On Thu, 6 Jan 2005, Alon Serper wrote:
I feel the thesis must be very focused on a selected focused, clear and succinct area – ontologising the epistemological approach of Living Education Theory. Getting into revolutions, logics, etc, etc within the short amount of space permitted will just create mishmash of unclear shopping lists of information that I and the reader will simply drown in. And it has been done already and well-known and well-researched and, therefore, not original, and by definition cannot constitute an original contribution to knowledge.
So I'll focus on the ontologising LAR scope.
(Jack - Completely agree - this will be a major contribution.....|)
I'll keep it focused, simple, practical, clear and powerful in its clarity, coherence and simplicity and to the point. Focused, to the point, powerful and clear on the task of ontologising the epistemological living educational theory approach in order to be able to construct a way to conceive, study, enquire into and approach human existence and the human subject in a systematic, structured and communicative manner.
These are the standards of judgement and the criteria (Whitehead, 1993, p. 46) I am asking to be assessed on for my thesis. Obviously (and this goes without saying) in addition to the ones that define a doctorate thesis and its awarding as such, namely, an original contribution to the field of knowledge, clarity of argument, a permitted amount of space limitation, a critical engagement with ideas of others and material worthy of publication.
Due to the task at hand of accommodating and studying human existence, improving empirical psychology and constructing an alternative heuristic tool for the conception and study of the human subject I feel these standards and criteria of judgement are essential here.
I am a humanist who for a long time has wished to construct a more humanist/phenomenological oriented disciplined and integrated version of psychology and a conception of the human subject and human existence. I objected to reductionism, to alienation, to radical empiricism and positivism, mechanism and determinism (Serper, 1999). I tried to construct an alternative by integrating the different models in a series of empirical studies that would treat and conceive the human subject in a humanist and phenomenological manner and satisfy my critique (Serper, 1999, 2003).
Then, I discovered the living action research and the living educational theory approach to educational research, practitioner research and action research. I liked the idea of the materialistic, embodied, ‘I’, the living contradiction, the dialectic approach that permitted internal, living contradictions, non-linear approach and an engagement with real practice and being embodied and grounded within it. I liked the idea of a dialect with the action and logic of the concern of improving one’s practice and self.
This has fitted my view that psychology is about self-constructing individuals in the real-world real-life situations wishing to realise themselves and fulfil a desire to lead a more meaningful existence with greater purpose and contribution and to learn to fulfil and improve their ontological security and well-being and act in and with the world to in this direction, out of this intension and for this goal. I liked the idea of a materialistic, holistic and integrated ‘I’ that embodies, combines and integrates in it psychological, cognitive, social, historical, cultural, physiological, biological, emotional, chemical, spiritual and metaphysical processes and elements. I liked the idea of an ‘I’ acting in and with the world (Shanon, 1993, James, 1890; Serper, 1999) whilst still remaining a personal, transforming and moving, conscious (James, 1890) ‘I’.
Still, I was disappointed to realise that the living educational theory approach has been obsessed with an engagement with wars of words with other approaches and traditions, with lamenting about being oppressed, misunderstood and attacked politically, with attacking others as oppressors and intolerants, with explaining, defending and rationalising itself in a defensive mode and with epistemology, explanation and need to explain and philosophy of science. I was disappointed to realise that Living educational theory approach is about a practitioner explaining his/her practice instead of understanding what and who he/she is what the practice is all about and why is it so. I was breathless with excitement and thrilled when someone and an academic approach has finally, acknowledged that life and human existence are value-laden and are about the fulfilment of values but equally disappointed and frustrated when this was used for a systematic, mechanistic methodology and epistemology instead of a sincere, genuine attempt to comprehend, made sense of, convey and clarify what values mean and signify and the true value of values.
I was disappointed when what I perceive to be the real scope and issue, namely values, ethos, aesthetics, have become passionless, life-less lips service, mechanistic, cold, structured and derived of ardour, soul, evocation, feelings, emotions, blood and tears and not attributed the place it deserved, whilst abstract, mystical, ambiguous and wordy concepts have gained the passion and soul. I was disappointed from its very cautious and sterile approach to words and existence, from its fear of offending and showing blood, hatred, confusion, head-banging in frustration and pain, aggressiveness, pain, grief, sorrow, confusion, hair-tearing, self-beating and violence. I regarded this to be an hypocrisy for I believe these are embodied and laden within the practice and notion of value and their search and fulfilment, which means failure and embracing the failure to fulfil them too (Living Contradictions). I was disappointed when they were merely utilised as clean, sterile, clean-cut and clear epistemological knowledge searching and knowledge gathering and conveying and contributing.
