Education manifesto for the twenty first century is therefore a plea: we need new writers and we need new ideas.

© Chris Port, Central School of Speech and Drama, 2000

Bibliography

Abbs, P. (1987)
Living Powers: The Arts in Education, London, The Falmer Press.

Abbs P. (1994)
The Educational Imperative: A Defence of Socratic and Aesthetic Learning, London, The Falmer Press.

Appleyard, B. (1999) ‘2000: Millennium Week 1’,
The Sunday Times Magazine,
7 February 1999, pp 37-41.

Cohen, J.M. and M.J. (1960)
The Penguin Dictionary of Quotations, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books Ltd.

Connor, S. (1992) ‘modernism and postmodernism’, in Cooper, D. (Ed.)
A Companion to Aesthetics, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Evening Echo
, 10 December 1999, p 12.

Heathcote, D. and Bolton, G. (1995)
Drama for Learning: Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert Approach to Education, Portsmouth, Heinemann.

Hornbrook, D. (1991)
Education in Drama: Casting the National Curriculum, London, The Falmer Press.

Hornbrook, D. (1998)
On The Subject of Drama, London, Routledge.

Lanchester, J. (1999) ‘Do the arts exist?’,
The Daily Telegraph Arts & Books,
11 September 1999, p A1.

O’Toole, J. (1992)
The Process of Drama: Negotiating Art and Meaning, London, Routledge.

Port, C.J. ‘What are the aims and objectives of drama in this school and how are these manifested in lesson plans/schemes of work?’
Reflective Writing/Lesson Analysis, 4 November 1999.

Powell, J. (1998)
Postmodernism for Beginners, London, Writers and Readers Ltd.

Self, D. (1975)
A Practical Guide to Drama in the Secondary School, London, Ward Lock International.

Slade, P. (1958)
An Introduction to Child Drama, London, Hodder and Stoughton.

Way, B. (1967)
Development Through Drama, London, Longman.

2 comments:

  1. JOB OPPORTUNITY FOR STARVING PHILOSOPHERS
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-moral-landscape-challenge1/

    Sam Harris (world famous neuroscientist philosopher) is offering his critics a chance to put up or shut up. He's offered a cash prize of $20,000 (about £12,800) to anyone who can convincingly refute his central argument for a scientific morality.

    Assuming no-one can refute him, there's a consolation prize of $2,000 (about £1,280) for the most interesting response.

    See FAQs in link for further details. Closing date for entries is 9 February 2014, so you've got time to buy his book and boost his royalties.

    INITIAL THOUGHTS

    Hmmm… Traditionally, science has been regarded as descriptive and morality as prescriptive. But science is also predictive. So, in Sam’s moral landscape, do good* predictions = good** prescriptions?

    * Falsifiable
    ** Beneficial

    Possibly. But if they’re truly equivalent, does it work vice versa? This leads out onto some very thin ice…

    The real question is always “Cui bono” (to whose benefit?). So I suspect that Sam’s thesis could only be refuted by reference to de facto cynicism rather than de jure principle (i.e. selectivity and performativity)

    Postscript

    I don’t actually want to refute Sam’s thesis (fortunately for me). I just want to qualify it (modesty is my only flaw). But, in order to qualify it, I’ll have to fail to refute it in a way that grabs his interest. So, all I’m really looking for is a fascinating aesthetic conundrum at the heart of his argument…

    See also:

    Can Science Answer Moral Questions?
    http://martygull.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/chris-port-blog-250-can-science-answer.html

    First Draft PhD Proposal
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/first-draft-phd-proposal/397025593660968

    Woolwich Threads
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/woolwich-threads/620407134656145

    A Crash Course in Aesthetics
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/a-crash-course-in-aesthetics/510545425642317

    Metamodernist Case Notes on a Think Tank Thread: Why Us and Why Now?
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/metamodernist-case-notes-on-a-think-tank-thread-why-us-and-why-now/478080715555455

    Notes on Metamodernism: The Pit and the Pendulum...
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/notes-on-metamodernism-the-pit-and-the-pendulum/431728890190638

    The Name of the Ghost
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/the-name-of-the-ghost/431724480191079

    Teachers Talking Rot (1 of 2)
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/teachers-talking-rot-1-of-2/606322266064632

    Teachers Talking Rot (2 of 2)
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-port/teachers-talking-rot-2-of-2/606331422730383

    See also: "Perhaps description is the key?"

    Marty Solves One of the Problems of the Universe
    http://martygull.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/chris-port-blog-114-marty-solves-one-of.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. WG: If morality evolved for the purpose of fostering community, can we deduce anything about what is moral/immoral without committing the naturalistic fallacy? If so, what?

    Naturalistic fallacy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy

    CP: Assuming evolution (and discounting intelligent design) we would be committing a teleological fallacy if we claimed that morality evolved for any purpose.

    See Teleological Argument
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleological_argument

    It would be less erroneous if we simply claimed that community evolved as a successful survival strategy. From this we can deduce that morality evolved from a natural hierarchical pecking order into etiquette.

    See Etiquette
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etiquette

    The problem of the 'Naturalistic Fallacy' arises because of a manmade distinction between natural and manmade.

    This distinction seems to be an inverted form of the anthropomorphic/pathetic fallacy.

    See Pathetic Fallacy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathetic_fallacy

    Man (i.e. homo sapiens) evolved IN the natural world. However, our intelligence evolved as another successful survival strategy. Eventually, this sapient differential resulted in misrecognition. We began to see ourselves as SEPARATE from the natural world.

    However, this separation is a fallacy. In (physical) reality, sentience is an emergent phenomenon. The artificial is still part of the natural world.

    From our initial premises, we can deduce that morality (i.e. evolved etiquette) can only exist in higher level consciousness. Therefore, we can deduce that morality is a complex emergent property.

    After that, we can only deduce that we are playing Wittgensteinian language games.

    See Language-game (philosophy)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language-game_%28philosophy%29

    In 'The Moral Landscape', Sam Harris proposes we should discard cultural relativism and quantify these language games in terms of 'the well-being of conscious creatures'. It's a logical deduction and a valid premise.

    See 'The Moral Landscape'
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moral_Landscape

    Whether his arguments are sound is still up for grabs though.

    Addendum.

    CP: If morality is ‘the well-being of conscious creatures’, then consciousness must precede well-being.

    This is a one-way logic gate. We can talk of consciousness without well-being, but it makes no sense to talk of well-being without consciousness.

    Ergo, existence must precede essence (sans Sartrean Free Will).

    Ergo, survival must precede morality.

    But survival of what? Individuals, communities, genes, or memes?

    These qualities are entangled and interdependent. But which is most important?

    Ironically, we cannot be equitable from first principle here. Unfortunately, we do not live in a deathless paradise. Therefore, in the physical universe, we can only talk of survival and morality in terms of priorities (e.g. dilemmas or conflicts of interest).

    The scientific method can quantify well-being. But can it qualify existential priorities? If not, then a scientific morality without aesthetic qualification has no system of prioritization.

    Ergo, does ‘scientific morality’ encounter similar inconsistencies to those identified in Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems?

    Raatikainen, Panu, "Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel-incompleteness/

    ReplyDelete