2005/11/20

Wordviews


Worldviews are transmitted from one generation to another over the long haul.

A worldview, as its name implies, is a view of the world a shared understanding of reality. When we speak about reality what we mean is nothing more than our perception, our understanding, our consciousness about our environment from infinitesimal to infinity and our place inside that environment.

Reality is inaccessible to us we are indeed only tiny specks of dust within its vastness so the best we can hope for is to gain a perception, an interpretation, a conscienceness that would be as near as possible from the real thing. Our understanding fluctuates along the lines of our knowledge base and force is to admit that knowledge evolves... prompting fluctuations in our interpretation, our consciousness, about what reality is all about. This in turn further up the societal level is gradually shaping our worldviews.

Knowledge is the fact of thinkers, and other adventurers on the slopes of reality, they constitute only a tiny minority within their societies while worldviews are the result of a shared knowledge by all members of a society.

In the contradictions that unfold between the minority that creates new knowledge and society at large that tries to protect itself from change lies the energetic substance that will bring societal change. This is what I call "the road of humanity". It is a process that can take centuries if not millenia to mature and it fluctuates and changes along the lines of the polarities of the ensemble "humanity". What do I mean? We are trying to understand how worldviews evolve and change. I posit that worldviews change as a result of the dynamics inside the ensemble "humanity" and what powers those dynamics are the polarities that are shaping the ensemble itself: societies versus individuals.

Individual innovating visions are not readily accepted they need to undergo a process of sociatal acceptance. Societies, in whatever form, try to protect what is established against change. Change is indeed considered as destabilizing and eventually dangerous that's why societies made the sharing by all of the worldview of the moment as the ultimate glue that would keep the societal building from falling apart.

Historic evolution is like a quantum wave made of energetic (societal) and magnetic (individuals) swirls that are pulling societies forward. In the following graph I borrow the substance of the "Wave theory" by Dr. Chaim H. Tejman to illustrate the mechanics of societal change.



























Historical facts do by no means confirm the primary role of one or another of those factors in the formation of societal change: arts, culture, knowledge and the economy. On the contrary history does indicate that at times one of those factors can be preponderantly influential while being totally absent of the equation at other times.

There is simply no beginning and no end in this swirling cycle of change there is only a beginning and an end for each specific moment in time corresponding to a snapshot of change. It should be noted here that historians, economists and other specialists have all too often fallen into a one-sided absolutist vision of change and universities are thus filled with chair-holders behaving more as faithfull clergymen spreading their gospel and arguing between themselves than as true scientists.

For what we know history witnessed 3 epochal worldviews: animism, religion and modernity.

A fourth is starting to shape nowadays that should bring us a radically transformed view of the world in the future. I argue in my book ARTSENSE that the interaction between science and technology on the one hand and on the other globalization that will spread the cultures worldviews and civilizational axioms of the future economically dominant countries through the windows of each and everyone; this interaction is starting to shape for all of us a radically new worldview that for the first time in history promizes to be a globally shared worldview over all the earth.

From what is going on today in the world we see that our model "the road of humanity" is kind of riding on 3 wheels only as if the tire of the wheel carrying arts was flat. In late modernity the wave of humanity has been interrupted, stucked as it is within the economic polarities of societies (knowledge versus economy) that are themselves nothing more than one of the polarities of the road of humanity (societies verus individuals). Societies are no ends in themselves they are only instruments in the hands of humanity on its evolutionary road.

The economy nowadays imposes on all individuals the illusion of their freedom through the offer of merchandises to be consumed. Knowledge is then generated quasi-exclusively to produce always more alienating merchandises. But in this process, force is to recognize that, knowledge has been reduced to "pre-knowledge" or one could also say that it has been reduced to scientific or rational "knowings" that are of interest to the economy for sure but offer very little substance to societies and individuals in their dance along the road of humanity.

Is this sounding paradoxical to you? I guess yes so let me try to shed some light on this phenomenon from another angle. The economy is being driven by the "logic of capital" and the logic of capital has muted ideologically into rationalism that has become the hegemonic model of thought imposed on all of us from kindergarten to university. Shocking isn't it? How could it be that we have been thaught to reason but ever been forbidden to question reason? Reason is no more than the transfer to the process of thinking of the rules that were imposed by the "logic of capital" on those who were holding capital; in contravention with the edicts of the church I have to add. So we start to understand that capital holders had a very strong incentive to finance the expansion of the "logic of capital" into an ideology for all to follow. The acceptence of the ideology of rationalism would indeed increase the "playing field" of the logic of capital making it possible to generate always more surplusses (benefits) . Globalization has to be understood in the same light, for, when national bases offered no more or only little potential to expand the "playing field" the continuing increase of surpluses could only come from outside the national boundaries where those surplusses had been generated hitherto.

