FOR FUTURE’S SAKE

By februari 6, 2024 Algemeen

As Albert Einstein justly noted, the experimental physical world, with its infinite diversity, directly contradicts the idealized simplicity of the mathematical description. How can one explain this, accept it, and include it in the scheme of a mechanistic vision of the world?

Worldviews have different origins, stemming from various social, cultural, religious, political, and economical systems that have developed over millennia. These different origins can inform and create similar worldview realities shared by different groups of people and societies.

The present and outdated worldview is based on our all-pervasive and sub-conscious habit to interpret and represent the World surrounding us in mechanistic terms (Newtonian Paradigm).  What is needed is a paradigm shift in our current world perception. The shift from a reductionist, mechanistic and deterministic perception of the world to a dynamic, holistic view, the world  -living Earth- as an ever evolving system of interacting, interconnected and interdependent complex systems that co-exist and co-evolve on different spatio-temporal scales.

REPRESENTATION

Our mind is a very powerful thing. The world is nothing else but our representation of it. Which is a product of our mind. There are 8.1 billion people on this planet. It means that there are many different representations of the world. Any ‘real world’ is nothing more but a representational consensus of the majority. Which is subject to a constant change and, increasingly often, intended manipulation. Because it changes very slowly in comparison to a human lifespan, it is normally perceived by any individual as constant, except maybe for those rare historical periods that are commonly recognized as worldview revolutions or paradigm shifts.

Most of the time we ignore the relativity of our interpretation and representation. We tend to forget that any event or phenomenon communicated to us as a fact is always only someone’s interpretation.

A specific worldview can be described as a symbolic image of our cognition or our mind, which can be thought of as another ever evolving system or a network of interacting and interconnected concepts, ideas, notions, beliefs and feelings that represents the outside world inside us. In other words, one evolving system or process, our mind, is trying to make a proper representation or to model another evolving system or process, the outside world. Even assuming, just for a second and only for the sake of simplification, that the outside world is static, it is still too complex and too immense to be comprehensibly and adequately represented in all its minute details by our mind.  It generates during our short lifetime a chain of progressively more and more adequate representations, or approximations, or models of the outside reality. One representation becomes obsolete and inadequate with time and is replaced by a newer, more adequate one.

The adequacy of our current model of the reality is constantly tested through our interactions with the outside world. Every time we interact with the world we have a model of the situation in our sub-consciousness. We anticipate a certain World as a representation. It is important to remember that though very often we may not be consciously aware of the model and our anticipations, they are always there, residing in our subconsciousness. If the responses of the outside world fit our current model and are anticipated by this model, there is no confusion or surprise. If there is a persistent anomaly in the anticipated reactions from the outside world, we tend to adjust our model or even discard the old model and replace it by a new one. Of course, the real situation is more complicated. The outside world is changing. So our mind generating a chain of progressively more adequate representations strives to do two things simultaneously: 1) to keep up with the changing world and 2) to model relatively slowly changing aspects of the outside reality to a more and more precise degree.

TRANSFORMATION

There have always been social transformations in human history. The most recent one was the transition towards the Modern/Industrial Era, which included the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the scientific and industrial revolutions. The reconceptualization of nature as a machine during embraced the power of human reason to understand and control the natural world. This spurred the utilization of more and more powerful technologies to control and commodify the material world in which they lived. A general tendency took hold to define human beings as being outside of nature, and Enlightenment rationalism led to a vision of a technologically dominated environment. The intersection of humanity and nature has always been dynamic, interactive, and complex. The two primary actors in this relationship that possess agency are humans and nature (i.e., the Earth and non-human things), and their intersection almost always involves technology. Humanity’s embrace of the market economy and its evolution into corporate capitalism has resulted in immensely complex technological artifacts and systems that, to those who do not have any way to exert control or power in its face, may well seem beyond human control.

The premodern ethic of reciprocity between people and nature and a sense of the coevolution of human cultural practices and the material world gave way during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to a homocentric ethic of natural human rights in which filling people’s needs and appetites became paramount.

The current paradigm of the world is a mechanistic and deterministic Newtonian interpretation of reality. It has been built in our minds as the default worldview by our education and our culture. And because it is a default, it does not require any mental or intellectual effort and comes naturally and automatically from the depths of our subconsciousness. We naturally interpret everything around us as machines or mechanical devices. Worst of all, because this default resides in our sub consciousness, most of the time it is inaccessible to the critique of our conscious rationality.

The Newtonian paradigm worked in its day, just as Newton’s physics successfully described the world as scientists understood it then. Physics and science in general gave us the technologies of the Industrial Revolution which led to the bureaucracy and Taylorian management. Resulting in the giant factories and companies that provided that revolution with its wealth creating base, and a higher standard of living for larger numbers of people than perhaps ever before. Unfortunately, unintentionally it gave rise to the some of the worst of human motives of selfishness and greed of an atomistic individualism.  Unconstrained human actions and a fix-it-as-we-go approach have brought us to a world where we consume far more than we produce at a very great cost and perpetuating the myth of human exceptionalism. A narcissistic, colonial, and extractivist anthropocentric worldview, embodied in the individual subject and their rights, is not mere theory; it has been responsible for much violence and destruction across numerous human and more-than-human worlds. It created problems that its own models and mindset cannot solve, and these problems now pose an existential threat to the whole human project. The incompatibility between the hegemonic economic system – that is capitalism – and planetary systems[1].

