Action Research as Spiritual Practice Essay

This essay has a total of 10357 words and 55 pages.

Action Research as Spiritual Practice

Return to Papers by Peter Reason

Action Research as Spiritual Practice

Peter Reason

Prepared for the University of Surrey Learning Community Conference

May 4/5 2000

For me spiritual life is not an interest, it's a way of life, of being in the world, the
foundation of everything. bell hooks, (hooks, 1991:218)

One of the interesting debates within the family of methods which we call action
research—co-operat ive inquiry, participatory action research, action science, action
inquiry, appreciative inquiry—has concerned what we mean by validity. Positivist science
is (relatively) clear that validity is about epistemology, about truth in some sense, a
correspondence between theory and empirical evidence. However, in action research, as we
have explored these questions, we have realized that validity, or a better term may be
quality, is a rather different, and more multidimensional, notion.

There is clearly an epistemological dimension to quality in action research. Action
research is an approach to the generation of knowing which aims to bring ideas and
knowledge and action together, to produce practical knowing. There is a huge debate, to
which I have contributed, about the nature of such practical knowing, and the
epistemological changes that the action research perspective brings to the academy (Heron
& Reason, 1997).

Action research has over the years also addressed political questions. The argument from
the PAR community is that the processes of knowledge creation have been monopolized by
those who have power, and thus they create knowledge in the service of their own
interests. What is the point of findings that are ‘true' if they have been produced in
circumstances that disempower people, that distort social relations, and add to the
monopoly power of dominant groups? So validity or quality in action research is also about
political relations, it is fundamentally about democratizing ways of creating practical
knowing (Chambers, 1997; Fals Borda, 1995; Fals Borda & Rahman, 1991; Gaventa & Cornwall,
2001; Selener, 1997). And action research has also asked pragmatic questions concerning
whether the outcomes of action research projects are ‘useful' whether they work in
practice (Greenwood & Levin, 1998). And of course, part of the postmodernist contribution
has been to emphasize the links between power and knowledge (Foucault, 1975).

Today I want to explore another dimension of quality in action research: action research
aims, I think, to develop practical knowing in the service of worthwhile human purposes.
In the Introduction to the Handbook (Reason & Bradbury, 2001a) we placed a set of quotes
which showed that while action research practitioners suggest slightly different emphases
in their work—‘quest for life,' ‘make the world better,' ‘loving,'
‘freer'—there is broad agreement that the purpose of human inquiry is the flourishing
of life, the life of human persons, of human communities, and increasingly of the
more-than-human world of which we are a part. However, Hilary Bradbury and I were struck
we are struck that while all contributors are concerned to address questions they believe
to be a significant worth, few pay explicit attention to inquiring into what is worthy of
attention, how we chose what is worthwhile. We wondered if action researchers espouse high
values without having relevant disciplines to inquire into this process of valuing?

So today I want to play with the idea that we can see action research as spiritual
practice, for as Matthew Fox tells us, the questions we address in our practice tell us
what matters (Fox, 1991a). Now, when I speak of spiritual practice, I want to be taken as
speaking of an everyday spirituality. For just as it is widely argued that action research
is a way of life—for example in Judi Marshall's recent paper Living Life as Inquiry
(Marshall, 1999)—so to for the mystic and prophet spiritual practice is not esoteric and
otherworldly, but is similarly part of everyday life. Meister Eckhart said that ‘God is
at home, it is we who have gone out for a walk'—spiritual practice is about returning
home, coming back to now; Jesus said the Kingdom/Queendom of Heaven is among you; or as
the Buddhists say, Nirvana is here, we are all Buddhas, we have to learn to recognize this
truth! As John Heron put it ‘simple openness to everyday participative experience,
feeling that subject and object are in an inseparable seamless field of imaging and
resonance—a field with infinite horizons—is itself a spiritual experience' (Personal
communication, 1997).

I asked Wolf Storm (Storm, 1972, 1994) to tell me what he, as a Medicine Wheel teacher,
meant by prayer. I understood from his reply was to pray was to approach life as sacred,
to call to living things, to feel one's relation to them, from the four great directions,
as spirit, body, emotions, and mind. When the Lokota people end their prayers, they say,
‘All our relations': spirituality is about all our relations, as Thomas Aquinas, said,
spirit is the capacity to relate to the totality of things.

If we see action research as spiritual practice, we may thereby discover ways in which we
can inquire together into worthwhile purposes. We may also come to understand action
research in a deeper and more profound manner.

Spiritual ity is a life-filled path, a spirit-filled way of living… A path is not goal
oriented. A path is the way itself, and every moment on it is a holy moment; a sacred
seeing goes on there (Fox, 1991a:11-12, original emphasis)

I have argued before that one of the great tasks of action research is to heal the splits
that characterize western experience [Reason, 1994 #30;(Reason & Bradbury, 2001a)]. One of
the great splits, which can be seen as taking place just 400 years ago with the burning of
Giordano Bruno (de Quincey, 1999b), has been between inquiry and religion: science got to
study ‘things material' and religion ‘things spiritual', splitting up the world into
different packages which is the root, I would argue, of our current predicament. Maybe
this consideration of action research as spiritual practice will contribute to healing of
that rift and allow spirit into our science and inquiry into our spiritual practice!

