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Positive News    H2'ed 10/8/21

Are We Learning Disabled? No Wonder our World is in Such a Mess.

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Albert Einstein : [Many problems] cannot be solved from the level of consciousness which created [them].

Edgar Morin: "A Mental Revolution of Considerably Greater Proportions than the Copernican Revolution."

"Will the struggle for the survival of humankind be transformed into the struggle for the birth of humanity? Always and everywhere, domination and exploitation have prevailed over mutual assistance and fellowship. Until now, religions of love and ideologies of brotherhood have brought more hatred and disagreement than love and fellowship. Throughout history, madness and unconsciousness have more often than not swept away reason and consciousness. Why should folly and unconsciousness, one more time, not settle our destiny?"

Introduction

We have been thoroughly conditioned to look to the external world for the answers to our problems. Likewise, we have been taught to forgo the kind of introspection that enables us to observe our very own thought processes, which, on a global basis, have set our problematic situations in motion in the first place.

Edgar Morin, age 100, is one of the leading systems theorists alive today. He has originated and popularized the term "complex thinking," and his writing exemplifies this fresh approach to thought. Complex thinking can be thought of as a "kissing cousin" to critical thinking.

Morin presents an alternative to the traditional assumptions and methods of inquiry in our time. He argues that our very approach to solving problems is fatally flawed.

Morin's method outlines a way of approaching problem-solving that does not reduce or separate, and does justice to the complexity of life and experience. In his sociopolitical works, such as his prescient studies on the USSR and totalitarianism, the nature and concept of Europe, and his "manifesto for the 21st century" - Homeland Earth - Morin applied this method to the global crisis, which he calls this "planetary Iron Age."

Complex thought involves a meta-re-organization of knowledge that goes against the grain of our accepted habits of mind, which emphasize analysis, reductionism, either/or thinking, and the quantitative over the qualitative.

Complex thought brings in the knower, circularity, systems, uncertainty, and possibility, all of which are not part of the education of the average western student; indeed, they are all-too-often the very things they have been discouraged from exploring.

"Meta-vision" and Oversimplification

Morin has clearly articulated that one of the most crucial dilemmas facing our world today can be described as "meta-problem" - a problem that is not limited to "real-world" issues such as world hunger or poverty, but which is revealed in the way we think about and formulate solutions to these external problems.

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I work as a psychotherapist with an emphasis on transformational learning - a blend of psychoanalytic and transpersonal approaches, and am the author of Self Actualization and Unselfish Love and co-author of Families Helping Families: (more...)
 

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Blair Gelbond

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In psychological terminology psychosis is described as a "thought disorder." Although Morin does not explicitly name it as such, he is in fact saying that large portions of our world have "gone crazy." This is not so far-fetched a notion when we see the confusion, disorientation, submerged terror and fragmentation prevalent in today's world.

We need to turn within, in addition to taking considered action in the external world. Our thinking, which is our evolutionary gift, is not reflecting reality and has, as it were, turned against us.

Paul Levy writes:

"It is utterly baffling as to why human beings - the supposedly most intelligent species ever to appear on planet earth - are acting out their destructive impulses practically without restraint through a wide variety of methods"We are destroying the biospheric life-support systems of the planet, as well as attacking the"viability of continued human life on the Earth in so many different ways that it is as if we are determined to make this suicide attempt work - using multiple methods as a perverse insurance policy, lest a couple of them don't finish the job...[H]ow do we create meaning out of the destructive chaos that we are enacting upon our world in a way that will inspire positive action?"

""Our collective madness is so overwhelming - and by now so normalized - the most of us, its sufferers, have not idea how to even think about it, let alone how to deal with it."


Submitted on Saturday, Oct 9, 2021 at 1:41:23 PM

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Irene Fowler

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I think you have valid and interesting insights on fundamental issues relating to human /societal growth and advancement. Have you thought of weighing-in with institutional stake-holders such as brain trusts, leading universities or psychological/social welfare agencies?

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 at 11:43:32 AM

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Robert Adler

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Agreed. We need far more systems thinking, fuzzy logic as opposed to black/white categorization, and complex, integrative understanding and problem solving if we are avoid careering from crisis to crisis until we manage to crash the whole system.

Submitted on Saturday, Oct 9, 2021 at 8:13:55 PM

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Blair Gelbond

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Thanks, Robert,

Duane Elgin (who is trained to predict future trends), in Choosing Earth, suggests that the momentum of the old, fragmented views and institutions are so ingrained and have so much momentum that we will likely be unable to avoid massive death and suffering through the 2020's, 2030's, 2040's, and 2050's

Not a rosy picture for sure. But this may be the only way that we can grow into our collective, planetary adulthood.

Submitted on Saturday, Oct 9, 2021 at 8:51:25 PM

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In his Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future (a document Morin wrote at the request of UNESCO), the first lesson is about self-deception and combating "error and illusion."

How is it that we let ourselves literally become possessed by ideas, by the party, by our "faith," by our "cause," even by what we believe to be "science?"

The fierce independence of judgment so characteristic of creative individuals has always marked Morin's life and work. It has often made him unpopular with those who would find shelter in the warm embrace of "ingroup" conformity, those who want to tow the ideological line and build strong immune defenses around the hard nucleus of doctrine - the core that cannot be challenged.

Morin never "belonged" in the sense of relinquishing his own independence to gain the considerable favors offered by those who were "connected" and "insiders," whether in the form of publishing contracts, intellectual movements, or, ironically, notoriety in the United States.

In non-English speaking countries, ranging from Brazil to Colombia to Italy and Spain, and in France itself, Morin has been recognized as one of the most significant thinkers of our time.

Submitted on Sunday, Oct 10, 2021 at 11:42:31 AM

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Looking further into the future - if we continue on the path we are now walking - humanity might well face a planetary psychosis.

