Advertisement

What Is a Constructive, Enabling Institution?

  • Michelle MaieseEmail author
  • Robert Hanna
Chapter

Abstract

Although neoliberal social institutions shape the human mind in a destructive, deforming way, social institutions also have the power to help people break away from rigid mental habits. Indeed, some social institutions, working against the grain of dystopian social institutions in neoliberal societies, can make it really possible for us to self-realize, connect with others, and liberate ourselves. Constructive, enabling institutions, as we understand them, are mutually-aiding and real-world utopian in the sense that they guide the way toward progressive social activism and change in the present moment and in the actual world. Such institutions are self-realizing, organicist, dignitarian, integrative, and authenticating; and they also promote autonomy and critical consciousness. Drawing from philosophy of mind and the work of John Dewey, we also argue that constructive, enabling institutions are those that afford the development of flexible, essentially embodied mental habits. Key examples of such habits include empathy, curiosity, imagination, and humility, all of which foster collective altruism and help people to remain continually open to new insights. We point to various “disaster communities” and to social movements from the history of the American Left as real-world illustrations of such institutions.

Keywords

Self-realize Connection Liberation Organicist Dignitarian Integrative Autonomy Critical consciousness 

References

  1. Burkitt, Ian. 2002. Technologies of the self: Habitus and capacities. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 32 (2): 219–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carse, Alisa. 2005. The moral contours of empathy. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8: 169–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Concepciòn, David, and Julie Elfin. 2009. Enabling change: Transformative and transgressive learning in feminist ethics and epistemology. Teaching Philosophy 32 (2): 177–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cuffari, Elena. 2011. Habits of transformation. Hypatia 26 (3): 535–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Debes, Remy, ed. 2017. Dignity: A history. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2018. Dignity is delicate. Aeon, September 17. https://aeon.co/essays/human-dignity-is-an-ideal-with-remarkably-shallow-roots.
  7. Dewey, John. 1903. Ethical principles underlying education. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 1916. Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: The Macmillan Company.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 1922. Human nature and conduct: An introduction to social psychology. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  10. Fleming, Ted. 2012. Fromm and Habermas: Allies for adult education and democracy. Studies in Philosophy and Education 31 (2): 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fromm, Erich. 1955. The sane society. New York: Rinehart & Company.Google Scholar
  12. Hanna, Robert. 2018a. The rational human condition, Vol. 1—Preface and general introduction, supplementary essays, and general bibliography. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 2018b. The rational human condition, Vol. 2—Deep freedom and real persons: A study in metaphysics. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2018c. The rational human condition, Vol. 3—Kantian ethics and human existence: A study in moral philosophy. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 2018d. The rational human condition, Vol. 4—Kant, agnosticism, and anarchism: A theological-political treatise. New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  16. Kazin, Michael. 2012. American dreamers: How the left changed a nation. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  17. Kropotkin, Peter. 1902. Mutual aid: A factor of evolution. http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/mutaidintro.html.
  18. Levine, Steven. 2012. Norms and habits: Brandom on the sociality of action. European Journal of Philosophy 23 (2): 248–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. 2018. Alert 19 (Fall): 1. Related material online at https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/.
  20. Mill, John Stuart. 1978. On liberty. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.Google Scholar
  21. Noddings, Nel. 1984. Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Pedwell, Carolyn. 2012. Affective (self-) transformations: Empathy, neoliberalism, and international development. Feminist Theory 13 (2): 163–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Solnit, Rebecca. 2010. A paradise built in hell: The extraordinary communities that arise in disaster. New York: Viking Penguin.Google Scholar
  24. Wilde, Oscar. 1891. The soul of man under socialism. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/wilde-oscar/soul-man/.
  25. Wolf, Susan. 2015. Responsibility, moral and otherwise. Inquiry 58: 127–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emmanuel CollegeBostonUSA
  2. 2.Independent PhilosopherBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations