main themes

getting there

Posted on July 25, 2010. Filed under: Ethics, Jung, main themes, PhD stuff, professions | Tags: , , |

finally feel I am heading towards the final stages of the thesis. Two meetings yesterday with supervisors (staggered for logistical reasons) who are v happy with the chapter I wrote last week on another visit to St Deiniol’s.  Things are coming together….

Chapter 8 brings into play all the themes of the thesis: professional ethics, Jungian ethics and their relation to each other, and begins to sketch what a Jungian approach to professional ethics would actually look like. There was a time writing it when I thought this is where the drums will roll, the velvet curtains will part – and the stage will be empty. But no; this is what I discovered:

  • professions could choose to drop their claims to be ethical and ‘serve society’ – claims which have little substance in reality – this would be an ethical improvement as the charge of hypocrisy could be dropped and the illusion of ethics abandoned. price they’d pay would be loss of  the professional kudos, the social status that is gained in exchange for alleged professional ethics, so more like to face external regulation,
  • OR they could step up to the claim and  actually engage with the complexity and conflict involved in any attempt to live ethically, but particularly challenging in the Jungian approach because it means facing the shadow aspects of the profession, bringing to consciousness the hidden impulses, temptations and abuses that have congregate under the surface of that particular grouping
  • this will require moral leadership, but as Jungian  theory makes clear , the group may actually embody the leaders’ shadow aspects making it v hard for the leaders to see what they are hiding from themselves – a facilitator may be needed; lay members may see the situation more clearly
  • An ethics advisory forum cd provide the space for free debate an the airing of ‘cultural complexes’ – the Other may be a rival profession but could be an internal group, ostracised by gender, race, sexuality or background – or by an occupational sub-grouping (eg broadsheet vs tabloid journalists; foreign vs arts correspondents)
  • There will not be a new code: this is about process rather than right/wrong acts. It will entail living with uncertainty: holding the contradictions; not knowing. This will distress those who expect to be told exactly how to behave and are unwilling/unprepared to take responsibility for their own ethical being – hardly surprising when everyone else is playing the blame game. But I think many already experience this; identifying it may be helpful and welcome
  • the question of whether a separate ethics for professions is necessary is I think answered by suggesting that the base for all professional ethics is human ethics, not an elevated sense of moral superiority. Quite the reverse; it is because certain complexes will have built up in groups and professions that they have a particular responsibility to ensure maximum awareness of the shadow dynamics of their group.
  • have also found tremendous academic richness in juxtaposing Jungian and other ethics, exploring however briefly the points of contact and divergence with Asian ethics, post modern approaches and particularly virtue ethics. No space/time here, but juicy stuff… tbc
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new year, new sources

Posted on December 30, 2009. Filed under: Jung, Reading | Tags: , |

Supposed  to be taking a break as my brain got too mashed to write coherent sentences before xmas – knew it was all going downhill, as if writing with fingers disconnected from thoughts, which had disconnected from feelings… not very much in the spirit of this journey!

But found Christopher Hauke’s book ‘Human Being Human:  culture and the soul’ a wonderful, rejuvenating read, rich in allusion to film and rooted in a Jungian sense of the human condition. Noted particularly his challenge to the marginalisation of intellect by aspects of psychotherapy – yes, glad to reclaim the mind, as long as it isn’t the only source of insight or information about the self or the world. Also referred to the ‘fantasy of wholeness’ which made me think about whether my thesis rests on such a fantasy, or how I might modify this to reflect the difference between the wholeness which I do believe underpins everything and  the partial and limited efforts which most of us are capable of making. Also to become aware of the danger of eliding differences which require attention – a tendency I always opposed in my political animal days; that dreary ‘let’s all be friends’ motif that belongs more fully to pop songs than ethical philosophy.

But underneath that, there is a unity, a coherent energy that can be seen in quantum physics at the subatomic level and in Hubble photos at the macro level and which can also be called divine. Bud Harris (see link to website) is giving a talk about wholeness and Holy longing from a Jungian perspective, which sounds appealing.  I say sounds appealing but am becoming aware of  different flavours of Jungian – those who take a romantic new age approach and those who are asking similar questions about being human and the role  of transcendence but seem more capable of recognising human awkwardness and the trickiness of such endeavours. Hauke reflects the latter group I think – more my cup of tea.

