Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The ethical imagination: An interdisciplinary study of the relationship between responsibility and creativity
by Amato, Lawrence Andrew, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Dallas, 2011, 236; 3450438
Abstract (Summary)

This work explores the relationship of imagination to ethics. More particularly, the claim put forward here is that creative thinking and activities enhance, if not ground, our moral considerations. Subsequently, the first real arc of the work seeks to investigate perception, discretion, and consciousness—that is, how we see what we see, why we make the choices that we do, and our awareness that all of this is taking place—as phenomena to be thought right alongside of this relationship. So to better understand and expand these most basic human abilities, it moves to problematize the common conceptions of subjectivity and ethics and do so through hermeneutical readings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Emmanuel Levinas. From our readings of Nietzsche and Heidegger, it concludes that we are not totalized subjects, but rather bundles of relations ever underway, and that ethics might be better thought through the tension existing between Greek ethos and pathos. That is, ethics signifies our negotiation between accustomed abiding and dwelling (ethos) and our personal desires and sufferings (pathos )—two modes of being, we ought to admit, that are often at odds with one another. Further, and perhaps most importantly, we learn from Levinas that prior to any notions of reciprocity or fairness we are in fact already obliged to others. In this way, the possibility of being an authentic “self” is tied to being always already responsible for others. Put another way, for each of us to “be who we are,” we must first discover (or remember) our primal obligation to others, and then endeavor to abide with them responsibly. It is here that it argues that to cultivate and enhance the imagination—thought as “creative envisioning” and “seeing otherwise than”—is to simultaneously cultivate and enhance true ethical possibilities. For in developing the capacity to envision new relations, responses, and realities, we are able to take that first vital step towards creating or enacting them. To this end, regular meaningful engagement with creative works and activities that cultivate the imagination—art, music, poetry, dance, film—also increase our possibilities of being with and for others in ever more responsible and inspired ways.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bambach, Charles, Turner, Frederick
Commitee: Channell, David, Terranova, Charissa
School: The University of Texas at Dallas
Department: Humanities-History of Ideas
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Ethics, Philosophy
Keywords: Consciousness, Creativity, Ethics, Imagination, Parable, Responsibility
Publication Number: 3450438
ISBN: 9781124590936
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