In other words, the world could "go crazy [er]," experiencing such divergent views, voices and paradigms of perception, that humanity is unable to come together in meaningful dialogue and agree on the direction of a sustainable future.

Instead of converging around a common agenda, we could drift into ever-more confusing and chaotic rhetoric and conflicting ideologies. We could collapse into the lowest common denominator, focused around security and bare survival.

This possibility would be especially likely if ecological and societal "breakdown" do not lead to "breakthrough." The odds of this outcome will increase exponentially if we continue to choose leaders who are power-hungry - and in the worst case - malignant narcissists.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 at 1:44:40 AM

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Philip Pease

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I wonder if humans are capable of "complex" thinking. I wonder if humans are limited by their ability to absorb massive amounts of information; to keep up with the rate at which things change and new insights are glimpsed by great thinkers all over the planet.

With the development of interconnected computerized systems, artificial intelligence, and shared access to massive real-world data sets, I wonder if it is these "systems" where complex thinking is to be found.

I wonder if our (human) leaders need AI systems to carry out the complex thinking needed to guide decision making.

I know the very suggestion that these systems be used to guide decision making is extremely controversial; but I also know that more and more these systems are being used by decision makers to inform them about the real world.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 at 10:01:03 AM

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Hi Philip,

Thank you for your thoughts. These are my own.

I think it is a matter of growth and the evolution of consciousness. Species have always mutated to cope with the environment. Either that, or they have gone extinct. I think the same mandate applies to us (HSs): "Grow or die!"

This is why in Radical Regeneration Baker and Harvey suggest that - if we are fortunate - through the "Great Dying" of the 2020's - 2050's we may evolve into a version of a new human species. Clearly, if we are to survive, the ego will need to die or be radically diminished. Simplistic (binary) thinking is, I believe, an aspect of the ego, as it now exists.

Complex thinking includes our whole array of emotions. This capacity makes us more human, not less. And AI at this stage - is, I believe - not capable to duplicating the human experience.

No doubt we will be tempted to move in that direction, but I would fear that, given our current human derangement, and that we would be in charge of such systems, such an approach would be courting doom.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 at 10:40:48 AM

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I see - You are thinking about the long term future that you believe could result after the "great Dying" while I am thinking about more near term future that might avoid the "great Dying".

I am thinking that our leaders/rulers need to become more rational, to learn from the best ideas to quickly get us out of the big problems we face as a global (inter-dependent) society. They need to fully understand that humanity and our environment are truly inter-dependent; that the survival of civilization requires the survival of the ecological systems on which all life forms depend. Our leaders need to understand to the best of their ability the long-term effects of the actions. They need to recognize that GDP is a variable that has both positive and negative effects and that it is just one of many variables and is not the most important when it comes to the survival of civilization.

We need leaders who understand and commit to the task they are charged with in this time of great peril to all of civilization. We need peoples who grasp the threats we face and recognize their critical role in the choosing responsible leaders. We need an education system that recognizes and takes responsibility to educate our future citizens in understanding of the whole Earth system, and the duty they have to maintain the viability of it for themselves and future generations. Individuals need to feel their connectedness/importance/responsibility/role in their society and in the global systems that tie us all together.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 at 8:47:07 AM

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Philip,

My take is that a lot would need to change for our "leaders" to reflect true wisdom.

I don't see that happening in the short-run, given the momentum of negativity, as 'well as people's passivity and hypnotic-like state.

My current sense is that Harvey and Baker and Duane Elgin have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening and what is predictable.

In other words - at this juncture - I think the "Great Dying" is inevitable, as abhorrent as that may be.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 at 1:36:04 PM

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Philip:

From Morin's Seven Complex Lessons:

Chapter I: Detecting error and illusion "The purpose of education is to transmit knowledge, and yet education is blind to the realities of human knowledge, its systems, infirmities, difficulties, and its propensity to error and illusion. Education does not bother to teach what knowledge is. Knowledge cannot be handled like a ready-made tool that can be used without studying its nature. Knowing about knowledge should figure as a primary requirement to prepare the mind to confront the constant threat of error and illusion that parasitize the human mind. It is a question of arming minds in the vital combat for lucidity."

We must introduce and develop the study of the cultural, intellectual, and cerebral properties of human knowledge, its processes and modalities, and the psychological and cultural dispositions which make us vulnerable to error and illusion.

Chapter II: Principles of pertinent knowledge

- Here is a major problem that is always misunderstood: how can we encourage a way of learning that is able to grasp general, fundamental problems and insert partial, circumscribed knowledge within them. "The predominance of fragmented learning divided up into disciplines often makes us unable to connect parts and wholes; it should be replaced by learning that can grasp subjects within their context, their complex, their totality. We should develop the natural aptitude of the human mind to place all information within a context and an entity. We should teach methods of grasping mutual relations and reciprocal influences between parts and the whole in a complex world.

Chapter III:

Teaching the human condition

Humans are physical, biological, psychological, cultural, social, historical beings. This complex unity of human nature has been so thoroughly disintegrated by education divided into disciplines, that we can no longer learn what human being means. This awareness should be restored so that every person, wherever he might be, can become aware of both his complex identity and his shared identity with all other human beings. The human condition should be an essential subject of all education. '*

This chapter suggests how we can go from current disciplines to a recognition of human unity and complexity by assembling and organizing knowledge dispersed in the natural sciences, social sciences, literature, and philosophy, to demonstrate the indissoluble connection between the unity and the diversity of all that is human.