The Four Paths of Creation Spirituality

In this paper I draw heavily on the teachings of Matthew Fox on creation
spirituality—for it was listening to him in Bath earlier this year that the original
ideas for this talk came to me. Most of us brought up within a Christian tradition (and
for those of us who would not see ourselves as Christian, let us not forget how much
Christian teaching has influenced our world, the practice of capitalism and thus of the
context of our lives, as Weber and Tawney pointed out long ago) were brought up broadly
within the fall/redemption tradition, which starts with original sin and identifies a
threefold path to salvation—purgatio n, illumination and union. We have to radically
clean up our sin, see the light, and then we will have union with a transcendent divinity.
Fox says

It is a dualistic model and a patriarchal one; it begins its theology with sin and
original sin, and it generally ends with redemption. Fall/redemption spirituality does not
teach believers about the New Creation or creativity, about justice making and social
transformation, or about Eros, play, pleasure, and the God of Delight. It fails to teach
love of the earth or care for the cosmos, and it is so frightened of passion that it fails
to listen to the impassioned please of the anawim, the little ones, of human history (Fox,

The creation spirituality traditions start with original blessing of life, rather than the
original sin of fall/redemption (and Fox argues that creation spirituality is a much older
tradition, reaching back through the history of the Judaism and Christianity to the wisdom
books of the Old Testament , and reaching through Christian and Jewish mystics, the
ecstatic Sufis of Islam, romantic poets, to contemporary deep ecologists…). And in
contrast to the three paths of fall/redemption, Matthew Fox identifies four paths of
creation spirituality

The Four Paths of creation spirituality tell us what matters. We are told in Path One that
awe and delight matter; in Path Two that darkness, suffering and letting go matter; in
Path Three that creativity and imagination matter; and in Path Four that justice and
celebration, which add up to compassion, matter. (Fox, 1991a:12)

So what then of sin, indeed of original sin?

The creation-centred tradition, while it does not begin with original sin but with
original blessing, does indeed have an understanding of original sin or the sin behind
sin. From Meister Eckhart to Mary Daly, the sin behind all sin is seen as dualism.
Separation. Subject/object relationships. Fractures and fissure in our relationships. Take
any sin: war, burglary, rape, thievery. Every such action is treating another as an object
outside oneself. This is dualism. This is the sin behind sin. (1991:49)

Fox points out that this understanding of sin is found in Eastern spiritualities as well,
in the idea of separateness. I don't want to take the comparison too far, but there are
clearly parallels here with the positivist worldview and the methodologies of scientism.
The Western enterprise since Descartes has been based on dualism. Indeed, it is
interesting to note Brian Goodwin describes Dawkins' theory of the Selfish Gene (Goodwin,
1994) as paralleling the Fall/Redemption myth. So we can see that from this perspective we
urgently need a form of inquiry which doesn't rely on the separateness and divisiveness of
dualism, on the separation of subject and object in the western scientific view.

The Four Paths

The Via Positiva reminds us that we begin in original blessing rather than original sin,
in the ‘awe, wonder and mystery of nature and of all beings, each of whom is a "word of
God"' (1991:18) The Via Positiva tells us to ‘fall in love at least three times a day'
(1991:19)—in love with the cosmos, in love with a wildflower, in love with a symphony,
in love with another person. The Via Positiva tells us that awe, wonder, and falling in
love matter. Blessing is about abundance, about joy, about passion; about being part of
the earth, part of the cosmos; about beauty and harmony and balance. Meretta Hart, who has
just completed our MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice chose as the core aspect of
her life inquiry how to ‘be a blessing' in the world.

The Via Negativa reminds us that darkness and nothingness, silence and emptying, letting
go and letting be, pain and suffering, also constitute a real part of our spiritual
journey. The Via Negativa instructs us ‘Thou shalt dare the dark' (1991:19)

In the pathway that is the Via Negativa, we enter the shadow, the hidden or covered-up
parts of ourselves and our society. In doing so, we confront the cover-up that often
accompanies evil in self and society. ‘It is part of an unjust society to cover up the
pain of its victims' notes theologian Dorothy Solee. This commandment requires that
spiritual voyagers not only let go of cover-up and denial, but that they actually enter
into the darkness that pain is all about. Since both despair and apathy arise from the
cover-up of anger, this journey of letting go is also one of going deeper that the
despair, apathy, bitterness, and cynicism that can create such resentment in our souls and
society. (Fox, 1991b:20)

The Via Negativa is what mystics describe as the ‘dark night of the soul'. The creation
spirituality path reclaims mysticism, telling us we are actually all mystics, able to
‘undergo deep darkness'

It is when the heart is broken that compassion can begin to flow through it. (Fox, 1991a:20)

Paths One and Two lead to Path Three, the Via Creativa, which is about our generativity,
our imagination, our ability to co-create:

We trust our images enough to birth them and ride them into existence.

The basic spiritual discipline in the creation tradition is decidedly not asceticism, but
is the development of the aesthetic. Beauty, and our role in co-creating it, lie at the
heart of the spiritual journey. In Path Three we learn what Eckhart meant when he said
‘we are heirs of the fearful creative power of God.' Creativity is not about painting a
picture or producing an object; it is about wrestling with the demons and angels in the
depths of our psyches and daring to name them, to put them where they can breath and have
space and we can look at them. This process of listening to our images and birthing them
allows us to embrace our enemies'—that is, the shadow side of ourselves—as well as to
embrace our biggest visions and dreams (Fox, 1991a:18-21)

But creativity is not enough, for we are also called to the relief of suffering to
combating injustice, to the struggle for balance in society and history. We are called to
work together in community with others who are also struggling for justice. This is the
Via Transformativa.

T he creation spirituality journey culminates in compassion—the combination of justice
making and celebration. Justice and joy equally make up the experience that compassion is
about. The capacity to experience our interconnectedness concerns both the joy and the
sorrow that we undergo with others... Compassion is about the actions that flow from us as
a result of our interdependence (1991:22)

Fox uses the term ‘prophecy' here: we are all prophets (just as we are all mystics), and
the prophet is one who interferes:

To be compassionate is also to be prophetic... The prophet interferes with the injustice,
the unnecessary pain, that rains on the earth and its creatures when humans neglect
justice and compassion. That prophetic call to interfere with injustice resides in all of
us. (1991:23)

These four paths of creation spirituality can be seen as a journey from the joy of
original blessing, through the darkness of pain and suffering into creativity and on to
working for justice in the world. In this sense, each path negates, grows out of, and
builds on the previous. The four paths can also be seen as a spiral or sacred hoop in that

... the Via Positiva and the Via Creativa are related in a special way because they are
both about awe and wonder, delight and beauty... and the Via Negativa and the Via
Transformativa are also related in a special way because we cannot enter compassion if we
have not entered the darkness of suffering and pain... Path Four in many respects is a
response to the suffering of the world and of the self that we undergo in Path Two. But by
the time we arrive at Path Four we are more fully equipped—thanks to the awakened
imagination and creativity of Path Three—to respond to the suffering not just with anger
but with creative, effective works that truly heal. (1991:25)

