- 1 Federation through Keywords
- 1.1 We can design scopes by crafting keywords.
- 1.2 Keyword creation is a form for linguistic and institutional recycling.
- 1.3 Keywords enable us to 'stand on the shoulders of giants' and see further.
- 1.4 Paradigm
- 1.5 Logos
- 1.6 Design epistemology
- 1.7 Polyscopic methodology
- 1.8 Convenience paradox
- 1.9 Knowledge federation
- 1.10 Systemic innovation
- 1.11 Power structure
- 1.12 Dialog
- 1.12.1 The function of the dialog is to dissolve the paradox.
- 1.12.2 Acknowledging that information is the 'weapon' by which our impending revolution needs to be fought; and the paradigm shift enabled.
- 1.12.3 The dialog is conceived as a practical way to change our collective mind.
- 1.12.4 The dialog will recreate the way we use new media.
Federation through Keywords
(Ulrich Beck, The Risk Society and Beyond, 2000)
To step beyond "risk society" (where existential risks lurk in the dark), we must design how we see and speak; which is what the polyscopic methodology is about: The approach it enables is called scope design; where scopes are what determines what we look at and how we see it.
We can design scopes by crafting keywords.
Because keywords are defined as it's been common in mathematics—by making a convention. When I define for instance "culture" by convention, and turn it into a keyword—I am not saying what culture "really is"; but creating a way of looking at the endlessly complex real thing; and projecting it, as it were, onto a plane—so that we may look at its specific side, and comprehend it precisely; and I'm inviting you, the reader, to see culture as it's been defined.
Keywords enable us to ascribe to old words like "science" and "religion" a clear new meaning; and give old institutions a function, and a new life.
Keyword creation is a form for linguistic and institutional recycling.
Often but not always, keywords are adopted from the repertoire of a frontier thinker or an academic field; they then enable us to federate what's been comprehended or experienced in some of our culture's dislodged compartments.
Keywords enable us to 'stand on the shoulders of giants' and see further.
I use the word paradigm to explain the strategy for solving "the huge problems now confronting us" that is one of the motivations for this proposal; which is to enable comprehensive change, of our cultural and societal paradigm as a whole; by pointing to what might appear as a paradox—that comprehensive change can be easy, even when small and obviously necessary changes may have been impossible.
I use the word paradigm informally, to point to a coherent societal and cultural order of things as a whole; and I use elephant as its nickname when I want to be even more informal—and highlight that in a paradigm everything depends on everything else; as the organs of an elephant do; and that it's useless to try to fit an elephant's ear onto a mouse. And importantly—to point out that a whole new paradigm is ready to emerge and already emerging; and that all we really need to do is to enable this new paradigm to unfold—by restoring our ability to connect the dots.
The elephant was in the room when the 20th century’s giants wrote or spoke; but we failed to see him because the paradigm we are in constitutes the proverbial "box" in which we lie and think, which enables us to comprehend things and communicate; and because of the jungleness of our information; and because of disciplinary and cultural fragmentation; and because our thinking and communication are still as the tradition shaped them. We heard the giants talk about a ‘thick snake’, a ‘fan’, a ‘tree-trunk’ and a ‘rope’, often in Greek or Latin; they didn’t make sense and we ignored them. How differently information fares when we understand that it was the ‘trunk’, the ‘ear’, the ‘leg’ and the ‘tail’ of a vast exotic ‘animal’ they were talking about; whose very existence we ignore!
We find paradigm at distinct levels of detail; we may see the candle as a paradigm in illumination and the lightbulb as a different one; and conceiving the process that can bring us from the former to the latter as a creative challenge of its own right. I coined a pair of keywords—tradition and design to point to the nature of this challenge, and process. Tradition and design are two ways in which wholeness can result in the human world; tradition relies on spontaneous evolution, where things are improved and adjusted to each other through many generations of use; design relies on comprehension and action. The point of this definition is that when tradition can no longer be relied on—design must be used.
You may now understand the point of the Modernity ideogram more precisely: We are no longer traditional; and we are not yet designing; we live in a (still unconscious, still unstable) transition from one stable way of evolving and being in the world, which is no longer functioning—and another one; which is not yet in place.
You may comprehend the knowledge federation proposal as a way to enable this transition, by changing the 'headlights'; and the holotopia vision and initiative as the roadmap to the new social and cultural paradigm that will result.
The purpose of the Liberation book is to choreograph and streamline the paradigm change; by developing an analogy between the times and conditions when Galilei was in house arrest, when a landslide paradigm change was about to take place, and our own time; and by giving you, the reader, a glimpse of the emerging paradigm; and by fostering a process—the dialog—by which the emergence of the new paradigm is made possible; which, needless to say, needs to include a vision; because no matter how hard we try—we just won't produce the lightbulb by improving the candle; or by grappling with all those problems that driving in the dark has produced.
