Difference between revisions of "CONVERSATIONS"
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<p>"The human race is hurtling toward a disaster. It is absolutely necessary to find a way to change course", [[Aurelio Peccei]] – the co-founder, firs president and the motor power behind The Club of Rome – wrote this in 1980, in One Hundred Pages for the Future, based on this global think tank's first decade of research.
<p>"The human race is hurtling toward a disaster. It is absolutely necessary to find a way to change course", [[Aurelio Peccei]] – the co-founder, firs president and the motor power behind The Club of Rome – wrote this in 1980, in One Hundred Pages for the Future, based on this global think tank's first decade of research.</p>
<p>Peccei was an unordinary man. In 1944, as a member of Italian Resistance, he was captured by the Gestapo and tortured for six months without revealing his contacts. Here is how he commented his imprisonment only 30 days upon being released:
<p>Peccei was an unordinary man. In 1944, as a member of Italian Resistance, he was captured by the Gestapo and tortured for six months without revealing his contacts. Here is how he commented his imprisonment only 30 days upon being released:
Revision as of 13:51, 2 October 2018
- 1 Federation through Conversations
- 1.1 Changing our collective mind
- 1.4 The nature of our conversations
- 1.5 Paradigm strategy dialogs
- 1.6 Liberation dialogs
- 1.7 Knowledge federation dialogs
Federation through Conversations
Changing our collective mind
Information as we might need it
We here introduce our proposal, knowledge federation, as a response to the last of the three large changes that developed during the past century – the change of the nature of our condition, and how our new condition imposes new demands on the way in which information and knowledge are created and used.
Changing the subject
You might consider, just as we do, the news about Donald Trump or some terrorists as nothing really new. Why give those people the attention they don't deserve? Why use the media to spread their messages? If you are entertaining such thoughts, then you might be ready for some really good news!
Also five centuries ago an abundance of daily spectacles occupied the people's minds. And yet when we look back, what we see is Leonardo, and Copernicus... We see the rebirth of the arts and the emergence of the sciences. We see those large and slow events because they give meaning and relevance to all particular ones. We notice them even from this distance because they were so spectacularly large – and that's also why the people living at that time failed to notice them! But how much more spectacular will it be to witness this sort of development in our own time!
Although we don't talk about him directly, the elephant in the above ideogram will be the main theme of all our conversations. It is a glimpse of him that we want to give and have by talking about all those people and things. And when we talk about the elephant, you should imagine the exotic large animal appearing in a room full of people – not today, but five centuries ago, when perhaps some of those people had heard of such a creature, but none of them had ever seen one yet. The elephant in the room is a breath-taking sensation! We use this visual metaphor to point to the whole big thing – the Renaissance-like change that now wants to emerge. The elephant is invisible, but we will have glimpses of him as soon as we begin to 'connect the dots'. And isn't that what we've been doing all along!
Be mindful of our challenge: A paradigm, a new "order of things", is nothing but an immense rearrangement of relationships. There are just about infinitely many dots to be connected! We can not, and will not, try to connect them all. As the above picture might suggest, our goal is to only connect sufficiently many, so that some characteristic contours of the whole big become discernible. And to make further connection making fun and easy, by providing guidelines, and by turning this work into a social game. Yet in spite of all that, you will have to make most of the connections yourself and in your own mind – and that's inevitable!
Changing the protagonists
By shirting our attention from Trump-style scandals and sensations to the elephant, we can also give attention and credit to our giants. We can begin to truly understand what they were talking about. If earlier we heard them talk about all sorts of different things like "the fan", "the hose" and "the rope", we can now see that they were really talking about the elephant's ears, trunk and tail. Given the spectacular size and importance of our 'animal', we will then not only appreciate our giants' insights as a new breed of sensations; we will also appreciate the fact that we've ignored them so long as a new breed of scandals.
"The human race is hurtling toward a disaster. It is absolutely necessary to find a way to change course", Aurelio Peccei – the co-founder, firs president and the motor power behind The Club of Rome – wrote this in 1980, in One Hundred Pages for the Future, based on this global think tank's first decade of research.
Peccei was an unordinary man. In 1944, as a member of Italian Resistance, he was captured by the Gestapo and tortured for six months without revealing his contacts. Here is how he commented his imprisonment only 30 days upon being released:
My 11 months of captivity were one of the most enriching periods of my life, and I regard myself truly fortunate that it all happened. Being strong as a bull, I resisted very rough treatment for many days. The most vivid lesson in dignity I ever learned was that given in such extreme strains by the humblest and simplest among us who had no friends outside the prison gates to help them, nothing to rely on but their own convictions and humanity. I began to be convinced that lying latent in man is a great force for good, which awaits liberation. I had a confirmation that one can remain a free man in jail; that people can be chained but that ideas cannot.
Peccei was also an unordinarily able business leader. While serving as the director of Fiat's operations in Latin America (and securing that the cars were there not only sold but also produced) Peccei established Italconsult, a consulting and financing agency to help the developing countries catch up with the rest. When the Italian technology giant Olivetti was in trouble, Peccei was brought in as the president, and he managed to turn its fortunes around. And yet the question that most occupied Peccei was a much larger one – the condition of our civilization as a whole; and what we may need to do to take charge of this condition.
In 1977, in "The Human Quality", Peccei formulated his answer as follows:
Let me recapitulate what seems to me the crucial question at this point of the human venture. Man has acquired such decisive power that his future depends essentially on how he will use it. However, the business of human life has become so complicated that he is culturally unprepared even to understand his new position clearly. As a consequence, his current predicament is not only worsening but, with the accelerated tempo of events, may become decidedly catastrophic in a not too distant future. The downward trend of human fortunes can be countered and reversed only by the advent of a new humanism essentially based on and aiming at man’s cultural development, that is, a substantial improvement in human quality throughout the world.
On the morning of the last day of his life (March 14, 1984), while dictating "The Club of Rome: Agenda for the End of the Century" to his secretary from a hospital, Peccei identified "human development" as "the most important goal".
Peccei's and Club of Rome's insights and proposals (to focus not on problems but on the condition or the "problematique" as a whole, and to handle it through systemic and evolutionary strategies and agendas) have not been ignored only by "climate deniers", but also by activists and believers.
Connecting Peccei's observations with some of the insights of Neil Postman will help us understand more closely our strategy – why it is that we are putting this elephant into the forefront of our attention. Several years after Peccei passed away, in 1990, Postman delivered a keynote to the German Informatics Society titled "Informing Ourselves to Death", and then published the text as a chapter in the book "The Nature of Technology". We shall here only quote a few lines from the televised interview he gave to the PBS (a link will be provided).
