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View Diary: ACM: Can the human mind comprehend today's world? A challenge to all who engage in politics (208 comments)

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  •  So then you are saying that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diane Gee

    essentially there is nothing substantively new in your "new" paradigm/epistemology?

    Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

    by lehman scott on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 06:59:28 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  no I am not. It is new enough to Warrant (0+ / 0-)

      these comments from Dorion Sagan (Carl's son)

      Global insanity is a unique blend of complexity theory, nonequilibrium thermodynamics theory and political analysis that examines humanity's current situation on this overcrowded planet. It is the only book I know of that combines an ecological-complexity analysis with progressive politics and heart. It also avails itself of Stanley Salthe's hierarchy theory. Most of all, it argues, in sometimes dense prose, for the importance of the overlooked work of the late mathematical biologist, Robert Rosen. The authors are very well versed in complexity theory, and are pulling out all the stops they know to give us a realistic appraisal of, necessary for any thinking solution to, our current global situation. However, I remain skeptical that the global problems (for humans, as the authors correctly stress, not for life as a whole) will yield to human intellection. There are more than twice as many people on the planet now as when I was born. At this rate of increase we get quadrillions in a few centuries. Here I would side with Spinoza and Nietzsche. Spinoza in the sense that knowledge is valuable for its own sake; as G. E. Hutchinson said a theory can be like an artwork or religion, providing a numinous experience. With Nietzsche in the sense that rationality is not the iceberg but the tip. Human overpopulation in its agricultural phase was accompanied by the organic metaphor; indeed, over the history of humanity it has been much more common to look at life animistically or as an organism than mechanically. Rosen's Godel-like analysis, that life is not "computable," and that it can, counter-Aristotle, be it's own cause, flouts the mechanical worldview that has metastasized into global technology, scientism, and a creeping postmodern globalist totalitarianism. His analysis seems to be among the most rigorous theoretical palliatives to the global human problem, and adopting it, and further investigating it, as Coffman and Mikulecky do here, would seem to be (pace Hutchinson) valuable in itself. Rosen's seems to be a mathematically grounded deconstruction of mechanomorphic arrogance. But the problem remains one of resource extraction connected to overpopulation, as the authors also suggest. For me the key datum is that non-"self=conscious" (to use the authors' term) life has solved overpopulation problems many times, e.g., by bioregulatory aging pathways (e.g., apoptosis, telomerase rationing, thymic involution, glucose-mediated aging) but with no thinking whatsoever. Organisms that grow too fast risk collapse by drought, starvation, and epidemic. Thermodynamic dissolution can be avoided (as multiple means of DNA repair, healing, immunity, indeed reproduction, show) but seems to have been recruited for population control via senescence but by life's open systems. So we have a situation in which "consciousness" is part of the problem but not necessarily the solution, at least in the sense of saving rabbit-reproducing humanity from its tendency toward becoming a "mammalian weed," as the late Lynn Margulis tagged us. Lynn also pointed to Reg Morrison's analysis in The Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Comstock Book). There Morrison identifies our symbol-making abilities as the main reason we have overpopulated the planet, ushering in the "Anthropocene" (a term I don't like, as it mistakenly suggests that people have somehow altered the planet with a magnitude unknown in other organisms; this is certainly not true compared say, to the cyanobacteria, organisms which introduced oxygen gas to the atmosphere in a massive scale that blows away our dangerous but comparatively insignificant introduction of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere--and no geological age was named after them: consider the source). We have delusions of grandeur, either considering ourselves made in the image of the creator of the universe, or thinking that we are uniquely dangerous to the planet. The truth appears to be that we are dangerous to many species not the least of which is ourselves. Consciousness got us into this overpopulational global polluting lobster trap but may not get us out. Needless to say, the warmongering ruling classes with disdain for the masses may think their Machiavellian-Malthusian-Straussian perspective and survivalist preparations will allow them to cull their way out of the mess, perhaps repopulating the world after an engineered die-off from their caves with their "republican" genes. But if humans are unique in their semiosis, their phenomenology is more plebian, and the actual "organics" (I won't say mechanics) of population control and ecological stability have never before been mastered by a thinking species, although solutions have arisen from evolution's crucible by other means. Thus this book is a high-level wake-up call for our species, and helps clear the air of delusive thinking, but does not, like so many books, pretend to tell us how to "save the Earth" (i.e., ourselves). Perhaps it is impossible, but if it is possible, it seems likely that the sort of analysis offered up here is a step in the right direction. (Disclaimer: I have corresponded with Don Mikulecky and he has written a review of a book I edited, Lynn Margulis: The Life and Legacy of a Scientific Rebel

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 08:22:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But don, you just said "yes" in answer to... (0+ / 0-)

        ...my question:

        Isn't that just basically what Systems Theory is?
        If now you're saying "no", then please allow me to repeat the next part of my reply that was the second question:
        How does your new paradigm/epistemology differ from standard Systems Theory and what does it add that might help us in managing our current conundrums where existing ST does not?
        While I admire your earnestness in seeking new methodologies (I am on a similar quest myself) I feel there is something fundamental here that you are trying to communicate that I am just not getting, for whatever reason.

        Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

        by lehman scott on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 08:49:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you lost me.....sorry (0+ / 0-)

          I do not understand your problem.  Can you restate it?

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:26:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That you first answered yes to my previous (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Diane Gee

            question and then apparently changed your mind and answered no.  Please reread our exchanges up-thread again.

            Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

            by lehman scott on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:43:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Is it not clear that we and our reviewers (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lehman scott

              think that it is indeed new and a big step toward solving the problem created by reductionist thouight?  I don't know how to say it more clearly.

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:50:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But how exactly is your (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Diane Gee

                new paradigm/epistemology different than standard systems theory and what exactly does it have to offer us in managing our current dilemmas that existing systems theory does not and/or cannot?  That is what I am genuinely curious about, don.

                Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

                by lehman scott on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:10:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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