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Posted on January 9, 2009. Filed under: main themes, Methods | Tags: |

I realise that while this blog is attracting a fair number of browsers, especially for the papers, which is of course gratifying, there are almost no comments. Perhaps this is because I am not inviting responses clearly enough, merely describing the stages of development of this thesis. That is of course my primary aim, to  create a log of progress, which will allow me to reflect on my own journey, as part of my commitment to reflexivity. But I would be sorry if this appears too solipsistic – I would truly welcome comments, suggestions, experiences. For example, are you also writing conceptual theses, or have you had a go at hermeneutics as a method? What worked? What stalled? Are you a Jungian, appalled at my misrepresentation of the Great Man’s thoughts? Or an ethicist alarmed at my failure to acknowledge a key thinker? Or another student hoping someone online has already written the essay that’s due tomorrow?

Do talk….. and if not, do come back anyway……..

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methods or madness?

Posted on January 8, 2009. Filed under: main themes, PhD stuff | Tags: |

Time to start on the methodology chapter. Seems a conceptual thesis is an unfamiliar object in newuniversityland though is allegedly commonplace at older and European unis. So having to make my own maps. Have created a kind of Q&A to help me navigate, as follows:
1. What am I trying to do?

    • To propose a new approach to professional ethics, deploying concepts from analytical psychologist Carl Jung, namely that ‘wholeness’ forms the basis of ethical frameworks in distinction from ‘good/bad’ rule-making approaches which traditionally underpin professional codes.

    2. Overview of approach

    • Conceptual
    • Hermeneutics
    • What are focal fields – how defined
    • Thesis design/map

    3. What is the likely outcome of this research?

    • The research is unlikely to lead to a new code of conduct for any profession but should generate questions for reflection among all professional organisations, which may, in turn, lead to changes in their ethical frameworks. The particular attention to the profession of public relations is likely to stimulate wider debate within the field which may influence ethical approaches in the future.

    4. Why is this important?

    • Current crises in professional projects, changing societal pressures, blurring boundaries
    • Debates in ethical philosophy
    • Problems with professional ethics
    • (eg PR)

    5. To what degree is this an original contribution?

    • There are wide pre-existing debates on professional ethics and ethics in general, dating back to classical Greek and Chinese texts. The research seeks to set the ideas of Jung and ethics in this context in order to demonstrate both the continuity of ideas and their timeliness in terms of current debates. The originality lies in the organisation of Jung’s ideas on ethical development and their application to the field of professional ethics.

    6. How will the aims be realised?

    6.1. The thesis is conceptual; literature on ethics, professional ethics, Jung and related philosophical and psychological texts will be (have been??) examined in order to

    • a) construct a valid description of the development of professional ethics
    • b) identify current debates and issues in this field
    • c) construct a valid description of the development of Jung’s approach to    ethics
    • d) identify current debates and issues in Jungian and post-Jungian thought
    • e) Suggest how the latter (d) might influence the development of the former (a)

    6. 2. The ideas developed in (e) will then be applied to the field of public relations’ professional ethics in order to test their validity.

    7. What approach will be taken?

    • Hermeneutical approach – interpretive approach to understanding , form and content
    • Reflexivity – elements, researcher presence
    • Construction/ivism

    8. What methods will be used

    • Lit review – Finn map
    • Case study
    • Reflective journal (blog)
    • Conference presentations/feedback

    9. How will validity be established?

    • By constructing theoretical frameworks which are supported in literature and then applying the core concepts to different fields, i.e. professional ethics in gerneral and PR ethics in particular
    • By disseminating views at conferences and through publication and inviting discussion on findings

    10 What strengths am I bringing to this work?

    • 15 years’ expereince as PR practitioner
    • 15 years as PR academic
    • several papers on ethics and PR reflecting life-long interest in dilemmas
    • working with the shadow for personal development over 30 year period

    11. What are the limitations of my approach and experience?

    • concepts are not tested empirically
    • not a Jungian analyst or analysand
    • interpretation located in researcher, presumes wider interest/relevance
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    You what?? Wrestling hermeneutics…. (#1)

    Posted on November 13, 2008. Filed under: main themes | Tags: |

    Having decided to take a hermeneutic (an hermeneutic?) approach, I’ve been trying to find out what that, hmm, actually means.  Now I discover that a word I had barely bumped into is a seething repetoire of opinions, conflict, schools, approaches…. a door I hadn’t noticed opens on to Heathrow’s Terminal 5, crowded, badly organised, flying in all directions.