Since the beauty of Living Action Research Theory approach is that it is embodied within an individual’s practice and action and encourages action through a dialogue with it in action, I have decided to take action and produce an actual doctorate thesis embracing my critique in constructing a way of dealing with it in action by doing and producing it. This has been an immensely difficult exercise. The great difficulties, emotionally and physically exhausting, are the price of construction and the price of an actual action and acting, rather than speaking and critiquing. They are embodied within the desire to contribute to something that one is subscribed to and full of enormous respect towards. I believe that the more respect, the more pain and resources one inflicts on oneself for and towards the task of contributing to. To act, to feel, to do something about something, to engage, to commit, to be truly concerned is difficult and exhausting. To talk, to critique in idle, an idle talk (Heidegger), to theorise with engagement means an easy, passive indifference.
In this thesis I conduct an ontological search and enquiry for the epistemological values. I use my past work and effort to be able to rationalise, ground down to earth and legitimise my desire to conduct a living educational theory enquiry in what it means for me to become and be.
I use the fact that I have established myself as an accredited ontologist (Serper, 2004, Whitehead, 2004). I use my established, proven, credentials as an accredited theoretical and constructive/ing critical psychologist of the human subject (Serper, 1999, 2004). I use my establishment as an accredited thinker and a creative poet of human existence (Serper, 2004). I use the fact that I have worked very hard for several years to secure a green light from academia (Serper, 2004, Prof. Motzkin and Prof. Shanon’s critique of Serper, 1999) to go, search and enquire for an inquiry for an alternative, integrated manner and model to conceive and study the human subject and human existence.
To become and be means, for me, securing a life of greater meaning, purpose and contribution that I take to be an improvement on the practice of existing and being/becoming and as embraced within the question and logic of how do I improve my practice (Whitehead, 1989). I view this to signify greater ontological security, dignity, personal integrity, autonomy, self-gratification and hope for a greater sense of contribution, meaning and purpose which I regard to be human and shared and comprehended by all human beings in common.
I, then, try to clarify what they mean to me from within my living my own existence and becoming. This means understanding and delving into. It means making sense of them. It means trying to communicate them to others who share an embodied knowledge of experiencing them from within their own existing and leading their own existence and desire to obtain greater meaning, purpose, well-being, ontological security, hope and contribution from it for the future being and future construction as being. This means a complete ontological engagement to complement the epistemological engagement.
This thesis communicates ontological and aesthetic stories of my dealing and coping with (ethos) the phenomena (and their meaning) of ontological security, hope for greater meaning, personal integrity, sense of autonomy, self-respect, self-gratification, dignity, sense of self and contribution to the world and others and, vicariously, yet obliquely and implicitly me. The stories convey their fulfilment, their frustration and the/my failure to fulfil them. They convey stories of self-disappointment, frustration from myself, self-deception, determinism and being determined by others and other things, indignity, lack of self-respect, etc and my dealing with these phenomena. This is done to learn, to come to terms with and understand.
The thesis and the stories aim to strengthen the living educational theory approach, to fulfil its true potential and to turn it into a manner to approach, study, convey and enquire into the conception of human existence and the human subject. They aim to fulfil my role and ambitions as a constructive critical psychologist of the human subject who actually constructs in practice and real-life an alternative solution to the conception and study and approaching human existence and the human subject. Hence, they aim for me to derive and obtain the experience of greater sense of meaning, accomplishment and contribution and to feel greater self-gratification, integrity, self-respect, ontological security, hope for the future (mine), dignity and respect in my life, being and becoming and improve my practice of existing and being and becoming a better researcher of human existence and ontology.
They aim to be a very practical solution that can work in practice, that can contribute, that can engage and teach and show and illustrate and rationalise and justify. They strive to be original, of real and practical benefit. They endeavour to be clear, to complement, to complete and integrated and be integrated within.
I regard myself as a researcher who wishes to bring an original way of approaching and studying the conception of the human subject in the world. I am someone who wishes to bring Living action research, namely the materialistic and connecting 'I', the dialectical engagement with the question of 'how do I improve my practice', in and within the practice itself (living contradictions etc), to the study of the conception of human existence and the human subject as constructing critical psychology of the human subject and to bring true ontology, phenomenological engagement and ethical and aesthetic of delving in the phenomenon of human existence to Living action research, action research, self-study and practitioner research and, and through, inclusional integration. I am, therefore, contributing an original contribution to my field and to the academy as part of the fulfilment of a doctorate of philosophy degree - original contribution to academic research and to others.
In the thesis I discuss this, rationalise it and illustrate it.
Jack said - Just enjoyed reading the account. I particularly liked:
The thesis will, therefore, show the way ontological principles could and should be employed as a heuristic tool to approach, study and conceive human existence in a living educational theory thesis of the researcher/author’s practice of being/becoming/living/existing in and with the world. This is combining and integrating phenomenology and phenomenological methods and approaches, autobiographical study, action research, the living theory action research approach to educational research, constructing critical psychology of the human subject, post-moderna and post-modern approaches and methodologies, humanistic/existential approaches. This is being done with all the limitations and consequential strengths of producing a single thesis and a doctorate research programme in a small British university in 21st century England.