The Four Paths as Action Research

I make the assumption here that most of you are familiar with the orientations of
experiential and participative research. Hilary Bradbury and I wrote

There is no ‘short answer' to the question ‘What is action research?' But let us say
as a working definition… that action research is a participatory, democratic process
concerned with developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes,
grounded in a participatory worldview... It seeks to bring together action and reflection,
theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions
to issues of pressing concern to people, and more generally the flourishing of individual
persons and their communities. (Reason & Bradbury, 2001a)

Further, drawing on work I have done with Judi Marshall and Bill Torbert, we identify
three broad strategies of research/practice:

First-person action research/practice skills and methods address the ability of the
researcher to foster an inquiring approach to his or her own life, to act awarely and
choicefully, and to assess effects in the outside world while acting. First person
research practice brings inquiry into more and more of our moments of action—not as
outside researchers but in the whole range of everyday activities.

Second-person action research/practice addresses our ability to inquire face-to-face with
others into issues of mutual concern—for example in the service of improving our
personal and professional practice both individually and separately. Second person inquiry
starts with interpersonal dialogue and includes the development of communities of inquiry
and learning organizations.

Third-person research/practice aims to extend these relatively small scale projects so
that ‘rather than being defined exclusively as ‘scientific happenings' they (are) also
defined as "political events"'(Toulmin & Gustavsen, 1996). Third person strategies aim to
create a wider community of inquiry involving persons who, because they cannot be known to
each other face-to-face (say, in a large, geographically dispersed corporation), have an
impersonal quality. Writing and other reporting of the process and outcomes of inquiries
can also be an important form of third person inquiry.(Reason & Bradbury, 2001b; Reason &
Torbert, 2001)

Action Research and the Via Positiva

Positivi st research starts in skepticism, in doubt. It mistrusts the pragmatics of
everyday human knowledge-making and places trust instead in timeless, universal, usually
mathematical truths. According to Stephen Toulmin (Toulmin, 1990) this philosophical
perspective arose out of the particular political circumstances of the ‘Enlightenment'
period, in particular the devastation caused by the 30 years war and the religious dogmas
which had caused so much misery:

… the Cartesian program for philosophy swept aside the ‘reasonable' uncertainties and
hesitations of 16th-century skeptics, in favor of new, mathematical kinds of ‘rational'
certainty and proof… [F]or the time being, that change of attitude—the devaluation of
the oral, the particular, the local, the timely, and the practical—appeared a small
price to pay for a formally ‘rational' theory grounded on abstract, universal, timeless
concepts… Soon enough, the flight from the particular, concrete, transitory, and
practical aspects of human experience became a feature of cultural life in general.
(Toulmin, 1990:75-76)

In contrast, action research strategies start with acknowledgement and celebration of the
human capacity for self-direction and meaning making in everyday life. As Budd Hall points
out (Hall, 2001), action research, in the sense of people and communities using their
inventiveness to address problems of everyday life, is as old as humanity and probably
older. As Orlando Fals Borda writes

The general concept of authentic participation… is rooted in cultural traditions of the
common people and their real history… which are resplendent with feelings and attitudes
of an altruistic, cooperative and communal nature and which are genuinely democratic
[Fals-Borda, 1991 #23:5]

Similarly in co-operative inquiry we start from the view that:

a person is a fundamental spiritual entity, a distinct presence in the world, who has the
potential to be the cause of his or her own actions. To actualize this capacity and become
fully a person is an achievement of education and self-development. It involves learning
to integrate individualizing characteristics with a deeper communion with others and the
world. (Heron, 1992:Chapter 2; Reason & Heron, 1995:123)

Action research leads us to an exuberant possibility of knowledge making: not to a search
for one truth, but for multiple expressions of our understanding, expression and creative
action. If human inquiry is not exciting, life enhancing, even pleasurable, then what is
it worth?

Action research also leads us, I believe, to a participatory worldview, toward a
conception of the cosmos as intelligent, self-ordering and self transcending cosmos, of
which one dimension is the life forms and ecology of planet earth.

… our world does not consist of separate things but of relationships which we co-author.
We participate in our world, so that the ‘reality' we experience is a co-creation that
involves the primal givenness of the cosmos and human feeling and construing. The
participative metaphor is particularly apt for action research, because as we participate
in creating our world we are already embodied and breathing beings who are necessarily
acting—and this draws us to consider how to judge the quality of our acting. (Reason &
Bradbury, 2001a)

Just as creation spirituality points to a wider cosmology, so too action research points
toward a cosmology in which matter is not ‘dead' as in the Cartesian worldview, but
inherently sentient: ‘no matter without mind, no mind without matter' (attrib Goethe).
Thus action research fits within what can be called a ‘pan-psychic' or
‘panexperiential' philosophy (de Quincey, 1999a, 1999b; Griffin, 1998; see also Table 1
for a summary)

Fox also points out that a theology of blessing is ‘about a different kind of power'
(1991:53). It is about power with and for people rather than power of control or power
over. His view is that the doctrine of original sin (which as above I have linked strongly
to a dualist worldview and thus to modernist science) has held such a sway in western
cultures because it has supported those who hold power

… an exaggerated doctrine of original sin, one that is employed as the starting point
for spirituality, plays kindly into the hands of the empire-builders, slave masters, and
patriarchal society in general. It divides and thereby conquers, pitting one's thoughts
against one's feelings, one's body against one's spirit, one's political vocation against
one's personal needs, people against earth, animals and nature in general. By doing this
it convolutes people, so confuses and pre-occupies them, that deeper questions of
community, justice and celebration never come to the fore. Blessing is politically
dangerous.... (1991:54)

The Enlightenment tradition makes almost no link between knowledge and power: except for
Bacon's assertion that knowledge is power, the political consequences of knowledge making
were subsumed under the epistemological. It is significant the Kuhn's book on the
structure of scientific revolutions (Kuhn, 1962), which was so influential in introducing
the notion of paradigm to our thinking about science, made no connection between knowledge
and power. It has been one of the important contributions of the postmodern movement to
make this link, to show us ‘the interested nature of knowledge-making' that inquiry is a
‘political process rather than merely a neutral, truth seeking operation' (Calas &
Smircich, 1999:651-2; see also Foucault, 1975; Gaventa & Cornwall, 2001; Lukes, 1974). So
to start our inquiry with an assertion of the knowledge-making capacity of ordinary people
is to reforge the link between democracy and epistemology (Park, 1999, 2001).