The Liberation book is about our liberation from the paradigm.
I use the keyword paradigm also formally, as Thomas Kuhn did—to point to
- a different way to conceive a domain of interest, which
- resolves the reported anomalies and
- opens a new frontier for research and development.
(René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, 1641)
A reason why the paradigm change is now natural and easy is that the very way we use the mind is once again ripe for change; just as it was in Descartes' and Galilei's time. So I lifted up the word logos as a banner; and now use it to demarcate the most fertile creative frontier I can conceive of, which is opening up; where we'll see and engage in comprehensive change by changing the way we use the mind; which is what the word dialog here stands for; and what knowledge federation as academic proposal is all about.
"In the beginning was logos and logos was with God and logos was God." I chose the word "logos" as banner to point out that the way we think is there for historical reasons; that it did change before and will change again. To Hellenic thinkers, "logos" was the very principle according to which God created the world; which makes it possible to us humans to comprehend the world correctly—when we align with it our minds. Regarding how to do that, the opinions differed; and gave rise to a multitude of philosophical schools and traditions.
But "logos" faired poorly in the post-Hellenic world; Latin failed to offer a translation, and the modern languages too. For about a millennium our ancestors believed that logos had been revealed to us humans by God's own son; and considered questioning that to be the deadly sin of pride and a heresy.
Englightenment was an unfinished revolution.
Which was itself founded on an error—the assumption that the aim of the pursuit of knowledge was the objective and unchanging truth; which Descartes immortalized by proclaiming "I think, therefore I am".
The early scientific revolution unfolded as a reaction to earlier "teleological" or "mystical" explanations of natural phenomena; as Noam Chomsky pointed out in his talk at the University of Oslo, titled "The machine, the ghost, and the limits of understanding", its founding fathers conceived it as a project to 'remove the ghost from the machine' and explain the natural phenomena in ways that are completely comprehensible to reason—i.e. in causal terms; as one would explain the workings of a machine. Which, initially, was not problematic at all, as for quite some time tradition and science coexisted side by side; the former providing know-what and the latter know-how; until—right around mid-19th century, when Darwin entered the scene—the way to use the mind that science brought discredited the mindset of tradition.
Materialism as paradigm rose to prominence.
But the prospect of unraveling the 'clockwork of nature' retreated every time it appeared to be nearing success; the ("indivisible") atom split into one hundred "subatomic particles"; which—when the scientists examined them—turned out to defy not only causality but even the common sense (as J. Robert Oppenheimer pointed out in Uncommon Sense). Our "scientific worldview" is alredy like Humpty Dumpty—something that nobody can put back together again; and yet it continues to grow downward—toward greater precision, detail and complexity.
Also the human world itself became more complex; and with time impossible to comprehend correctly (in a way that points to correct action) on the level of detail at which we the people have been accustomed to see and hink.
Also the level of noise and distraction (which the technologies of communication and transportation enabled) made comprehension impossible. Already at the turn of the 19th century Nietzsche diagnosed that the modern man "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." What would he say if he saw us today?
In sum, science assumed its the larger-than-life social role (of "the Grand Revelator of modern Western culture" as Benjamin Lee Whorf branded it in Language, Thought and Reality) without intending to, as Whorf pointed out; but it never adjusted itself to this much larger role.
The quest for logos—the way to use the mind that will once again make us evolutionarily fit and culturally whole—is now held in captivity at our schools and universities; it is held in check by the misconception of "logic" as the correct way to think; and by the suffix "logy" of scientific disciplines—which makes us believe that they embody the correct way to knowledge; that they are the right way to use the mind.
(Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 1958.)
You'll easily comprehend the anomaly this third of holotopia's five insights points to, if you just see the way we use the mind (and go about deciding what's true or false and relevant or irrelevant) as the foundation on which the edifice of our culture has been built; which enables some of its parts or sides to grow big and strong (which are supported by this foundation), and abandons others to erosion. As Heisenberg pointed out, what we have as foundation—which our general culture imbibed from 19th century science—prevented cultural evolution to continue; being "so narrow and rigid that it was difficult to find a place in it for many concepts of our language that had always belonged to its very substance, for instance, the concepts of mind, of the human soul or of life." Since "the concept of reality applied to the things or events that we could perceive by our senses or that could be observed by means of the refined tools that technical science had provided", whatever failed to be founded in this way was considered impossible or unreal. This in particular applied to those parts of our culture in which our ethical sensibilities were rooted, such as religion, which "seemed now more or less only imaginary. [...] The confidence in the scientific method and in rational thinking replaced all other safeguards of the human mind."
Heisenberg then explained how the experience of modern physics constituted a rigorous disproof of this approach to knowledge; and concluded that "one may say that the most important change brought about by its results consists in the dissolution of this rigid frame of concepts of the nineteenth century."
