Getting It

Getting It: Withness-Thinking and the Dialogical in Practice – John Shotter (Paperback)


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Product Description

This is a book for reflective practitioners, for people who need to think and act “in the moment” within “first-time,” unique events. It is also a book about complexity and the mysterious, considered as a third realm of puzzling events subsisting between those we call problems, which we can solve by rational thought, and those we call ineffable, of which we cannot speak in a fully comprehensible manner—for we can, with the help of Wittgenstein’s (1953) methods, Shotter claims, find our “way about” within this realm of the mysterious in practice, even though we may never fully understand it. Thus Shotter’s inquiry is not to do theories, with any general ways of thinking, his focus is on our living activities and the ways in which we are always spontaneously responsive to the others and othernesses in our surroundings. But more than this. When two or more of us gather together and our activities intertwine, unique “its,” characteristic of our situation as an integrated whole, are always created between us. This is why the book is called Getting It: for it is the unique nature of these “its” that we must grasp, and do justice to, if we are to fit our practices into the requirements of our always unique circumstances.

“This is a remarkable book for both its scholarship and its wisdom. John Shotter sets himself an almost impossible task. He wants to describe the transitory moments of experience, using the work of Wittgenstein, who was the great scourge of loose writing about inner states of mind. Drawing examples from therapeutic practice, Shotter deliberately does not seek to construct a grand theory, but to reveal the inner qualities of life as it is lived moment by moment. In this almost poetic task, Shotter succeeds gloriously” – Michael Billig, author of Freudian Repression: Conversation Creating the Unconscious, Professor of Social Studies, Loughborough University

“Leave your familiar thinking box urges Shotter and open yourself to ‘withness-thinking.” In this compelling thought sparking book, he shows us the value of withness-thinking as a fresh approach to both the familiar and new challenges of our daily living. Through his fluency in the terrain of the dialogical he invites us, and his trains of thought tell us how, to think with so as to inquire into and approach these challenges in ways that increase the opportunity for near imagined possibilities of “how we might act next.” Not just any kind of thinking: thinking with involves a special way of being with, responding with and doing with-participating spontaneously in-the-moment rather than thinking about, for or to another person as an object of study or mastery.” – Dr. Harlene Anderson, author of Conversation, Language and Possibility, Houston Galveston Institute

“This book opened new doors for me and will do the same for many other readers.” – Theodore Taptiklis, author of Unmanning, Opening up the Organization to its own Unspoken Knowledge, Storymaker Research Institute

“It is a fascinating, erudite and profoundly useful work that repays many slow readings.” – Professor Patricia Shaw, author of Conservations in Organizations, Complexity and Management, University of Hertfordshire


Prologue: A ‘New’ Realm of Inquiry

  1. Where the Action is
  2. ‘Withness’-Thinking and the Dialogical
  3. The Dialogical, Joint Nature of Human Activity
  4. Wittgenstein’s Remarks: The Role of Reminders
  5. Wittgenstein’s Methods: Withness-Thinking and Grammar
  6. Living Expression, Entanglement, Chiasmic Entanglement, and Time
  7. Cartesianism and “Losing the Phenomena”
  8. Styles of Writing: Withness – and Aboutness-Writing
  9. Writing on the Edge: The Expression of Unique Moments
  10. Rethinking Truth in Practise: The Recovery of Truthfulness
Epilogue – Oh Brave New World

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Weight 0.4 kg


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