|By NASA Langley Research Center, public domain|
Focussing on the history of Indian farming and agriculture practices since the dawn of civilization, Jackson and Coelho give a new account of the succession of ideas and notions around tending the land. This is at the same time a history of modern science and its failures to grasp what almost every culture on Earth understood: that humans are an integral part of the world, not separate from it, and that the way we relate to it has consequences on a material level; that in fact relationships are the actual substance of reality.
And really, particle physicists have been unable to discover such entities. The same goes for the macroscopic level. Can soil exist or be seen without the organisms living in it, of it, and creating it? Can a human being exist without the myriads of microspecies living on our skin, off our hair, in our bowels? Can a planet exist in and of itself, without its gravity field and the gravity fields of its neighbouring celestial bodies? With everything so tightly interlinked as to be inseparable the scientific description of relational dynamics becomes utterly ridiculous.
|by MLWatts, public domain|
“It is not possible to describe the simultaneous interactions of three or more bodies in one equation; say for example, the sun, planet, and the planet’s moon, or the entire solar configuration, or a human body or a landscape” (p73)
An essay made from excerpts from the book Tending Our Land: A New Story, Earthcare books, Kolkata, 2016
|Drone magic, by Mike Licht (CC)|
Empire is not merely territory covered, not just populations made into subjects. Empire rules not only through political, economic, and military force but through the very culture that gave birth to Empire. In other words, Empire rules the minds of its subjects, and it does so by defining what they can know — what is real. This may sound overstated to some, likely most, but the cognitive injustice created by scientific discourse is actually key to the question why social injustice does not spawn the kind of movements that would overthrow Empire. Marx had it wrong because we are not simply victims, we are co-creators of oppression. Awareness has never been enough; it takes an awakening.
The totalitarian exclusion of ‘the other’ from our view has turned it from a simple alternative into the deadliest enemy of the dominant culture, because once you start seeing it, awakening to it, you can no longer buy into the common dogmas around separateness, competition, materialism, utilitarianism, or scientism.
If you are still with me let’s foster cognitive justice now, by exploring an example which helps making the issue obvious: the relationship between science and the Sacred.
“A discourse provides a set of possible statements about a given area, and organizes and gives structure to the manner in which a particular topic, object, process is to be talked about. In that it provides descriptions, rules, permissions and prohibitions of social and individual actions.”– Günther Kress – Linguistic Processes in Sociocultural Practice, 1988
“Epistemology(literally, the logical discourse on knowledge) is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge. Epistemology studies the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much of the debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification, (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification.”– Wikipedia
“The whole notion of ‘discourse‘ and ‘discourse community’ is a circular one – the community is defined as those that share certain discourse habits and functions, while skill in the prescribed discourse is a prerequisite for being taken seriously by the discourse community. Hence, academic discourse is thus revealed, from the outset, to be a self-referential self-justificatory practice that determines what may legitimately beconsidered as knowledge.”– Karen Bennett – Epistemicide! TheTale of a Predatory Discourse. 2007
„In this era of increased knowledge the essence of religious phenomena eludes the psychologists, sociologists, linguists, and other specialists because they do not study it as religious. According to Mircea Eliade, they miss the one irreducible element in religious phenomena—the element of the sacred.“– 1996 introduction to Mircea Eliade’s book „Patterns in comparative Religion“ (1958)
“The dark side of modern science, and unfortunately it has one, does not arise from science itself, still less from any of the facts of nature. It arises from the impression we allow science to give us: the impression that we are merely biological machines in a meaningless material universe.Science has every right to confine its attention to the physical, i.e. the outside world. It has no right to say, when it has done so, that it has given us the whole story.”– Michael N. Nagler – Is there no other way?, 2001
“Cognitive injustice, the failure to recognize the different ways of knowing by which people across the globe run their lives and provide meaning to their existence.”– Boaventura de Sousa Santos – Epistemologies of the South: justice against epistemicide. 2014 (pdf)
The way that a particular culture formulates its knowledge is intricately bound up with the very identity of its people, their way of making sense of the world and the value system that holds that worldview in place. Epistemicide, as the systematic destruction of rival forms of knowledge, is at its worst nothing less than symbolic genocide […]There are others […] that view the encroachment of the scientific paradigm as a form of cultural imperialism […] They often experience the rationalization and objectivization of reality as a kind of reductionism that is inadequate to explain the complexities of human experience.”– Karen Bennett – Epistemicide! The Tale of a Predatory Discourse. 2007
“The modern age has forgotten that facts and information, for all their usefulness, are not the same as wisdom—and certainly not the same as the direct experience of Reality. We have lost touch with the intuitive wisdom born of silence and stillness, and we are left stranded in a sea of information that cannot deliver on its promise of ever-increasing happiness and fulfillment.”– Adyashanti – The way ofliberation: a practical guide to spiritual enlightenment, 2012 (pdf)
“The Way of Liberation is not a belief system; it is something to be put into practice. In this sense it is entirely practical.”– Adyashanti – The way of Liberation: a practical guide to spiritual enlightenment, 2012
“When we find those types of statements in Plotinus or Asanga or Garab Dorje or Abhinavigupta or Shankara, rest assured that they are not simply theoretical hunches or metaphysical postulates. Those are direct experimental disclosures issuing directly from te subtle dimension of reality, interpreted according to the backgrounds of those individuals, but issuing from this profound ontological reality, this subtle worldspace.
