Ten themes

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H O L O T O P I A    P R O T O T Y P E

FiveInsights.JPG The pairwise relationships between the five insights provide context for understanding and handling age-old challenges, in entirely new ways.

Cybernetics of Democracy

Cybernetics roughly means "science of governance" or "science of governability". The basic point that cybernetics has in store for us is that to be in balance or "sustainable" (Wiener uses the technical keyword "homeostasis"), a system must have some requisite structure ("feedback and control")—which our governance systems don't have. ((Formulate as Question?)) This dialog takes place in the intersection of the power structure insight (where the issue of systemic structure is linked with the issue of power) and the collective mind insight (where we see that our communication is profoundly dysfunctional—even though the new media were created to give us the kind of communication we need).

A springboard story here is about Jørgen Randers and his observation, after 40 years of frontier experience, that "we need a paradigm shift in governance". The Wiener–Jantsch–Reagan thread from the The Paradigm Strategy poster provides both the big picture and the nuances to support Randers' observation.

We really need new 'headlights'!

Ludens: A Brief History of Modernity

While we may be biologically equipped to evolve as the homo sapiens, we have in recent decades devolved to become the homo ludens—who instead of seeking knowledge to understand the world, shuns understanding and adapts by learning the rules of the 'game' and 'playing' competitively. This dialog takes place in the intersection of the collective mind insight (which tells us that we cannot really see through the complexities of our world, when we look at it 'in the light of a candle') and the socialized reality insight (which tells us that while renegade socialization has always been a core cultural issues, we have for interesting reasons surrendered our cultural defenses to the power structure).

The Nietzsche–Ehrlich–Giddens thread provides the entry point into this theme.

Academia quo vadis?

This conversation is about the future of the university.
Can the university assume the leadership role—and guide our society through its creative challenges?
Does the university need to become a transdisciplinary institution—as Erich Jantsch and some other frontier thinkers claimed?

This title is reserved for the academic self-reflective dialog in front of the mirror, about the university's social role, and future.

A number of 20th century thinkers claimed that the development of transdisciplinarity was necessary; Erich Jantsch, for instance, who saw the "inter- and transdisciplinary university" as the core element of our society's "steering and control', necessary if our civilization will gain control over its newly acquired power, and steer a viable course; Jean Piaget saw it from the point of view of cognitive psychology (although Piaget is usually credited for coining this keyword, Jantsch may have done that before him); Werner Heisenberg saw it from the fundamental angle of "physics and philosophy", as we have seen.

By placing the conversation about the academia's future in the context of the socialized reality insight and the narrow frame insight, and in that way making it informed by a variety of more detailed insights, we showed that the epistemological and methodological developments that took place in the last century enable transdisciplinarity; that its development can be seen as the natural and necessary next step in the university institution's evolution; and that our global condition mandates that we take that step.

Jey Hillel Bernstein wrote in a more recent survey:

"In simultaneously studying multiple levels of, and angles on, reality, transdisciplinary work provides an intriguing potential to invigorate scholarly and scientific inquiry both in and outside the academy."

This conversation may take a number of different directions.

One of them is to be a dialog about knowledge federation as a concrete prototype of a "transdiscipline". Such a dialog is indeed the true intent of our proposal; we are not proposing another methodological and institutional 'dead body'—but a way for the university to evolve its institutional organization and its methods, by federating insights into an evolving prototype.

A completely one would be to discuss the university's ethical norms and guidance. Should we be pursuing our careers in traditional disciplines? Or consider ourselves as parts in a larger whole, and adapt to that role?

This particular approach to our theme, however, also has a deeper meaning; and that's the one that its title is pointing to. Nearly two thousand years ago the ethical and institutional foundation of the Roman Empire was shaking, and the Christian Church stepped into the role of a guiding light. Can the university assume that role today?

Tesla and the nature of creativity

This conversation is about the future of education.

By considering the future of education in the context of the narrow frame insight and the convenience paradox insight, we ask if education can cease compressing the young into a frame—and begin cultivating their abilities and qualities.

By giving this conversation this title (which refers to a theory or model of deep creativity), this conversation raises an alarming question: Does our education inhibit the kind of creativity that our situation demands?