First- Second- and Third-person research/practice and the Via Positiva

In first person research/practice we begin with our celebration of the self directing,
self generating, self knowing and self transcending capabilities of the individual person
as inquirer; we see inquiry not as a specialized professional realm, but as learning
through risk taking in living. In second person research/practice, we conceive of the
human community and organization not mechanistically, not in terms of control and command,
but as a ‘community of inquiry within a community of practice'. And we glimpse the
possibility of third person research practice as engaging with yet wider communities of
regions, nations, the human community of the planet.

A particular form of action research which is strongly based in the Via Positiva is appreciative inquiry....

In their original formulation of appreciative inquiry, Cooperrider and Srivastva (1987)
argue that action research, especially in the guise of organizational development, has
largely failed as an instrument… social-organizationa l transformation… because of its
romance with critique at the expense of appreciation. To the extent that action research
maintains a problem-oriented view of the world it diminishes the capacity of researchers
and practitioners to produce innovative theory capable of inspiring the imagination,
commitment, and passionate dialogue required for the consensual re-ordering of social
conduct. If we devote our attention to what is wrong with organizations and communities,
we lose the ability to see and understand what gives life to organizations and to discover
ways to sustain and enhance that life-giving potential. (Ludema, Cooperrider, & Barrett,

In the terms I am using here, we make a mistake if our inquiry starts with the Via
Negativa—and the appreciative inquiry folk outline among the consequences of doing so
the limiting of conversation, the maintenance of hierarchy, the silencing of minorities
and the general enfeeblement of community and organizational processes

More than a method or technique, the appreciative mode of inquiry… engenders a reverence
for life that draws the researcher to inquire beyond superficial appearances to deeper
levels of the life-generating essentials and potentials of social existence. That is, the
action-researcher is drawn to affirm, and thereby illuminate, the factors and forces
involved in organizing that serve to nourish the human spirit (Cooperrider & Srivastva,

Appreciative inquiry distinguishes itself… by its deliberately affirmative assumptions
about people, organizations, and relationships. It focuses on asking the unconditional
positive question to ignite transformative dialogue and action within human systems…
[A]ppreciative inquiry is… an intentional posture of continuous discovery, search, and
inquiry into conceptions of life, joy, beauty, excellence, innovation, and freedom.
(Ludema et al., 2001)

Selecting a positive topic to explore is an essential starting point. Appreciative inquiry
is based on the premise that organizations move in the direction of what they study. For
example, when groups study human problems and conflicts, they often find that both the
number and severity of these problems grow. In the same manner, when groups study high
human ideals and achievements, such as peak experiences, best practices, and noble
accomplishments, these phenomena, too, tend to flourish. In this sense, topic choice is a
fateful act. (Ludema et al., 2001)

Appreciativ e inquiry teaches much about the power of the unconditional positive question,
about searching for what gives life and creativity to situations rather than for problems
to overcome. However, it is difficult not to conclude that in its emphasis on the positive
appreciative inquiry is in danger of ignoring the shadow.

When the Via Negativa is ignored, the prophetic voice is invariably silenced. Life becomes
superficial, easily manipulated, and ultimately… boring… For while the Via Positiva
teaches us the cosmic breadth of living, of our blessed bodiliness, the Via Negativa opens
us to our divine depths. (1991:130)

While the Fox's warning may be a little extreme given the huge positive impact
appreciative inquiry can have, nevertheless it speaks for me to the unease I feel about
its relentless positiveness. The question we must ask is whether, in resisting the
‘critical question', the problem-orientation of much action research, it avoids the
depths of the human soul to which the Via Negative points us.

... if we fail to let pain be pain... then pain will haunt us in nightmarish ways (1991:142)

To this requires courage, a willingness to embrace pain to enter it, befriend it. So we
can turn to the explore the Via Negativa as a dimension of action research.

Action Research and the Via Negativa

The Via Negativa asks us to dare the dark, to acknowledge, enter into and stay with
oppression, pain, silence. So does much action research. When Hilary Traylen did her
co-operative inquiry with health visitors, they found that what they most needed to look
at were the hidden agendas:

How much do we discuss with our clients, particularly highly sensitive issues such as
child abuse, incest, drug and alcohol abuse and poor relationships?… we all recognized
that some of the visits were superficial, not tackling the fundamental concerns we held
about some families. (Traylen, 1988:)

For Hilary and her co-researchers this was a frightening, as well as an exciting exploration.

The women's movement, the second wave of feminism, as been an originating force in the
development of action research (Maguire, 2001); much early feminism was based in the
methodology of consciousness raising, which we can see as a form of political co-operative
inquiry. Consciousness raising invited women to celebrate their strengths: it also
supported them in an exploration of their silencing, the grief and rage consequent of
living in a patriarchal society.

The celebrated book Women's Ways of Knowing (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986)
identifies how many women have experienced silence as a fundamental quality of many
women's knowing: ‘the absence of voice in these women is so salient' that silence is
‘an important anchoring point in our epistemological scheme'(Belenky et al., 1986:24). I
am often impressed with how women graduate students, on reading this book, speak of the
strength it gives them in recognising that their silencing is shared by many others. As
Ann Martin has it

For me, the connection between feminism and action research begins with the concept of
voice as I found it in the work of Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberg, and Tarule (1986) and the
essays of Andre Lorde… Many of us (women) have lived the transition from silence to
voice and experienced the power gained in that transition…it's only a small step from
the experience of finding one's own voice to realizing that this finding of voice, this
learning that one does know, applies to everyone. (quoted in Maguire, 2001)

Maguire writes, ‘Feminist grounded action research works to uncover and disrupt
silencing mechanisms, subtle and overt, in knowledge creation and organizational change
efforts' (2001). And the best features of the emerging men's movement similarly is
concerned both the with gifts of being a man and the pain, both caused and experienced,
with which masculinity has become associated (Keen, 1992).

