Megan is a champion pole vaulter who self-coaches using phenomenology to identify potential for improving her performances. She is held back by event organisers who want close finishes to sell tickets and media advertising. Athletes are constrained by regulations and industry hype to provide crowd-pleasing performances and camera shots with the appearance of fair competition. The sporting juggernaut rolls through a season with athletics, soccer, gymnastics, cricket, tennis, swimming, golf, cycling, rugby and horse racing. Only horse racing has handicapping to obtain closer finishes but other sports prevent innovations by athletes who are paid to entertain.
When an Australian national sporting body tries to prevent Megan using an effective new training technique, developed by her partner Chance, based on his PhD research, they are opposed by levellers who want all ability levels to be able to succeed in competitions. Megan is an individualist who is prevented from doing her best by collectivists who subscribe to a nanny state that is running amok. The ethos of affirmative action is spreading to education, employment and arts.
The restrictions on Megan become intolerable during an outbreak of Covid. Faced with mandatory vaccinations, they lead a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience. If they succeed, future society can be individual, like brush turkeys, who live independent lives. But if they fail, collective living could assign them to slave-like worker roles, like honey bees. Which human destiny do people want? What action can you take to mend society? Turkeys Not Bees is novel fiction by Martin Knox. Available on Amazon. Reviews at martinknox.com
Psychology and sociology at first were regarded as unscientific because they lacked the methodology of the physical sciences, which had developed from Descartes philosophy of separate control of mind and body.
Behavioural studies attempted to experiment, control variables, sample reproducibly, be objective, control observation, hide observers, isolate subjects, hypothesise, falsify, blind and double-blind tests. Their investigations tried to omit circumstantial evidence and inference. The investigations were devoid of human value, without meaning of existence, beyond physical and biological processes.
Heidegger tried to replace the Cartesian straightjacket of behavioural research. He allowed any number of human or physical entities or behaviours. His analysis considered intentions and meanings, looking behind scenes for potential present-at-hand, or ready-to-hand, for the analyst to enumerate. His analysis made explicit the purpose of the inquiry, its provenance, trajectory, mood, ambiguities, articulation and projected future.
Heidegger’s philosophy exposed the precepts unstated in Cartesian analysis, nor evident in evolutionary analysis. Heidegger’s approach was post-structural and derivative, like the philosophies of Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Debord and other post modernists. They looked behind the scenes for what was causing the action.
Phenomenology’s dasein (being there) focusses on values of situations, individuals and behaviours that have potential for the interests of the analyst. Its values are different from the economic values of the marketplace and are unlike the survival values suggested by evolution.
Phenomenology omits, from consideration in dasein, presences of disutility and low potential. Discrimination which omits the young, old, weak, ill, disabled, disaffected or politically divergent, because they cannot be useful, is reprehensible, tantamount to prejudice. Clearly phenomenology should not exclude, from any moral certitude, the interests of people who are disadvantaged. Disadvantaged people have rights and entitlements.
Phenomenology can be used for evil, or for good, or sometimes for both. If phenomenology’s focus is only on the healthy conforming part of dasein, the analyst’s duty to consider the rest of dasein within humanity, for caring, is derelict.
Descartes’ cogito is selective too, but his criterion of value was the observer’s ego. His analyses can neglect disadvantaged people equally, rejecting them from disinterest or prejudice, without obligation to explain. The post-structuralists want selection and bias acknowledged and explained. Heidegger’s bias was more transparent than Descartes’, a limitation.
Heidegger’s bias invites criticism when selection of subjects for their potential would dismiss other types as useless or unworthy of attention. Racial, genealogical and eugenic prejudices could be inferred. Those deemed without potential could object and seek reinstatement. This process is normal in sports and other competitions, but seldom in education. Heidegger’s philosophy can be applied in political, economic and social contexts. Where potential is selected by competition, without equal rights, application of Heidegger’s philosophy can be controversial.
Phenomenology’s gaze was screened, like polaroid sunglasses that cut out the glare, from useless things. The Being acknowledged had value to the proponent, ready-to-hand. The value could be positive or negative, for example being flooded was negative. Dasein was a lived experience of the observer, not as in Descartes’ method, a stylised interaction between an egotistical subject and an unthinking object. This would be screened out. Dasein in my view implies that the lived experience is sustainable and the experience is part of a humane life.
Phenomenology can identify not only potential for improvement but can find shortfalls in provision to be remedied. Being flooded could have the lived experience of dislocation, trauma and even death. It can reveal destruction by the flood of potential for well-being. It can be compared with other hardships for rational allocation of aid to victims and re-evaluation of capital works.
For example, public assistance to victims of cancer, Covid and bushfires can be compared with flooding. Daseins for disaster mitigation projects can have public funding arbitrated.
My coming novel Riverside Being applies phenomenology to control of the Brisbane River.
My six novels on Amazon are reviewed at martinknox.com
According to philosopher De Bord (1967), sport, entertainment and arts have audiences on media that are part of the Spectacle, profiting investors and governments, moulding performances for profit. Remuneration of performers is probably exploitative, possibly controlling who will win. Performance venues have been levelled, but not for equal competition.
Turkeys Not Bees is the story of two fictional individualists whose career prospects in athletics and academia are threatened by government over-reach, preventing them from competing equally with others.
Chance and Megan are PhD students. She is a champion pole vaulter and he researches the condition ‘flow’, enabling timeless optimal achievement.
When they meet, he encourages her to vault ‘in flow’ and the two soon become a couple. He helps her self-coach using phenomenology, developed by philosopher Heidegger. She improves but when she wins consistently using ‘flow’, a psychological technique, she is opposed by the athletics authority. Megan’s performances are controlled by anti-elite rule changes and levelling of competition by collectivists and governments.
Chance and Megan resist other government controls, with non-violent civil disobedience to mandatory Covid restrictions.
Turkeys Not Bees is a philosophical tale of two individuals who strive for freedom and respect.
Will their campaign to assert their rights to walk in the streets of the City succeed? The story presages a future where individual rights of the many could be limited by the few.
On Amazon. Reviews see martinknox.com
This novel story of Chance’s personal journey commences in his 20s, when he suffers within the corporate morass of a job where competition is constrained by wokeism. Failing to conform, he quits the capitalist treadmill and goes back to university for a PhD to investigate risk-taking behaviour. He meets Megan, a champion athlete, who is researching motivation in employment-seekers.
Together they become absorbed in Heidegger’s phenomenology, which enables Megan to self-coach to success with elite performances. But the ‘Spectacle’, described by Debord (1967) takes control in many fields, including sport, with competition transformed into profit-making and to gain political control by the nanny state. Chance and Megan resist, opposing mandatory vaccination during the Covid pandemic and ending with non-violent civil disobedience. Their examples advertise individualism based on the thinking of some famous philosophers.
The novel Turkeys Not Bees is available on Amazon. Reviews are at martinknox.com