Heisenberg wrote Physics and Philosophy anticipating that the most valuable gift of modern physics to humanity would be a cultural transformation; which would result from the dissolution of the narrow frame.
As an insight, design eistemology shows how a broad and solid foundation can be developed.
By following the approach that is the subject of this proposal.
The design epistemology originated by federating the state-of-the-art epistemological findings; by systematizing and adapting what the giants of science and philosophy have found out—and writing the result as a convention. Here Einstein's "epistemological credo"—which he left us in Autobiographical Notes, his testament or "obituary", is already sufficient:
“I see on the one side the totality of sense experiences and, on the other, the totality of the concepts and propositions that are laid down in books. […] The system of concepts is a creation of man, together with the rules of syntax, which constitute the structure of the conceptual system. […] All concepts, even those closest to experience, are from the point of view of logic freely chosen posits, just as is the concept of causality, which was the point of departure for [scientific] inquiry in the first place.”
Modernity ideogram renders design epistemology in a nutshell.
The design epistemology takes the constructivist credo (that we do not discover but construct a "reality picture"; which Einstein expressed succinctly) two evolutionary steps further—by writing it (no longer as a statement about reality, but) as a convention; and assigning to it a purpose.
This foundation is solid or "rigorous".
Because it represents the epistemological state of the art; and because it's a convention. The added purpose can hardly be debated—not only because doing what's necessary to avoid civilizational collapse is hard to argue against; but also because this too is a convention; a different convention, and an altogether different way to knowledge can be created, to suit a different purpose.
A side-effect of this academic update is that it offers us a way to avoid the fragmentation in social sciences; which results when the social scientists disagree whether it's right to see the complex cultural and social reality in one way or another. Here our explicit aim is to see things whole; which translates into the challenge of seeing things in a way that may best reveal their non-whole sides. The simple point here is that when our task is not producing an accurate description of an infinitely complex "reality", but a way to see it that "works" (in the sense of providing us evolutionary guidance)—then the fragmentation is easily diagnosed as part of the problem; and avoided.
Another philosophical stream of thought that the design epistemology embodies is phenomenology; which Einstein pointed to by talking about "the totality of sense experiences" on the one side, and "the totality of the concepts and propositions" on the other side; a point being that human experience (and not "objective reality") is the substance that information can and needs to be founded on, and represent. This allows us to treat not only the sciences—but indeed all cultural traditions and artifacts as 'data'; which in some way or other embody human experience.
This foundation is also broad.
In the sense that it removes completely the narrow frame anomaly; and lets us build knowledge, and culture, on all forms of human experience. By convention, experience does not have any a priori structure; experience is considered to be like the ink blot in a Rorschach test—something to which we freely ascribe interpretation and meaning; as Einstein suggested we should, by formulating his "epistemological credo".
Appeals to legitimate transdisciplinarity academically—if they were at all considered—were routinely rejected on the account that they lacked "academic rigor". I'm afraid it will turn out that the contemporary academic conception of "rigor" is founded on not much else than that we've been socialized to follow certain procedures to the letter (which when adhered to feels rigorous); as Stephen Toulmin suggested in his last book Return to Reason. It was to logos that Toulmin urged us to return; and that return is exactly what I've undertaken to choreograph. I am not telling you how the world is; I am inviting you to see yourself as a human being on planet Earth in the 21st century; and to acknowledge that we have but one urgent task to attend to—we must urgently liberate our students and children, our next generation, from "the world" that has been pulled over their eyes to blind them from the truth; and empower them to be creative in ways and degrees that their new situation demands. And we must in particular and above all do that at our universities. That's what the holotopia initiative is about!
(Abraham Maslow, Psychology of Science, 1966)
You'll comprehend the anomaly this fourth of holotopia's five insights points to, if you see the method—the category from which polyscopic methodology 'pillar' stems—as the toolkit we use to construct truth and meaning; and the culture at large; and consider that—as Maslow pointed out—this method is so specialized that it compels us to be specialized; and choose our themes and set our priorities (not according to their relevance, but) according to what this tool enables us to do.
As an insight, the polyscopic methodology points out that a general-purpose methodology (where logos is applied to method), which alleviates this problem, can be created by the proposed approach; by federating the findings of giants of science and the very techniques that have been developed in the sciences; so as to preserve the advantages of science—and alleviate its limitations.
Design epistemology mandates such a step: When we on the one hand acknowledge that (as far as we know) there is no conclusive truth about reality; and on the other hand, that our very existence depends on information and knowledge—we are bound to be accountable for providing knowledge about the most relevant themes (notably the ones that determine our society's evolutionary course) as well as we are able; and to of course continue to improve both our knowledge and our ways to knowledge.