And if you want to know what these men and women are actually talking about, then you must take up the contemplative practice or injunction or paradigm, and perform the experiment yourself […]So this experiment will disclose the archetypal data, and then you can help interpret what they mean. And by far the most commonly accepted interpretation is, you are looking at the basic forms and foundations of the entire manifest world. You are looking directly into the face of the Divine.”
– Ken Wilber – A brief history of everything, 1996
“We allow ourselves to get bogged down in the debate over what the science says and what it doesn’t say. It’s the same kind of technological approach to the natural world that got us into this mess. it’s all about trajectories and predictions and scientific models, acquiring knowledge, learning about the climate crisis as if it is not us that is in crisis. What we need to consider and focus on is not, how all the pieces of the climate puzzle fit together into our model of externalities but rather the cycle of trauma and dissociation that is implicit in our own subjective and dysfunctional relationship to the natural world which is crying out to us in distress. Then, only then, will we begin to discover insights into how to respond to the crisis.” – Viewing the Climate Crisis Through the Lens of Cultural Trauma, Extinction Radio ep. 47, Feb. 12 2016
“The dark side of modern science, and unfortunately it has one, does not arise from science itself, still less from any of the facts of nature. It arises from the impression we allow science to give us: the impression that we are merely biological machines in a meaningless material universe.”–Is there no other way?, by Michael N. Nagler, 2001.
“technical innovation, private profit and tax dollars, civilian gadgetry and weapons of mass destruction, satellite technology, computers, and ever-expanding surveillance are interconnected.” —My journey at the nuclear brink, 2016
“Our world stands before a severe change. Every human being should, from now on, try to live joyfully and peacefully for the rest of his or her life. This would really be the best. Everything else is meaningless and useless and there is no benefit in trying to think your way out of it […]Humanity has arrived at a moment in time from when on our prayers – no matter whom to – will no longer be heard. There is no stopping what we are up against, no matter how hard we cry. –The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu.
“Let’s give freely of our time, wisdom, and material possessions. Let’s throw ourselves into humanity and the living planet. Let’s act with compassion and courage. Let’s endow ourselves with dignity.Even if all the data, models, assessments, and forecasts about abrupt climate change are incorrect, even if Earth can support infinite growth on a finite planet with no adverse consequences, I remain unconvinced there is a better way to live.” –Extinction dialogs: How to live with death in mind, 2015
The thing that bothered me always with how science is being used is both this attitude of „the sustained loss of blood might potentially lead to a death-like situation within the next one hundred years“, and the way technocrats use the notion of objectivity to dismiss feelings as a source of information or as a proper response to a situation. What we call ‘negative’ emotions are actually healthy signs of alarm to a potential threat. Potentiality may become actuality if we do not respond. In the case of climate disruption, humanity has been robbing itself this way of the ability to do anything about the unfolding disaster. I think that, somewhere deep inside, we know this and we are ashamed of it.
Shame, though, is as detrimental as pure alarmism. Both keep us in a state of fright. Maybe it takes just a little courage, maybe it takes nothing else than healthy reasonableness to look at that feeling and take the next step.
Daring to cry for what we have done is a liberation because it releases the pressure of having to sustain the illusion of control over a situation that has completely escaped from our manipulative reach. It is only through liberation that right action can come about.
The other option consists of complete and utter panic the very moment our useless remote controls are taken from us. I don’t know about you, but I sure know which choice to take for myself.
