Accepted Paper:

The technical production of morality and the moral production of Art  


Christos Panagiotopoulos (Cornell University)

Paper short abstract:

The definition of art and morality as two autonomous rational processes, accordingly to the epistemological model of the theory of mediation, brings the question of their relation. How do we technically produce morality, and inversely how do we ethically define Art?

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses the epistemological relationship between our technical and ethical rationalities, as defined within clinical anthropology. The theory of mediation defines language, art, subjectivity and morality, as the four autonomous expressions of human reason based on clinical observations of psychopathological states. The model also explores how these diffracted autonomous rationalities interact. This paper will concentrate on a theoretical discussion and practical illustration of the intersection between art and morality.

On the one hand, asking how do we technically produce morality, and how, through a technical equipment, we organize, express, contain, allow or prohibit desire, and by which technical stratagems we circumvent the forbidden? In discussing the technical means through which we produce ethics we'll illustrate the structural mechanisms of transgression, retention and stratagems through examples from dietary restrictions to sartorial pleasures, and from moral bioenhancement through neural engineering to legal constructs through cybernetic industries.

On the other hand, we'll discuss the moral definition of Art. How do we decide, evaluate and judge technical productions, and how, from the abundance of material culture we're creating the 'Beaux Arts'. Through the discussion of moral processes such as judgement and decision making, as well as pleasure and desire, we'll attempt to understand, the place which occupies Art in the theoretical framework of the Theory of Mediation, and distinguish it from techne - a question most relevant in the discussion of anthropology of art : what do ethnographers consider as artistic, what do they describe as Art in their respective societies etc.

Panel P038
A clinical anthropology of art: theoretical, practical and disciplinary implications