coming back to life
What I am trying to convey to you here is more mysterious; it is entwined in the very roots of being, in the implacable source of sensations. —Cezanne
It is my intention that as you review the following pages, you will have a better idea of why I have chosen this title (and rather complex subtitle) for my re-search, or how it has chosen me. I will explain a few things here, but leave the juicy stuff for you to discover and/or deepen along the way.
First a quick note on the convention I am using of a hyphen to: either break up a word to emphasize some or several parts of that word that may reveal a deeper meaning; or, to join words that in a relational way, to insist on their indissoluble association. For example, I refer herein to my scholarly inquiry as re-search, emphasizing both the regenerative and recursive aspects of my approach (re), as well as, the deeper search, the longing to know more intimately my world and my place within it.
Coming Back to Life describes my motivation with the re-search, specifically, to awaken our capacity re-integrate our selves, our social systems, our societies and cultures with the entirety of web of Life, in a Life-sustaining way.
On that note, we embark on a journey..hang tight, here we go! Enjoy!!
context & concepts
We are in the midst of an unprecedented epoch in the Earth’s history, where Human activity is the dominant influence on the planet.
Due explicitly to the extensive extractive and disruptive character of of Human activity, we are experiencing global eco-social meta-crises of existential proportions.
The complexity of meta-crises we face correlates directly with the unravelling of the exquisite and extraordinary complexity inherent in every strand of the web of Life.
We are now realizing, that the violent unravelling of Earth’s complexity has everything to do with how we see, know, relate to and, consequently, act on our world.
Western culture, and classical science in particular, suffers from Edgar Morin calls a Paradigm of Simplification. This signifies that it is blind to the extraordinary complexity, in the way it pretends to know the world.
Simplification works two ways: 1) by isolating a phenomenal thing being considered both from its natural context and from the person studying it, and their context, which governs how and what they choose to see; and, 2) by reducing downward, focusing solely on the parts that make up a given whole, or reducing upward to a generalized totality, either way, ignoring the complex interrelations that constitute any phenomena.
The Paradigm of Simplification is rooted in what Morin calls a Pathology of Separation–a long seated belief that Humans, because we are so radically autonomous, that we can somehow hold ourselves separate from the web of Life–be exempt from its dependence. This pathology persists, even though every insight into complexity tells us otherwise.
Indeed this pathology has enabled a civilization-wide justification for our current dominant and dominating, eco- and self-destructive mode of being Human on the planet.
A premise of this re-search is that our knowledge of the workings of the world, and how we generate and regenerate that knowledge, has everything to do with how we organize Human activity as a species and the kind of world we produce.
Reductive and disjointed organization of knowledge will produce (is producing) a flat, impoverished world deprived of relation of dimensions. A richly complex and regenerative knowledge, may indeed produce a world within which all beings, including Humans, can participate and thrive in.
We are beginning to discover that we live in a Universe-of-complexity, where the interrelatedness of phenomena run in every direction, it is impossible to tease out even the simplest causality and anything can seem true in it’s proper context.
In this new version of Universe, uncertainty and ambiguity rule! It is in the same moment, a unified whole and extraordinary diverse entanglements of beings at every scale.
This is not just in a Universe that happens to be complex, or where complexity happens; It is complexity Universing and Universe complexifying. Henceforth, distinguishable but inseparable, terms, a uniduality conjoined with hyphens. So, as we delve into grasping our Universe-of-complexity, we can strive to be rigorous about preserving this and all complex relations that emerge.
Edgar Morin distinguishes between generalized and restricted complexity.
Restricted complexity has the capacity to explain closed systems, constituted by interaction of simple agents, that exhibit localized micro-emergences, that constitutes own field within sciences.
Generalized complexity is capable of studying complex organizations with emergent properties of complex interactions, simultaneously opening and closing, that address themselves as real.
Generalized complexity concerns all fields, therefore, encompassing restricted complexity. And, most notably, relates to our knowledge as human beings.
Morin calls for paradigm shift that opens the possibility to know our Universe-of-complexity in a whole new way, where reduction transforms into relation of whole-parts; disjunction becomes distinction-in-relation;
determinism emerges as order-disorder-organization.
In a Universe-of-complexity, complex organization
is what giving constancy, calling us to examine both the nature of organization, and, how we organize
knowledge of nature.
Here every successive emergence is treated as an indeducible, irreducible whole, wherein the subject is reunited with object being considered, and, the subject together with their anthropo-social context, and approach, constitute the larger phenomenon being studied.