As long as "reality" and its "objective" descriptions constitute our reference system and provide it a foundation—we have no way of evaluating our paradigm critically. The polyscopic methodology empowers us to develop the realm of ideas as an independent reference system; where ideas are founded (not on "correspondence with reality" but) on truth by convention; and then use clearly and rigorously defined ideas to develop clear and rigorous theories—in all walks of life; as it has been common in natural sciences. Suitable theoretical constructs, notably the patterns (defined as "abstract relationships", which have in this generalized science a similar role as mathematical functions do in conventional science) enable us to formulate general results and theories, including the gestalts; suitable justification methods (I use "justification" instead of the more common word "proof", for obvious reasons) can then be developed as social processes; as an up-to-date alternative to "peer reviews" (which have, needless to say, originated in a world where "scientific truth" was believed to be "objective" and ever-lasting).
Here I'll only give you this hint: Once it's been formulated and theorized in the realm of ideas, a pattern can be used to formulate an abstract or idea result; and since the substance of it all is (by convention) human experience, and since (by convention) the experience does not have any a priori "real" structure that can or needs to be "discovered"—we can then conceive the justification of this pattern in a manner that resembles the "repeatable experiment"; which is "repeatable" to the extent in which different people can see the pattern (as repeated) in the data. The social process can further be designed so as to have other desirable characteristics, such as "falsifiability"; I'll explain exactly how in a moment, when knowledge federation as designed communication process will be our theme; and there I'll also show you an example.
The polyscopic methodology allows us to define what information needs to be like; and in this way exercise the accountability—and put in play that unique source of power—I pointed to when I talked about the analogy with computer programming, and the related methodologies.
(Aurelio Peccei, One Hundred Pages for the Future, 1981)
You'll appreciate the importance of the convenience paradox—the fifth of holotopia's five insights—if you think of the category, "values", it stems from in the context of our contemporary condition: The pursuit of material production and consumption (our society's evolutionary course that the word materialism here designates) needs to be urgently changed; but with what? It seems that everyone who has looked into this question concluded that the new course must be the pursuit of humanistic and cultural goals and values; with new information technology—you can now hear this straight from the horse's mouth. Convenience paradox is the point of a very large information holon; which asserts that convenience is a useless and deceptive "value"; behind which a myriad opportunities to improve our lives and condition—through cultural pursuits—are waiting to be uncovered.
And the anomaly itself you'll see if you think of materialism's way to use the mind; which considers as real only "the things or events that we could perceive by our senses or that could be observed by means of the refined tools that technical science had provided", as Heisenberg diagnosed; which in the realm of values translates into convenience—whereby those things and only those things that appear attractive to our senses are considered as really worth pursuing (technical science is here of little or no help); and notice that this way ('in the light of a candle') of conceiving the know-what leaves in the dark one whole dimension of physical reality—time; and also an important side or one could say the important 'half' of the three dimensions of space—its inner or embodied side; because while "happiness" or whatever we may choose to "pursue" appears to be "caused" by events in the outer world—it is inside us that our emotions materialize; and it is there where the difference that makes a difference can and needs to be made.
Did you notice, by the way—when you watched video I just shared (and if you haven't watched it, do it now; because it's the state of the world diagnosed by the world's foremost expert—who studied and federated this question for more than four decades—condensed in a six-minute trailer)—how Dennis Meadows, while of course pointing in the right direction, was searching for words that would do it justice; and came up with little more than "knowledge, and music"?
This is where the Liberation book really takes off!
Its entire first half—its first five chapters—is dedicated to mapping not only specific opportunities, but entire realms where we may dramatically improve our condition through inner development; whereby a roadmap to inner wholeness is drafted, as the book calls it. The Liberation book opens with a little ruse—where a note about freedom and democracy is followed by the observation that we are free to "pursue happiness as we please"; what could possibly be wrong about that? But what do we really know about "happiness"? What do we know about the nature and the outreaches of joy, gratitude, love or any of the other things worth experiencing or living in—and about the ways to get there? What do we know about the dynamic by which a life worth living may unfold? These questions are taken up in Chapter Three of the book; which has "Liberation of Emotions" as title; where the phenomenological data are drawn from the tradition of Sufism; and we see how the ability to feel all-consuming love develops through certain kind of practice—which combines attitudes and values on the inner side with poetry and music on the outer side. We see how poetry and music can make us people capable of experiencing far more than we may otherwise; and how then—when we are truly able to experience them—poetry and music can become incomparably more valuable to us than what they are now.
With "Liberation of Body" as title, Chapter One zooms in on the experience of difficulty and effort; and by federating experiences and insights from the martial art tradition, with the ones reached in the schools that F. M. Alexander and Moshe Feldenkrais founded, points out that both the sensation of effort and our ability to move freely can be altered hugely by suitable training; and Chapters Two and Three do similarly with creativity (as the motility of mind) and emotions (as the motility of feeling). Vast ranges of freedom—and obstacles to freedom—are embodied; and it is there, within ourselves, that vast and ignored opportunities to improve our condition reside. Chapter Four offers a general model of inner wholeness; which makes it possible to comprehend the effects of a broad range of human development schools and traditions such as yoga and Rolfing; which is itself created by combining insights from the qigong tradition with the ones reached in the psychotherapy school that Wilhelm Reich founded.