First of all, with all the criticism I use to direct towards scientism – the belief that science alone can define the nature and contents of reality – we all depend on the results of scientific research in order to evaluate what is about to happen. Apart from the rather anecdotal observations from our own environment scientific data is the foundation for climate discussions. One can interpret it in various ways but the figures as such are already awe-inspiring. With previously relatively conservative scientists like Peter Wadhams now pointing out that we are effectively effed, I think it is not adequate to dismiss the messenger as a doom-and-gloom fearmonger. That goes especially for McPherson whose intention is not spreading fear or defeatism. He expressly encourages people to actually live for the things or the people they love rather than continuing to trying to uphold the zombie obedience to the machine which created the mess in the first place.
Which brings me to my second point. Most of the permaculture scene, like all the rest of society, does not question the origin of the many crises this planet is currently going through. These people are still looking for technical solutions when it was technology – and the mindset of separation and control behind it – that has created those crises. Even if we solved the climate issue – which I doubt because we will not stop wanting to grow, and therefore wanting to produce stuff, and therefore using more energy, and therefore producing more heat – there still is mass unemployment, mass poverty, mass extinction, desertification, dying oceans, diminished forests, resources depletion, overpopulation, criminality, war, nuclear waste, plastic pollution, child labour, inflation, … you name it. All of this is inherent to the thing that Mumford called the Megamachine, civilization. None of it will go away as long as the notion of separation from, and control over nature prevails, a notion which lies at the very heart of civilization. Civilization HAS to end, or the price we pay is our planet going Venus.
If there is any hope for survival of life on Earth it will not lie in doing, for it was doing that brought us here; hope lies in the collapse of belief in the ideology of control. Hope, though, is part of the collective illusion that prevents us from seeing reality as it is rather than the way we wish it to be. Awakening to the true nature of existence is a task that has to be picked up by each person individually, and it implies surrendering to the possibility of complete annihilation, without fear. Fear of death kills everything.
Grief, yes, we will grief for the loss of loved ones – butterflies, bluebirds, sequoias, relatives, friends, last not least ourselves. And it will be for the love of these that life may find a way.
“That the Scriptures do not contain in them all the necessary to salvation, is the fountain of many great and capital errors; I instance in the whole doctrine of the Libertines, Familists, Quakers, and other enthusiasts, which issue from this corrupted fountain.”
“CHRISTIANITY — the belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.” (taken from Urban dictionary)
“As I cannot think that it detracts from a dial that in order to tell the time the sun must shine upon it, so neither does it detract from the scriptures, that tho’ the best and holiest, they are yet scripture – & require a pure heart & the consequent assistances of God’s entlightening Grace in order to understand them to edification. And what more does the Quaker say? He will not call the written words of God the Divine WORD: & he does rightly.”–A book I value; sel. marginalia by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; ed. by H. J. Jackson, 2003
“God is dead.” –Nietzsche“Nietzsche is dead.” –God
–Charles Eisenstein, same day, on Facebook
I would like to add that, in turn, it is not a sign of health in a society when it is unable to accept, and integrate itself into, the suchness of existence. If it has, at its basis, the idea of improving on nature it is well on its way to insanity.
For in that case it regards itself — culture — as external to, and separate from, nature, a category it introduces to name the thing it seeks to manipulate and control.
And the whole practice of substituting vitamin pills for fruits, plastic packaging for freshness, hydroponics for soil, legal bondage for empathic relationships, social insurance for compassion, money for trust, horsepower for horses, governance for personal responsibility, rational for reasonable, and all the rest of it, reeks of manipulation.
We have observed what came from giving way to pure rationality. Just look at the world of today. If we are engulfed in conflict and misery it is because, among others, rationalism lacks an ethical dimension, a social dimension, a spiritual dimension, and an emotional dimension, all of which are defining us as human beings. That which is ‘irrational’ is part of reality — the totality of existence. The sense for it is not a glitch, a dysfunction, or a human disease, but exists for a reason. When we exclude it from our ‘calculation’ we are ignoring the deeper roots of the world’s condition, and therefore the way forward, both of which literally lie outside science’s view and technology’s grasp.
Our society may be profoundly sick (or maybe it is just a passing adolescent phase), but as a species, we are neither dysfunctional mutations nor diseased miscreations (born sinners, as the Bible goes); we are wearing cultural glasses that impair our sight. Leaving culture aside, not negating it, but looking beyond it — what do we see?
I must admit that I once was a guy who couldn’t believe in anything that was out of reach of science. If you couldn’t touch it, define it, extract it, manipulate it, categorize it, prove it, it couldn’t have been real. What a miserable existence that was, denuded of all the beauty and freedom of emergence.