What is science for, in a universe-of-complexity? I contend that complexified science must master the art of describing phenomena fully, of making complex phenomena visible in all its interrelated messiness, and of
enabling our capacities for radical participation in it.
A complexified science is capable of navigating a pluriverse where everything that has existence is simultaneously true. Such a science need not dissect or unravel what is woven together (the meaning of complexus, Latin) so elegantly in order to understand this fabric of multidimensional reality, where contextualization and perspective are key. The notion of validation in a Universe-of-complexity, has everything to do with locating and localizing phenomena within their organizational context, thereby,
dimensionalizing them, allowing our observation of them from as many angles as possible; including our observation of ourselves as we observe.
Morin dispels the illusion that complexity solely philosophical; what is required of complexified sciences, which can be borrowed from philosophy, is the capacity for epistemological self-reflection, as of yet non-existent in any of the sciences.
As I prepare daily to engage in my re-search, I remind myself that I am standing on and working in fertile ground. Ground that has itself been worked continuously for thousands of years, for as long as thinkers have been asking some of the biggest questions possible in order to generate insights into the workings of our world and our place within it. This heavily composted soil, rich in false starts and dead-ends, insufficient theories, oversimplifications, errors, misunderstandings, immense blind “spots”, hidden paradigms, feeds me, motivates me, generates will, shapes my aspirations for my work here.
My ground in this endeavor is embodied complexity. It recognizes that as a complex organization, I am, we all are the very structure and texture of existence. It recognizes that I inhabit a body endowed with the ability to detect, compute, cognize, express subtleties as I participate within a Universe-of-complexity. This ground also recognizes that I have open access to a noosphere of insight, that I participate actively in ecologies of mind with world around me, and that my life is ripe with lived experience to be harvested and made sense of.
My ground builds from my own aliveness, from rigorous observation of myself and incessant observation of what brings me greater aliveness. In this endeavor, I generate aliveness by engaging with radically insightful thinkers/works in the search for patterns that connect
me to everything else.
My aspirations with my re-search, is to articulate and legitimize a mode of thinking and an approach to inquiry, that is proper to Universe-of-complexity, proper to complex organization of Life, on it’s own terms.
An approach that is capable of complexifying knowledge, of linking together concepts to generate maps of reality that enable us to navigate the Universe-of-complexity we inhabit. Inquiry capable of holding epistemology (what we know) and ontology (what is), in a rapid cycling, recursively looping, generative relation and generative of regenerative knowledges.
Indeed, this inquiry intends to generate a theory of regenerative knowledges.
Humanity is being called to a mode of presence on the planet, where Earth’s wellbeing becomes the dominant influence on Human flourishing.
This will require of us a radically re-conception of how to participate with a Universe-of-complexity, with Life, as it really is!
But, how is it really? What capabilities are required of us to perceive it as it really is?
I didn’t invent the term, Great Warming, but as soon as I heard it (who knows where), adopted it as my own…
The term resonates with me because of dual nature, at once signifying global climate catastrophe that we are now facing as existential threat to all Life, and the monumental shift Humanity must undertake in our inner climate, in order to effect a Great Warming of Human relations! An opening of hearts towards each other, to all living beings, the entire community of Life, and most especially to ourselves, our fullest selves.
Indeed, in order to become fully Human, we must embrace all that we are, all of our distinct natures: physical, biological, animal, mammal, primate, hominid. Our Human form, the latest in a long lineage of beings with form, with whom we share all too much in common with in this vast Universe-of-complexity.
With this re-search my aim is to firmly establish a mode inquiry that qualifies as fully Human, one built on an organization of knowledge that articulates in itself, the long lineage of natures we are inheritors of as Humans, that we literally embody.
Fully Human inquiry is one that is capable of sensing and sense-making, able to detect the subtle qualities and interrelations that constitute complex, interconnected phenomenon. An inquiry adept at embracing and navigate uncertainty, capable of recognizing patterns across varying contexts and disciplines, and, most critically, one capable of recognizes its own limits and exercising humility in the face of unfathomable mysteries that lie hidden within this Universe-of-complexity.
This is the essential question we will address with this re-search is:
What does it mean to be fully Human, in a Universe-of-complexity?
As we will see, the purpose for these really big queries are of an entirely different genre than your average research question. They are meant to be unanswerable, remain unanswered… they are also meant to guide us in our striving towards a much higher order potential.
Edgar Morin reminds us, that we are quite young as a species. We have only just now reached the end of a very long period of hominization. Now, we begin the more arduous path of Humanization.