Chapter IV:

Earth identity

The future of the human genre is now situated on a planetary scale. This is another essential reality neglected by education, that should become a major subject. Knowledge of current planetary developments that will undoubtedly accelerate in the 21st century, and recognition of our earth citizenship, will be indispensable for all of us. The history of the planetary era should be taught from its beginnings in the 16th century, when communication was established between all five continents. Without obscuring the ravages of oppression and domination in the past and present, we should show how all parts of the world have become interdependent.

The complex configuration of planetary crisis in the 20th century should be elucidated to show how all human beings now face the same life and death problems and share the same fate.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 at 12:35:26 PM

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Seven Complex Lessons for an Education for the Future - UNESCO (Con't)

Chapter V:

Confronting uncertainties

We have acquired many certainties through science but 20th century science has also revealed many areas of uncertainty.

Education should include the study of uncertainties that have emerged in the physical sciences (microphysics, thermodynamics, cosmology), the sciences of biological evolution, the historical sciences. We should teach strategic principles for dealing with chance, the unexpected and uncertain, and ways to modify these strategies in response to continuing acquisition of new information.

We should learn to navigate on a sea of uncertainties, sailing in and around islands of certainty. "The expected doesn't occur and [the gods] open the door for the unexpected." These lines, composed more than 25 centuries ago by the Greek poet Euripides, are more than ever relevant. Determinist conceptions of human history that claimed to predict our future have been forsaken, the study of major events and accidents of our century shows how unexpected they were, the course of the human adventure is unpredictable: this should incite us to prepare our minds to expect the unexpected and confront it. Every person who takes on educational responsibilities must be ready to go to the forward posts of uncertainty in our times.

Chapter VI:

Understanding each other

Understanding is both a means and an end of human communication. And yet we do not teach understanding. Our planet calls for mutual understanding in all directions. Given the importance of teaching understanding on all educational levels at all ages, the development of this quality requires a reform of mentalities. This should be the task of education for the future.

Mutual understanding among human beings, whether near or far, is henceforth a vital necessity to carry human relations past the barbarian stage of misunderstanding.

Therefore, misunderstanding must be studied in its sources, modalities, and effects. This is all the more necessary in that it bears on the causes instead of the symptoms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination. And improved understanding would form a solid base for the education for-peace to which we are attached by foundation and vocation.

Chapter VII:

Ethics for the human genre

Education should lead to an "anthropo-ethics" through recognition of the ternary quality of the human condition: a human being is an individual + society + species. In this sense, individual / species ethics requires control of society by the individual and control of the individual by society; in other words, democracy. And individual + species ethics calls for world citizenship in the 21st century.

Ethics cannot be taught by moral lessons. It must take shape in people's minds through awareness that a human being is at one and the same time an individual, a member of a society, a member of a species. Every individual carries this triple reality within himself.

All truly human development must include joint development of individual autonomy, community participation, and awareness of belonging to the human species. From this point, the two great ethical-political finalities of the new millennium take shape: establishment of a relationship of mutual control between society' and individuals by way of democracy, fulfillment of Humanity as a planetary community.

Education should not only contribute to an awareness of our Earth-Homeland, it should help this awareness find expression in the will to realize our earth citizenship.

Submitted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 at 12:45:08 PM

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b. sadie bailey

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Can this not be done with careful observation and participation in and with Nature, as a part of Nature, not separate from it?

As a species, I believe that we are not "mature" enough to use A.I. The very concept of using it to learn about the real world, rather than being in it and a part of it, boggles my mind.

Aboriginal Earth-centered cultures have known this for millennia. I think that looking to them, rathter than A.I, would be more likely to help save us and the planet, or at least to allow us to have some relief in the certainty that everything is interconnected. I guess I am more simplistic and not very intellectual - also a woman - who thinks and feels that what the feminine in ourselves as a species and also womankind, has to teach us has not had place in a patriarchal culture for at least 9 - 10,000 years and it might just hold some of the answers that we are trying so hard to understand from intellectual level when the answer is more wholistic and many faceted, mysterious, even mystical (as modern physics are finally showing!)

Wonder as part of our makeup has been lost in modern thinking and culture, and it leads to uplift and gratitude - thinking can get us there but I believe that wonder is our birthright and a more direct way to get "there." (where, as Gertrude Stein pointed out, there is no "there" there.) It's time to reclaim these things always available to us.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 at 8:05:11 AM

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I agree with you, b. sadie.

Can this not be done with careful observation and participation in and with Nature, as a part of Nature, not separate from it?

As a species, I believe that we are not "mature" enough to use A.I. The very concept of using it to learn about the real world, rather than being in it and a part of it, boggles my mind.

Gregory Bateson wrote some material related to this.

Aboriginal Earth-centered cultures have known this for millennia. I think that looking to them, rathter than A.I, would be more likely to help save us and the planet, or at least to allow us to have some relief in the certainty that everything is interconnected. I guess I am more simplistic and not very intellectual - also a woman - who thinks and feels that what the feminine in ourselves as a species and also womankind, has to teach us has not had place in a patriarchal culture for at least 9 - 10,000 years and it might just hold some of the answers that we are trying so hard to understand from intellectual level when the answer is more wholistic and many faceted, mysterious, even mystical (as modern physics are finally showing!)

Thom Hartmann elaborates on the exact points you raised in his article: "The Lost People"

Jean Houston wrote:

"The coming to the fore in our time of the genius and dimensionality of female sensibility is critical to the issue of human survival." She goes on to predict that: "linear sequential. problem-solving methodologies will yield to the knowing that comes from seeing things in whole gestalts - in constellations, rather than as discrete facts."

She invites us to notice that: "the feminine principle expresses itself as an unfolding of levels of existence, not as a conquest of facts; [our vision becomes] not systematic, but systemic."

Houston maintains that the Goddess archetype is in the process of returning to human society at a time when "the breakdown of the old story" leaves us desperate for love, security, wisdom, and meaning.