Well… having had a lazy day I recently stumbled into someone else’s blog who discussed the subject of determinism, and people being unwilling to rethink their beliefs. I liked the observations she made. Information per se hardly ever changes anything. People will resist new information, no matter what, unless they feel the new truth in their bones, or unless it already agrees with their world view. So I agreed with my previous responder to that blog, that using a Socratic approach can do magic (although I prefer to just present my personal view as such, rather than manipulating people into finding what I find).
As for determinism, it isn’t all that new. As a matter of fact, it has been the basis of science and technology for over 400 years. If science is right about the determinism of the universe, then people’s behavior cannot be free as well. What’s revolutionary about that idea is that we now begin to apply it on humans, although, in our subconscious, we use to think we were exempt from the laws of nature. And maybe we think so because we feel that determinism might be a wrong concept.
The Cartesian world view in public perception is very hard to kill and people trained in rational thinking and rhetorics can talk you into believing it – if you ever doubted. But since ~1900, Heisenberg, Einstein, Gödel, Turing and many others have demonstrated that we cannot be sure about anything, or even everything. Determinism is dead. We just didn’t notice.
After all it is just another concept, another ideological (or religious, if you prefer) world view. People have come up with others, like eastern religions, buddhism, animism, chaotic organisation, chaotic non-organisation and so on. Both science and religion have their use in a certain area; both determinism and free will work within a certain frame, but then they fail due to applying a rigid method to a living process. That is what the scientists I mentioned proved with their methods, and what e.g. Buddhists agree with for 2500 years now after having applied their own methods, and why I say that determinism is yesterday’s jam.
Of course that is only my view, no more valid than anyone else’s view. I see no objective reality “out there”, truth being the same for everyone when in “fact” it isn’t.
Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear here. I didn’t intend to say that Heisenberg alone declared that we cannot know anything for sure, but that he, the persons I mentioned, and others like Schrödinger *together* paint the picture of a science different from the deterministic ideology of pre-20th century science. Taken as a whole their work unintendedly shows that science as such fails with explaining reality, especially in complex systems, and therefore will never be able to make true precise longterm predictions.
Why is it that the laws which science finds don’t fit reality and have to get redefined over and over again? Besides the complicated one (represented by Gödel &co.) there’s two easy parts:
a) The nature of a law (especially a scientific law) is generalization. You have to reduce individual things with infinite properties each to categories of similar things with a finite set of properties to which the law applies. There are two problems with that:
– The set of properties is of arbitrary choice. Look at the definition of “planet”. Look at any map.
– The rest which we discard as irrelevant but which represents an infinitely higher number of properties has a significance. Think of it when you listen to the weather forecast or when you drink a vitamins shake instead of eating an apple.
The categories we make up along with the limited-properties things create a picture that may follow the laws of science within a given frame set, but only if you don’t look too close. Taking that picture for real hence trying to apply the laws universally results in chaotic, unexpected response. Always.
b) Even if we do not look for rules and do not gain our knowledge from books, we can rely on our senses and say, “I see that thing. I measured some of its properties.” Still people disagree for a vast amount of reasons, one of which is that we cannot handle infinite amounts of properties. What then, following from that, is reality if not that what we choose? Isn’t it different for each person? What can we actually know for sure if we cannot completely know at least one single thing?
You do believe in determinism, but you do not believe your life is unalterably fixed, past, present, and future, do you? For, no matter if we are able to predict what’s to come, that is what “determined” means. Otherwise I didn’t get your reason for acting as responsible individuals. If I’d ask a person in a deterministic world why s/he is doing something, the answer I’d expect would be, “Because I cannot help but to follow the laws of the universe. There is no choice”; like a planet cannot willingly resist the gravity of its star. Without choice you could not act responsibly. You were just a puppet on a string, a programmed robot.
But, as a matter of fact, you are free to choose whatever option you prefer; even in a situation of being “forced” you are free to say: “Pull the trigger!”
Personally, I have given up on determinism as soon as I found out that it doesn’t work on me when I decide so; it also doesn’t hold for natural processes, if you take a closer look.
Instead, I (in short) think of an interdependent system of self-organizing complex subsystems, in which each element has options within a given frame, but each action changes the context by causing feedback, so we evolve while, and by, adapting to the constantly changing world we created and that created us. We are both free and bound. That’s pretty much what I see around me and inside myself – which results in active participation in the world’s affairs without desperately clinging to my ideas and wishes.