We've entered thne age of information glut. And this is something no culture has really faced before. A typical situation is information scarcity. (...) Lack of information can be very dangerous. But at the same time too much information can be very dangerous, because it can lead to a situation of meaninglessness, that is – people not having any basis for knowing what is relevant, what is irrelevant, what is useful, what is not useful... That they live in a culture that is simply committed, through all of its media, to generate tons of information every hour, without categorizing it in any way for you, so that you don't know what any of it means. (...) This becomes a threat not only to one's peace of mind, but much more importantly to one's sense of meaning. The problem now is not to get information to people, but how to get some meaning of what's happening.(...) We are less coherent in our understanding of information. There was a time when the word "information" always had associated with it action. That is, people sought information in order to solve some problem in their lives. And information was the instrument through which they would solve this problem. Then beginning in the 19th century information became a commodity; beginning, actually I believe with telegraphy. Something you could buy and sell. So that action association began to diminish. So that now there is nothing but information – and we are not expected to do anything with it, just consume it. (...) To know what to do with information depends on having some sort of conceptual framework; I sometimes call it, and some of my colleagues do, some "narrative", some story, which will help you decide which information you will want to seek out, and why you want to seek it out, and what it's good for. (...) Even the great story of inductive science has lost a good deal of its meaning, because it does not address several questions that all great narratives must address: Where we come from; what's going to happen to us; where we are going, that is; and what we're supposed to do when we are here. Science couldn't answer that; and technology doesn't.So you may now appreciate that what we call the elephant is exactly what (Postman observed) has been lacking. By "connecting the dots", we undertake to put in place a truly spectacular, sensational, breath-taking story – which will not only reinstate a sense of meaning, but also and most importantly once again give context and thereby also relevance to the ideas of our giants, and of course to knowledge in general. And perhaps still more importantly, by orchestrating this activity of "connecting the dots", we undertake to create the sort of collaboration and communication that is capable of synthesizing and updating such narratives.
Changing the tone
If you hear us knowledge federators say such off-the-wall and Trump-like things like "the climate change is a red herring", we do not mean to belittle the excellent and necessary efforts of our friends and colleagues who work so devotedly on this issue. Our point is that the climate, or any other "problem", becomes a red herring when it diverts all attention from those deeper evolutionary tasks on which our ability to find lasting solutions now depends.
By focusing on the elephant, we will work on contemporary issues, both large and small, both global and local, without even mentioning them by name! Instead of struggling to coerce the people and systems who created the problems to create solutions, our strategy is to inform and empower us the people, so that we may co-create solutions – i.e. systems – ourselves. Instead of seeing our contemporary condition as a dictate to do what we have to do, we turn it into a mandate to do what we wish to do. What could be a richer source of opportunities for achievement and contribution, than a whole new paradigm being born!
The nature of our conversations
We are not just talking
Don't be deceived by this seemingly innocent word, "conversations". These conversations, with which we want to extend and continue our initiative, are where the real action begins; and the real fun.
When we say "conversations", we don't mean "only talking". On the contrary! Here truly the medium is the message. By developing these conversations, we want to develop a way for us to put the themes that matter into the focus of our shared attention. We want to engage our collective knowledge and ingenuity to bear upon understanding, and handling, of our time's important issues. We want to give voice to ideas that matter, and to people who merit our attention. And above all – by developing these conversations, we want to create a manner of conversing that works. We want to re-create our public sphere. We want to change our collective mind so that it can think new thoughts!
The guiding vision we are co-creating together will not only change our understanding of our world, but also the way we handle it. We will no longer be struggling to improve our candles; we will be creating light bulbs.
Conversations merge into one
This simple strategy, to federate a vision, and to self-organize differently, can make any conversation matter. Two people can be conversing across a coffee table; by just recording and sharing what's been said, they can make their conversation be part of this larger one.
What we above all have in mind, however, is to stage public conversations. Conversations that will enrich our large global one with the knowledge and insights of their participants. Conversations that will put important themes into our public sphere. Conversations which, when recorded and shared, will be real reality shows, showing the birth pains of a whole new stage of our evolution.
Dialogs not discussions
This re-evolution will be nonviolent not only in action, but also in its manner of speaking. The technical word is dialog. The dialog is to the emerging paradigm as the debate is to the old one. The dialog too might have an icon giant, physicist David Bohm. Let's hear what Bohm had to say about this matter.
I give a meaning to the word 'dialogue' that is somewhat different from what is commonly used. The derivations of words often help to suggest a deeper meaning. 'Dialogue' comes from the Greek word dialogos. Logos means 'the word' or in our case we would think of the 'meaning of the word'. And dia means 'through' - it doesn't mean two. A dialogue can be among any number of people, not just two. Even one person can have a sense of dialogue within himself, if the spirit of the dialogue is present. The picture of image that this derivation suggests is of a stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us. This will make possible a flow of meaning in the whole group, out of which will emerge some new understanding. It's something new, which may not have been in the starting point at all. It's something creative. And this shared meaning is the 'glue' or 'cement' that holds people and societies together.
Contrast this with the word 'discussion', which has the same root as 'percussion' an 'concussion'. It really means to break things up. It emphasises the idea of analysis, where there may be many points of view. Discussion is almost like a Ping-Pong game, where people are batting the ideas back and forth and the object of the game is to win or to get points for yourself. Possibly you will take up somebody else's ideas to back up your own - you may agree with some and disagree with others- but the basic point is to win the game. That's very frequently the case in a discussion.
In a dialogue, however, nobody is trying to win. Everybody wins if anybody wins. There is a different sort of spirit to it. In a dialogue, there is no attempt to gain points, or to make your particular view prevail. Rather, whenever any mistake is discovered on the part of anybody, everybody gains. It's a situation called win-win, in which we are not playing a game against each other but with each other. In a dialogue, everybody wins.
Paradigm strategy dialogs
First things first
Implicit in knowledge federation as an idea and an initiative is a certain economy of attention: If there is a single overarching insight or principle that changes the very direction of our efforts (Norbert Wiener called this "know-what") – then why waste our time on the details of the "know-how" of the old pursuits and direction? You will notice here that both our choice of themes and the sequence in which those themes are introduced reflect this most timely principle. Our first question, then, is – what theme, what insight, should come first? What deserves the highest priority? The question we discuss first is about the nature of our condition, and about a suitable strategy to handle it. It is those two that will help us answer the questions of relevance and priority in these conversations.
