Richard Rorty: A favorite philosopher leaves us

Peter JonesHuman Values

You would not have known from the US-based media, but one of America’s most thoughtful, insightful, brilliant minds left us last week. Richard Rorty, at age 75, author of many readable,influential works: Old-school patriotic liberal philosophy (Achieving our Country) and of rigorous probing our ways of being human in the postmodern era (Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity). While the US media has not covered Rorty with sufficiency due this extraordinary philosopher of solidarity, Europe mourns his loss. Living philosopher of Communicative Action reknown, Jurgen Habermas reflects on Rorty’s life and contributions on Signandsight.com. How did we learn this news? From the Signandsight site, whose editor Naomi Buck was a panelist at last night’s panel discussion held at Toronto’s Goethe Institute. And we are, of course, in Canada. It has taken longer for the word to spread in his own US, but respectful posts have appeared on Huffington. Rorty is best remembered …

In Toronto: Escape from Suburbia

Peter JonesHuman Values

OK, first of all Toronto IS our escape from Suburbia – We leave the Dayton area and spend a week or more of every month working in downtown Toronto. I have collaborative projects that have developed over the last year or two, and Patricia works on her book projects. A small-ish work/live studio in Liberty Village suffices for now. Our next door neighbor at the Fraser Studios happens to be Greg Greene, director of End of Suburbia and cinematographer for the Yellow Springs-based (our other neighborhood) project on Community Solutions (How Cuba Survived Peak Oil). Greg pre-screened the second documentary in the trilogy project, Escape from Suburbia, last night at the No Regrets restaurant in Liberty. Escape from Suburbia shows us the committed, seemingly “early” responses of people followed from New York, LA, and even Portland to their new lives in eco-villages and rural farms. Notice that we, and Greg, …

Three Dialogues in search of democracy

Peter JonesDialogic Design

The New Democracy Workshop is an ongoing working group at U of Toronto consisting of new media and social democracy researchers. We held dialogues last week on personal healthcare and innovations in dialogue. Peter Pennefather presented the basics of Collaborative Diagnostics. How medical procedure aimed at directing decisions about therapy should be explicitly democratic and how trends in the health care system to recognize patient autonomy may allow such a dialogical approach to emerge. Peter argues that when procedures and personal care records within the health care system become more transparent, the prospects for such an emergent democratic dialogue will be I shared about our current thinking in dialogue practice, including Web-based applications in e-dialogue.  Working from a new presentation on structured dialogue, our method for democratic, consensus-based dialogic design based on social science and collaborative cognition is articulated. I presented a case for moving dialogue beyond the Understanding phase …

Architecture as Social Research

Peter JonesHuman Values, Transformation Design

Critique of Pure Research: A new graduate program at London’s Goldsmiths College explores architecture as a tool of social and political practice. Metropolis Magazine just keeps getting better – their editorial policy has strengthened their social focus with each issue. The Centre for Research Architecture is as concerned with politics and human rights as it is with architecture. It dispenses with the practice of building and delves into the profession’s more political and theoretical applications. Eyal Weizman, the founding director, derived his approach to architectural research from his own study of conflict zones in Israel. The laws and restrictions on space were often so vague on paper that they provided no guide to policy; to determine where Palestinians could and could not rebuild after their homes were destroyed, Weizman worked with a nonprofit organization to reconstruct them and see how the government would react. “The law was unpredictable,” he says. …