"[This period] finds us yearning for a nurturing and cultivation of our whole being, that we might be adequate stewards of the planetary culture".[Through] a sharing of culture and a depth of awareness never before possible, we are on the brink of opportunities for human and cultural development hitherto unknown."

The embracing of a "planetary perspective," she argues, is part of an entirely new modality of knowing and being than that to which we are accustomed; it is a "way of being" which calls for a willingness to "learn from the genius of other cultures."

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 at 2:20:50 PM

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Philip,

I found this in Edgar Morin's "Seven Complex Lessons on an Education for the Future":

False rationality

In his science-fiction tetralogy (Hyperion and its sequels), Dan Simmons imagines a world where technological produced a techno-centre dominated by AIs (artificial intelligences) who try to get control over human beings.

Our problem as human beings is to benefit from technology without becoming subordinate to it. We are on our way to becoming subordinate to AIs deeply implanted in our minds in the form of technocratic thinking. This thinking, which is pertinent for all that concerns artificial machines, does not understand living things and human beings to which it is applied in the belief that it is the only rational thought. In fact, false rationality - that is, abstract unidimensional rationalization - triumphs over the earth.

The twentieth century lived under the dominion of pseudo-rationality claiming to be the sole rationality, which atrophied comprehension, reflection and long-term vision. Inadequate to handle the most serious problems, this pseudo-rationality created one of the most serious problems ever to face humanity.

Which leaves us with the paradox: the twentieth century produced gigantic progress in all fields of scientific knowledge and technology. At the same time it produced a new kind of blindness to complex, fundamental, global problems, and this blindness generated countless errors and illusions, beginning with the scientists, technicians and specialists themselves.

Submitted on Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 5:00:50 PM

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Hmmm... I loved reading some about Morin's thinking and I think he is spot on in pointing out that we have lost the ability to think wholistically. In doing so, we have cut ourselves off from several ways of knowing that would inform our thinking:

1) interaction and with and observation of Nature, over our entire lives. Many do not have this opportunity since, between endless wars and other harms of mankind to the planet, we have destroyed so much of it and now being in Nature is luxury - so egregious and wrong-headed and it also cuts us off from our bodies and our hearts.

2) Intuition and "body knowing." Many of us learn through our bodies and the 'brain/gut" connection, which is not valued in this culture. The body is our akashic record for everything and I believe that through our bodies, we are also connected with our ancestors and the ones coming. That sounds "woo woo" but there is nothing "new age" about this, as cultures have been solving problems and protecting the earth in these ways for millennium.

3) OVER thinking from our heads, cut off completely from observation, heart, body, and other ways of knowing; including the mystical, dreams, and other ways to allow the answers to just come, rather than trying to force them - and also to honor that some things cannot be known with the mental constructs we seem to be stuck in today, and in every era in history where empires fall and mankind shoots itself in the foot and destroys planetary life.

4) I agree that technology, including A.I, in the context of our mass psychosis, is a terrible thing to contemplate. Most likely, we will have a great dying that we have brought onto ourselves. What I rail against is the idea of eugenics and someone else's program of bringing that on purposely, in order to "save" the planet

I don't know where this fits in Morin's work, but I did find the article fascinating and wonder if you have this written somewhere else where I can read it as one page or a PDF. Thanks.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 at 7:54:00 AM

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b, sadie,

Thank you.

I appreciate the fact that we are kindred spirits. We see the same things.

I don't (yet) have a one page on Morin (although this can be a goal for the future).

What I can recommend are these brief works: 1) his book Homeland Earth; 2) the booklet he wrote for UNESCO called Seven Complex Lessons on an Education for the Future; and 3) various Youtube clips of him speaking,'

No doubt he is a great soul (Mahatma) on our planet. He is now 100 years old. I wish he will live many more years.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021 at 12:11:07 PM

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When I brought up the idea that AI systems might be useful for carrying out "complex/critical thinking" I am thinking about the problems we have today.

First - misinformation is rampant in social media and it is from social media that people are being "informed". An AI system that can read all the posts and give feedback to the person writing the post would be useful for cutting back on misinformation (like spell-check, run fact-check).

Second - I've read articles saying that medical doctors (especially general practitioners) cannot keep up with the latest conditions and treatments. They point out that they do not have the time to do so and that the amount of information is expanding so fast that what they read recently may be out of date. An AI system would be useful for keeping up with ever expanding/changing knowledge.

Third - The "scientific method" is the best method of gaining understanding of the real world. But conducting an experiment and taking measurements is not practical for large scale systems (such as the Earths' climate or the global economy) because there are so many variables that their interactions become impossible for the human mind to work with. Researchers are developing computer programs that model real world systems. These models represent their best understanding of the real world systems and they compare the model with actual real world data to determine how well their model represents the real world. If their model does not then the researchers know their understanding of the real world needs to be improved/modified.

In short, in thinking about todays' real world problems it is important for decision makers to NOT be miss-informed, be cognizant of the latest information, and have a good understanding (of complex real world systems). It is in these three areas that I see the need for advanced computer information systems (I have chosen to use this phrase instead of the acronym AI because AI is a "loaded" term that is perceived as negative by many people).

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021 at 11:03:49 AM

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Philip,

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

I'm sure many AI programs have already been developed for complex problems.

Yet, the first problem with AI that I see has to do with the human managers and their political allegiances. Information can easily be manipulated into misinformation or disinformation to suit various political agendas. The "security agencies" are expert at this. A question is, "who controls the controllers?"

