Sky, ground and in-between: metaphysical belief systems that underpin epistemologies of arts-integrating research
Tsun Haggarty, Holly
Doctor of Philosophy
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Arts-integrating research is an increasingly engaged practice in educational inquiry, as well as humanities and social sciences. This research approach offers the opportunity to engage creative sensibilities and techniques as elements (or even the basis) of inquiry, something quite distinct from traditional positivist, often quantitative, research. Indeed, many methodologists of artsintegrating research voice resistance to traditional expectations of research and propose alternative theories of research (Knowles & Cole, 2008b). But, while the theorizations of artsintegrating research stand strongly as manifesto and movement, their fundamental grounds and assumptions are not always clear, nor well understood, and the distinctions between particular arts-integrating research methodologies have been little studied. From my prior and continuing study into philosophical assumptions of Elliot Eisner’s conceptions of arts based research and those of Rita Irwin et al.’s a/r/tography, I have found that these two arts-integrating research methodologies differ in their epistemological conceptions (the former presenting a structuralistconstructivist view of knowledge and of art as a way of knowing and the latter presenting a poststructuralist-deconstructionist view in this regard), and that these distinctions arise due to differing beliefs regarding the nature of reality and being. Eisnerian arts based research aligns with what may be called a metaphysics of presence, while the a/r/tography of Irwin et al. espouses what may be called a metaphysics of difference. In either case, their beliefs may be intriguingly plotted and characterized according to constructs such as primacy and unity. This study engages a research practice both analytic and artful, which I call creational dialectics, and which draws on elements from the interpretive traditions of hermeneutics and phenomenology. The study report, this dissertation, is uniquely structured in that the analytic discussions are located within a many-layered artwork, which includes a comic play, cartoons, poetry and dialogical hors d’oeuvres. This study reminds its interlocutors that every approach to inquiry is buttressed by belief, and it encourages its interlocutors to contemplate the fundamental epistemological and metaphysical beliefs that guide their own understanding of knowing. From my own contemplations I discern—confess—my own leanings towards an apophatic metaphysics of participation.