What if learning too depends on the mind's ability to construct meaning? Does our education damage that ability, by force-feeding the mind?

Is traditional education not really education but socialization?


This conversation is about the future of business. And about the prospects of co-opting the business in holotopia.

Placed in the intersection of the convenience paradox insight and the power structure insight, this conversation provides a strategically most interesting answer to the key question:

How can the holotopia overcome the existing power structure?
This theme offers to reconcile Karl Marx with "the 1%", the Western philosophical tradition with the Oriental ones, and the radical left with Christianity.
<p>The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy introduces "alienation" in a way that is easily integrated in the order of things represented by holotopia:

"The concept of alienation identifies a distinct kind of psychological or social ill; namely, one involving a problematic separation between a self and other that properly belong together."

Or to paraphrase this in the vernacular of holotopia:

Alienation is what separates us from wholeness.

We offer the Hegel-Marx-Debord thread as a way put the ball in play for a conversation about this theme. This thread has not yet been written, so we here sketch it briefly.

To Hegel, "alienation" was a life-long pursuit. The way we see the world is subject to errors, Hegel observed; so we are incapable of seeing things whole, in order to make them whole. Hegel undertook to provide a remedy, by developing a philosophical method.

Marx continued Hegel's pursuit in an entirely different way. Having seen the abysmal conditions that the mid-19th century workers lived in, he grew diffident of philosophizing and of his own class background. The working class—the majority of humans—cannot pursue wholeness, because they must labor under conditions that someone else created for them. Science liberated us from so many things, Marx also observed, in the spirit of his time—why not apply its causal thinking to the societal ills as well? Logically, he identified "expropriation" as necessary goal; and a revolution as necessary means. Seeing that the religion hindered the working class from fulfilling its historical revolutionary role, Marx chose to disqualify it by calling it "the opium of the people".

Marx was of course in many ways right; but he made two errors. The first we'll easily forgive him, if we take into account that he too, unavoidably perhaps for a rational thinker in his age, looked at the world through the narrow frame: He sidestepped "human quality", and adopted "instrumental thinking". Where Marx's agenda was successful, "the dictatorship of the proletariat" ended up being only—the dictatorship! In the rest of world, the "left" understood that to have power, it must align itself with power structure—and became just another "right"!

The second error Marx made was to ignore that also the capitalists were victims of power structure. They too would benefit from pursuing wholeness instead of power and money. Gandhi, of course, saw that, and that was his great contribution to the methodology of group conflict resolution. But Gandhi's thinking was of holistic-Oriental, not instrumental.

Having failed to see there was a "winning without fighting" strategy—the left and remained on the losing side of the power scale until this day.

An interesting side effect of this development was that, having bing disowned by the "left", Christ became an emblem of the "right"—which is ironic: Jesus was a revolutionary! His only reported act of violence was "expelling the money changers from the temple of God".

Guy Debord added to this theme a whole new chapter, by observing that the immersive audio-visual technology gave to alienation a whole new medium and course—which Marx could not have possibly predicted.

By placing this conversation in the context of the convenience paradox insight on the one side, and the power structure insight on the other, we recognize the power structure—which includes all of us—as "enemy"; and wholeness—for all of us—as goal.

How to put an end to war

By being placed in the context of the power structure insight and the socialized reality insight, this theme offers us more than hope—it points to, and develops, a way to turn the age-old competitive or combative approach to politics to a collaborative one.

Alfred Nobel had the right idea: Empower the creative people, and the humanity's problems will naturally be solved. But when applied to the cause of peace, our creativity has largely been restricted to palliative approaches (resolving specific conflicts and improving specific situations).

What would it take to really put an end to war—once and for all? And political strife into collaboration?
What would it take to really put an end to war, once and for all?

The five insights allow us to understand the war as just an extreme case among the various consequences of our general evolutionary course, by "the survival of the fittest"—where the populations that developed armies and weapons had "competitive advantage" over those who "turned the other cheek". It is that very evolutionary course that the Holotopia project undertakes to change.