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021 at 11:49:58 AM

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(see 1st part of Hartmann essay):

But in this past 50 years:
  • The Supreme Court explicitly legalized political bribery in decisions in 1976 and 1978, doubling down with Citizens United in 2010

  • President Bush authorized extrajudicial murder, kidnapping and torture of non-citizens

  • President Obama authorized and carried out the first "legal" assassination of an American citizen on foreign soil

  • Both political parties followed Chile and the UK in a massive, 40-year experiment in Milton Friedman's neoliberalism, throwing open our markets to foreign competition that closed over 60,000 American factories and destroyed millions of good-paying union jobs

  • Repeated radical tax cuts shifted tens of trillions of dollars (in today's money) from the working class to the top 1 percent, a shift so thorough that the top 1 percent today own more wealth than the entire American middle class

  • The Electoral College loophole in our Constitution allowed two Republicans to become president even though they lost the elections of 2000 and 2016; they used that opportunity to stack our courts, particularly the Supreme Court, with hard-right cranks

  • President Reagan ordered the DOJ and FTC to stop enforcing our anti-trust laws and Clinton signed a law allowing virtually unlimited consolidation of our media so today hard-right poison spills out of three cable television networks, over 200 TV stations, 1500 radio stations in English and an estimated 200 in Spanish (the fastest-growing part of the rightwing ecosystem that's almost entirely unnoticed by the Democratic Party)

  • Reversing Congress' assertion in the 1930s that unions had legal protections, the Supreme Court and Ronald Reagan declared war on working-class people so effectively that today only about 6 percent of American workers in the non-government economy have such protections

  • A movement of armed militias denying the authority of the US government has declared war on liberal democracy so completely that they led an assault on the US Capitol and were within minutes of assassinating the Vice President and Speaker of the House

  • Our intelligence agencies launched a massive surveillance program that has caught us all up in its web, completing the toolkit that a genuine autocratic fascist would need to control the population should an intelligent one ever rise to the White House

  • The Republican Party has, almost without exception, embraced the idea that elections can and should be rigged to their advantage, passing over 30 laws in 19 states to do just that. (con't in essay...)

  • Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021 at 12:02:52 PM

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    hartmannreport.com/ p/ how- far- down- the- road- towards -fascism

    Thom Hartmann

    How Far Down the Road Towards Fascism Has America Gone? We are close to either a collapse or a renewal of democracy: which way will America go?

    While there's apparently "nothing to see here" when it comes to conservative media outlets and even, in many ways, mainstream media, it's worth asking the question: "How far down the road toward authoritarian oligarchy, or even outright fascism, have we gone?" The answer to that question informs our understanding of how close in time we may be to some sort of "final" crisis, and to how easy or difficult it will be to pull back and preserve a functioning democratic republic.

    We've already passed through several stages that it's important to note, by way of orienting ourselves in time. And we must repeatedly check in on this to keep our bearings. As a German college professor told reporter and author Milton Mayer just after World War II when Mayer essentially asked him, "How could you guys have let this happen?":

    "To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it please try to believe me unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures' that no 'patriotic German' could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head."

    Back in the 1960s, my friend (in later years) Tom Hayden helped kick off Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) with his brilliant Port Huron Statement. It was before the Vietnam War, and SDS was committing itself to racial and gender justice and a world without the omnipresent threat of nuclear war. "Our work is guided," Hayden wrote, "by the sense that we may be the last generation in the experiment with living." My own experience in and with SDS was in the late 1960s as we were becoming a leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement, under attack by the media, the FBI, and local police trying to use everything from drug laws to the draft to tear us apart.

    I remember the guy we later learned was a police informant constantly trying to get some of us to burn down the MSU ROTC Building; the crisis of the Ohio National Guard's murders at Kent State; and our growing conviction that our nation's government was growing more and more remote from the people it governed. But President Johnson, who was prosecuting the war and sentencing my friends to death via the draft, had also formally and legally declared the beginning of the end of legal apartheid in America with his Civil Rights Act; expanded the nation's social safety net with Medicare and Medicaid; and banned state governments from forbidding Black people and other minorities from voting. Little did we realize what our government would do in the next 50 years.

    As Hayden wrote, "Freedom and equality for each individual, government of, by, and for the people these American values we found good, principles by which we could live as [citizens]."

    But in this past 50 years: (con't)

    Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021 at 11:58:30 AM

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    Morin has said that we are experiencing "a crisis of the future". Central to the crisis of the future is that we don't know how to think about the future, let alone envision "better" futures. The concept of development is underdeveloped, too many utopian dreams have become dystopian nightmares, and the concept of progress has become regressive.

    Rationality

    "The twentieth century lived under the dominion of pseudo-rationality claiming to be the sole rationality" atrophied comprehension, reflection and long-term vision.

    "Inadequate to handle the most serious problems, this pseudo-rationality created one of the most serious problems ever to face humanity."

    "[This] leaves us with the paradox: the twentieth century produced gigantic progress in all fields of scientific knowledge and technology. At the same time, it produced a new kind of blindness to complex, fundamental, global problems, and this blindness generated countless errors and illusions, beginning with the scientists, technicians and specialists themselves."

    Morin argues that the major principles of pertinent learning are misunderstood. Fragmentation and compartmentalization of knowledge keeps us from grasping 'that which is woven together'.

    Submitted on Thursday, Oct 14, 2021 at 12:31:25 AM

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    My number 1 issue is climate change. I worked at NASA within an Earth Science division. I worked with scientists who were leading the research in understanding Earths' climate. I attended conferences where the latest science were discussed along with plans for projects to gain better understanding. My position in all this was to develop the computer systems for the storing the data sets, analyzing it, and visualizing the changing climate effects over time and space. I learned first hand what the science was finding and how alarmed the scientists were about the findings. I was also aware that the scientists were very concerned that their findings were not resulting in political action to deal with the situation that they were alerting congress about.

