Engaging with Hyperreality through Demonique and Angelique?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 14 Mar 2016
Mnemonic Clues to Global Governance from Mathematical Theology and Hyperbolic Tessellation
The apparent incapacity of authorities to engender fruitful new ways of engaging with the crises faced by global governance is emphasized in the main paper. A case was made for configuring these problems as a “demonique” — suggesting the need for a matching “angelique”. The terminology exploits the pattern initiated by the Club of Rome with respect to “problematique” and “resolutique“, as separately discussed (Imagining the Real Challenge and Realizing the Imaginal Pathway of Sustainable Transformation, 2007).
The argument followed from recognition of the increasing degree of “demonisation” of others — duly reciprocated — and the suggestion that this process might be better focused on the problems with which governance sought to engage. Given the continuing widespread belief in angels, a corresponding case was also made for the “evangelisation” of solutions. In both cases this switches attention away from those controversially held to embody the demonic or the current focus of evangelical preoccupations.
Such a radical shift in perspective follows from the seeming inadequacy of think tanks to reframe the processes of comprehension and engagement in a period of crisis. Priority is seemingly given to fruitless military solutions, as separately argued (“Tank-thoughts” from “Think-tanks”: metaphors constraining development of global governance, 2003). The issue is evident in the limited learning from analysis of failures of remedial initiatives of the past in framing those proposed for the future (Recognizing the Psychosocial Boundaries of Remedial Action: constraints on ensuring a safe operating space for humanity, 2009; Remedial Capacity Indicators Versus Performance Indicators, 1981). This has notably been the case with respect to progress on the UN Millennium Development Goals, now replaced by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Might the hypothetical be better understood as entities “dancing” in hyperbolic space — namely one of negative curvature?
Arguably the policy sciences now bear a strong resemblance to medieval scholasticism. Whilst the question How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? has long been used deprecate and dismiss scholasticism and angelology, the current intellectual bankruptcy suggests that angelology might well be fruitfully revisited — but otherwise.
The approach taken here is framed by recognition of the cognitive challenges to comprehension of the complexity with which models of reality purport to deal. Unfortunately these challenges are only too evident with respect to the models themselves. These notably fail to address issues of their own relative incomprehensibility and lack of popular uptake (as argued in the main paper). As a potentially appropriate discipline, mathematical theology therefore embodies to a suitably extreme degree the cognitive incommensurabilities by which current global decision-making could be said to be effectively “bedevilled”.
In an era of ever increasing populism, there is a case for starting from what many people already believe in — and not with what some would have them believe in. The focus here is therefore on the challenge of human comprehension of sets of intangibles as they may frame and influence the complexities of global governance, experienced as increasingly surreal. Potentially to be understood as memes, the question is how cultures have chosen to distinguish and order larger systems of intangible qualities that they value and in which they variously believe.
The approach therefore emphasizes the fundamental role of that which cannot be fully comprehended or effectively articulated (Global Strategic Implications of the “Unsaid”: from myth-making towards a “wisdom society”, 2003). The question is the nature of the interface with (and between) the known knowns, the known unknowns, the unknown knowns, and the unknown unknowns — given the challenges of their knowability in the light of human cognitive constraints, as discussed in the main paper (Transcending the barrier to global comprehension from attention deficiency and memory erosion, 2016) .
The concern here is not with the existence of the unknown, nor with the nature or truth of the insubstantial, but rather with the challenge to comprehension of patterns whose locus may be usefully understood as in hyperreality. In an era of virtual reality and special media effects, particular attention is given here to the use of visual facilities to enable creative discussion of any such “global” comprehension, however it may be imagined or understood. A focus is therefore given here to representation through tessellation of hyperbolic space as a potentially appropriate contrast to conventional representations in Euclidean space.
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