In our early practice of co-operative inquiry, John Heron and I realized that the process
of inquiry itself is often a distressing one. We realized that when co-researchers engage
in fundamental re-visioning of their life practices this necessarily stirs up emotional
disturbances; and that these would often restimulate archaic patterns of fear, rage, and
grief originating often in infancy. And we realized also that the very process of inquiry,
of taking back the capacity of create one's own knowledge, would in itself stir up similar
emotions, given the repressive and damaging educational experiences that we all endure in
this culture. When we worked with the holistic medicine inquiry group back in the early
1980s our experience reinforced this insight, as GPs discovered, for example, their
anxious and angry ambivalence toward the profession, to its scientific base and to the
educational practices which had initiated them into their profession. (Heron & Reason,
1985; Reason, 1988). And currently Kate McArdle, a graduate student at Bath studying the
experience of young women managers, is finding she has to work with her own disturbance as
she realizes the distorted patterns of sexuality which occur in organizations.

It is also evident that human association itself carries its shadow: the excitement and
energy and creativity of a democratic inquiry group can degenerate into competitive
cliques and scapegoating of individuals, into ‘love-puddles' in which no critical
thought is allowed, into communities that engage in messianic dreaming with no
reality-based action (Bion, 1959; Randall & Southgate, 1980). Just because we aim to work
collaboratively doesn't shield us from this shadow; just because we are working with the
silenced voices of women, persons of colour, nurses etc., doesn't guarantee sweetness and
light. We need to be prepared to enter the dark side of human association and work with
what is there.

And of course this is also a way to creativity: the edge of chaos is a creative place, if
also a dangerous place, for groups to work, as John Heron and I intuited a while ago and
Brian Goodwin and I have explored using complexity theory more recently (Reason & Goodwin,
1999; Reason & Heron, 1986)

The Via Negativa has interesting lessons also in view of the research community's current
fascination with language. ‘The linguistic and cognitive turn has swept the social
sciences and humanities since the 1960's and brought to mainstream scholarship the Kantian
differentiation between the world itself… and the phenomena, or our interpreted
experience of the world... In scholarly circles it is difficult to suggest that the world
exists outside our construction of it' (Reason & Bradbury, 2001a). As Van Maanan put it:

Language is auditioning for an a priori role in the social and material world. Moreover,
it is a role that carries constitutional force, bringing facts into consciousness and
therefore being. No longer then is something like an organization or, for that matter, an
atom or quark thought to come first while our understandings, models or representations of
an organization, atom or quark come second. Rather, our representations may well come
first, allowing us to see selectively what we have described (Van Maanen, 1995:134)

But Fox has a warning about this fixation on language and indeed on other forms of
representation, and indeed invites us to heed the fundamental silence which is prior to
all expression

In addition to meditating on our very real relationship to darkness and to its
ever-present companion, mystery, we also need to let go of all meditations, all images,
all likenesses, all projections, all naming, all contact with isness. The need for silence
that Zen speaks of, that wisdom literature celebrates, that Eckhart praises, and that
Merton calls for is not just oral silence. Silence means the letting go of all
images—whether oral ones or auditory ones or visual ones or inner ones or cognitive ones
or imaginative ones. Whether of time or of space, of inner or of outer. It is a radical
Continues for 28 more pages >>

