The Quandary of Ethical Imagination: Paradoxes of Tradition and Innovation
Paradoxically, tradition depends on innovation for its dynamic evolution as much as innovation relies on tradition for appropriateness and legitimacy. This interdependency of tradition and innovation, familiarity and novelty, continuity and change, is an integral part of the phenomena of life. Certainly, in our transmodern world, there is a great need for persevering through this paradoxical interrelationship. Intentional integration of tradition and innovation is one of the most significant human characteristics of the everlasting desire for meaning making, going beyond what we are traditionally able of maintaining into what we are imaginatively capable of innovating. With this understanding, not only can human beings engage in the flexible boundaries of transdisciplinarity, but they can also cross the threshold between the real and the imaginary for meaningful social change.
If an innovative change is to be initiated, a sense of tradition has to be respected. The challenge, however, is that with this incredible endeavor to transform social reality comes the unbearable dilemma of ethical imagination. The quandary is: What constitutes ethical imagination? Who decides whether the imagination is ethical or not? Whose value should be considered? How do we ethically and aesthetically imagine and reconstruct reality? What role can the “new semiotics” play in persevering through the paradox of tradition and innovation? By drawing on the transdisciplinary discourse of the new semiotics, this lecture attempts to answer these nagging questions, and calls upon semioticians to persuade others to become effective agents of social change while preserving human dignity.