    When I retired I followed the science regarding the latest studies (they showed the effects of climate change were not only continuing but were happening faster that earlier studies has predicted). My action was to share this information on social media sites because I thought the reason that so little action to deal with the problem was people not understanding the situation and so were not alarmed about the long time consequences that would occur if we did not keep global warming below 1.5 - 2.0 degrees C. What I learned is that oil, coal, and gas companies were bribing senators and congress to NOT take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. I realized their desire for ever greater wealth (greed) make them willing to destroy civilization. Today around 80% of the people are aware of the situation and favor taking action and progressive Democrats are pushing legislation to deal with the situation. Will action be taken? I don't know. What I do know is the problem is not a lack of understanding; it is greed. Greed is a psychological condition that can cause great harm to humanity.

    Submitted on Thursday, Oct 14, 2021 at 11:52:10 AM

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    Thanks Philip,

    Passivity, a sense of powerlessness in the population at large, the power of the institutions, as well as an inability to think about future and a simple feeling of being overwhelmed are also problems.

    We need to be able to think about the planet as a whole (planetary consciousness) is a big issue.

    We also need to consider the possibility that, as many believe) the climate change issue is being manipulated.

    In the final analysis, it comes down to our egocentricity.

    Submitted on Thursday, Oct 14, 2021 at 1:37:10 PM

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    Reply to Philip Pease:   New Content

    • Morin has opened the way to real thinking about human nature, not reducing it to one of its components, bio-physico-chemical, social, psychological, religious, or political.

    • What makes Morin unique amongst complexity theorists is the way in which he turns a critical eye on complexity theory itself, resisting a return to determinism, reduction and disjunction in approaches to complexity.

    He demonstrates the fundamental difference between what is complex and what is just complicated. The real world is complex, meaning that antagonism and complementarity go hand in hand.

    He argues that history has not reached a stagnant end, nor is it triumphantly marching towards the radiant future. As is always the case, it is being catapulted into an unknown adventure.

    Submitted on Thursday, Oct 14, 2021 at 10:12:13 PM

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    "Edgar Morin, one of the leading figures in European thought, challenges us to think differently about our past, our present, and our future.

    "Morin points to the development of a planetary culture that is not homogenizing or fragmented, and the need to recognize complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity as potential sources of creativity, learning, and transformation. Given the uncertainty of our journey,

    "Morin presents 'complex thought' as a way to overcome the 'crisis of the future,' and stresses the importance of solidarity.

    What people are saying -

    LibraryThing Review User Review - johnverdon - LibraryThing

    Morin is a must read - this is filled with insight.

    Submitted on Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 4:29:47 PM

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    The concept of "Homeland Earth" was developed by the French philosopher Edgar Morin, who celebrates his 100th birthday on 8 July 2021, in his book Terre Patrie (1993). With this campaign, we are also honoring the life's work of this great thinker on the future of humanity.

    "A Campaign to Promote Planetary Awareness"

    At the latest, the globalization push of the last decades has connected all people on all continents and of all nations in a complex way and brought them into an indissoluble relationship with each other.

    "Thus, whether we like it or not, an earthly community of destiny has come into being. This is made apparent by the global poly-crisis that affects us all, albeit in different ways: drastic and man-made climate change, the extinction of species triggered by our economic and lifestyle practices, the threat of self-extinction from a nuclear strike, nationalistically motivated wars or the global Covid-19 pandemic.

    "These are all problems that can only be solved together, and on a planetary scale: Homeland Earth. But many people and nations lack awareness of this earthly community of destiny. Especially in times of crisis, every nation retreats into itself and seeks its salvation in national solo efforts. What we need, on the other hand, is a worldwide public opinion that represents a planetary awareness and is strong enough to influence the policies of states and international bodies in this direction.

    "This sense of belonging to our Homeland Earth is not in contradiction to local and national particularities and affiliations. However, we must also develop the awareness that we are citizens of Homeland Earth and act accordingly. This is the idea of our international campaign "Homeland Earth".

    For Planetary Thinking and Feeling, Planning and Acting

    "With this appeal, the ASPR aims to bring together academics and activists working on different problematic issues of the current polycrisis to join forces, as well as to raise public awareness that while we as humanity face unprecedented challenges, it is also possible to avert impending catastrophes and achieve a new quality of human life through prudent and decisive action. The campaign wants to contribute to the strengthening of a planetary awareness and is in solidarity with countless other initiatives around the world that advocate for similar goals and seeks to partner with them.

    "In this 21st century, we are facing unprecedented dangers that threaten to call into question the very existence of humanity itself. The worldwide pandemic Covid-19, which triggered the "first economic crisis of the Anthropocene" (Adam Tooze), is another element of a poly-crisis. The drastic and man-made climate change, the extinction of species triggered by our economic and lifestyle systems, the danger of self-extinction through a nuclear strike and nationalistically motivated wars make the seriousness of the situation evident. However, opposing forces have long since emerged worldwide, in science, culture, politics and civil society, which are with their means not only pointing out the dangers, but also looking for ways out and testing alternatives. This is a challenge, and the size of these forces can also help the actors to grow.

    "In the spirit of this work on alternatives the "Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution" (ASPR) organizes the campaign "Homeland Earth / Terre Patrie". The title is inspired by the book with the same name by the great French thinker Edgar Morin, who will celebrate his 100th birthday in 2021, and to whom we owe many of these insights. Above all it is about
    - The acceptance of the complexity of reality, which must be grasped by complex thinking;
    - The willingness to engage with others in dialogue and criticism at the same time;
    - The insistence on a new humanism that strives to get rid of its anthropocentric prejudices."