The paradigm strategy dialogs are tailored for informed professionals (academic researchers, social entrepreneurs...) who have already recognized the characteristic global or contemporary issues as context in which strategies and priorities need to be forged; and who have already adopted systemic thinking as methodological foundation. Can we still say something, or better still – can we engage them in a certain new way – that will make a difference?
Here is how we introduced the paradigm strategy at the Relating Systems Thinking and Design RSD6 conference, in 2017 in Oslo.
The motivation is to allow for the kind of difference that is suggested by the comparison of everyone carrying buckets of water from their own basements, with everyone teaming up and building a dam to regulate the flow of the river that is causing the flooding. We offer to the RSD community what we are calling the paradigm strategy as a way to make a similar difference in impact, with respect to the common efforts focusing on specific problems or issues. The paradigm strategy is to focus our efforts on instigating a sweeping and fundamental cultural and social paradigm change – instead of trying to solve problems, or discuss, understand and resolve issues, within the current paradigm.
Another metaphor that may explain this strategy proposal is the one we've used already – the construction of a light bulb, as an alternative to trying to improve the candle. Needless to say, this incomparably more powerful strategy depends on our shared understanding that the construction of the light bulb is possible – and then of course what this construction might involve as necessary elements.
Our presentation was both a strategy proposal, and an intervention into the RSD6 conference as a system. Our goal was to engage this community of academic change makers to transcend the conventional academic lecture and publication conference format, and to self-organize and collaborate in a new way. Our purpose was to apply everyone's collective intelligence toward co-creating an evolutionary guiding light for everyone else – and hence ignite a wave of change. (Yes, this sentence is a mouthful. But just read on, and its meaning will be clear.)
The Paradigm Strategy poster
The Paradigm Strategy poster is designed as a way to (1) communicate the paradigm strategy and (2) choreograph a small but significant set of first steps toward self-organization and co-creation of knowledge – and hence into the new paradigm.
The left-hand side, with yellow background, represents the current societal paradigm, that is – the current way of evolving culturally, socially and systemically. The techniques for weaving together core ideas of giants, which were outlined in Federation through Images – vignettes, threads and patterns – are applied to come to the main and central point or gestalt (represented by the circle in the middle), which is the wormhole into the emerging order of things. The right-hand side represents the space where the emerging paradigm is being co-created, by highlighting a small subset of the prototypes that we discussed in Federation through Applications.
In a nutshell, the poster weaves the findings of giants into two patterns – the Wiener's paradox and the homo ludens. The first one (which we discussed briefly in Federation through Stories) is there to show that academic publishing (specifically in systems research, and then also in general) tends to have no effect on public opinion and policy. The second one, the homo ludens, points to the way in which we've been conducting our lives and careers, and evolving culturally and socially – without suitable information and knowledge. (Technically the homo ludens is a pattern, so it must be understood as a way of looking at things, not as "the" reality – as we explained in Federation through Images. The purpose of formulating such 'side views' is to be able to look in a new way, and discuss degenerative tendencies, however small or large they might be.) The messages it conveys are central to our story line, and deserve a paragraph of its own.
We implement what Vannevar Bush asked for in 1945 – we link ideas and people associatively into threads, which roughly correspond to what Bush called "trails". The threads not only federate ideas (give them strength by linking them together into higher-order units of meaning) – they also add a dramatic effect, by combining the ideas so that they amplify one another. But here we take this process of "upward growth" of knowledge even further, by weaving threads into patterns, and patterns into a gestalt. We'll come back to that in a moment.
The poster presents a small selection of four threads, of which we have already seen one, Wiener – Jantsch – Reagan, in Federation through Stories. And we have seen also how this single thread already allows us to see one of the two patterns on the LHS of the poster, the Wiener's paradox. We here show another straight-forward thread, Nietzsche – Ehrlich – Giddens, which will allow us to already see the second pattern, the homo ludens. And these two patterns will then be all we'll need to reach the pivotal, paradigm-shifting insight.
The thread we want to show you begins with Friedrich Nietzsche looking at modernity from the point of view of digestion:
Sensibility immensely more irritable; the abundance of disparate impressions greater than ever; cosmopolitanism in food, literatures, newspapers, forms, tastes, even landscapes. The tempo of this influx prestissimo; the impressions erase each other; one instinctively resists taking in anything, taking anything deeply, to “digest” anything; a weakening of the power to digest results from this. A kind of adaptation to this flood of impressions takes place: men unlearn spontaneous action, they merely react to stimuli from outside. They spend their strength partly in assimilating things, partly in defense, partly in opposition. Profound weakening of spontaneity: The historian, critic, analyst, interpreter, the observer, the collector, the reader-all of them reactive talents-all science!
Artificial change of one’s nature into a “mirror”; interested but, as it were, merely epidermically interested; a coolness on principle, a balance, a fixed low temperature closely underneath the thin surface on which warmth, movement, “tempest,” and the play of waves are encountered.“
Opposition of external mobility and a certain deep heaviness and weariness.“
Take a moment to digest the above excerpt, in the context of its background: What this already ancient daring thinker was observing, was that already in his time an overload of information and of impressions of all kinds made people unable to connect the dots! But let's continue with this thread before we come back to this observation and draw conclusions.
The second protagonist in the thread is Stanford University's famed biologist, environmentalist and (as he likes to say) "pessimist" Paul Ehrlich. We'll, however, quote here only one of his personal observations we heard him make – that when he was in the 1950s staying with the Inuits as a young researcher, he noticed that every member of the community was able to understand and handle all the community's tools. A woman would perhaps not use the hunting knife, but she perfectly understood how it works. Compare this with the complexity of your smart phone, and the situation where you not only don't know how this thing works – but would even be challenge to produce the names the professions and specialties whose knowledge would need to be combined to answer that question. The point here is that – within just a generation or so – the complexity of our world has increased to the point where it's become practically impenetrable.
Add to this the fact – yes, we have to put it into this picture, it's our main theme after all – that we do not have the kind of information that would help us penetrate through this complex reality; that we've indeed used the modern information technology to just broadcast... and hence to vastly increase the overload of impressions... How in the world do we cope with all that? The third hero of this thread, Anthony Giddens, will answer that question. Here is how the famed sociologist formulated the concept "ontological security" in Modernity and Self-Identity:
The threat of personal meaninglessness is ordinarily held at bay because routinised activities, in combination with basic trust, sustain ontological security. Potentially disturbing existential questions are defused by the controlled nature of day-to-day activities within internally referential systems.
Mastery, in other words, substitutes for morality; to be able to control one’s life circumstances, colonise the future with some degree of success and live within the parameters of internally referential systems can, in many circumstances, allow the social and natural framework of things to seem a secure grounding for life activities.