  • All Quiet on the Westren Front
    All Quiet on the Westren Front All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter SummaryBy: Jesse CodyAll Quiet on the Western Front is an anti-war novel from the opening chapters. Many critics of the novel in the early days after the publication of the novel blamed Remarque for writing for shock value. They did not want to believe his novel represented the truth about World War I. In many ways, such people were like Paul\'s schoolmaster, Kantorek. They wanted to cling to classical, romantic notions of w
  • Careers and Colleges
    Careers and Colleges Research Project: Careers and Colleges It is difficult for first time job hunters to have realistic ideas about how to profit from their skills. This is why it is important to investigate what career you may be interested in and what colleges will enable you to excell in that career. The profession that I am interested into going into is an elementary school teacher. Fordham University and New York University are two colleges that offer excellent elementary education program
  • My Career
    My Career Architecture and designs are two areas that Ive always wanted to study. There are several reasons why I wish to study design at the University of California Los Angeles. It is well known for its superior education and research. It has a very good faculty and many facilities such as libraries. The faculty is highly qualified in the field of design and architecture. There is a wide variety of programs offered, which is an advantage to students. UCLA is a more up to date university in th
  • Civil war
    civil war IN THIS meeting of the Southern Historical Association great emphasis has been placed upon a re-examination of numerous phases of our history relating to the Civil War. While several papers have dealt with certain forces which helped bring about the Civil War, none has attempted a general synthesis of causes. This synthesis has been the task assumed by the retiring president of the Association. Before attempting to say what were the causes of the American Civil War, first let me say wh
  • Civil war
    civil war IN THIS meeting of the Southern Historical Association great emphasis has been placed upon a re-examination of numerous phases of our history relating to the Civil War. While several papers have dealt with certain forces which helped bring about the Civil War, none has attempted a general synthesis of causes. This synthesis has been the task assumed by the retiring president of the Association. Before attempting to say what were the causes of the American Civil War, first let me say wh
  • Education and Egalitarianism in America
    Education and Egalitarianism in America The American educator Horace Mann once said: "As an apple is not in any proper sense an apple until it is ripe, so a human being is not in any proper sense a human being until he is educated." Education is the process through which people endeavor to pass along to their children their hard-won wisdom and their aspirations for a better world. This process begins shortly after birth, as parents seek to train the infant to behave as their culture demands. The
  • Great Depression1
    Great Depression1 The Great Depression was the worst economic decline ever in U.S. history. It began in late 1929 and lasted about a decade. Throughout the 1920s, many factors played a role in bringing about the depression; the main causes were the unequal distribution of wealth and extensive stock market speculation. Money was distributed unequally between the rich and the middle-class, between industry and agriculture within the United States, and between the U.S. and Europe. This disproporti
  • Great Depression1
    Great Depression1 The Great Depression was the worst economic decline ever in U.S. history. It began in late 1929 and lasted about a decade. Throughout the 1920s, many factors played a role in bringing about the depression; the main causes were the unequal distribution of wealth and extensive stock market speculation. Money was distributed unequally between the rich and the middle-class, between industry and agriculture within the United States, and between the U.S. and Europe. This disproporti
  • History of Medicine in America
    History of Medicine in America James Cassedys Medicine in America, A Short History takes a comprehensive look at medical progress in America from its colonial days to the present time. The book takes on five different themes in discussing medicine. First, it discusses the medical establishment, and how it develops over time. Second, it looks at the alternative to established medicine. Alternatives consist of any kind of medical practice outside the orthodox practice of the time. Third, Cassedy
  • Muckrakers
    muckrakers Muckraking was a powerful journalistic force, whose supporters made it become so. Muckraking was the practice of writers and critics exposing corrupt politicians and business practices. President Theodore Roosevelt made the term "muck-raker" popular. He once said The man with the muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward with the muck-rake in his hands; who was offered a celestial crown for his muckrake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, bu
  • Nuclear Warfare
    Nuclear Warfare Nuclear Power Problems The effects caused by a nuclear power accident, on the scale of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl accident, must override any inclination to side with advocates for nuclear power. Surely we have all heard the expression Im only human. If we are indeed only human, and consequently prone to error, we could never perfectly manage and contain an energy as potentially destructive as that of nuclear power, without the possibility of a nuclear accident. Furthermore,
  • Theory of Evolution
    Theory of Evolution CHARLES DARWIN AND THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION It is commonly thought today that the theory of evolution originated from Darwin in the nineteenth century. However, the idea that species mutate over time has been around for a long time in one form or another. Therefore, by Darwin\'s time the idea that species change from one type into another was by no means new, but was rejected by most because the proponents of evolution could not come up with a satisfactory mechanism that would
  • Multiple Sclerosis A Research Paper
    Multiple Sclerosis A Research Paper Introduction Multiple Sclerosis By: Stephanie **** Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that randomly attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The progress, severity and specific symptoms of the disease can not be predicted; symptoms may range from tingling and numbness to paralysis and blindness. MS is a devastating disease because people live with its unpredictable physical and emotional effects for the rest of the
  • Animal cruelty
    Animal cruelty Jeff Albrecht Joseph Aimone Writing and Rhetoric 13 December 2000 Animal Cruelty One of the most touchy aspects of our relationship with animals is the use of animals in laboratory sciences. Some manufactures of cosmetics and household products still conduct painful and useless tests on live animals, even though no law requires them not to. Some people, called anti-vivisectionists, are at one extreme in their concern. They want an abolition of all experiments on live animals. At t
  • Animal Rights Vs Human Rights
    Animal Rights Vs Human Rights h Laboratory animals The use of laboratory animals is important to three main areas: biomedical research, product safety testing, and education. Biomedical researchers use animals to extend their understanding of the workings of the body and the processes of disease and health, and to develop new vaccines and treatments for various diseases. The research these people do isnt only for human benefit; it is also helping to develop veterinary techniques. The industry
  • Parasitic wasps
    Parasitic wasps Introduction Malaria is one of the most prevalent and dangerous diseases known to man. It has existed for centuries and affects a myriad of people in the tropical region. Even today, with our newly discovered treatments for many of the tropical diseases, over 10% of the people that are infected with malaria each year and do not receive proper treatment die. In Africa alone, over 1 million children die each year because of malaria and new cases are reported frequently. Malaria is
  • Praying Mantiss
    Praying Mantiss MANTODEA Most commonly known as the Praying Mantis, order mantodea is a group of about 1800 carnivorous insects which prodominatley live in tropical regions of the earth. Though certain species can be found in locations with moderate climate. With an extremely striking appearence, mantids almost have human like qualities with the ability to hold an erect stance, and arms that face forward. A very efficient killer, mantids were created for hunting and killing prey. Order Mantodea
