The Creativity of 'Unspecialization:' A Contemplative Direction for Integrative Scholarly Practice
Within the context of health and social care education, attempts to define ‘scholarship’ have increasingly transcended traditional academic conceptions of the term. While acknowledging that many applied disciplines call for a kind of ‘actionable knowledge’ that is also not separate from its ethical dimensions, engagement in the caring professions in particular provides an interesting exemplar that raises questions about the nature and practice of ‘actionable knowledge’: how is such knowledge from different domains (the head, hand and heart) integrated and sustained? This paper is theoretical and wishes to outline some philosophical ideas that may be important when considering the characteristics of the kind of scholarship for caring practices that draw on deep resources for creativity and integration. Firstly, there is an attempt to clarify the nature of scholarly practice by drawing on Aristotle’s notion of ‘phronesis’ (practical wisdom). Secondly, a more meditative approach to the integration of knowledge, action and ethics is highlighted. Finally, its implications for scholarship are introduced, in which scholarly integration may best be served by more contemplative ways of being and thinking. Drawing on Heidegger and Gendlin, we consider the challenges of contemplative thinking for pursuing scholarly practice. We articulate contemplative thinking as an unspecialized mode of being that is given to human beings as an intimate source of creativity. The sense in which unspecialization can be cultivated and practised is discussed.
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