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As we behold, we actively transform the image.
Moral Imagination’s definition in Britannica is as follows:
Moral imagination, in ethics, the presumed mental capacity to create or use ideas, images, and metaphors not derived from moral principles or immediate observation to discern moral truths or to develop moral responses. Some defenders of the idea also argue that ethical concepts, because they are embedded in history, narrative, and circumstance, are best apprehended through metaphorical or literary frameworks.
Autoethnography creates the capacity to imagine more just lifeworlds through narrative inquiry. Poetic representations also contribute to forming ideas about what is good and just, right or wrong, in our lifeworlds. When living in an Alpine winter mountainscape, I ski on of fields of snow crystals that reverberate lifegiving energy to my family of snow dancers. Rumi, the Sufi poet, invites us to meet in a field beyond judgements of right and wrong. In this field of transcendence, we get a glimpse of our personal representations of the good life by connecting to our moral imagination.
Living in the Alps, highlanders have a different perspective than those living in the valley. We develop different world views that arise from our cultural landscapes. From the top of the mountain, I ask, “What lifts you?”. This chapter moves the story line towards what Kenneth Gergen refers to as “narrative slope”.
Climbing to the top of one side of the mountain, leaving the past behind, I ski down the other mountainside towards a vision of a bright future. On this side of the slope, using my ability to perceive through the lens of moral imagination, I envision enriching relationships that bring forth more just societies. I invite you to come ski down this narrative slope with me. Here, we leave behind the snow fields on high, walking through blooming orchards that hold the promise of ripening summer apricots, plums, pears, and apples.
Relational research also contributes to moral imagination by co-constructing ways to improve the human condition with research design. This relational approach to problem-solving gives value to transformational processes. Here is a video with Ken Gergen and Sheila McNamee, Taos Institute founders, talking about relational research. I did my PhD. with the Taos Institute, benefiting from the knowledgeability of these pioneering social constructionists. Autoethnography is an important method that they discuss in their conversation.
Ken Gergen and Sheila McNamee: Invitation to Conversations About Constructionist Practices in Research
Here is the book Moral Imagination, The Art and Soul of Building Peace, by John Paul Lederarch that explores conflict resolution using ethnographic approaches.
Here is a picture taken in our orchard in Isérables.
Here is a picture of my son Nils, skiing up the mountain.
Author of Homing In: A Story Mandala Connecting Adoption, Reunion and Belonging