re: core constructs
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 21:58:35 +0100

As a quick followup on this topic, and with particular respect to Beverly
Walker's comment:

>By contrast I think I could hold superordinate constructs about other things
>>that my very existence is not threatened by their invalidation (e.g. in my
>>case aesthetics, though for many artists this might be quite core)

I'm reminded of Philip Boxer's thinking on core constructs and values. We
were discussing the reasons why people develop and maintain the values they
do. What I took from that conversation (and I _think_ it expresses his
idea, though I might have embellished it a little since, into a form which
makes particular sense for me) is that there _is_ a superordinate level
above that of "values": an aesthetic level.

In other words, the choice implicit in holding one value over another in
one's personal values repertoire is an aesthetic one: a deep feeling of
personal "rightness" and "appropriateness". This accounts for the fact that
"order-chaos" is a value I personally hold at the top of my values
hierarchy, but "personal security-personal obliteration", which I
acknowledge to be a very important value for many people, doesn't figure
all that highly among my own.

(Not that I'm careless in crossing the road, you understand; it's just that
the fact that I'll be dead someday doesn't bother me as much as it bothers
other people, and puts a practical, rather than ontological or
"maintenance", cast onto the construct in question. In fact, the ultimate
basis for my care not to fall under a bus comes from a rather different
core value, one to do with social, and particularly family bonding, as it
happens. You know, the societal implications behind the Dunnean statement
"ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee" etc.)

The basis for these implied choices, then, is an aesthetic one according to

Perhaps that's where the ontological black hole comes from: the feeling of
all reason, all structuredness, collapsing which lies behind the thought of
"what do you mean, 'why do you prefer, say, order to chaos, or biological
closeness to biological distance'?".
It just isn't possible to carry on any further analysis, thinking,
introspecting (indeed, construing!); the very process would thereby be

Which makes me wonder if any of our clinical colleagues who work with
schizophrenic thought-disordered clients have any views to offer. Did Don
Bannister or any of his group ever explore the aesthetics of thought
in the sense I mean above?

I know this isn't exactly the point Beverly was making, but it's related to
it. The claim is that everyone's core is structured by a personal
aesthetic: though this mightn't be the aesthetics in quite the same sense
that Beverly used it in giving her example of the artist.


Devi Jankowicz