And I say
The thesis’ role is to contribute to, complement, push forward and improve existing approaches of conceiving and approaching human existence and the human subject
I contribute to the empirical heuristic tools by introducing the possibility of conducting an empirical research enquiry into human existence using my materialistic ‘I’ in dialect with the practice of living, existing, being and becoming in and with the world in an attempt to improve it and live a better, more meaningful life in and with the world. This is done using a critical reflection, practitioner-research and action research enquiry into the fulfilment of my values and principles in the process of my living and existing in and with the world. A process enquiry where I am learning from my failure to fulfil these values and principles and analysing and making sense from my successes to fulfil them as I wish and plan to. I use the living educational theory approach and show how I can produce a theory of human existence and approaching it by asking myself the question how do I improve my leading a more fulfilled existence with greater meaning, purpose, quality, ethos and contribution and acting out to achieve this goal.
Still, in the living educational theory approach to action research and academic research enquiry values are the reasons for action in the explanation for an individual’s educational development. They are embodied in his/her practice. Their meaning can be communicated and clarified in the course of their emergence and unfolding in practice as epistemological standards of judgement that constitute an explanation for the actions, practice and living/life in a dialectic engagement with the question ‘How do I improve this process of education here?’ that perceives the ‘I’ as a ‘living contradiction’ (Whitehead, 1989a, 2004b). This means that the ‘I’ contains two mutually exclusive opposites, the experience of holding educational values and the experience of their negation. The explanations, theories and description for the practice, life, living and existence are being constructed by integrating such contradictions in the presentations of the practitioners’ claims to know their practice, life and living.
There is an insufficient engagement in the existing
approach of Living Educational theory (Whitehead, 1985, 1989, 1993, 2004),
action research (McNiff, 1988, 2000), practitioner research, living life as methodology
(Marshall, 2001), autoethnography (Ellis and Bochner, 2000, 1995) and the
postmoderna with the meaning of values and leading a better existence and/or
practice. There is too much
assumption and allegation that this is the way life is and human beings
are? There is an insufficient
accountability with the questions of why is life being and lived this way? [Why
is it like this?] Why are human beings like this? Why are they this way? Why is
the materialistic ‘I’ this way? What makes human beings, human lives and human
practices this way, act in this manner and take and construct this form? What does living values actually mean
and imply? What does it mean for an individual and the individual who live them?
What are these values that give life a form and can constitute a way of
conducting epistemology and theory? Why are they so important? How do I make
sense of them? How do I clarify them?
Ontology is epistemology and epistemology is ontology. They are combined and integrated in this thesis. Epistemology cannot stand alone, on its own, by its own means, without ontology. So much effort and hard work has been carried out on epistemology and its explanation, why has ontology been left out in the cold? Why has it not been granted with the respect that it deserves? Why has it been taken for granted?
I am. That’s true. But for what purpose and why am I, for what reason? Why is it so important that I am and continue to be here? Why is it so important to explain me and my practice and being here? Without comprehending the importance of being (ontology) there is no point in explaining it (epistemology). How can you explain something without fully comprehending, grasping and accounting for it? How can you use it to explain the thing you wish to explain (the practice) without fully grasping, clarifying and accounting for its/the explanation (the values) and how you use it (the values) to explain the practice?
Epistemology cannot go without ontology. Why couldn’t the living educational approach comprehend this and do something about it? How dare it take this for granted? Who and in what right did and could it take it for granted? How could it perceive itself as a true humanist (Whitehead, 1981) and a humanitarian (Whitehead, 1993) tool and approach for the future of humanity (Whitehead, 2004) whilst treating ontology in this manner?
I love and have a great sympathy for living educational theory so I wish to produce a purely ontological account drawing on and using it. I am willing to take the courage and the immense difficulties that this entails, even if it tells me that it is educational (education and learning) and not therapeutic/therapy. Still, the ‘I’ and the/its learning undergoes crises, severe ontological shaking and great anxiety and despair and pain. It needs this in order to learn, change, improve and fulfil. It needs this to explain itself and account for itself. The confrontation of the ‘I’ with itself requires it. The self dialogue (Moustakas, 1990, 1994, 1981) with the self requires this. No learning could occur without this. No ‘I’ can take place without this. And it is harsh, shaking, tormenting, vicious and an extremely difficult exercise to undertake and carry out.
The practicing, acting, materialistic, interconnecting ‘I’ needs to be made sense of. It is insufficient to assume the ‘I’ to be materialistic and living and connecting. Who is this ‘I’? What is this ‘I’? What does this ‘I’ stand for? Why is the values this ‘I’ is holding important? Why can they serve as epistemological standards of judgement? Why can they serve as a theory and heuristics? Why do the values give the life and the practice their form?
