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  importances of teaching
gary e. davis
August 16, 2017

Genuinely progressive intentions in teaching don’t entail that enabling others has progressive effects, obviously. Teaching immanently aims to help a life’s way beyond conventional individuation, but what becomes of that can only be hoped and prospected through generative example, care, engagement—presence.

Conceptual bases for that—from which exemplary practice doesn’t automatically result, of course (so much “needless to say” I say)—can be well addressed through “Positive Psychology” (as it understands itself, presently), which I’ve earlier promised to philosophically elaborate as a generative psychology (or philosophy of education): I want to bring together the best thinking in positive psychology (my choices, of course; e.g., A Life Worth Living) in order to prospect a concerted (conceptual) and further-concerting (efficacious) coherence or conception of organized flourishing that enables flourishing in practice (e.g., Designing Positive Psychology) better than other approaches (contemporary practical notions of education and teaching; and applied positive psychology, as currently understood).

That is part of an educational enterprise that idealizes democratic advancement of community, especially relative to a conception of ecologically flourishing humanity (i.e., wholly flourishive lives for the sake of ecologically thriving humanity). In other words, I want to contribute to enabling, advancing and promoting an activist globality—an enactive value holism—that may be a Good horizon for high flourishing.

But that’s conceptually abstract, not yet relative to what’s immanently important for an individuation that nevertheless may contribute to some grand horizon. A good life wants life-enhanciveness that is one’s own. So, teaching to that enables authentic formation of selfidentical importances—“values”— that enhance individuation, progressively, one hopes.

So, I’ll later pursue so-called “theory of value” primarily relative to enabling, advancing, and promoting high individuation. What’s a Good way to understand “postconventional” “values”?

I like a notion of protean identity because I don’t know a better term for briefly referring to high individuation as authentically selfidentical. The standard definition of ‘protean’ is interesting, but more can be made of the term than I’ve done so far, very briefly. I give the term axiological primacy (or—as I coined earlier— “valulogical” primacy) and will enrich that by attaching the term ‘protean’ to further discussion, later referring to protean self or protean identity offhand, with no overtone of mystification. An idealized conception of protean selfidentity is emblemized by my cute acronym ‘alsa’ (a leading scientific artistry), as if that could be a specific discursive communion (“Give me odysseys...”).

So-called “postconventional values” are much less than a protean conception of importance. Postconventional values are literally that: post-conventional. A normally autonomous adulthood, including an innovative career, is “postconventional.”

Yet, an unusually talented creativity, a devoted mastery of a specialty, and aspiration to lastingly influence a professional field (altogether Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s notion of Creativity) is far beyond merely postconventional engagement.

But both postconventional and protean thinking understand values—as does anyone—as often in competition (if not frustrating conflict) for normal preference situations, such that there emerge general preferences for a life, shown as prevailing values relative to competing values—prevaling importances relative to other importances.

Prevailing values are action-orienting overrides relative to competing values. One wants (or should want, for the sake of actualizing desired best life) authentically selfidentical importances to prevail for orientation of action. In other words, one wants action-oriental prevalence of authentic importances—or so I would argue (proffer, prospect, promote) in explication of a notion of protean identity (broadening and deeping the notion of high individuation).

So, how and when does one’s sense of humanity override?

This involves, first, understanding—relative to one’s ownmost life—what “one’s” humanity is, which composes the importance of humanity, of one’s humanity, in and for one’s life.

At some critical times, we implore, “Where’s your humanity?” What another person is wholly appealing to is situational, for some specific issue. But it’s at least about the action-oriental efficacy—and call for overriding importance, relative to other interests—of one’s selfidentical humanness: humanity of oneself as of humanity (our “better angels,” they say). Humanity is essentially aspirational—thus one’s humanity (in ownmost intimacy with oneself) is essentially aspirational.

More abstractly, one’s humanity is also the historicity of actualized Selfality enspiriting selfidentity.

Is such phrasing useful? Maybe not proximally. But better understanding never reaches an ultimate endpoint. There’s always chances for better understanding of historicity, actualization of potential, and Selfness relative to “humanity.” Conceptual inquiry provides chances for enhanciveness that may enable, advance, and promote higher individuation.

There’s virtue in that: in teaching, in conceptual inquiry, and in showing fruitfulness of that. Virtue, I’ll prospect, is best understood (better than traditionally) as admirable-principled exemplarity; in other words as a synergy of admirable principledness and exemplarity of that; or concisely: highly admirable exemplarity.

If we are to be “forever,” such finite lastingness (the only “immortality” available to us) emerges only as others’ remembrance, keeping us alive in some way.

Earlier, I listed major importances of character, examined in Charactor Strengths and Virtues (CS&V, in the following). Those importances of character are combined by the authors into character-strength based constellations that define specific virtues. This is wonderful: Virtue—a complex of specific virtues—is there conceived as an integrative efficacy of characterial importances for individuation. I could quibble with the CS&V list, but the project is exemplary! Good individuation provides the basis for identifying with standard features of virtue (for persons who are drawn to virtue ethics).

Looking that the CS&V list: I don’t think of needing “temperance,” but I certainly advocate that being well requires deliberate, organized, and pragmatic care for oneself and others (which, they proffer, is integral to temperance). But I understand pragmatism beyond that as an ecologically progressive way of thinking about one’s whole-life Project relative to holistic mindfulness toward one’s times.

“humanity”!: love, kindness, and “social intelligence”

“transcendence”: high appreciability, thankfulness, hope, and “spirituality”

wisdom, indeed; and courage and commitment to justice.

Excellence of teaching—educational leadership—enables, advances, and promotes specific lucidity about actualizing one’s potential, hopefully instilling activist mindfulness; but practically, in special senses that best mesh with one’s aspirations, which can have lasting importance. Students deserve to believe that.


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