Already based on this single thread we can see the pattern we are calling homo ludens (man the [game] player) – where we have given up knowing and understanding; where we simply learn our profession, and our various other roles as well, as one would learn the rules of a game – and we play our career and other 'games' competitively, just to increase (what we perceive as) our personal gain. But let's wait with the discussion of this pattern and its consequences until we've seen some of its deeper sides – which is what we'll turn to next.
Can we use knowledge federation to turn even a profane theme as "evolution" into a sensation? (We are of course talking about our cultural and societal evolution, the evolution that matters.)
While we let ourselves be guided by our natural wish to save your time and attention, by showing you a crisp and clear picture of the elephant on a very high level that is, without too much detail – we risk missing the real point of our undertaking, which is to give an exciting, palpable, moving, spectacular, breath-taking... vision or "narrative". You might remember the vignettes we introduced in Federation through Stories? The point is to present abstract ideas through stories, which give them realness and meaning. And (you'll also remember) each of these stories, in a fractal-like or parable-like way, portrays the whole big thing. So let us here slow down a moment and introduce just one single giant through his story. Not because his story is the most interesting of them all – but because it alone points to what might be the very heart of our matter, that is, of the emerging paradigm or the elephant. And even so – all we'll be able to do is provide some sketches, and rough contours, but please bear with us – we are only priming this conversation. As we begin to speak, the details will begin to shine through, and so will the elephant.
So let's follow Bourdieu from his childhood in Denguin (an alpine village in Southern France) to his graduation in philosophy from the uniquely prestigious Parisian École normale supérieure (where just a handful of exceptionally talented youngsters are given the best available support to raise to the very top of a field). A refusal to attend the similarly prestigious military academy (which was the prerogative of the ENS graduates) led Bourdieu to have his military service in Algeria, which is where the real story begins.
Upon return to France Bourdieu would ultimately raise to the very top of sociology (he occupied the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France) – largely by developing the insights he acquired back in Algeria. notice that Bourdieu was not educated as a sociologist – he became one by observing how the society really operates, and evolves. And by turning that into a theory, which he aptly called "Theory of Practice". What did he see?
Two things, really. First of all he saw the ugly and brutal side of French imperialism manifest itself (as torture and all imaginable other abuses) during the Algerian War in 1958-1962. Bourdieu wrote a popular book about this, in French Que sais-je series, which very roughly corresponds to Anglo-American "For Dummies". In France this book contributed to the disillusionment with the "official narrative". And in Algeria it made him trusted (someone would take him to an 'informant', perhaps a one who has been tortured, and say "you can trust this man completely") – and hence privy of the kind of information that few people could access.
This led to the second and main of Bourdieu's observations – of the transformation of the rural Kabyle society with the advancement of modernization. It is with great pleasure and admiration that one reads Bourdieu's writings about the Kabyle house and household, with its ethos and sense of duty and honor arranging both the relationships among the people and their relationships with things within and outside their dwellings. And yet – Bourdieu observed – when a Kabyle man goes to town in search of work, his entire way of being suddenly becomes dysfunctional. Even to the young women of his own background – who saw something entirely different in the movies and in the cafes – the way he walks and talks, and of course his sense of honor... became out of place. The insight – which interests us above all – is that the kind of domination that was once attempted, unsuccessfully, through military conquest – became in effect achieved not only peacefully, but even without anyone's awareness of what was going on. The symbolic power – as Bourdieu called it – can only be exercised without anyone's awareness of its existence!
To compose his Theory of Practice, Bourdieu polished up certain concepts such as habitus (which was used already by Aristotle and was brought into sociology by Max Weber), and created others, such as "symbolic capital" and "field" which he also called "game". A certain subtly authoritative way of speaking may be the habitus of a boss. The knowledge of brands and wines, and a certain way of holding the knife and fork may be one's social capital – properly called a "capital" because it affords distinct advantages and is worth "investing into", because it gives "dividends". But let's explain the overall meaning of this theory of practice and its relevance, by bringing it completely down to earth and applying it to some quite ordinary social "practice" – which marked our social life throughout history.
If you break into your neighbor's house, kill the man and rob his property (in olden days you would probably sell his wife and children as slaves, but in this age you may decide what exactly to do with them), you will certainly be put to jail as a dangerous criminal. If you will instead stand on the main square with a microphone and a loudspeaker, and invite your fellow citizens to do the same to a neighboring country, you would certainly be considered a dangerous madman and put to a suitable institution. Unless, of course your "job description" (let's call it that) entitles you to do that (because you are the country's president, or in earlier times its king).
So isn't the fact that we've been socialized to accept certain kind of habitus or behavior from certain people that makes all the difference – that is stronger than our ethical sense, common sense, and even our self-preservation instincts? The question is – how can this be? And what sort of societal evolution has this given us? Those questions we may begin to answer in the context of the remainder of the thread in which Bourdieu appears; and with the help of a neighboring thread.
(Yes, this is really turning into a rather long story. But if you have preserved enough of that old homo sapiens spirit to appreciate what we are really talking about, and its importance, then you'll forgive us that. And anyhow, the current version of this website is meant to appeal to you who basically already "get it" – and engage your help, administered through the medium of these dialogs and in other ways, to transform and communicate it further. )
The name of the Odin the Horse vignette, with which this thread begins, is a bit of a private joke, whose meaning will best be appreciated in the context of the next conversation we'll describe here, which is called "Liberation". For now it's enough to say that this vignette is intended to be a poetic and moving description of the turf behavior of Icelandic horses. We are now creating a way of looking at things (recall polyscopy), which is this: Imagine if we the people also have in us a territorial animal. Imagine that we too are driven by endless "turf battles" – but that our "turfs" are as much more complex than the turfs of the horses, as our culture and society are more complex than theirs. Wikipedia says that, According to Bourdieu, "habitus is composed of:
[s]ystems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to attain them".So imagine then our society or culture as a "turf" (which Bourdieu aptly calls interchangeably the "field" and the "game"), where each social roles and its corresponding habitus has been structured through a (human equivalent of a) turf battle – and which at the same time structures everyone's role and capabilities and in effect the turf battles of our lives.
The last vignette – that bears the name of Antonio Damasio, who is a leading cognitive scientist – is there to explain why it is that we are incapable of "seeing through" this game, and take the power to consciously create the systems in which we live and work, instead of letting them determine our lives in arbitrarily meaningless or dysfunctional ways. Damasio's key insights is that Descartes (read "modernity") got it all wrong, all upside down. It is not our rational mind that determines our choices; it is our embodied (read "socialized") predispositions or 'filters' that determine what our rational mind is capable of thinking and believing.