There is no doubt in my mind that ontological principles are what construct human existence and human becoming in the world and can serve as explanations and theories of human existence and as the basis for a heuristic tool for the conception and study of the human subject and human existence. The ontology, the ethos, the ethics, the aesthetics needs to be catered for and delved into.
Individuals act and live in a desire to become and be more ontological secure, more self-satisfied from themselves, more satisfied/gratified from their actions, relationships and beings, with greater sense of personal integrity, dignity, sense of autonomy and self, hope for a better future, self-respect, and respect and dignity from others. Individuals act, live and construct their lives to reduce their sense of being degraded, undignified, disrespected, dependence and lack of self-gratification, self-respect. They act to diminish despair and ontological, existential void, noid (Frankl).
I cannot think of any individual who lives and acts in order to be degraded, dehumanised and achieve despair and void. This is absurd and simply ludicrous. Individuals entertain suicidal thought and commit suicide when sensing ontological, existential void, degradation and lack of respect, meaning, self-respect, autonomy and hope for improvement. The profession of mental health caters for individuals in crises who are miserable because their condition/crises prevent them from achieving self-gratification, respect, dignity, autonomy, self-respect, personal-integrity, ontological security and hope for a better life of greater purpose, meaning and contribution.
Indeed, it is unlikely for one (anyone) to be and feel self-gratified, self-respected, fulfilled, satisfied, happy and dignified in a meaningful existence full of purpose and contribution when he/she is undergoing the following existence. He/she loses a high-respected, well-paid post and vocation in authority and responsibility over others and regress to lead of life of being mutilated and overweight by medications with horrific side-effect, a life of earning an extremely meagre pocket money, spending hours every day stuffing and stamping envelopes as part of a rehabilitation project. He/she is severely degraded, treated like an infant, being told of and what to do and determined by the medical staff (some the age of his/her daughter or son) during his/her recurring hospitalisations, some due to severe despair and ontological disgust and void due to his/her dead-end existing situation that he/she is told by the expert psychiatrists to be chronic. He/she is being unable to enjoy intimate and physical relationship with individuals as part of his/her conditions and symptoms. He/she is perceived to be eccentric and a menacing danger, a potential violence and harm. Now, tell me could this poor person feel aesthetically satisfied/gratified and a well-being and ontological security from and within his/her ontological being and becoming? Could he/she sense that that he/she is leading an existence of ethos and contribution in these experiences?
But what do these actually mean for the individual? How does she/he actually live them? What does he/she actually experience, undergo and go through? Why are they, in my mind at least, the construction tools and building material of human existence? Why are they so crucial that he/she would live or die for them, construct or despair, move forward or succumb, act out or being determined? Why are they epistemological for the understanding of human practice and life? Why are they methodological and systematic for the understanding and explanation of human practice and life and living? What makes them epistemological and methodological? How are they being acted and lived as explanations and methodology? How are they being defined by the individuals who act them out in order to improve their practice and life and achieve life of greater meaning, purpose, ethos and contribution?
The present thesis endeavours to answer these questions by showing an individual, a materialistic ‘I’ (me), who is an ontologist, constructive critical psychologist of the human subject and a living educational theorist, who tries to get into the very meaning of living my ontological principles in the course of my life. In the present thesis I try to communicate, clarify and account for what the values mean to me. I try to convey what the failure to fulfil them truly signify in practice to me. I strive to communicate the anxieties that this entails on and to me, as well as the sense of fulfilment, thrill and satisfaction that living and fulfilling them truly imply in practice to and on me. Since I am general and have selected the very ontological principles that no one could deny their being commonly acted out and lived by all human subjects in common this account could be clarified as a heuristics and heuristic tool, theory and enquiry of human existence in the world.
I have been very cautious in selecting the principles. I have learned from Whitehead’s mistake in assuming the universality of the values of freedom, democracy and justice, whilst working with a Singaporean educator (Whitehead, 1993) on her living education theory and being told that not only that they are not universal but that for this particular action researcher they clash with her real values. The principles that I have selected for my own living theory of human existence, ontology and the conception and study for human existence and the human subject are ontological and ethical and human all too human.
They transcend all cultural, historical, political, ethnical, economic, unconscious, linguistic and social boundaries and processes as ontological principles. All human beings wish to be dignified, ontologically secured, gratified, autonomous, self-gratified, respected and human with a sense of hope, meaning, achievement, fulfilment and purpose. All human beings wish to feel that they have made and are in the process of making a progress and moving forward rather than backward, upward rather than downward, towards hope, betterment and realisation as opposed to despair, worsening and failure. No human being wishes to die sensing his/her existence has been a total waste and an illusion.