    So am I doing historical, critical, post-critical, depth, Marxist, linguistic hermeneutics or some other variety? Am I closer to Gadamer, Habermas, Riceour or Heidegger? Good questions. I’ve been advised that I don’t need too much detail at this level, but I find it hard to explain things I don’t really understand – I can hear the ice creaking as I skate.

    So why choose hermeneutics at all? Because it’s so LOVELY. Both content and form, a philosophy and (sort of) a methodology. It’s (as I understand it so far) a philosophy of understanding, the goal, process and means of sharing meaning between human beings insofaras that is possible across time and culture. Gadamer says we search for the ‘fusion of horizons’, where we can see the Other’s perspective, which, of course,  like our own, is always shifting. It’s about become aware of the researcher’s pre-judgements, our own cultural and personal frameworks and by acknowledging them, accept that they are not universal. And in accepting that my point of view is not everyone’s, I can come to see what we do have in common, the places where conversation might be richest. It’s about dialogue, not the monologue of science or the dialectic of Hegel – no one need win the conversation, the only goal is understanding…

    More follows soon..….

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    Nietzsche – good for a laff

    Posted on September 11, 2008. Filed under: Reading | Tags: |

    I suspect Nietzsche is one of those writers you absorb by cultural osmosis – through rock lyrics and T shirts and graffiti (my favourite being the one about the abyss looking back) – on which basis I have always assumed him to be a miserable bastard, the Leonard Cohen of philosophers. But then I adore Mr Cohen (Edinburgh castle concert = highlight of 08) and don’t find him remotely depressing. Perhaps when young, the relentless gaze into the bleakness is associated with a doomy romanticism but, decades on, the bleakness makes me laugh.

    So I had no idea I’d find Nietzsche funny, but it now makes perfect sense. Kafka is funny too – and I got his humour as an undergraduate.

    Picked him up as he’s an important influence on Jung and tho I’ve only read Beyong Good and Evil (BG&E) so far, can already see why. Partly the style – conversational, aphoristic, full of asides and en passant observations – which can be found in late Jung, like Memories, Dreams and Reflections. It is so NOT academic, reflecting a time and culture perhaps where a thinker’s insights were declared, or offered, without a peppering of references and footnotes. Not that N writes in a vacuum, there are many references to contemporaries and predecessors, just that he doesn’t bolster his own claims with citations. There’s a freedom here, which allows for battiness and ghastiliness – the dismissal of women in BG&E for one – but also marvellousness.

    I loved the quality of writing – as translated by Hollingdale in the Penguin Classic – in phrases like:

    We Europeans of the day after tomorrow, we first-born of the twentieth century – with all our dangerous curiosity, our multiplicity and art of disguise, our mellow and as it were sugared cruelty in spirit and senses…………….

    Sugared cruelty!

    Somewhere else he talks about the English church – which makes Sundays so tedious the population long for Monday morning and work….

    However most of the quotes I’ve harvested are to do with morality and ethics and this is where the connection to Jung really  kicks in. N forensically exposes the cant & hypocrisy of his age & particularly religion, showing how it creates ‘slave’ morality of conformism and abdication of personal responsibility. And while his Ubermensch solution is not mine or Jung’s, his critique of the culture clearly resonates with Jung’s rejection of his bourgeois background and generations since (my own background was pure bohemian, so harder to reject, but I still identify with the spirit of it all). He also talks frequently about the psychology of morality, helping create the space for Jung, and others, to explore fundamental approaches to ethics and being.


    For to translate man back into nature; to master the many vain and fanciful interpretations and secondary meanings which have been hitherto scribbled and daubed over that eternal basic text ‘homo natura’; to confront man henceforth with man in the way in which , hardened by the discipline of science, man today confronts the rest of nature……that may be a strange and extravagant task but it is a task – who would deny that?

    His struggle for core meaning echoes that of Jung and both accept the centrality of spirituality or the transcendent, containing the union of opposites. Because N also proposes, as is implied by the title, the rejection of the good/bad duality that characterizes most religion and this is at the heart of my own ‘take’ on Jung as an ethicist: that wholeness, reality, authenticity (all loaded words that need unpacking) is a truer (ditto) basis for ethics than observance of others’ rules. Dangerous stuff tho – be careful where it leads…….

