Psychosocial Implication of Without Within
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 21 Oct 2013
Enjoying Going Solar for Oneself
The possibility explored here is the degree to which much that is held to be “external” and “objective” can be fruitfully explored as a projection of an “internal”, “subjective” form of comprehension. The significance of the terms used with regard to this possibility is itself necessarily questionable, with the process of “defining” in effect calling for “refining” — “definition” for “refinition”. Any discussion of the possibility is necessarily challenged by paradox, as discussed previously (¡¿ Defining the objective ∞ Refining the subjective ?! Explaining reality ∞ Embodying realization, 2011).
Potentially at least, the possibility has considerable implications for psychosocial engagement with the global “problematique” — the complex of problems and crises with which the world appears to be faced — and for the “resolutique” for which the Club of Rome has called in the past (Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider, The First Global Revolution, 1991). This is evident from the overriding tendency to frame problems and remedial action as externalities conforming to the strategic modalities favoured by government, business and technology. Despite calls for “new thinking”, such a framing tends to preclude what might be associated with an “imaginatique”, as discussed separately (Imagining the Real Challenge and Realizing the Imaginal Pathway of Sustainable Transformation, 2007).
The possibility acquires particular focus through a degree of recognition that governance is much challenged in responding to increasingly evident crises (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy ? 2011). Currently this is indicated by the severe collective embarrassment at the difficulties of responding coherently to the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As noted in the work of Adam Corner (Climate Science: why the world won’t listen, New Scientist, 26 September 2013):
The scientific and economic cases were made. Surely with all those facts on the table, soaring public interest and ambitious political action were inevitable? The exact opposite happened. Fast-forward to today, the eve of the IPCC’s latest report on the state of climate science, and it is clear that public concern and political enthusiasm have not kept up with the science. Apathy, lack of interest and even outright denial are more widespread than they were in 2008.
How did the rational arguments of science and economics fail to win the day? There are many reasons, but an important one concerns human nature. Through a growing body of psychological research, we know that scaring or shaming people into sustainable behaviour is likely to backfire. We know that it is difficult to overcome the psychological distance between the concept of climate change — not here, not now — and people’s everyday lives. We know that beliefs about the climate are influenced by extreme and even daily weather.
These factors would seem to suggest the merit of a complementary exploration regarding the extent to which neglected “individual” psychological factors play a crucial role in the engagement with “global” phenomena. Is there indeed a case for a more radical approach to the relation between what is deprecated as “subjective” (and “intangible”) and what is extolled as “objective” (and “concrete”)?
Provocatively and succinctly framed, this possibility follows from the innovative Renaissance insights of Marsilio Ficino regarding the “planets within” (Composing the Present Moment: celebrating the insights of Marsilio Ficino interpreted by Thomas Moore, 2001). It is also potentially consistent with the work of Joseph Campbell (The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: metaphor as myth and as religion, 1986) and of ecophilosopher Henryk Skolimowski (The Participatory Mind: a new theory of knowledge and of the universe, 1994). The argument has many affinities with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
The possibility has previously been explored otherwise (En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself: eliciting the potential of globalization through cognitive radicalization, 2011; World Introversion through Paracycling: global potential for living sustainably “outside-inside”, 2013; Personal Globalization, 2001; Existential Embodiment of Externalities: radical cognitive engagement with environmental categories and disciplines, 2009; Degrees of Cognitive Engagement with Interrelated Global Categories, 2009). The latter document relates the approach to a range of specific issues in the global problematique: hunger, pollution, unemployment, etc.
Although such remarks can be considered suggestive pointers, the intent here is not to seek closure on an acceptable explanation. Rather the concern is to point to a degree of freedom which individuals may explore for themselves, irrespective of whether any emerging insights accord with explanations furnished by external authorities — typically themselves much challenged by a variety of contradictions, as at present. This reservation applies as much to insights of the past and their formulation — and especially to affirmations regarding the nature of psychophysical reality (whether of Jung/Pauli or Ficino).
The challenge is one of imagination, as suggested from various perspectives (Veronica Goodchild, Songlines of the Soul: pathways to a new vision for a new century, 2012; Sean Patrick, Nikola Tesla: imagination and the man that invented the 20th Century, 2013; Joan Chodorow, Jung on Active Imagination, 1997).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Oct 2013.
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