The ecological existential crisis re-energised older debates around social-economic systems, distribution and equality. The idea that humans have a right to take possession, in a seemingly unlimited way, over everything external to them creates the hostile logic that led to the social, economic and environmental catastrophes that undermined the relative stability of the Holocene.

Our current lifestyle of material consumption and personal ambition has outlived its day. While it once made so much sense in fueling our drive toward freedom and mastery of our environment, it is now contributing to the problems and dangers we face. Capitalism has gotten out of control leading to massive inequality. To make matters more difficult, a significant part of the world has not even entered the Modern Era yet.

Our society is in crisis and breaking down, which is producing tremendous stresses and demanding we recognize the need for change. The mechanistic worldview exhausted its usefulness, and even its relevance. Ultimately it’s pushing us toward a different worldview and an entirely new set of life-affirming social-economic-technological structures that are appropriate to the current historical situation.

PARADIGM SHIFT

The conditions for a paradigm shift occur when experimental data turn up an anomaly. That is, a result that simply cannot be explained within the framework of the old paradigm. For our present western culture, that anomaly has taken the form of a meta crisis and the total inability of the existing system and cultural values to meet the life-threatening and social-economy-busting needs it presented. The powerful control from the top, its siloed functions and departments, its inflexible bureaucratic rules and regulations and chains of command, humans and nature viewed as passive instruments of production, with no responsibility for community or planet, no regard for ethics or values, consumed by mindless competition in pursuit of maximum profit and share-holder value,  holds no room for spontaneous self-organization of new structures, systems, and values in response to the Metacrisis.

Although the deterministic Newtonian interpretation of reality still exist the contemporary mosaic it is in a continuous state of flux and includes accepted theories like neuroscience, quantum mechanics, special and general relativity, and cosmology in addition to the theories of evolutionary biology, genetics, chemistry, psychology, sociology, economics, and history. A radically new way of thinking runs through the scientific work of the twentieth century. New concepts, new categories, a wholly new vision of physical and biological reality mark a sharp break with nearly everything that science held dear or certain in these past three hundred years; seismic changes in the structure, leadership, and culture of society and its organizations.

Humanity has become an immensely powerful planetary force, and after millennia of modest Nature-focused ways of living, humanity has morphed into an urban-industrial presence. We are barely addressing the systemic clash between modern humans and Nature, between Technosphere and biosphere. As we look towards the future, it is becoming increasingly evident that our pathways will not follow a single, universal transition. Instead, it will be characterized by a highly multipolar, multi-perspective, and hyperpluralistic approach. A transformation at every level, not just politics and economics, but also our worldview and consciousness, our values, and our social institutions and communities.

A worldview built on a foundation of cooperation, interconnectedness, global consciousness, values -cultural and racial diversity, social justice, equality of power, human scale institutions, planetary governance, and reverence for the planet-.

IT IS TIME

The proliferation of megathreats – each an element in the broader polycrisis – confirms that our politics are too dysfunctional, and our policies too misguided, to address even the most serious and obvious risks to our future. These include climate change, which will have huge economic costs; failed states, which will make waves of climate refugees even larger; and recurrent, virulent pandemics that could be even more economically damaging than Covid-19.

Making matters worse, dangerous geopolitical rivalries are evolving into new cold wars – such as between the US and China – and into potentially explosive hot wars, like those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Around the world, rising income and wealth inequality, partly driven by hyper-globalisation and labour-saving technologies, have triggered a backlash against liberal democracy, creating opportunities for populist, autocratic, and violent political movements.

Unsustainable levels of private and public debt threaten to precipitate debt and financial crises, and we may yet see a return of inflation and stagflationary negative aggregate supply shocks. The broader trend globally is toward protectionism, de-globalisation, de-coupling, and de-dollarisation.

The future exists in an unlimited number of possible futures, but the question what the most desirable future should or could be.  We cannot let the future ‘just happen’, the stakes are too high. Rethink the consequences of our own actions and to redesign possible outcomes into preferable outcomes.

Rethinking a new perspective and reflection on the status quo of society, evolving into a worldview which could either be humanity’s path for survival (and thriving) or lead towards a path in which humanity will radically abandon nature and embrace technological progress. A transformation is needed to reconsider the fundaments of our deep held values and beliefs. A confrontation with our preconceived notions about emergent developments and mirror of our lack of imagination and determination that may lead towards the opposite of what we truly desire; instead of the path of prosperity and well-being, the path of fear, denial and disconnection, inevitably leading towards destruction of the planet and major social inequality.

LET’S GET ON WITH IT.

An open invitation to take agency on our future, to kickstart new dialogues, to enhance critical reflection, to embrace the (un)expected and to intervene with real world challenges. After all, if we’re able to imagine alternative futures, we might also be able to make (some of) them come true.

[1] Planetary systems are complex adaptive systems described are non-hierarchical. The application of the behavior of complex natural systems to complex human social systems describes an entangled world -universe, understood in relationships, causality and spontaneously, patterns emerging from disorder.

 

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