The Liberation book in this way produces an initial map of human inner wholeness; and an initial template for reviving and empowering culture-transformative experiences and insights or memes. The book is conceived (more precisely it can be read) as a case for a single culture-transformative meme—the legacy of Buddhadasa, Thailand's holy man and Buddhism reformer. Chapters Five and Six are dedicated to federating his message; in Chapter Five, which has "Liberation from Tension" as title, we explore a point of view and a realm of experience according to which "the pursuit of happiness"" as materialism conceived it is exactly exactly the way to suffering (more precisely to a specific kind of suffering called dukkha, which is the focal point of Buddhism as Buddhadasa interpreted it); and in Chapter Six, which has "Liberation from Oneself" as title, we see why also the liberation from self-centeredness (which, roughly speaking, means looking at the world through the "what's in it for me" question and setting the priorities accordingly), which Buddhadasa saw as the shared essence of the great world religions—is part and parcel of our wholeness.
So you may see now how a cultural revival can realistically happen; it's just to communicate those things we still don't know about culture; and about ourselves. The first step is to claim back the know-what from all the advertising; which needless to say does no more than to condition us to buy all those things; which of course practically means to pursue convenience and only convenience as value. That that's only the beginning; only the first step with which a journey of one thousand miles begins. The rest is to rebuild culture; to create the kind of culture that will take us effortlessly to wholeness; to the sort of condition that these still vague possibilities I am telling you about will be present in everyone's experience. Then pursuing the new course will be natural and easy.
This partly explains the Liberation book's subtitle, "Religion beyond Belief" (I'll come back to the rest of it shortly); and (when completed) constitutes an invitation to see the story of religion as having three phases; where, roughly
- in the first, beliefs of religion made people to do the right thing;
- and in the second new beliefs were introduced, of materialism which made us do the wrong thing;
- until finally we developed a way to have knowledge in this pivotal realm, of know-what.
The Liberation book shows that—when this is done—the result, the improvement of human condition, will be truly beyond belief!
(Doug Engelbart, "Dreaming of the Future*, BYTE Magazine, 1995)
We have now come to communication as the technology-enabled social process by which humanity's experiences and insights are turned into knowledge, and action; and to the need and the possibility to thoroughly re-create communication in the manner the new information technology enabled; which the Modernity ideogram suggested and which knowledge federation stands for.
I cannot think of a better way to introduce this need-and-possibility—than by telling you The Incredible History of Doug Engelbart; which is my very favorite of all the stories told in the Liberation book; which I indeed drafted first, intending to make it a book of its own, and later condensed into a very brief version told in the Liberation book's seventh chapter; which has "Liberation of Society" as title.
The point of which is that the "digital technology"—the interactive, network-interconnected digital media, which you and I use to write emails and browse the Web—has been created, by Doug Engelbart and his SRI-based team, as the enabling technology for an entirely different process; which you'll easily comprehend if you think for a moment of this anomaly that is staring at us eye to eye—that we still seem to take it for granted that when something is published it is also known (and we can just move on to our next book or article); while nothing could be further removed from truth!
The fact that Engelbart was unable to communicate the nature of his vision to the Silicon Valley academia and businesses—no matter how hard he tried, even after he was widely recognized as the giant behind "the revolution in the Valley"—is the most vivid illustration of exactly the core issue I've been telling you about; how much we—including the most knowledgeable and most creative among us—are stuck in "reality" of the present paradigm; with no conceptual and cognitive tool, without even the time to think deeply enough to comprehend things in new ways; which the emergence of a paradigm depends on.
I use collective mind as keyword to pinpoint the gist of Engelbart's vision; which is that the technology that Engelbart envisioned and created is the enabling technology for the capability we need—the capability to handle complex and urgent problems; because it constitutes a 'collective nervous system' that enables us develop entirely new processes in communication—and think and act and inform each other in a similar way in which the cells of an evolutionarily advanced organism co-create meaning and communicate. Imagine what would happen if your cells used your nervous system to merely broadcast data—and you'll have no difficulty comprehending the anomaly that knowledge federation undertakes to resolve.
Our 2010 workshop—where we began to self-organize as a transdiscipline—was called "Self-Organizing Collective Mind". Prior to this workshop I spent the school year on sabbatical in San Francisco Bay Area; and strengthened the ties with the R & D community that grew around Engelbart called Program for the Future, which Mei Lin Fung initiated in Palo Alto to continue and complete the work on implementing Engelbart's vision; and of course with Engelbart himself. At the University of Oslo Computer Science Department I later taught a doctoral course about Engelbart's legacy—to research it thoroughly, and develop ways to communicate it.