So now you must see the elephant emerge from the fog he's in one step further. You'll know that you are beginning to discern its contours when you our modern begin to seem to you as the period between the twilight of the Middle Ages and the dawn of the Renaissance.
The Chomsky – Harari – Graeber thread, which we'll only mention here and elaborate in conversations, is there to point to the evolutionary moment, and situation, we find ourselves in. To put it very briefly: Chomsky, when asked "what sort of insight will emerge from the research in linguistics that may make a large difference" answered that our that is human language did not really evolve as a means of communication (about what's relevant out there to know), but as an instrument for worldview sharing. Harari, in Sapiens and related TED and other talks, described this – the ability to create a story and believe in it as reality – as the competitive advantage of our species over others, which enabled us to conquer the planet and become the dominant species. David Graeber – that is, the vignette to which we have given his name – will explain why this way of evolving (whose inner workings are taken up in the just mentioned other thread) could have given us dramatically wasteful and dysfunctional societal organizations without us properly noticing. (The vignette is actually about Alexander the Great; Alexander's "business model" where he turns free people into slaves to work in his mines, and turns sacred and artistic objects of precious metals into coins, and thus acquires sufficient funds to be able to finance his military operations and "conquer the Earth" – and as a result becomes "the Great" – is used as a parable for how our systems have been evolving since the beginning of civilization.)
And now the point: While we could – albeit with enormous costs and sacrifices – let our evolution be guided in this way, today our situation is different. We have conquered the planet. Now there remains just about one single thing for us to conquer; a single main challenge.
During the past century we humans have conquered or learned to subjugate to our will the power of the rivers, the waves, the winds, the atom and the Sun. Our challenge in this century is to conquer (subjugate to conscious evolution) what has become the greatest power of our planet – the power of our socialization. It is the greatest because it determines how all those other powers are going to be used.
Back to epistemology
Let us observe in parentheses that while here we've undertaken to place our initiative into the context of the society's basic needs – we've come a full circle and back to epistemology. The reason is that while in the earlier societal order of things a shared "reality picture" was essentially just the reality – in the emerging order of things those reality pictures are really the product of the power structure; they are the "turf" which determines the structure of our "turf battles". It is therefore essential that our very approach to knowledge does not rely on the "reality" of such 'turfs' (...).
In the spirit of knowledge federation, we can now put what's been said into a nutshell – and that's what The Paradigm Strategy poster does, by talking about two distinct patterns. The homo ludens here is a simplification of the more comprehensive and more precise power structure theory – but still good enough to bring the main points across. This here is a sketch of some of the conclusions and consequences, of a deeper analysis where the nature of our socialization is explained by weaving together some of the core insights of Pierre Bourdieu, Antonio Damasio, Zygmunt Bauman and other leading researchers in the humanities.
The scope or way of looking here is look at our socio-cultural evolution in two ways instead of just one – which we delineate by the corresponding two keywords, homo sapiens and homo ludens. Although both are always present in degrees or as tendencies, you may think of the homo ludens as a cultural species, which has (most interestingly) been acquiring supremacy in the recent period. The homo ludens has successfully adapted to the social condition where the complexity of our world combined with the overload of information and of impressions in general has made our reality impenetrable. The point is that the homo ludens is not the homo sapiens; he does not seek knowledge or use knowledge. He ignores the larger purpose of his work, and all other larger purposes. Instead, he simply learns his profession as a social role, as one would learn the rules of a game, and plays competitively. The homo ludens is guided by what's been called "social intelligence" – he has his antennas tuned to the "interests" of the powerful players around him; and by accommodating them, he acquires his own power position.
Some consequences of the homo ludens evolution seem worth highlighting:
- The systems in which we live and work can be arbitrarily misconstrued, wasteful and dysfunctional, without the homo ludens even noticing that.
- This theory explains why politicians like Donald Trump may raise to highest positions of influence – the homo ludens perceives them, perhaps rightly, as the kind of people who "get the things done" in our present order (or dis-order) of things.
- The two evolutionary paradigms are – to use Thomas Kuhn's useful keyword – incommensurable (each has its own epistemology, and sees and organizes the world in its own specific way). The homo ludens knows from experience that the homo sapiens is on the verge of extinction; and that one has to be the homo ludens if one should be successful. The homo sapiens looks at the data and the trends, and reaches the opposite conclusion – that the homo ludens must morph into the (cultural) homo sapiens if our civilization, and our species, should have a future.
- This theory predicts the existence of a most curious cultural sub-species – the homo ludens academicus – which should not at all exist according to conventional logic (isn't the very purpose of the academic institution to guide us along the homo sapiens evolutionary path?). The existence of this subspecies still needs to be confirmed by field research, of course. If, however, this species is discovered in reality, this would explain the un-academic resistance of the academic people to update their own system, when the available knowledge is calling for such updates. The homo ludens ignores the larger societal purpose of his institution. He just sticks to the rules – which provide an "objective" and "fair" frame of reference in which his career game is played.
The next step
What is to be done in this sort of situation? The poster indicates that the key step – from this paradigm into the next – is in the simple act of bootstrapping (we need to re-socialize ourselves, by daring to co-create the systems in which we live and work). A small but significant act of bootstrapping is then choreographed by the poster – which provides an invitation to take part in re-creating the poster itself. A virtual space is provided where the poster is the background, and where one can add verbal and visual comments to its various parts.
First things second
We begin with this somewhat awkward re-coining of this phrase to signal that while our first theme might be necessary for understanding the relevance of this second one, this second one might in the overall order of things be indeed more relevant than the first. What we'll be talking about is the possibility of changing our contemporary human ecology, so that we may indeed begin to redirect our energies in the kind of direction of development that, Peccei predicted, is necessary now if our civilization should have a future. Or we may also put this second conversation into the context provided by our first one, where "Odin the horse" symbolized for us the very motivational structure that drives our societal power games, and ultimately creates our institutions, mores, structures, and our life itself. What new information, what new isights, could we bring in, that could tip the scale and lead to a civilizational redirection?
This conversation is not about religion
At the dawn of the Enlightenment our ancestors liberated themselves from a stringent religious worldview, and we ultimately became free to "pursue happiness" here and now. But what if in the process we have misunderstood both religion and happiness?
If we now tell you that this conversation is about religion, in a way we would be telling the truth – and yet you would get a completely wrong idea of what it's really about. So it is best to consider this theme, religion, as just a uniquely revealing way of looking at the whole big thing, the paradigm, or the elephant. Here too the whole big thing will be reflected in a single theme in the manner of fractals. Our story will both be a snapshot, a picture of an essential piece in the puzzle – and a parable, displaying the structure of the whole paradigm in a nutshell.