Still, every individual tackles living, constructing and acting out these ontological principles in the course of his/her life in a personal and unique manner. The cultural, historical, social, ethical, economic, unconscious political, linguistic play a role in the individual living them out in the course of his/her life and existing, becoming and being what he/she is. I’ll let other researchers and other heuristic tools worry about an analysis of these historical, social, linguistic, ethical, political, economic and cultural processes as processes. What I am concerned about here in this thesis is the individual wishing to construct and live a life of greater purpose, meaning, ontological security and hope for a better existence (moving forward rather than backward). This is the scope of this thesis. I wish to do little else. I’ll let other researchers worry about the philosophy, history, politics and sociology of science, logics, economics and the future of humanity as a race and species.
I need to understand, grasp and delve into the meaning of these principles and living them out in practice. I need to show I have understood them and taken the task of grasping them in a systematic, convincing, critical and rigorous manner. I need to find out, examine, clarify and communicate what they mean and signify for me in the course of my life, living, existing and becoming. If I can do so I could, then, combine it with living action research and account for the meaning of human existence and how it could be approached, clarified, tackled and studied in a methodological, clear empirical, systematic and critical manner.
The thesis will not deal with logics (Whitehead, 2004). It will not mention propositional and dialectic forms of logic (Whitehead, 1989) nor impositional and inclusional logic (Rayner, 2004) and the need for a new, independently constructed logic (Laidlaw, 2004; Whitehead, 2004). It will not discuss the difference between tradition research (McNiff, 2000) and avant-garde alternatives (Denzin, 1997). It will not talk about technical rationality and theoretical epistemology and the new epistemology of praxis, critical reflection and embodies knowledge (see Schon, 1995; Whitehead, 2004; Whitehead et al., 2004; Mellet, 1995; McNiff, 2000). It will not discuss positivism vs. post-positivism. It will not discuss postmoderna vs. moderna. It will not discuss empiricism vs. creative art and emotions (Mellet, McNiff, 2000).
[An email I wrote on the seventh of January, 2005- I
intend to create something that propositionalists will view as propositional
and living action researchers as living. We are all living, despite what
we think of some of our beloved colleagues. Even
propositionalists have feelings and are living human beings. Reading some
of the accounts (e.g., McNiff, 2000; Mellet, 1995), I sometimes feel unease
at the attack on the so-called propositional and the shedding tears, some
crocodiles and some real on being constantly attacked and misunderstood. We
also attack. We also have teeth and hands, intelligence and logics and
'brain' and can beat them up too. We are also strong. When beaten up we
can retaliate and defend ourselves. We do not need to constantly play the
Somehow, I feel that constantly playing the victim makes
us victims. And in
many cases persecutors too.
One of my critique of post-colonialism is that by constantly talking about
race and persecution they acknowledge it and ignite and advertise an
argument and categories and give a hand to racism. Sometimes the best thing
is to let something kill itself and die on its own. Sometimes the best
thing is to ignore something, whilst acknowledging its existence in the
construction of something else. The answer to racism is to construct and
permit equality and equal rights and to ignore the racists. Constructing
equality instead of spending all the time and energy breaking the racists'
noses and spending the nights and days at police stations.
If I constantly cry and lament and whine that I cannot do something then I
spend my time lamenting and whining instead of doing and constructing an
alternative that can work and can be very good and accepted.
In my thesis, I intend to bring something up for scrutiny, something
rigorous and of very good quality and let it speak for itself and construct
and reform by actually doing and bringing up something. I do not intend to
cry that the propositional paralyses me and that I cannot construct what I
wish to because of it. My answer is to do something and to bring it up
It is there, in the world. Therefore it could be done and constructed.
Whether it is 'propositional', 'fish', 'kukoriko' or jhjhjh it does not
matter. I am putting something out there. Something involving a high
degree of rigour, intelligence, excellent research with excellent analysis
and data gathering technique, modesty, originality, engagement and coherence
and clear focus. I'll let it speak for itself and argue its place and
itself into place, the place it deserves and that awaits it.]
The thesis will bring a research that could be perceived as both very traditional and pseudo positivistic and avant-garde and ground breaking. Hopefully, and as part of my intention as the author, empiricists will perceive it as a good, rigorous, vigorous, well-researched and contributing/beneficial empirical work, whilst critical theorists and action researchers will perceive it a very good piece of living action and educational research theory thesis/work.
I, myself, bring up what can be perceived as traditional narratives (e.g., Lieblich ; Kleinman; Connelly and Clandinin). I produce, bring and convey narratives that discuss and revolve around well-known, human, concepts that any reader could comprehend as part of being a living human being – ontological security, a hope and desire for a meaningful future, self-gratification, integrity, personal and human dignity, and, for that matter, despair, self-dissatisfaction, ontological insecurity, self-disappointment, self-deception, existential and ontological void.