We offered the Chomsky–Harari–Graeber thread as a way to understand the evolutionary course we've been pursuing, and the consequences it had. Noam Chomsky here appears in the role of a linguist—to explain (what he considers a revolutionary insight reaching us from his field) that the human language did not develop as an instrument of communication, but of worldview sharing. Yuval Noah Harari, as a historian, explains why exactly that capability made us the fittest among the species, fit to rule the Earth. David Graeber's story of Alexander the Great illustrates the consequences this has had—including the destruction of secular and sacral culture, and turning free people into slaves.

We then told about Joel Bakan's "The Corporation", to show that while the outlook of our society changed since then beyond recognition—the nature of our cultural and social-systemic evolution, and its consequences, remained in principle the same.

We could have, however, taken this conversation in the making in another direction—by talking about the meeting between Alexander and Diogenes; and by doing that reaching another key insight.

This part of the conversation between Alexander and Diogenes (quoted here from Plutarch) is familiar :

And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, "Yes," said Diogenes, "stand a little out of my sun."

In his earlier mentioned lectures about "parrhesia", Foucault tells a longer and more interesting story—where Diogenes (who has the most simple lifestyle one could imagine) tells Alexander (the ruler of the world) that he is "pursuing happiness" in a wrong direction. You are not free, Alexander, Diogenes tells him; you live your life in fear; you hold onto your royal role by force:

" I have an idea, however, that you not only go about fully armed but even sleep that way. Do you not know that is a sign of fear in a man for him to carry arms? And no man who is afraid would ever have a chance to become king any more than a slave would."

Buckminster Fuller's World Game provides an interesting historical precedent.

The largest contribution to knowledge

This conversation is about our proposal.

What might the largest possible contribution to human knowledge be?

An academic researcher needs uncommon courage to even consider that the great work she has published may have no social impact whatsoever—because the structure of our collective mind prevents impact.

Under such circumstances, the systemic contributions to knowledge (improvements of the processes and systems by which knowledge is handled in our society) are likely to be distinctly larger than any specific ones. And that even larger contributions will be the ones that innovate the systems and processes by which those systemic solutions are updated, and allowed to evolve further.

In what way will our knowledge and our knowledge work need to change?

This conversation is about our knowledge federation proposal. By placing it in the intersection of the collective mind insight and the narrow frame insight, we point out that any real solution must comprise those two co-dependent sides, a method by which general-purpose information can be created and given the credibility now reserved for things "scientifically proven"; and a social process, where the best of our technology, and of ourselves, are combined to create a 'collective mind' that works.

Religion beyond belief

When religion is considered in the context provided by socialized reality and convenience paradox, a whole new possibility emerges—where religion is no longer an instrument of socialization—but of liberation.

Where religion is an essential way to cultivate our personal and communal wholeness.

The natural way to resolve religion-related conflicts is to evolve religion further!

Reality beyond fiction

The purpose of this conversation is to envision and make headway toward "a great cultural revival".

By giving this conversation this name, we point to the current extent of our future visions—where the technology is far more advanced, and the people are just as greedy and warlike.

We have already passed the limit—how far technology can be ahead of culture.

By staging this conversation in the context of the narrow frame insight and the power structure insight, we provide a fertile ground on which future visions can be built—where the social order is recreated, by changing the way we look at the world.

Enlightenment 2.0

By placing this conversation about the reissue of "enlightenment" in the context of the convenience paradox insight and the collective mind insight, two most interesting venues for transdisciplinary cross-fertilization are opened up.

One of them is to use knowledge federation and contemporary media technology, powered by artistic and other techniques, to federate the kind of insights that can make the convenience paradox transparent, and inform "a great cultural revival".

The other one is to use the insights into the nature of human wholeness to inform the development and use of contemporary media technology. How do computer games, and the ubiquitous advertising, really affect us? In Intuitive introduction to systemic thinking we offered a couple of further interesting historical reference points, to motivate a reflection about this theme.

Here Gregory Bateson's important keyword "the ecology of the mind", and Neil Postman's closely related one "media ecology", can set the stage for federating a human ecology that will make us spirited and enlightened, not despondent and dazzled.