To set the stage, revisit what's been said about Aurelio Peccei at the top of this page. It is the man's cultural and ethical development on which now our civilization's future will depend, claimed Peccei. Then read pages 8 - 10 of theintroduction to the book manuscript titled Liberation and subtitled Religion for the Third Millennium (this book, when finished, is intended to serve a background and a starter for this conversation), especially the page-and-a-half excerpt from Heisenberg's Physics and Philosophy. The narrow frame of concepts that the 19th century science gave us was damaging to culture, the celebre physicist observed, – and in particular to its ethical / religions aspects. How lucky we are that the modern physics disproved this narrow frame!
So the question is – can we (in the context of the knowledge federation paradigm and paradigm proposal) handle this matter in a radically better way? Can we fix the "narrow frame" problem – and provide a foundation for exactly the kind of development that Peccei was wanting us to begin?
Observe, further, that in the traditional societies religion (whose etymology suggests re-connection) was the major factor connecting each individual to a purpose (which was often seen as "God's will or command"), and the people together into a community. In modernity, however (as Heisenberg observed in the quoted passage), the belief in uninformed self-interest has assumed this role. The question is if we can do better than that.
This conversation is not about Buddhism
Well in some sense it is about Buddhism – but not in the usual sense of this word. Before we began this project or federation exercise, our understanding of Buddhism was clouded by the kind of things one hears while growing up in the West: That the Buddhists believe in reincarnation. That the Buddha was a prince, who wanted to find a way out of suffering. Well, we all know, our earthly existence is suffering, there's pain and sickness and old age and dying and there's no way around that. But the Buddha found a solution – if we persist in righteous living for sufficiently long, we can enter "nirvana" or (in Pali) "nibbana" and continue to live in eternal bliss without incarnating. The happiness is to be found, in other words, not here but in the "hereafter".
How radically our understanding changed in the course of this exploration!
The book manuscript "Liberation" with subtitle "Religion for the Third Millennium" will provide all the details. While this manuscript is being completed, we'll try to provide you sufficient guidelines and details here so that you may begin to connect the dots on this uniquely interesting and relevant picture yourself. Here too you have both a relevant detail and a metaphorical or fractal representation of the whole big thing, how we communicate and fail to communicate (or how our communication and institutionalization gets hijacked by the power structure). So let's begin with a brief outline of the story line (a more thorough version is provided in the references below) and then continue with the substance.
So here's a very short version of Buddhadasa's story: After two years of monastic life in Bangkok, while in his early 20s and almost a century ago, Buddhadasa thought "This just cannot be it! We are chanting sutras and observing the precepts, but if one looks deeper really much of what goes on has to do with the monks' personal ambitions and the prestige." So he learned enough Pali to be able to understand the original scriptures, established a dwelling in an abandoned forest monastery near his home village Chaya in Southern Thailand, and undertook to discover and repeat the Buddha's way (or "experiment", as we sometimes like to frame it) himself.
In this way Buddhadasa found that the essence of Buddhism was not really what was taught. It was, rather, simply a phenomenon, a kind of a natural law that the Buddha discovered 25 centuries earlier. Buddhism, in Buddhadasa's interpretation, is a kind of a science – by which innate human possibilities for a radically better life, not an afterlife but a life here and now, are pursued through a deep inner transformation. Seeing this, Buddhadasa made a leap of intuition – and postulated that all religions share the same essence. And that all of them suffered from the same problem of misunderstanding of this essence, and deformation of the practice. We'll come back to that in a moment.
Perhaps you'll understand the larger relevance of this insight if we frame it in the context of The Paradigm Strategy dialog above: While it is true that we the people have a strong "Odin the horse" component that governs our private and communal life, that is not at all the whole story. Odin is also the divinity. The horse can be tamed – and the divine side can become the ruler. But this is of course using once again the religious language, which may be unappealing to some of our readers. So let us now bring this conversation completely down to earth, by talking about an issue that everyone can relate to and understand – the pursuit of happiness.
So let us mention some of the differences between Buddhadasa's interpretation of Buddhism and the way we understood this subject.
First of all (you may not think much of this now, compared to what we'll talk about next – but this is central) – the word "suffering" is a rough translation of a technical term "dukkha" – whose meaning is a certain kind of suffering. You want to imagine the forests of India 25 centuries ago as laboratories where a certain kind of research, and culture, were blossoming (see the blog post The Garden of Liberation linked below). Those people had their technical language which made it possible for them to deal in precise ways with the kind of issues Peccei thought we shoud focus on – incomparably better than we do today. A nice federation challenge, isn't it? We'll say more about this in a moment.
The second point is that what the Buddha discovered was how to eliminate dukkha through a certain conscious practice. The heart of the matter is to eliminate the arrival of self-consciousness or greed or desiring of any kind – through certain kinds of praxis. The "incarnation" that the Buddha talked about was of this kind – the arousing of self-consciousness, which could happen one hundred times in a day!
So Buddhism – as we learned from Buddhadasa – is purely about pursuing happiness here and now. The difference from what we thought we knew about this is astounding: While it appeared to us that the essence of Buddhism was a belief that we are stuck with a certain identity which we cannot get rid of even when we die – it turned out that the very problem that Buddhism was to heal was of us holding on to any kind of identity; that the praxis was the one of dissolving our identity in the larger identity of the All, and of the moment.
Furthermore – the essence of Buddhism, and of religion at large (according to Buddhadasa) is not a certain kind of belief, but on the contrary – the liberation from all fixed beliefs; and with it, the liberation of our minds our bodies, our thought and action, through the various power structures that would control our lives; and from our own inclination to partake in those power structures, and in controlling other people's lives...
But OK, these are abstractions – let us now see how they reflect upon our issue at hand, our earthly pursuit of happiness
So how important is dukkha? We'll answer this key question in three steps.
The first is to observe that dukkha is really what motivates Odin the horse in us to engage in territorial behavior. It's what creates our power structures. The message here is that – while this may be a part of the human nature – it is definitely not the whole thing. Odin the horse has a "divine" side too – and that is the one to be cultivated and elevated, if we should create a better world. And we even know how – we only need to enquire, and to connect the dots.
The second observation – which may need a bit of time and reflection, to get used to this way of looking and thinking – is to realize how much of our emotional life, what enormous proportion of our everyday suffering, is due to this atavistic part of our psychological makeup! Not only our professional life, but even our love life – what we know as "love relationships", and even so incredibly much of our love-related music and poetry – is just soaking in the dukkha-related emotions of clinging and controlling.