The narratives rigorously and systematic analyse these principles, living ontological experiences and concepts by narrating what they mean in practice for me as I try to lead a more agreeable (aesthetic) meaningful, more ethical and more self-fulfilling existence (ethos) in the world and improve my practice of existing meaningfully and contributively and to make sense and convey this endeavour (epistemology). Since they clearly, critically and systematically evaluate, revolve around, study and communicate concrete, tangible and ostensible things the research could be seen as valid, authentic, conventional and reliable by both traditional pseudo-positivists empiricists and post-positivistic, post-modernists, critical theorists and action researchers.
Whilst this is carried out using my own unique existence, as these are ontological principles that are shared and could be grasped by all human subjects in common then any living human being could carry out of systematically and rigorously analysing them from within his/her own existence and his/her, what seems to be unquestionable, desire to lead a more meaningful and fulfilled existence in and with the world, with more purpose and contribution. This can be read and understood by traditional, empirical and pseudo-positivistic researchers as being replicable, standardisation, universality and reliability and conventional.
The thesis will, therefore, bring the ontological, ethical, phenomenological and aesthetic and epistemological narratives to contribute to the Living educational theory approach, to action research, practitioner research, to narratives and to the study (heuristics and heuristic tools) of the conception of the human subject and human existence, psychological models and versions. I feel this is what they all need and require to strengthen them and transform them into something more powerful, more complete, more authentic, more practical that actually works in the real-world in real situations.
Talking endlessly about logic, research, doing research, language, theory, tradition, technicality, rationality, empiricism, ontology, ethics, the nature and essence of existence would actually lead nowhere but to countless words, arguments, debates, worthless philosophising and pseudo intellectualisation. It is time to bring and place in the public arena of a systematic scrutiny something that could be actually argued, rationalised and globally accepted as human, living and sense-making in its simplicity, practicality, coherence, logic and commonsense.
It is time to improve the situation by actually acting out and doing something concrete about it. Bringing these narrative to the public arena for scrutiny does. Doing and producing the narrative in a systematic, rigorous manner, whilst being aware of and demonstrating within the argument and narratives a full grasp and understanding of and an engagement with the different schools of thoughts, ideas and debates within the field, does. Keeping it simple, coherent, practical and well placed within a clear and defined structure and discipline and an argued out system does. Thinking about, maintaining implementing and acting out throughout the thesis in a clear, systematic and rigorous manner the contribution it sought to make to other researchers and the field in practice as the thesis unfolds does.
I got myself an original, systematic, critical and well thought out contribution, of real benefit to others and to research and the problem I sought to enquire into. I got myself a Ph.D. I am free to pursue this and to further rationalise, justify and illustrate my position and argument. I am likely to secure good positions and vocations, respect, dignity, financial and ontological security, self-respect, self-gratification and life of greater purpose, meaning and contribution.
On the other hand, discussing logics, philosophical, historical, sociological, linguistic, theoretical and conceptual problems and issues – question and concerns that have existed and debated on for thousands of years and that are likely to last and be discussed for another few millenniums – is likely to get me a place in a permanent place in a coffee house, a bar or a bench somewhere, a box in Hyde park corner. I am likely to grow into a bring old man, discussing mantras, jargon and ideas that no one can understand. I am likely to spend the rest of my life drowning in mystical and abstractive notions. I am likely to be frustrated, angry, financially and ontologically insecure, feeling a waste, an ontological despair and void, lacking integrity, hope, self-respect and self-gratification and sense of leading a meaningful existence of purpose and contribution.
I got myself ontological insecurity, drowning in words and abstractive/conceptual ideas, no real contribution, no meaning, no purpose, anger, frustration, self-hatred, despair and existential void. I got myself millions of words in Alon Serper’s Webpages, discussion forums, begging to be acknowledged and read and replied and not counting as anything concrete in terms of my career ambitions and future hope for myself.
If anyone tells me that what I am doing, proposing and carrying out as my Doctorate of Philosophy thesis and degree is insufficient, and a very easy, unoriginal and shallow (with no contribution) thing to carry out then I’d reply to him/her - then go do it yourself. Go and systematically analyse and carry out an ontological living educational theory of your own experiences, and your living out in the course of your existing/being/becoming, of the ontological principles I am outlining here (ontological security, hope for a more meaningful future, self-gratification, self-respect, integrity, dignity, etc). Go and do it in the manner that I am discussing and illustrating here in this thesis, analysing their negation, living contradiction and their fulfilment as part of the desire to lead a more meaningful existence of greater purpose, meaning and contribution (ethos) as part of a very practical and dialectic engagement with the epistemological question of how do I improve my practice of leading a more ethical existence?
Do it and then tell me if it is insufficient, too easy and too shallow. Go, undertake and undergo the uncertainties, ontological shakings and difficulties that this exercise entails and the very difficult ontological questions that penetrate the very core of your being, existence, ontological/existential dilemmas and soul and that constitute you, your self and naked, exposed being in the world. Do the exercise in the manner I intend for it to be and tell me that it is easy, shallow and meaningless. Grab and confront your self, your existence and the very ontology that constitutes and constructs you.
