Cognitive Embodiment of Nature “Re-cognized” Systemically


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens – TRANSCEND Media Service

Radical Engagement with an Increasingly Surreal Reality

Part III of Collapse and Renaissance of Civilization: Dilemma of Communication and Engagement Understood Otherwise


This is a development of the concluding argument of the previous part of this exploration (Post-Apocalyptic Renaissance of Global Civilization: engaging with otherness otherwise? 2018). There it was indicated that a possibility for the future depended on whether individuals and groups can recognize more consciously the patterns by which their particular behaviour is characterized — in the environment in general, and in nature in particular. This is necessarily a challenge for a civilization variously described as unconscious (John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization, 1995). More specifically this implied understanding how they might “shapeshift” between several such patterns, especially over the course of a life, as a consequence of education and experience.

This approach contrasts with that of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [summary; headline statements]. Prepared by the world’s leading climate scientists, it warns that only a dozen years remain for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people (We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN, The Guardian, 8 October 2018; Unprecedented changes in all aspects of society needed to meet global warming target: IPCC report, The Australian, 8 October 2018).

With its implication that global society must unquestionably heed that warning, the IPCC report omits any consideration of the psychosocial factors which may detract from its meriting the attention climate scientists consider appropriate, as discussed separately (Recognizing the Psychosocial Boundaries of Remedial Action: constraints on ensuring a safe operating space for humanity, 2009).

Arguably a more urgent question is whether there is any collective recognition of how society responds to dramatic warnings. The Limits to Growth report to the Club of Rome in 1972 offers but one example, recently revisited in another report to the Club (Come On! Capitalism, Short-termism, Population and the Destruction of the Planet, 2018) as reviewed separately (Exhortation to We the Peoples from the Club of Rome, 2018). That of The Royal Society (People and the Planet, 2012) offers another, as separately reviewed (Scientific Gerrymandering of Boundaries of Overpopulation Debate, 2012).

Who attends to such arguments and why are they so lacking in impact on the “climate of opinion” and on effective global strategy?

What indeed do climate scientists know about the social processed for which they are now calling for “rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects”? How realistic is the insight that limiting global warming to 1.5C compared to 2C could “go hand-in-hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society” — in the light of the decades-long quest for the latter? Lacking the slightest understanding of the dynamics of such systems, could the relevance of the insights of “climate science” have been enhanced by broadening the focus to include the social systems they seek so radically to change, as argued separately (Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005)? Ironically will it prove to be the case that climate crises ar themselves the key another mode of thinking about a remedial response (Systemic Crises as Keys to Systemic Remedies, 2008)?

How do people transform between information patterns, especially when they “reinvent themselves” as is seemingly now required by climate scientists? How is the binary framing of otherness to be “combatted” as a kind of enemy — without succumbing to the questionable consequences of that framing (Elaborating a Declaration on Combating Anti-otherness, 2018; Engaging an Opposing Ideology via Martial Arts Philosophy, 2016)? Is climate change to be “combatted”?

The argument here is that, rather than depending on authorities anxious to ensure that their particular worldview is faithfully reproduced in any Renaissance (however ineffectually), individuals may in effect be free to adopt and test alternative modalities at will. The corresponding challenge for authorities is whether they can prove that their conventional recommendations are of more meaningful consequence to individuals — who increasingly perceive their effectiveness to be questionable.

The question here is how better to frame this possibility in order to facilitate and enable such exploration. This has been variously approached in previous arguments (My Reflecting Mirror World: making my World Summit on Sustainable Development worthwhile, 2002; En-minding the Extended Body: enactive engagement in conceptual shapeshifting and deep ecology, 2003; En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself: eliciting the potential of globalization through cognitive radicalization, 2011; Existential Embodiment of Externalities: radical cognitive engagement with environmental categories and disciplines, 2009).

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