Yet even when all this is put together, things don't quite add up yet to the real picture, to the real size of this issue. To get there – and this is the communication opportunity and challenge that is taken in the book – we must understand the Buddha's discovery, and "the essence of religion" in a larger context. We identify happiness with the kind of things that give us a pleasant stimulation at the moment. What percentage of "happiness" does this leave in the dark? What should a more informed or systemic look at this issue reveal?
So let's imagine that all we know about happiness is on the scale between 0 (no happiness at all, or complete misery) and 1 ("normal" happiness, that is, the kind of thing we have experienced, and what we see around us). Let's postulate the possibility that there is a whole big range beyond – between 1 and + ∞ – that we've consistently ignored! And that the essence of the Buddha's vision is really how to access and traverse that space.
Buddhadasa portrays the Buddha as essentially a scientist. At his time in India, many young men withdrew into the forest to explore the science and art of (as Peccei framed it) "substantial improvement in human quality", because that was what the culture most highly valued. And as the case is in the academia today, people learned from each other, and improved the art. What the Buddha found was what allowed one to go beyond what otherwise seemed possible.
What is most interesting, then, for our overall story, for seeing the emerging paradigm or the metaphorical elephant – is that this key insight points in the opposite direction from the one in which we normally seek happiness!
And that it also contradicts the way how we normally see the essence of religion.
The key point of the technique is to relinquish any sort of clinging – to material possessions... to cultural identities... and even – to firmly held beliefs! The core praxis is the liberation from all forms of clinging. Or put differently – the liberation from exactly the kind of drives that motivate Odin the horse to behave like a (territorial) animal!
What we have here is really a key element in our puzzle – the one that links our personal pursuit of happiness with our societal one...
Of the ten chapters of the Liberation book, the first four federate suitable knowledge from a variety of sources and traditions, to give a broad outline of the territory of "happiness between 1 and + ∞", which is now opening up before us. Chapters 5 and 6 place the Buddhas (and Buddhadasa's) discovery into this picture – whereby it becomes transparent how exactly this insight fits in, and completes the puzzle. The last four chapters are then about our societal pursuit of happiness, that is, about the kind of environment that we would need – to both live in and to create – if this sort of pursuit of happiness should become possible.
Religion for the third millennium
So what will be the future of religion (according to the "Liberation" book)?
You see, here is where what we've told about polyscopy in Federation through Images comes in handy: We don't really need to predict the future. We don't need to – and indeed we cannot – say what religion "really is" or needs to be in the third millennium. We can just postulate the meaning of this word, and of the related words! We can create a convention which does no more than explain how we are using those words.
And even then we didn't need to do more than just federate an authority, Martin Lings. We remind you that there are no "metapysical" assumptions here, that the only thing we ever rely on is the observation of (here everyday) phenomena, or "phenomenology".
The observation is that there is indeed a source of human motivation that is beyond Odin the horse-style (uncultivated, uninformed, turf battle-motivated...) self-interest. Great works of art, and of science, acts of selfless courage and advancements toward liberty and freedom... would have been impossible without it. Examples are abundant and don't even need to be mentioned. So imagine those sources of motivation arranged around a periphery of a circle: "beauty", "truth", "justice", "motherhood"...; we chose to (follow after Carl Jung and) call them archetypes. Imagine that there is a central archetype in the center of the circle. Do you want to call it "God"? Or do you prefer to call it just "love"? That is entirely up to you. The important point is that when one is in contact with any of them, when one is connected with or "plugged into" an archetype, then one is motivated and empowered in a different way.
We may then think of religion as (any) praxis whose goal is to stimulate and enable this connection. Religion, understood in this way, is simply an aspect of culture – whose importance we'll easily understood in the context just provided.
We hope that the story we just told – in the context we provided above – will add appeal and adventure to the impending development of this praxis.
You will have no difficulty understanding that knowledge federation resolves the issue that was associated with religion in the old paradigm ("does God exist") in exactly the same way in which science resolved the disputes of the scholastics ("how many angels can dance on a needlepoint") – by changing the way of looking, so that the questions is seen as both undecidable and irrelevant. Indeed, if you've looked at Federation through Images, you'll know that – by convention – concepts here are just concepts that is, our own creation, which determine how we look at the world and what we are able to see and communicate. By the same convention, it is impossible and also meaningless to try to decide the "reality" of a concept.
You will also have no difficulty understanding why the issue of directing or re-directing our "pursuit of happiness" acquires an entirely different status. It is no secret that we have abandoned this question – and with it also the creation of values, and of culture at large – to commercial interests; you just need to look around. Even great Google earns 90% of its revenue from advertising! Of course in the old scheme of things this is just the operation of the old god, the Market. But if we should be serious about changing course, or the paradigm, we should be able to do better than that.
Can religion become a cause célèbre?
There are several reasons why we chose this book, Liberation, and this theme, "religion for the third millennium", to serve as the 'Trojan horse' with which we will break the news about Knowledge Federation and the emerging paradigm to general audiences, and ignite the general dialog. To most people, "religion" means believing in something, typically in "the existence of God", and then usually in some specific variant of this belief, such as that Jesus was the son of God, or that Mohamed was God's last prophet. The related beliefs – both when they are religious, and when they are anti–religious – tend to be strongly and passionately held, and often maintained against counter-evidence. (Is it because those beliefs have been a product of our socialization?)
In a way we want to play a Judo trick on the current narrow scope of interest of the people and the media – by offering a story that they won't be able to refuse. Which will at the same time bring forth insights and ideas that can radically transform those interests.
The space is open to us to resolve the issue of religion – but in a new-paradigm way. The presented evidence (which will be submitted to prime this conversation) will challenge the beliefs of all those camps – both the people who consider themselves as religious, and those who may be devoutly anti-religious. It has turned out that we can do that in the most innocent way imaginable – by just telling stories (once again those real-life ones, the vignettes). Or in other words, by federating giants.
While as always insights of a multiplicity of giants are combined to make a point, here too the story has a central hero. His gave himself the name Buddhadasa, which means "the slave of the Buddha" – and thereby made it clear that he too was just federating the insights of an earlier and more worthy master.
Knowledge federation dialogs
A conversation that matters
In the midst of all the systemic incongruences and devolutions, we've managed to do one thing right – through the mechanism of academic tenure, and the culture of academic freedom, our society has developed the capability to select, educate and sponsor a sub-society of free-thinking people. The question is – How is this capability being used?