The use of the ideology of rationalism was not limited to the expansion of the "playing field" of the "logic of capital" (demand) it also became instrumental in the development of always more merchandises (offer). The application of knowledge, derived from the use of rationalism, into solving technical problems of production allowed indeed for the "massification" of the market and later for the incessant offer of different merchandises. Knowledge to solve technical problems is technoscience which is a major misappropriation of knowledge that hitherto had always been conceived as the way we understand reality or to say this otherwise the way we understand our environment from infinitesimal to infinite and our place into that environment. How did we come to replace knowledge with technoscience? The interest of capital holders and researchers is to perfect and diffuse innovations that can occupy market shares and this explains the mutation of knowledge into technoscience. Technoscience is applied science which is built upon existing general knowledge but it fast appeared that our general knowledge base had also to be expanded to allow further developments in technoscience that's how financing was then diverted to "fundamental science" meant to expand our general knowledge base.

Being derived out of the reductionist ideology of rationalism fundamental science is just not capable of generating real knowledge that gives meaning to people's lives and then this blind following of rationalism that sings about better tomorrows extinguishes breathless... Scientific knowledge, applied or fundamental, is thus not real knowledge at best can we speak of "knowings"; a multitude of knowings or of little pieces that await to be inter-woven with a more globally encompassing philosophic vision into a new paradigm of reality.

The complete corruption of "the road of humanity" that started with "the logic of capital" destroyed art and knowledge that are absent now in the dance between individuals and societies and humanity fell sick, very sick as well as mother earth that sustains us all.

Hope is on the way, for, the speed and the sheer size of our accumulation of "knowings" are giving us to see signs of hope. Humanity seems indeed to dispose of the technical solutions or is very near of finding those technical solutions that could eliminate all the scourges that afflict us todat: poverty, environmental degradation, diminishing fossil fuels and other raw materials, etc.
But humanity just can't put its act together it seems, for, having the technical solutions to its problems is not enough it should implement the application of those technical solutions and initiate the process of change out of its problems and into a liveable post-modern world. Here is undoubtedly the weak link in this process of change, for, bringing all the people on earth to share a same understanding of the urgency of humanity's problems is still a far-away possibility it seems.

I nevertheless see encouraging signs. First on a macro-level force is to recognize that with globalization the worldview of the whiteman that has shaped the modern world until now will soon come under the assault of the worldviews of some of the countries that are emerging as the soon to be economic powers of the world. I'm speaking about China and India principally. The axiomatic foundations of their civilizations being so far apart from the Western axiomatic foundations changes in humanity's behaviors are necessarily on the horizon. I shall write more extensively about that point in my next post titled "civilizations". The second encouraging sign is the frenetic search for answers to fill the void of sense or of meaning about life that is so prevalently felt nowadays by most citizens in Western or better in advanced industrialized countries. Knowledge encompassing the present realities has still not matured and shall in all evidence not stabilize as a result only of internal elements of those countries, for, the energizing of the world now comes from other skies.

According to the traditional vue of the function of art in societies the artist role is to give visual signs of the worldview of the men of knowledge at the attention of his fellow citizens. The knowledge of our days having still not yet maturated the artists are left without a message to illustrate and not surprisingly most of them landed into confusion-land believing that "whatever" is now a good enough subject for their craft. But they are flat wrong the only thing they attain is total insignificance making Marcel Duchamp's words "being dumb as a painter" look premonitory. Considering that the only possible thing that truly can be considered as art are the visual works realized today that will make sense in the eyes of the people 50 or 100 years from now we can but conclude that "whatever" is not art for it will not reflect the worldview of those people no more than the works reflecting past worldviews as religious works, landscapes or portraits . The unmistaken conclusion we arrive at is thus that the only escape for artists today is to build up their knowledge base in terms of scientific knowings and in terms of other civilizations' foundational axioms, for, out of the interaction between those two will emerge the post-modern worldview of tomorrow.


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