I reiterate them for you. This is the bit on the implication of the ontology and the delving in it that I think can complement the epistemological Living educational thesis.
He/she becomes an ‘I’ and I am taking responsibility, risk and grip and appearing as me. There is nothing to hide in. I am exposed. I shed everything but my existence and my desire to understand and account for it in order to develop it improve it and its meaning, purpose and quality. There is nothing left but my determination to come to grip with human existence, clarify, test and communicate it in pounding myself unmercifully with the question - is this what I want from my life? What is becoming of me? Where am I? Who am I? which incorporates the question how have I become who I am? Am I on the right path? Am I going the right way? Am I heading the right direction? Am I going forward? Am I going where I want to go, be and become? Will I think this in the far future? Is my plan too emotional and passionate? Is my plan too rational and systematic? Is the pace I follow and going quick enough? Should I go quicker? Am I going quickly enough? Am I going too quickly? Should I slow things down? Have I done the right things? What should have I done differently? What did I do well? What did I screw up? What and how much damage have I done? What could be done to amend it? How could I use the damage positively, make the most of it or at least diminish it? Have I lived my life in accordance with my values, principles, integrity and sense of self and being? What should have I learned from?
Writing these and thinking about this is scary and panicking. Could it be that my life has been a waste, a scam, an illusion, a failure, a damage, an accident? Could it be that I am a bad human being? Could it be that others would have had a better life had I not existed? Could it be that I have got many things and actions wrongly? What am I going to do if I reach the realization that I have not even slightly begun to live my potential being, that my life has been a waste and an illusion and that I have wasted it? What if I find out that things could have been done in a far better way than the manner in which I have led them? What if I find out and realize that there is nothing to be done to improve the damage that I have inflicted? What if I can do nothing to repair and amend the damage? What if I can only make it worse?
What if I discover another way in which I should have lived? What if I discover that I am a victim of horrific external circumstances and beyond anything I could? What if I find out that despite my enormous efforts, deeds, self-accountability and hard/slave-labour things get worse for me due to circumstances beyond me? What if I find out that I am a victim of horrific external circumstances that are beyond me and anything I could do? What if I find out that all my hard, vicious labour has been Sisyphus one and that all my efforts leave me down the mountains, even more exhausted and hurt than when I started rolling the stone up the mountain?
What if I discover there is no hope but a sick illusionary one? What if I discover despair, anguish and pain and no reason to improve myself, become a more righteous, decent and ethical being and, therefore, should do nothing but devouring on the aesthetic pleasure of the moment as if there is no tomorrow? What if I lose hope? Could I live with that? What if I find out I have been too righteous, that I have been far too immersed in the desire to be moral and principled that the aesthetic was scarified and others have taken advantage of me? What if I become cynical and come to believe that cynicism is the solution?
Still. What if I turn out to be an incredible being, loved, more ontological secured, respected, understood? What if my hope being strengthened and reinforced? What if I’ll be able to understand things, to make sense out of things, to explain and account for myself to myself? What if I shall be able to improve my future being, change things for the better and construct a better self for my future?
Nonetheless. What if I sacrifice my present in the desire to have a better future self? By definition, merely the present can be experienced consciously. The past is lived, experienced and referred to whilst experiencing the present. The future is the light in the tunnel, the point of direction towards which the present is leading and experienced. Life and living are in the present not in the past nor in the future. What if the pain, panic and uncertainties in analyzing my life and living in the present become my life and self and in my present desire to construct a future self I do not account for and truly live the present one? What if, in wishing to develop the future I sacrifice the present living? What if I never able to break the vicious circle of suffering in the present in order to construct a future and creating nothing other than a self-tormenting and suffering self, much like in Becket’s Waiting for Godot? It could be a sick and vicious illusion, like Godot.
This is very scary and terrorizing. The uncertainty is tormenting. I feel exposed, I am terrified of finding out things that will destroy the layers of ontological security I have put on so as not to face these question in a systematic, vicious, rigorous manner as an academic, structured method. Is it worth it? It could be destructive, self-destructive. Isn’t it better to write, intellectualise and philosophise about human existence, reviewing theories of it, methodologies and approaches to it? I am being defended and secured this way from myself and from my need to expose it alone and naked. Isn’t it better to review others’ ideas, to critique them, describe them, engage with them, read them, write about them? I can do this in a very rigorous manner.