  • A cross cultural perspective of polygyny
    A cross cultural perspective of polygyny A Cross Cultural Perspective of Polygyny As an institution, polygyny, the social arrangement that permits a man to have more than one wife at the same time, exists in all parts of the world. From our present knowledge, there are very few primitive tribes in which a man is not allowed to enter into more than one union. In fact, ethologists now believe that only one to two percent of all species may be monogamous (Tucker). None of the simian species are str
  • Aztec Culture1
    Aztec Culture1 Aztec Nation By: DJ XTC The Aztec Nation A distant sound is heard. It sounds like a deep drum being hit with a heavy instrument. You hear it again and strain your eyes in the direction of the sound. All around you is dense jungle. Snakes slither between your legs. You hear the sound once again. In front of you is a dense stand of ferns. You part them and look down into a wide open valley. The valley gets so wide and it is so green that it takes your breath away. But that is not wh
  • Ice Age Extinctions of the Megafauna
    Ice Age Extinctions of the Megafauna Lisa Gantenbein ANTH 365U March 15, 2000 ICE AGE EXTINCTIONS OF THE MEGAFAUNA During the last Ice Age before humans arrived, the North American continent belonged to various forms of enormous, fantastic creatures. By the end of the Ice Age, most of these large animals had become extinct. Numerous attempts have been made to explain the disappearance of these animals, but there has yet to be a consensus. Among the theories that have been debated, two are predom
  • Multiregionalism vs Out of Africa
    Multiregionalism vs Out of Africa Multiregionalism V. Out of Africa Anthropologists today are debating two sides to the story of the evolution of the modern human Homosapian sapian. The sides agree on two different theories called the Out of Africa theory and the Multiregional (or Candelabra) theory. The debate, which some may call a slanderous argument, is far from being resolved on either side. Both evolutionist sides have strong evidence, however, this evidence does have its flaws and is not
  • The ethical dilemma of the Indian barial contovers
    The ethical dilemma of the Indian barial contoversy Grave desecration has been experiences in the United States for nearly two hundred tears without respect to Native Indians first amendment rights to freedom of religion. Indian spirituality is not free from ecology, they are part of the same system of the beliefs for Indians, and their spiritual beliefs are a significant part of their culture. Their beliefs operate in the present applying through space, to all people. Their views are global and
  • The Western Lowland Gorilla
    The Western Lowland Gorilla The Western Lowland Gorilla: A comparison with humans and a critique of methods of study. By Fokren Masters For thousands of years, men and women have strived to explain the why of their existence. To discover the reasons for how we act the way we do and what this knowledge can do to impact the way we live our lives in this complex society that we have created. One of the ways that science has begun to shed light on the inner workings of the human condition is through
  • Between Silence and Light
    Between Silence and Light Between The Silence and The Light Introduction Architecture is a meeting place between the measurable and the unmeasurable. The art of design is not only rooted in the aesthetic form, but in the soul of the work. In Phenomena and Idea, Stephen Holl once wrote, " The thinking-making couple of architecture occurs in silence. Afterward, these "thoughts" are communicated in the silence of phenomenal experiences. We hear the "music" of architecture as we move through spaces
  • Donatellos Bronze David
    Donatellos Bronze David Donatellos Bronze David Thesis: Donatello was one of the most important fifteenth century masters whose bronze David is an enigma that is unlike Donatellos other works in its different style, and unknown time of origin. Donatello was a gifted sculptor who lived in the fifteenth century and had a great impact on not only the Italian Renaissance, but also on the future of art in general. He was an innovator in his time and his sphere of influence enveloped all those aroun
  • Space Flight
    Space Flight On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy delivered one of the most memorable State of the Union addresses in the history of the United States. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth (, President John F. Kennedy\'s Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs). With those words, Kennedy launched a new era of space explorat
  • Are Airplanes Safe
    Are Airplanes Safe Are Airplanes Safe? TWA Flight 800, EgyptAir Flight 990, and Alaska Air Flight 461 and countless other flight numbers from the past decade all have one major thing in common with each other. All three are commercial airline flights that have gone down with no survivors, and all of these flights have happened in the past five years. All three of these mentioned accidents got extensive publicity in the few weeks after they occurred, the reason for this was because of the great n
  • Deregulation
    Deregulation Deregulation of the U.S. airline industry has resulted in ticket prices dropping by a third, on an inflation-adjusted basis. As a result some 1.6 million people fly on 4,000 aircraft every day. Airlines carried 643 million passengers in 1998, a 25% increase over 1993 and the FAA estimates that the nations airline system will have to accommodate 917 million passengers by the year 2008. The growth in air travel threatens to overwhelm the presently inadequate air traffic control syst
  • Pierre De Fermat
    Pierre De Fermat Pierre de Fermat Pierre de Fermat was born in the year 1601 in Beaumont-de-Lomages, France. Mr. Fermat\'s education began in 1631. He was home schooled. Mr. Fermat was a single man through his life. Pierre de Fermat, like many mathematicians of the early 17th century, found solutions to the four major problems that created a form of math called calculus. Before Sir Isaac Newton was even born, Fermat found a method for finding the tangent to a curve. He tried different ways in ma
  • All Quiet On the Western Front Report
    All Quiet On the Western Front Report BARRON\'S BOOK NOTES ERICH MARIA REMARQUE\'S ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT ^^^^^^^^^^ERICH MARIA REMARQUE: THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES Born Erich Paul Remark on June 22, 1898, he grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Osnabruck in the province of Westphalia, Germany--a city in the northwest part of what is now West Germany. He adored his mother, Anna Maria, but was never close to his father, Peter. The First World War effectively shut him off from his sisters,
  • Psychology of the Internet
    Psychology of the Internet The Psychology of the Internet A Report on the Book by Patricia Wallace Summary of the Book Today, the internet is a growing community. Millions of people from all over the world go online everyday to check email, research, shop, or even just interact with someone halfway around the world. As this community grows, so does the number of interactions between people. The Psychology of the Internet examines the psychology of new behavior produced by this novel method of
  • Sensational 1984
    Sensational 1984 George Orwells View Of Totalitarianism Through The Novel 1984 James Hawkins 1 Few novels written in this generation have obtained a popularity as great as that of George Orwells 1984. George Orwells popular and powerful novel was not just a figment of his imagination, it was spawned from many experiences from childhood to early adulthood, as well as from events circa World War II. At age eight, he was shipped off to boarding school where he was the only scholarship student
  • Warm feelings for Cold Blood
    Warm feelings for Cold Blood In Cold Blood is a novel written by Truman Capote in 1966. In Cold Blood is a true account of a multiple murder case that took place in Kansas in the 1950s. The book outlines a brutal murder case, but it shows the story from many perspectives, not just that of the law. Capote introduces you to the Clutter family, a well known, very hard working and loyal family to the community. The town of Holcomb is a small farming town. There is not much excitement in the town, a
  • Problems In Chinas Economy
