Theoria, praxis and poiesis are the three elements talked about in the methodology of a/r/tography (which is a qualitative arts-based research methodology).

Theoria is Greek for contemplation and is about theoretical knowledge, thinking and cognitive knowing.  Praxis is to do with the practice of a skill and is related to doing, to enacting theoria.  Poiesis is to do with making things.  Aristotle held these as the three basic activities of man.  There is a subtle but critically important difference between praxis and poiesis.

The difference between praxis and poiesis is the difference between playing a flute and building a house.  Praxis is an activity that doesn’t have an end (a product).  The end is the activity.  (see the link to the random chapter on the right for further explanation).  Poiesis is production oriented.  This reminds me very much of Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.  His discussion of pleasures versus gratification is very much related to these notions.

My whole point here is getting to the term autopoiesis.  This word was introduced by a biologist (which I love since I am primarily engaged in a discussion of arts behaviors from an ethological, species centered perspective and since I am really using an evolutionary, Darwinian contextualization).  It means literally self-creation and is to do with the individual production capacity of humans.  I think this is important because it takes the production capacity away from the capitalist definition which is basically the Adam Smith – human capital language (which I abhor).

It’s so nice to have another language to use when talking about the cost benefit analysis, resources, opportunity costs, etc….  I hate framing this economically and biology is the perfect structure/language for this discussion.


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