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PHD-DESIGN  2000

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Subject:

Theory and originality

From:

Norm Sheehan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Norm Sheehan <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 30 Aug 2000 14:39:19 +1000

Content-Type:

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Hi Johann

This discussion is great, sadly many questions are not being posted on the
discussion list it seems...I am only getting answers to unposted
questions...anyway to address the subject.

i believe that Fairclough has been misrepresented to a degree, critical
discourse analysis would propose that the position of a group or individual
in relation to a discourse is a key to the definition of a dominant
discourse/hegemony...relations of power and power struggles are the means
by which discourses and societies shape each other (according to
Fairclough). His view of hegemony/leadership therefore would best be
interpreted as a critical analysis...those positioned inside the dominant
discourse (a hegemony) see their acts as leadership (good for all) and
those positioned outside see it as oppression (not good for us) with ranges
of agreement/compliance/complicity in between. 

Once we introduce the concept of rationality we enter a discourse with a
long history and many traditional paradigm orientations based in west
European culture and history...this immediately places the discourse in a
position of dominance in relation to many other groups of people. 

The proposal of 'a rational' immediately creates a dualism (as most
European concepts do) and inherently determines that some are
irrational...this whole debate is becoming fairly meaningless in light of
the basis of this discourse in abstract systems of knowing (eg.
mathematics) that have determined that irrational relations provide a basis
for understanding the generative and emergent properties of life
(complexity theory and fractal geometry).

What is most surprising for those outside this dominant discourse is that
these abstract 'irrational' conceptions of being in the world are well
known to them as real and rational elements of Indigenous traditions (see
African art and fractal geometry, Blackfoot physics, Dreaming ecology etc).

What can be learned from the discourse of rationality is that the modern
origin of European Rationality (Locke, Coombs etc) is inherently linked
with concepts of natural order and social Darwinism which defined women,
the poor (not noble of blood) and people of other races as irrational. As a
consequence understanding power relations and dominance in a discourse
(hegemony) is vital in this context... especially if we take note of Jerome
Burner's dictum that social conceptions of order do not die out...they
change form, lie dormant but remain as subtle determinants for action that
can arise on instigation as powerful forces in a social group.

The proposal of a 'rationality' within a design discourse may therefore be
interpreted as the enactment of a certain power relation of values for
design. 
Within an industrial/commercial context production values would certainly
predominate but I don't believe that this is an issue that negatively
impinges on creativity. For example a preconception of usefulness that is
applied to creative exploration as a production value (when essentially it
is a preproduction constraint) can be a positive influence. 

Sternberg and Lubart and others who evaluate creativity as a contextual
event state that these obstacles are an important element in achieving
creativity because constraints are challenges that can spur creative people
on. Also divergent thinking plays a key role in many explanations… so
limitation, creativity and dissent often go hand in hand whatever the
context because this is the nature of the process. 

The question that arises for me is, does creativity equate to simple
problem solving or is it more concerned with exploration & generation and
then solution/problem matching. Which begs another question, are we
discussing creativity at all? 


In reality this seems to be a process design issue that essentially must
involve the creation of a FIT between creativity and context, as is stated
by Johann, but this is also suggests a production methodology that can
greatly limit organisational creative responsiveness. Many studies cover
this topic and I am currently completing research that will help me to
answer this in my own way…but I have not got an answer for this one…and it
may not be possible to answer at all.

I think the way that we define creativity is determined by the social
discourse in which we engage with creative acts and the origin of our
cultural orientation to creativity…(& what we use creativity for). Design
research methodology will be required to address the creative discourse in
a context and accept that these concepts (& definitions) live and grow with
the groups and individuals that employ them if it is to generate knowledge.
Therefore understanding the dominant discourse/Hegemony in relation to
theory/creativity in a context is a vital issue and a key research area for
design PhD/s.

Notions of inspiration and talent presuppose an origin for creativity that
is 'other', outside normal living/being…it may equally be true that
creativity is a constant in our living/being and we have devised social
structures to limit it in acceptable ways, and we are then surprised when
some of it gets through. I believe emergence theories support that the
latter is the most probable and therefore believe that creativity commands
reverence not definition.


Norm






[log in to unmask]
Norman Sheehan
Senior Research Officer
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit
University of Queensland
Brisbane Old 4072 Australia


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