    Problems In Chinas Economy Problems In Chinas Economy And Their Solutions Today, at the turn of the century, the Peoples Republic of China who has a history of over 5000 years is facing a very important choice. After the revolution of 1949,new China has devoted himself to improving his peoples living condition, and developing the economy. Although we encountered some difficulties on the way of development, we still make a rapid progress in many fields, such as, we have already solve the p
  • Accounting
    Accounting On September 28, 1998, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Arthur Levitt sounded the call to arms in the financial community. Levitt asked for, "immediate and coordinated action to assure credibility and transparency" of financial reporting. Levitts speech emphasized the importance of clear financial reporting to those gathered at New York University. Reporting which has bowed to the pressures and tricks of earnings management. Levitt specifically addresses five
  • Accounting ethics
    accounting ethics This paper will discuss the public perception of CPAs in today\'s society, pitfalls that they may encounter, methods to prevent some of these negative behaviors and consequences they may face should they fall short. Most "Who Do You Trust?" surveys rank politicians, lawyers and used car salesmen at the bottom and certified public accountants at the top. That is because the CPA profession has a squeaky clean image--anal-retentive little wimps who wear thick glasses and cannot ge
  • ADC Telecommunications Financial Ratio Analasis
    ADC Telecommunications Financial Ratio Analasis Accounting 6000 Financial Statement Analysis ADC Telecommunications October 29, 2000 Corporate Background ADC Telecommunications (ADCT) is a communication equipment manufacturer located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Since 1952, the company has successfully weathered the tumultuous transformation process of technology. Today, ADC Telecommunications exclusively focuses on manufacturing computer-networking equipment. Increasing demand for fiber opti
  • Boeing case Study
    Boeing case Study Keeping Boeing Flying Higher and Higher Case Study Introduction Boeing has been building commercial airliners since 1927 with the first Boeing commercial jet airliner, the 7O7, introduced in l955. As discussed in the article on page 172 of the text. This success is even more remarkable when one realizes that the Boeing "Design/ Build" process had not changed very much during the past three decades. The system was antiquated, cumbersome, and inefficient creating production delay
  • Break Even Analysis
    Break Even Analysis The American University in Dubai Research Report Break Even Analysis By Jasmeen Kaur A Paper submitted to Dr.T.Jordan of the Faculty of Business Administration, The American University in Dubai in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the successful completion of Marketing Management (MKT345) Dubai, U.A.E November 5, 2000 Introduction: Break-even point. Thats the magic number that tells you when your revenue will cover your expenses, which is being used by experts for
  • Brief Review of PlatiNUMs Medical Products and the
    Brief Review of PlatiNUMs Medical Products and the Additional Funding Required PlatiNUM Medical, Inc. Brief Review of PlatiNUMs Medical Products and the Additional Funding Required Prepared for Greg Krel Chief Investment Officer Westwood Ventures Irvine, California Prepared by Andrew S. McAlister, CEO, Co-Founder Jason J. Smith, Senior Vice President, Co-Founder December 6, 1999 TO: Mr. Greg Krel, Chief Investment Officer FROM: Andrew S. , Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder Jason J. , Senior V
  • Challenges of small businesses
    Challenges of small businesses Challenges of small businesses Growth in the small and medium business in Canada and other developed countries has been very significant. This sector of the business community now represents about 40 percent of GDP and accounts more than half of total employment. Today small businesses are more diverse and more vigorous than ever, but they also faces newer and more challenges or inhibitors to their growth than their older conter parts. This research will attempt to
  • Change
    Change INTRODUCTION Somebody once said: The only one who likes change is a wet baby (Mariotti, 1996, p. 30). We as human beings are always resistant to change if we are comfortable with surroundings and ourselves. We do not like to be challenged with change because of fear of the unknown. Resistance is a natural reaction to change (Maurer, 1996, p. 75). In order to fully change an individuals style of thinking and working, we must understand the theory and techniques in order to break dow
  • Change
    Change INTRODUCTION Somebody once said: The only one who likes change is a wet baby (Mariotti, 1996, p. 30). We as human beings are always resistant to change if we are comfortable with surroundings and ourselves. We do not like to be challenged with change because of fear of the unknown. Resistance is a natural reaction to change (Maurer, 1996, p. 75). In order to fully change an individuals style of thinking and working, we must understand the theory and techniques in order to break dow
  • Children and Television Advertising
    Children and Television Advertising Children Interacting with Television Advertising Introduction The following research has sought to understand the influence of television on children over the past twenty years using a variety of social models, from public policy and industry self-regulation, to how children receive and process media messages and the parental responsibility in monitoring what is acceptable for children to view. As a baseline, our research used a model of children interacting w
  • Creating A Statement of Vision
    Creating A Statement of Vision Creating a Statement of Vision Today\'s companies are faced with an exponential amount of change. Mission statements, goal setting, and planning methods of the past are no longer producing acceptable results. Successful companies are now achieving breakthrough objectives through utilizing a technique of discovering their core ideology, stimulating progress through an envisioned future, and seeking support by the alignment of intellectual capital. Mission statements
  • CrossCultural Communication
    CrossCultural Communication 1. Topic The report is about the difficulties based on cultural differences marketers and advertising agents have to deal with when setting up an advertising campaign. 2. Introduction The research report will try to show what are the main problems marketers are confronted with when they set up an advertising campaign for the world markets. It is not the goal of the essay to find new approaches to avoid expensive mistakes connected with the wrong advertising campaign.
  • Decision making
    decision making INTRODUCTION The purpose of this paper is to analyze the decision -making process that was involved in appointment of company president, in the company where I personally worked. Mr.Zutshi, the company president faced a very critical decision making situation while appointing new successor for the company, after his retirement. A Chief executive officer\'s decision has considerable impact on the performance of the organization. Decision-making is one of the most important recurri
  • Dref
    dref "CREATE YOUR OWN INFORMATION PRODUCTS!" Millions and millions of full sized books and small booklets are sold each year. Most are produced by the large publishing houses. However, there are also several million books sold every year by small, unassuming, one-person publishing companies. Many of these one-person publishers operate from a home-based office. And, surprisingly, some home-based publishers earn excellent incomes. (What\'s more, some are even becoming very rich.) In this report yo
  • Drug laws
    drug laws NOTE:This draft document represents a joint effort by the SAMHSA/CSAP Division of Workplace Programs and members of the SAMHSA Drug Testing Advisory Board (DTAB). It has not been reviewed by all members of the DTAB, by industry working groups, or by other Federal agencies. This draft document is the first release to a wider audience. It will serve as the basis for developing the guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. All interested parties are invited to comment on the
  • Employee Retention
    Employee Retention In 1999 employee turnover shot to its highest level in nearly two decades. On average, 1.2 % of the workforce left their jobs each month last year. This did not include departures due to layoffs, downsizing, or departures of temporary staff. Job turnover is soaring for a few reasons. One is definitely the strength of the economy. If companies need to find workers they can raise salaries, which increases the likelihood that someone will leave a job for one that pays more. Anoth