As an insight, knowledge federation stands for the fact that a radically better communication is both necessary and possible; exactly the sort of quantum leap that the Modernity ideogram is pointing to. We made this possibility transparent by developing a portfolio of prototypes—real-life models of socio-technical systems in communication; which I'll here illustrate by our Tesla and the Nature of Creativity 2015 prototype as canonical example; where the result of an academic researcher, Dejan Raković of the University of Belgrade, has been federated in three phases; where
- the first phase made the result comprehensible to a larger audience; by turning his research into a multimedia object (this was done by knowledge federation communication design team); where its main points were extracted and made comprehensible by explanatory diagrams or ideograms; and further explained by placing on them links to recorded interviews with the author;
- the second phase made the result known and at the same time discussed in space—by staging a televised high-profile dialog at Sava Center Belgrade;
- the third phase organized a social process around the result (by using DebateGraph); a sort of updated and widely extended "peer reviews", through which global experts were able to comment on it, link it with other results and so on.
As I explained in Chapter Two of the Liberation book, which has "Liberation of Mind" as title, also the theme of Raković's result was perfectly suited for our purpose: He showed phenomenologically that creativity (of the "outside the box" kind, which we the people now vitally need to move out of our evolutionary entrapment and evolve further) requires the sort of process or ecology of mind that has become all but impossible to us the people (by recourse to Nikola Tesla's creative process, which Tesla himself described)—and then theorized it within the paradigm of quantum physics. To help you fully comprehend the nature of this project I'll highlight also the point where a Serbian TV anchor (while interviewing the knowledge federation's representative and the US Embassy's cultural attache, who represented a sponsor) concluded "So you are developing a collective Tesla!". In this time when machines have become capable of doing the "inside the box" thinking for us—it has become all the more important for us to comprehend and develop the kind of creativity that only humans are capable of; on which our future will depend.
To fully comprehend the relevance of this insight to our general urgent task—to enable the paradigm to change—its synergy with polyscopic methodology, the fourth insight, needs to be comprehended. You'll notice that in Holotopia ideogram those two insights are joined by a horizontal line—one of holotopia's ten themes—that has "information" as label. It is only when we've done our homework on the theory side—and explained to each other and the world what information must be like, to serve us the people in this moment of need—that we'll be able to use the new technology to implement the processes that this information requires. In the holotopia context this larger-than-life opportunity is pointed to by the coined idiom holoscope; and by see things whole as the related vision statement. Indeed—any sort of crazy beliefs can be, and have been throughout history, maintained by taking things out of their context; and by showing their one side and ignoring the other. It is only when we are able to see things whole that knowledge will once again be possible.
(Erich Jantsch, Integrative PLanning for the "Joint Systems" of Society and Technology—the Emerging Role of the University, MIT Report,1969)
You'll see the anomaly this first of the five insights points to if you imagine the systems (in which we live and work) as gigantic machines comprising people and technology; and acknowledge that they determine how we live and work; and importantly—what the effects of our work will be, whether they'll be problems, or solutions. The importance of this inquiry cannot be overrated, so let me be blunt: : If the systems whose function is to inform us are scandalously nonsensical—what about all others? How suitable are our financial system, our governance, our international corporation and our education for the all-important functions they need to fulfill in (this transition to) post-industrial age? We had a professional photographer at our Tesla and the Nature of Creativity 2015 event in Belgrade; and she photographed me showing my smartphone to the people in our dialog; which I did to point to the surreal contrast between the dexterity that went into to creation of the little thing I was holding—and the complete negligence of those incomparably larger and equally more important systems we now must become able to see; and importantly—to update.
In Chapter Seven of the Liberation book, I introduced the very brief version of the story of Doug Engelbart and Erich Jantsch (whose details I left for Book Two) by qualifying it as the environmental movement's forgotten history; and its ignored theory; which we'll need in order to be able to act instead of only reacting. Then I introduced systemic innovation, and the point of it all, by sketching briefly my 2013 talk "Toward a Scientific Comprehension and Handling of Problems"; where I developed a parallel between systemic innovation and scientific medicine—which distinguishes itself by comprehending and handling unwanted symptoms in terms of the anatomy and pathophysiology that underlie them!