    Submitted on Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 12:42:45 PM

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    Together for a "Great Transformation"

    "The campaign aims to bring together academics and activists working on different issues of the current poly-crisis to join forces and to raise public awareness that while we as humanity face unprecedented challenges, it is also possible to avert impending disasters and achieve a new quality of human life through prudent and decisive action. The campaign wants to contribute to strengthening a planetary consciousness and stands in solidarity with and seeks to ally itself with countless other initiatives around the world that are working towards similar goals.

    "Homeland Earth / Terre Patrie" means
    - Whether we like it or not, humanity in its endangered state today as a whole forms a "terrestrial community of destiny".
    - We must replace our present way of life and production with a system that no longer fights the entire ecosystem of the planet, but rather fits into it in a meaningful way. We must maintain the biosphere in a functional state to safeguard our own life.
    - To do this, we need a new type of political organisation of world society, whatever its nature, based on democracy, social justice and peace.
    - All this can only succeed in an agonistic and non-violent confrontation with those forces that want to maintain the status quo at all costs.

    "Pathetically speaking: What is on the horizon is nothing less than a new leap in human development:

    "It is no longer time to merely acknowledge the ecological disasters. Nor to indulge in the idea that the development of technologies alone could remedy the situation, let alone remedy the major misguided developments that threaten to seriously destroy the planet and the biosphere. The saving leap in development can only be achieved through a major upheaval in our relations with mankind, other living creatures and nature. What is needed is an ecological awareness of solidarity that replaces the culture of competition and aggression that currently dominates global relations" (MORIN 1989).

    "This requires an intellectual three-step approach - knowledge, vision, action.

    The recognition of the crisis

    "We must have the courage to fully grasp the crisis of "System Earth", to accept the magnitude of the threats, and to admit that the problems are acute.
    We need the intellectual ability and the psychological strength to accept and deal with the complexity of the situation.


    We must overcome any narrow local patriotic, nationalistic, racist, sexist thinking and find our way to a planetary thinking, as only this is appropriate for our world today. We must extend the emotional bond we feel for our region or country to planet Earth as our home - Terre Patrie.

    The power of vision

    "Being aware of our situation, in order not to surrender, we can rely on human imagination, creative power and efficiency. From the acceptance of the fact that no higher being can save us, just as little as a belief in the locomotive of progress or any salvific ideology, the willingness and courage can arise to finally take the adventure of our life as human beings into our own hands.

    "The dynamics of our present time teach us that the incarnation of mankind does not have to be completed. So far we use only a small part of our brain potential, we have the knowledge and the strategies to reshape our relationship with nature, we have all the necessary knowledge to make social relations peaceful and amicable and to transform conflicts without violence.

    "We have the technical means to create a sustainable, prosperous, meaningful life for all people on our planet instead of destroying the foundations of our life, and to master the great challenges we face as a "humanity united in conflict". (con't)

    Submitted on Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 12:49:47 PM

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    (con't)

    The ways of acting

    "Hundreds of millions of people worldwide long for a life other than an existence based on exploitation of nature and fellow human beings, fierce competition and senseless accumulation of wealth on the one hand and scandalous poverty and bitter misery on the other.

    "Many millions are searching for alternatives in their own field and with the means at their disposal and implement them as far as they can. Hundreds of thousands are formulating ideas for a 'Great Transformation' to overcome this 'iron age' of human history, thus struggling to ensure that the human race does not perish prematurely, but instead creates a leap in development which is possible but by no means self-evident, and which could be called the 'civilization of civilization.

    "The existential struggles for the future of our 'homeland earth', which are being fought today, must be given a common direction while preserving their plurality and diversity, to give them strength and assertiveness.

    'New social inventions need to be made in order to create democratic control mechanisms from the local to the global level, which will counter the threat of climate change, species extinction and destruction of the necessary diversity of life, as well as the danger of self-extinction through nuclear weapons, hunger and war. It is necessary to overcome capitalism, create a new culture of peace and appropriate political structures to enable a meaningful, sustainable and secure life.

    ***

    The Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR) was founded in 1982 by Dr Gerald Mader and other like-minded people. We are located at Schlaining Castle in Southern Burgenland, with a second office in Vienna, the nation's capital. Our work has earned us the status of UN "Peace Messenger" and a UNESCO 'Prize for Peace Education'.

    Conflict Transformation

    Support for mediation and dialogue using a variety of methods, at all levels of society and during all phases of conflict

    "For more than 30 years, the ASPR has been a meeting place where peace negotiations are organised and accompanied. However, it is also active in mediating between conflict parties in the crisis regions themselves. A specific approach has been developed for this purpose, which also makes it possible to work alone with each conflict party, thus preparing them for genuine negotiations with the other conflict parties.

    "To increase its effectiveness in this field, the ASPR has a strategic partnership with the Herbert C. Kelman Institute for Interactive Conflict Transformation (HKI).

    The ASPR's working method is characterised by an integrative approach to conflict transformation. This is defined by a focus on the interdependence of conflict transformation, peacebuilding, reconciliation processes and empowerment for social transformation and intercultural dialogue.

    The approach combines interdisciplinary research findings from peace and conflict studies, critical systems theory, critical realism, cultural studies, political psychology and group psychology, among others.

    The aim of the efforts is to create a safe space through innovative and interactive methods. The ASPR does not only mediate between conflicting parties, but also tries to integrate the perspectives of potential veto groups as an essential part of the process. "Insider mediators" are supported in preparing conflict actors for constructive talks with opponents, and also accompany dialogue processes within a conflict party. The approach of shared basic human needs is used to develop common ideas of justice and to reflect on existing power asymmetries.

    ASPR's expertise in conflict transformation covers following regions: Western Balkans, Central Asia, Caucasus, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Middle East (especially Israel/Palestine and Iraq), Sudan, Tunisia, and the African Great Lakes Region.