The importance of how we answer this question in this historical moment cannot be overstated. The transition that is now before us, from a society whose evolution and daily functioning are marked by turf rivalry, to a society capable of creating a well-functioning world by co-creating its well-functioning components, will have to depend on such a degree of freedom. Furthermore, this transition will naturally have to begin at the university, because new thinking and new knowledge are what is needed to illuminate the way to all those other re-evolutionary changes.
“[T]he university should make structural changes within itself toward a new purpose of enhancing society’s capability for continuous self-renewal", Erich jantsch wrote, and lobbied at a leading university for such changes to be put into place. When now, a half-century later, we are proposing to make this question the subject of an academic dialog, we are supporting this proposal by a blueprint of an entire paradigm proposal – that's been outline on these pages. The rationale, as we have seen, is that we can now talk about co-creating 'the light bulb', instead of being focused on 'improving the candle', and ignoring whatever doesn't seem to fit that task.
We have motivated our paradigm proposal by three profound changes that developed during the past century – of our understanding of the nature of knowledge (or epistemology), of information technology, and of the needs our society has with regards to information, owing to the new situation it's in. We shall now revisit those three changes and summarize how our proposal responds to them, based on what's been told on these pages.
Change of epistemology
We have seen – in Federation through Images – how the leading physicists saw that the results they were reaching challenged the age-old assumptions about the nature of knowledge and reality. In Physics and Philosophy, Werner Heisenberg in particular gave a direct and clear account how the 19th century created a limited and narrow way of looking at the world, which determined not only what the scientists were doing but also and most importantly the zeitgeist of our culture. And how fortunate we were that the modern physics reached a rigorous disproof of this narrow frame of concepts! And Albert Einstein diagnosed that the age-old "correspondence with reality" as the foundation for creating truth and worldview, had the disadvantages that (1) it cannot be rationally verified and (2) it is the major source of illusions that dominate both human lives and academic practices.
We have seen how a different foundation for truth and worldview can be developed that is broad and solid in three independent ways, because (1) it is based on a convention (and conventions are true in a rigorous sense, just as mathematical definitions are true "by convention"); (2) the conventions are written so that they reflect the new epistemological findings; (3) the whole thing is a prototype – which means that it is capable of evolving and correcting its structural errors by updating itself, when the available knowledge and the 'environmental conditions' demand that.
We have seen how, on this new foundation, we can liberate knowledge and knowledge work from "narrow frames of concepts" of any kind – by allowing for concepts, and methods, to be freely created.
We have seen how, on this new foundation, we can develop knowledge work, which we called knowledge federation, whereby guiding insights and rules of thumb can be developed on any practically important or interesting topics, and on any desired level of generality. The information of this kind can then give us suitable orientation, help us handle the complex realities we have created – and reduce the cognitive burden that our present information has imposed on us.
The simple point, the takeaway, is that we can no longer rely on any single individual, be she a voter or a leader of a country – to assemble all the relevant details and see through them and make a decision. We must do our thinking and digesting and deciding collectively, by dividing, specializing and self-organizing our knowledge work – by developing the praxis that we've been calling knowledge federation.
Change of information technology
We have seen – by telling the "incredible history of Doug" in Federation through Stories, that the new media technology was created for this very purpose – of enabling an incomparably more efficient and effective or "concurrent development, integration and application of knowledge" – compared to what was possible based on printed text and its derivatives. And how to to take advantage of this opportunity, "different thinking" also needed to be in place. We have seen that not only the "new thinking" is yet to be developed – but that this "thinking gap" even left us in the dark regarding this Engelbart's all-important message – for an entire half-century!
Change of our society's condition and needs
We have seen, on this page, that according to giants who organized the federation of knowledge on this most timely of issues, our global condition is so new that we are culturally unprepared to even understand it clearly. We have then seen how this challenge can be turned into a sensationally positive vision of an emerging larger societal paradigm – which can engage us in a co-creative and free rather than "sustaining" or worrying way.
We have seen, further, that the approach to knowledge we are proposing both shows the way to the emerging paradigm and thus calls it into existence and suits the emerging paradigm as its functional element, just as the conventional science suited the Enlightenment as we've had it and the Industrial Revolution.
A new paradigm
Not in a specific discipline, but in knowledge work and creative work at large!
Thomas Kuhn pointed to two key characteristics of a new paradigm: It (1) resolves the reported anomalies and (2) opens up a new frontier to research. What we've just discuss amounts to three categories of anomalies – in three core areas that determine knowledge work's 'environmental conditions' (fundamental, technological and pragmatic or societal). We have seen how knowledge federation as paradigm can resolve those anomalies in a quite thorough or "academic" way. And in Federation through Applications we have seen how this new approach to knowledge opens up a vast frontier for creative engagement and contributions.
And so we are now able to submit to this conversation our paradigm proposal as a way to enable, or trigger, a sweeping change – by doing no more than what we anyway need to do, namely align knowledge work with the relevant knowledge. Self-reflect and act. Use the academic mirror to create an even larger mirror where we the people may see the world we are creating, and ourselves in it – and adapt our way of being in the world accordingly.
The time to act is now
This year we are celebrating the
- 60th anniversary of the publication of Heisenberg's Physics and Philosophy
- 50th anniversary of Engelbart's famous demo (where the technology was shown that provides the CoDIAK capability)
- 50th anniversary of the Club of Rome (by which the nature of our society-s condition has been mapped)
During the past half-century, and especially in recent years, our shared awareness of our new condition (of the "global issues") has grown. The technology that Doug envisioned 50 years ago is on everyone's desk. The time is now ripe to turn the page and act.
We are not starting a turf strife
By proposing this new paradigm, we are not saying that conventional science is dysfunctional and needs to be replaced. Science has served us extremely well for the purposes for which it has been developed! But our post-traditional society now also has new needs and purposes that need to be served. Those two paradigm – traditional science and (the one pointed to by) knowledge federation – are (to use Thomas Kuhn's useful keyword) incommensurable; which means that each of them is more suitable for its own purpose or purposes; each of them allows us to see certain things better than others.
It would be contrary to the spirit of the societal paradigm that now needs to emerge, and in strife with its needs, to create an academic-political power battle around this paradigm proposal. Indeed, we shall not even press the issue. The emergence of the new paradigm will have to depend on some of our academic colleagues having the kind of integrity and courage to face the issues we are proposing to put on the academic agenda and work on them.
The ball is, in other words, now in your part of the field.
- Proposal to Stanford and Google. Opportunity for new leaders and centers of excellence to emerge? But isn't that what new paradigm's are about?
- The Lighthouse proposal; both ended up being Quixotte stunts.