Banathy wrote in Designing Social Systems in a Changing World: “I have become increasingly convinced that [people] cannot give direction to their lives, they cannot forge their destiny, they cannot take charge of their future—unless they also develop the competence to take part directly and authentically in the design of the systems in which they live and work, and reclaim their right to do so. This is what true empowerment is about.” For a while I contemplated calling this insight "The systems, stupid!"; which was, of course, a paraphrase of Bill Clinton's 1992 winning electoral slogan "The Economy, stupid!" Well, of course—in a society where the survival of the businesses depends on their ability to sell people things—you have to keep the economy growing if you want to keep the business profitable, and the people employed. And yet—economic growth is not "the solution to our problem"; systemic innovation—through which we liberate ourselves from the all-destructive rat race our world has become—is! But of course, this insight needs to be turned into a community-wide shared fact; and importantly—into action; or in a word—it must be federated!
At knowledge federation's 2011 workshop at Stanford University, within the Triple Helix IX international conference, I introduced systemic innovation as an emerging and necessary or remedial trend; and (the organizational structure developed and represented by) knowledge federation as (an institutional or systemic) enabler of systemic innovation. We work by creating a prototype of a system and organizing a transdiscipline around it—to update it according to the state-of-the-art insights that its members bring from their disciplines; and to then strategically change the corresponding real-life systems accordingly.
Here too the horizontal line—connecting the fifth and the first of five insights, which has "action" as label—points to the larger-than-life effects that can be achieved through the synergy between those insights: It is only when we comprehend how vast the opportunities are to improve both sides of our wholeness; and that making a breakthrough in any of them necessitates a breakthrough in the other one too. So the action that follows from this experiment could not be simpler than it is. "A way to change course" is now as simple and as obvious as one-two-three-go; where
- Step One is to update the way we use the mind; we must correct the foundation;
- Step Two is to update our information; we must be able to see things whole—to be able to see and follow a viable new course;
- Step Three is to update the way we act; the new course we need to follow is make things whole.
(Zygmunt Bauman Life in Fragments: Essays in Postmodern Morality, 1995)
All this was "known" a half-century ago; and yet for one whole half-century it remained a no-go!
"Know thyself" has been the battle cry of philosophers through the ages; there is something we the people must urgently know about ourselves; which—after having plowed this so field for nearly three decades—I am now ready to offer you as the first step with which the "solutionatique" to (what The Club of Rome called) the "world problematique" must begin; which is the reason why I postponed the Systemic Innovation book to be the second in the series, and decided that Liberation should be the first. It might be best to introduce to you this conclusion by outlining, however briefly, how I reached it.
When in 1995 I found myself on this so exquisitely rich realm of creative opportunities, and already making some promising progress, I reconfigured my life and work entirely to be able to dedicate myself fully to its development—knowing that this wold be necessary, if I were to achieve anything that might be of lasting value. At the same time the reaction I anticipated—when I were to begin sharing these questions and ideas with my academic colleagues—was the very opposite from what actually happened: What I expected was a spirited conversation; and to begin with, I was ready to face disbelief ("But did you think about..."; or "No, I don't think you can do this in a reasonably academic way..."); what I got instead was—silence! And a sense of discomfort. The spirited conversation I thought would be the normal reaction—never happened! Not even with my closest academic friend!
And so this conclusion offered itself; which was later confirmed with 100% consistency; you know how mathematical functions have a domain where they are defined (you may divide any real number with any other real number except zero; division with zero is "undefined"):
The domain of application of Logos (presently) excludes systems.
Here on the table in front of me I have Zygmunt Bauman's book Modernity and the Holocaust, which I'm re-reading; where Bauman explained how he reached a similar conclusion—although he expressed it in an entirely different way. The way his fellow sociologists theorized the Holocaust, his point was, contradicts what actually happened—and the historians documented. Bauman wrote this book—as he later explained—"to exort fellow social thinkers to [...] stop viewing the Holocaust as a bizzare and aberrant episode in modern history, and think it through instead as a highly relevant, integral part of that history; 'integral' in the sense of being indispensable for the understanding of what that history was truly about, what it was capable of and why—and the sort of society that has emerged from it, and which we all inhabit." But Bauman did not condense his all-important ideas to a point; it's tempting to think that a suitable methodology has been lacking.
Before we can truly take care of "the huge problems now confronting us—we need to diagnose them correctly; that's what the challenge the power structure as keyword is pointing to. While power structure is not one of the five insights, it is indeed the core theme or the red thread of the Liberation book; it has also been one of the core themes of my work. In the Liberation book I introduce it by talking about how Hannah Arendt studied Eichman when he was captured and brought to Israel for trial; and how, to her surprise, she did not find him evil but distinctly ordinary; Eichman did not hate Jews—he was following orders; so Hannah Arendt used "banality of evil" as keyword to pinpoint her insight. These days I am contemplating to add "geocide" to the Liberation book's repertoire; to emphasize even more strongly than I did that the "banal evil" has in our time reached grotesque, surreal proportions.
But here I am outlining to you an academic case for transdisciplinarity. And in this context, the power structure theory serves to highlight that the approach to knowledge I am outlining is a necessary part of our society's 'immune system'; necessarty for diagnosing its ills and finding remedies.
