NEED: FUNDAMENTAL EPISTEMIC CHANGE

PAST EPISTEMIC CHANGES

The emergence of the conceptual scheme OBJECTIVITY, including the concept of “conceptual scheme” is seldom mentioned as a major transition in human history. I first learned explicitly about epistemic change from Michel Foucault‘s “The Order of Things” & “The Archeology of Knowledge“.

Early humans made no conscious distinction between what we now call our OBJECTIVE or MATERIAL WORLDS (universes, concrete realities) and our personal WRLDS OF HUMAN CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE. We don’t know all the details of this epistemic shift , how it occurred in stages, and how it became distributed among different populations and cultures (including where it is, as yet, not the dominant episteme).

Gods and spirits could effect change in the observable world. Lightening/Thunder and Rainbows were “caused” by “higher entities”. Julian Jaynes hypothesized that there was a shift from “others” speaking to them, as to voices-in-their-heads (auditory hallucinations)  to persons believing the thoughts came from their deeper selves.

The night sky was the first, studied exemplar of a fixed externality. Not only the fixed pattern of stars (constellations), but the regular movement over time, including the movement of sun and moon and their relationship to the changing seasons. The study of these external regularities culminated in Newton’s model of an Objective Universe – where planets and falling apples followed the same “scientific” laws. Indeed, that there were “external regularities”, the study of which we call “SCIENCE”, was an emergent episteme of great impact. This episteme is now being challenged by humans seeking power.

Other epistemic shifts are attached to the names: Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, Bohr/Schrödinger/Heisenberg. Today there are hundreds of epistemic shifts in process that can’t readily be attributed to individual persons. Labeled eras, such as The Enlightenment or The Industrial Revolution, are also accompanied by epistemic change. Diffferent cultures have different epistemes.

How can we tell whether another fundamental epistemic change isn’t underway (possibly blocked) and desperately needed? Should a small community-of-teams undertake exploring this challenge? Might humankind now be sufficiently competent to intentionally/intelligently/compassionately influence epistemic change?

 

HINTS OF A NEW EPISTEME

The global wave of seeming “madness” around FAKE news or realities, exemplified by Trump (but not limited to him) has the metaphor of it being revealed that “the king has no clothes on”. What are the “clothes” and who is the “king“?

The “king” is “humankind” and the clothes is “objectivity”. Humankind leaves a trace (in the material world) that can’t be adequately explained by the Science of Objective or Material Reality (SOMR). A systematic explication of SOMR will occur in other documents – follow some links below. However, some basics.

There is no “evidence” (in the sense of inter-subjective observing and reporting on phenomena in the material world) for human intention or belief.

All we have are records of concrete human behavior (videos or reports {by observer-authors or journalists}), which must be interpreted by readers/viewers, each in terms of their own personal contexts. [Material structures (e.g., architecture, agriculture) created by humans are also semiotic, and a full theory of SOMR must include them.] I have labeled these “sems” (semiotic structures) and an organized collection of sems, a “semfield“.

The empirical foundation for HUMANKIND is limited to interpretation of reports (taken, temporarily now, as digitized patterns of symbols, visual & auditory). Most modern reports can be accurately replicated, ensuring “identity of pattern” for all; but not similar interpretations.

PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT EPISTEME

The successes of Sci/Tech for the material world (even when never directly observed in consciousness) has given rise (among many persons and populations) to the belief that this OBJECTIVITY can be applied to human THOUGHTS & REPORTS about reality. Indeed, it is believed that “interpretations of experience”, as reported, are OBJECTIVE FACTS. In a sense, Human Problems Aren’t Real.

However, they are only reports, patterns created by humans, superimposed on material substrates. Their objectivity exists only in the patterns (as text on this screen). To what extent may our scientific knowledge of systems not containing humans (or not involving direct human interference during the interval studied) NOT APPLY to our knowledge gained from the “scientific” study of systems with humans as primary components and/or participants?

This belief, in their experiences as objective truth, necessarily leads humans into conflict. I have no knowledge of the distribution of this dangerous episteme among all human populations. I believe that it is rooted in what we call intuition, or the fast reality of Daniel Kahneman in Thinking: Fast and Slow (pdf).

Ample scientific evidence on the fallibility of experience has done little to diminish our use of this episteme. Our early tribal ancestors needed to act quickly in emergencies, with no time to consider alternative interpretations. Also, the challenges of tribal life (with the societal yet to emerge) was adequately navigated with an episteme that didn’t sharply discriminate between material and human realities. Today, and for millennia, the primary environment for most humans has been human created – even the USA National Parks were modified to be “wild gardens”. Urban life, now augmented by “life on the screen” takes humans far from “material nature”.

Is it possible to “educate” persons to live/believe in a different episteme? A different issue: is it possible to incrementally change intertwined social/societal systems & subsystems so as to implement such “education” (personalized), to migrate a significant/selected portion of the global population to a new episteme to avoid foretasted disasters?

All I can claim is that the answer “no” is not proven, even if intuition makes it feel so. Might the extreme tragedy, if we fail to shift epistemes (the elimination of our potential futures, more tragic than the death of all humans), provide sufficient motivation/challenge – for those competent to comprehend the issues – TO ACT.

On Scenarios for UPLIFT

UPLIFT Experience 2018-2020

Advanced Metamorphosis:
A Mix of Emergence & Transformation

Two Modes of Action:
Designing/Constructing & Posting/Commenting

Action Strategies for Larry/nuet
-2014 – forgotten!

Is Humankind a Unique Cosmic Phenomenon?
– 3/2016 – also forgotten!!