I could analyse words, ideas and concepts. I could think about what they mean to me, tie them with others’ ideas I have read. I could think about their flaws and strengths and avoid delving and launching inside my own aching and tormenting self. A self that is terrified from itself and the act of confronting it. I could avoid my own living experiences, my own waste, my exposure, my very costly mistakes that have cost me blood, pain, torment and ontological shake and terror. I could avoid experiences and phenomena that are tearing me apart from inside where I am most exposed, where I am most defined, where I am most living, gushing, hurting, developing, reflecting introspectively, sense-making, making sense, analyzing and acting. I could avoid experiences and phenomena where I am most accounting for and confronting with myself, where I am most responsible for myself, where I am most inclined and vulnerable to seek a change and transformation and change and transform.
The good side is that I am still alive and still a practicing, licensed living and existing human being and still planning on living here, improve my qualification as a certified living human being and could change and reverse those horrific potential findings if this is what I find and wish to do. Changing for the better is learning and developing as a human being and this is why learning is embedded in living and education in ontology.
Another good thing is that I do not believe anyone could be all bad or all good. All human beings have positive and constructive sides that contribute to others, to the self and its integrity, security and satisfaction and to a global cause and utility as well as negative sides that hurt and damage others and the self. Everyone is both a victim and persecutor. Anyone cold resist or accept and follow in and as reaction to both external situations and himself/herself.
Still, to live means to experience, to act, to sense to take responsibility and accountability, to make sense, to take risk, to be launched into uncertainties and panic, not to know if it is destructive, or constructive, good or bad and to try construct the best that is feasible for oneself. To live means to confront, to tackle, to bleed, to breath heavily and to try to release tension and gain tension in an attempt to release it. To live signifies to make a difference, to contribute, to solve problems, to act out and to rejoice the fact that the passivity, apathy, inactivity and the launching of words into the void are being smashed and that the void is being constructively filled by life and living into hope.
The heuristic is the smashing of the intellectualization and the words thrown out into the abyss. The heuristic is the courage to take action and tell the story of one’s being in a dialogue with the question of what it is to be and become. A dialogue which takes place in a desire to show how I can deal with the question of how to make a difference, to improve, to make it better. The heuristic is about the courage to tell others to take self-responsibility, to go to the source of pain and meaning, to reflect, to introspect, to come to grip, to expose, to deal, to cope, to face, to confront, to identify, and locate, execute and improve and to tell and illustrate it firsthand.
What are these values that give life a form and can constitute a way of conducting epistemology and theory? Why are they so important? How do I make sense of them? How do I clarify them?
Ontology, epistemology, ethos, ethics and aesthetics could then be combined and integrated to form an enquiry and theory of human existence and turned into a heuristics and heuristic tool.
It is not feasible to do the epistemology without taking care of the ontology. In order to carry out and contribute to the epistemology the ontology needs to be analysed and made sense of. The values are used to account for a theory of practice. The individual acts in this manner in the course of his/her practice in order to fulfil the values, see how they are being contradicted and fulfilled. But what are they? How is this done? What is the significance of it/this? Why is it so crucial for the field of ontology, critical psychology of the human subject, constructive critical psychology of the human subject, theoretical psychology and humanism? Why is it so important for action research and living action research with their epistemological innovation in the field of the philosophy, history, sociology and politics of science, logics and philosophy of education and educational research? These are the questions the thesis strives to answer and account for.
In this way, I believe, the new tradition of action research, living action research and autoethnography will be integrated and combined with the traditional empirical research in a true inclusional relationship. A relationship in dialogue aimed at establishing mutual harmony-seeking relationship of correspondence of one with another in a ‘complementary, mutually transforming relationship’ (Rayner, forthcoming). A relationship aimed at breaking the individual tradition’s boundaries and extending them to create an integration that maintains and respects the integrity and principles of the two traditions whilst wishing to grow, account for the weaknesses, improve, and strengthen them. A relationship objects to being determined by ‘response of ‘one’ to the fixed frame of reference imposed by the other, which arises in turn from their dislocation rather than togetherness’ (ibid). A relationship aims at creating an integrated tradition that is accepted and comprehended by scholars as innovative, beneficial, systematic, rigorous and clear.
If a thesis is judged and assessed by its original contribution then why do I or should I have to repeat things and arguments already done by Whitehead, Husserl, Heidegger, Schon, Dewey, Elliot, McNiff, Bullough & Pinnegar, Rayner et al.,? They have, already, explained the importance of the materialistic ‘I’, of a dialectic engagement with practice, of praxis, of embodied knowledge, of inclusionality, of living contradiction, of critical reflection, of phenomenology , of Dasein, of the subject, of the existence. I should produce a thesis in the area that I think they have neglected and the one that needs an elaboration and expansion. An individual (me) living his/my human ontological principles in the course of his/my existing/becoming/being in and with the world as a materialistic, connecting ‘I’ (Whitehead, 1985) in and with the world (Bullough & Pinnegar, 2004) in a practical engagement with the question how do I lead a more meaningful and beneficial existence in the world? And looking at and delving in the ontological principles that permit him/me to carry out this enquiry and answer this question and what it means to live this question and carry out this exercise.