Inhabiting Ethics: Educational Praxis in the Design Studio, the Music Class and the Dojo
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‘Ethics cannot be taught,’ asserted Plato in one of the first steps of Western philosophy, an argument that was reconfirmed also by Wittgenstein in the twentieth century. Against this background, this thesis argues for the prospect of acquiring Ethics in architectural design education. In doing so, it utilises two intertwined tactics of inquiry: a practice-led study and a philosophical exploration. The practice-led study examines three educational case studies: an architectural design studio, a music class and a dojo (the place of education in the traditional Japanese martial arts – here Aikido). Through the tactics of ethnomethodology the thesis investigates the way that participants in each practice produce situations of Ethics in each of the three cases. Simultaneously, the philosophical analysis divides the wider discourse of Ethics into two sub-themes: morality and ethics. Morality is characterised by normative evaluations, based on the application of external rules and rational reflection exercised by humans seen as ‘rational animals;’ while ethics is characterised by practical judgements, based on internal customs, habits and dispositions that reveal a notion of ‘human animality.’ The thesis argues against the privileging of the popular, and hegemonic sub-theme of morality, in support of the need to inhabit the largely neglected and underestimated area of ethics. The concept of ‘inhabitation’ deriving from habit, repetition and the every-day, proposes a dwelling in the inherently ineffable discourse of ethics, which can be acquired through habituation. In demonstrating this distinction between morality and ethics in the three educational case studies, human conduct (discussed as the trinity of theory, poesis, praxis by Aristotle) is analysed, and praxis is found to be the fundamental activity that inhabits ethics. There, in the mere doing of the most mundane and everyday educational activities, where means and ends conflate, ethics thrive. Furthermore, two complex terms are employed to analyse the production of morality and ethics in the case studies: reflective disruption as a generative mechanism of morality; and repetitive mimesis as a generator of ethics. The thesis concludes that the currently dominant quest for constant innovative reflection, needs to replaced by a focus on the repetition of mimetic actions; arguing that students are educated in ethics by inhabiting this largely unknown, but uncannily familiar area of Ethics.