The power structure theory has been developed by combining the phenomenology I have just outlined with Antonio Damasio's insights from cognitive neuroscience (published in his book appropriately called Descartes' Error) and Pierre Bourdieu's "theory of practice" (where he explained how power in society really operates). The overall result is the power structure as an up-to-date model of the all-important notion of "power monger" and "enemy", which is central to politics. Where the key point is to see the enemy as a structure—comprising power interests and the (lack of) wholeness (both institutional and human) and information. The most basic insights from stochastic optimization, artificial intelligence and artificial life are then used to show that those seemingly distinct categories can not only co-evolve together—but also devise strategies and act as if they were intelligent and alive. And that all this can happen without anyone's conscious intention, or even awareness!
The power structure theory introduces the holotopian approach to political action.
Which is no longer conceived as "us against them" (as it has been throughout history); but as all of us against the power structure.
So that the revolution which is about to begin, to which I am inviting you, is not to be pursued through confrontation but on the contrary—through collaboration! Where we together first of all liberate logos; where we extend its domain of application to the themes tat now must be in the center of our attention.
The rest should be easy.
Once the light of awareness has been turned on—it will be crystal-clear that geocide is not in anyone's "real interest"; that our comprehension of "interests", over which we fight, is the result of our conditioning by the power structures to which we pledge allegiance; and that to be accomplices in a geocide—we need to do no more than "our job"; resume the business as usual; or even more simply—do nothing; remain passive; as so many Germans did during Holocaust.
(David Bohm, Problem and Paradox, an online article.)
When the way we use the mind is the root of our problems—then this is no longer a problem but a paradox; which turns all our "problems" into paradoxes!
The function of the dialog is to dissolve the paradox.
The meaning of this keyword is not "conversation", as the word "dialogue" has been commonly used—but derived from the Greek original dialogos (through logos). The function of the dialog is to first of all liberate logos; and to then apply it to rebuild our collective mind, or "public sphere" as Jürgen Habermans and his colleagues have been calling it; and make democracy possible again; and capable of taking care of its negative trends or "problems". Or in the language of the Modernity ideogram's metaphor—to replace the (socio-cultural) candle with the lightbulb.
Acknowledging that information is the 'weapon' by which our impending revolution needs to be fought; and the paradigm shift enabled.
Our existing information is not only inadequate for its function. Noam Chomsky has repeatedly warned us that its actual function is to manufacture consent (and hence be an instrument of power structure); and Murray Edelman has made it clear as a political scientist that that's also the actual function of those more formal instruments of "democracy", including the elections.
Neither can science claim neutrality; in Chapter Nine of the Liberation book, which has "Liberation of Science" as title theme, I quote from Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann's 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality: “Habitualization and institutionalization in themselves limit the flexibility of human actions. Institutions tend to persist unless they become ‘problematic’. Ultimate legitimations inevitably strengthen this tendency. The more abstract the legitimations are, the less likely they are to be modified in accordance with changing pragmatic exigencies. If there is a tendency to go on as before anyway, the tendency is obviously strengthened by having excellent reasons for doing so. This means that institutions may persist even when, to an outside observer, they have lost their original functionality or practicality. One does certain things not because they work, but because they are right—right, that is, in terms of the ultimate definitions of reality promulgated by the universal experts.”
The institutionalized science indeed holds the key to the impending revolution of awareness—because science and science alone has the power to liberate us from "the world" that has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth; by establishing an independent reference system that will empower us to comprehend the world; and to handle it and to be in it differently. In Chapter Nine I talk about the dialog in front of the (metaphorical, academic) mirror; the liberation of science—and our liberation—needs to begin as an academic self-reflective dialog. I thought that "academia quo vadis" might suit it as a title. Chapter Nine concludes with this curiosity: Already Descartes, presented a case for transdisciplinarity; in his last and unfinished work Règles pour la direction de l'esprit (Rules for the Direction of the Mind)! So yes—it's about time we give due attention to this all-important theme.
The dialog is conceived as a practical way to change our collective mind.
Where the academic tradition returns to its point of origin; and then handles things differently! In re-creating the dialog we have twenty-five centuries of developments to work with; to federate.
Notably David Bohm's dialog-related work. As the next-generation modern physicist (a student of Oppenheimer and a protege of Einstein)—who applied his physics to a study of creativity, and his creativity-related insights to a study and a redesign of communication—Bohm clearly saw that communication as we have it tends to be just another way to engage in power struggle; and that if communication is to be an instrument of recovery and revival—it will need to be thoroughly revised.
The dialog will recreate the way we use new media.
By first of all federating suitable guidelines, including a theory; and then by turning the new media as an instrument of awareness, and of cultural revival. And provide a science-based alternative to commercial "infotainment" and immersive media "spectacle"; which hold awareness in captivity.