    Note to self: Jung states he was most influenced by Twilight of the Gods and Thus Spake Zarathustra, so those come next, along with various books, chapters and papers on the connection between these two thinkers. Must be careful not to get too sidetracked  as this relationship is not a central theme, but a way of setting Jung in his intellectual and philosophical context.

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    Jung & PR – the starting point

    Posted on August 28, 2008. Filed under: main themes | Tags: |

    The more I wrote about contested versions of public relations:the more it seemed that something deeper than a difference of opinion underlay the division.  The first, and most familiar from teaching, was that promoted in core text books as PR ‘servicing society’ ‘in the interests of democracy’ ‘the ethical guardian of corprorations’ etc; the second involved the vilification of the business by writers like Stauber and Rampton, Ewen, Miller & others. Where PR books saw nobility and equality of engagement between organisations and publics, the critics saw sleaze, corruption and propaganda.

    I was also writing a lot about propaganda and PR and became increasingly aware that the involvement of key PR players in 20th Century war propaganda was being marginalised or ignored altogether – as highlighted by other writers like Moloney & L’Etang. Not only was historical propaganda involvement edited out, accusations of involvement in contemporary corporate propaganda were often dismissed by leading academics as well as PR organisations.

    On the other hand the most virulent critics seemed uable to envisage any kind of legitimate PR – as if the need of organisations – including charities, unions, NGOs  – to articulate their case professionaly was meaningless.

    So: angels or daemons? I referred to this dynamic in a couple of papers (see links for relevant papers) as the rejection of Shadow material, using a generalised knowledge of Jung’s concept of Persona and Shadow and his insistence that one must confront and accept one’s own Shadow to become whole and fulfill personal and creative potential.

    In the process of delivering said papers (eg one on persuasion ethics at the ICA conference in San Francisco, 2007) I realised that it was the tension in the denial and accusation that intrigued me: I couldn’t see how PR could claim to be ethical when its version of itself was so partial. This led to the basic premise of the PhD: that integrity is a precondition for  ethics, both personal and professional;  and that Jung’s ideas of integration could offer insights into how this might be achieved by professions in general and PR in particular.

    To make a start on this I have spent the past year reading a great deal of Jung – often contradictory, elusive, allusive, weird, exciting, humble, arrogant, mystical and mystifying  – and have found enough material to support the idea that ethics stem from wholeness not ‘goodness’.

    I have also made forays into modern & post-modern ethical thinking, particularly virtue ethics (MacIntyre), Bauman, some feminist ethics, theological ethics and professional ethics generally – as well some reading around the sociology of professionalism.

    Most recent reading is Neitzsche’s Beyond Good & Evil – had no idea he was so funny – will write responses shortly.

    Early summer was dominated by conferences – subject of next two posts.

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    getting started

    Posted on August 7, 2008. Filed under: main themes |

    Ok, complete novice here, forgive technical/etiquette errors please.

    Plan is to share ideas, insights, experiences concerning the work of Carl Jung, the construction of a Jungian ethics and its relevance to professional ethics in general and public relations ethics in particular – the subject of my PhD.

    Said PhD now in second year – full time – so I will summarise main discoveries in next few posts. This is just the intro. I don’t just want to share intellectual content, but also the ups and downs of the PhD process itself (I notice there are a few PhD diaries out there, so this must be a common desire). The point is to encourage reflexivity, asking questions about my own assumptions, blind spots, fears, progress and inviting others to join in if you so wish.

    Because I have chosen rather vast topic areas – Jung wrote over 20 volumes; ethics has a 2000+ year history and my own field – public relations – fills bookshelves and teems with multiple perspectives and changing ideas – I am feeling my way into the links between these elements and would be very interested in any response from those with more experience of a particular aspect of the whole picture.

    My main thesis is that professional ethics tends to be based on ideas of goodness – the ideal-typical (Larson, 1977) version of the professional  – and stresses excellence and best practice, with codes to clarify and, in theory, police this best practice. Any deviance should be punished but is often ignored or blamed on ‘bad apples’.

    Jung’s idea of individuation suggests that this approach emphasises the ‘persona’ or public face at the expense of the shadow, hidden self. Jung’s Shadow is not just the negative aspects of the person (or group) but may contain unlived elements including creativity, spontaneity etc. The point is that maturity requires recognition and acceptance of that which has been denied – the integration of the Shadow is the prerequisite for the whole individual. And I can’t see how you can base an ethics on anything less.

    Later, I’ll talk about Pr and its divided professional Self…………………

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