    Submitted on Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 1:11:29 PM

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    Edgar Morin interview:

    At first, a small movement, ridiculed and object of contempt, but which triumphs in difficult conditions because it responds to certain aspirations. And today there are such aspirations: in the world there are thousands of creative initiatives -organic food, cleaning polluted rivers, rural revival, etc.- Thousands of aspirations that show we want another world, another life. My idea is that you first need to know such aspirations, reconnect them, we must be aware that at any given moment many reforms are initiated. We must restructure everything.

    Not only is it the problem of inequality, the problem of making administration and government less bureaucratic, hierarchy needs to be transformed, solidarity to be re-found" We need to reform food, agriculture, economics, medicine.

    I have counted up to 35 issues that need reforming. And my idea is that if we become aware that reforms are inter-solidarity and that at a given moment must be combined in multiple paths that cross each other, at that time the old way could fall into decline and the new path would lead to metamorphosis.

    Recently you said that you were abandoning the notion of revolution in favor of metamorphosis.

    The central idea is that when a system fails to address the problems of life it is doomed to lose ground or to decay, unless it is able to get out of the rut, is able to make a metasystem. However, the Earth's system is unable to address these vital issues. The potential suicide posed by nuclear weapons, the deadly potential of biospheric degradation, economy totally out of control, the problem of traditional civilizations disintegrating into modernization, with this very "modernization" in crisis.

    Well, since the Earth is unable to do so, it is doomed to ruin, to catastrophe, to decay or else to metamorphosis. And this idea can reconcile things that until now were irreconcilable.

    Because metamorphosis is the transformation: a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, but there must be certain continuity for the caterpillar to become a butterfly. Following the path of reform we will achieve transformation and metamorphosis will replace the word revolution, which is now tainted. It is a curious path because complex knowledge led me to complex thinking; complex thinking led me to reform thought and therefore education. But at the same time politics must be reformed and one must think within the global framework.

    Submitted on Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 12:49:08 AM

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    We are now planetary citizens. If we are to survive, both our thought-processes and our education need to transform.

    These are the chapters titles in Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future:

    Detecting error and illusion,

    Principles of pertinent knowledge,

    Teaching the Human Condition,

    Earth identity,

    Confronting uncertainites,

    Understanding each other,

    and Ethics for the human genre.

    Morin notes:

    "Fragmented, compartmentalized, mechanized, disjunctive, reductionist intelligence breaks the 'world-complex' into disjointed fragments, fractures problems, separates what is connected, makes the multidimensional unidimensional. This intelligence is nearsighted and often goes blind. Possibilities of comprehension and reflection are nipped in the bud, the chances of corrective judgement or a long-term view are drastically reduced."

    Submitted on Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 4:53:47 PM

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    We are now planetary citizens. If we are to survive, both our thought-processes and our education need to transform.

    These are the chapters titles in Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future:

    Detecting error and illusion,

    Principles of pertinent knowledge,

    Teaching the Human Condition,

    Earth identity,

    Confronting uncertainites,

    Understanding each other,

    and Ethics for the human genre.

    Morin notes:

    "Fragmented, compartmentalized, mechanized, disjunctive, reductionist intelligence breaks the 'world-complex' into disjointed fragments, fractures problems, separates what is connected, makes the multidimensional unidimensional. This intelligence is nearsighted and often goes blind. Possibilities of comprehension and reflection are nipped in the bud, the chances of corrective judgement or a long-term view are drastically reduced."

    Submitted on Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 4:55:12 PM

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    Blair Gelbond

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    When the Germans invaded France in 1940, Morin assisted refugees and joined the French Resistance.[20] As a member of the French Resistance he adopted the pseudonym Morin, which he continues to use. He joined the French Communist Party in 1941.

    In 1946, he returned to Paris and gave up his military career to pursue his activities with the Communist Party. Due to his critical posture, his relationship with the party gradually deteriorated until he was expelled in 1951 after he published an article in L'Observateur politique, e'conomique et litte'raire. In the same year, he was admitted to the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS).

    Morin founded and directed the magazine Arguments [fr] (1954-1962). In 1959 his book Autocritique was published. The book was a sustained reflection on his adherence to, and subsequent exit from, the Communist Party, focusing on the dangers of ideology and self-deception.

    **

    In 1969, Morin spent a year at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Jonas Salk invited him under the recommendation of Jacques Monod and John Hunt, with the sole imposed condition of learning. It was there, in this "breeding ground for Nobel Prizes" that he familiarized himself with systems theory.

    He read Henri Laborit, James Watson, Ste'phane Lupasco, Bronowski, and was introduced to the thought of Gregory Bateson and the "new problematic in ecology".

    In 1983 he published De la nature de l'URSS, which deepened his analysis of Soviet communism and anticipated the perestroika of Mikhail Gorbachev. In 2002 Morin participated in the creation of the International Ethical, Scientific and Political Collegium. Also that year, he made a trip to Iran with Dariush Shayegan...

    In addition to being the UNESCO Chair of Complex Thought, Morin is known as a founder of transdisciplinarity and holds honorary doctorates in a variety of social science fields from 21 universities (Messina, Geneva, Milan, Bergamo, Thessaloniki, La Paz, Odense, Perugia, Cosenza, Palermo, Nuevo León, Universite' Laval à Que'bec, Brussels, Barcelona, Guadalajara, Valencia, Vera Cruz, Santiago, the Catholic University of Porto Alegre, the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, and Candido Mendes University (Rio de Janeiro)).[25] The University of Messina in Sicily, Ricardo Palma University in Lima, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the French National Research Center in Paris, have established research centers based on his transdisciplinary methods and philosophy.

    In addition, the Multiversidad Mundo Real Edgar Morin, a university based on his work, was established in Mexico. Morin did not embrace the French postmodern or poststructuralist movements, instead pursuing his own research agenda. As a result, US academics did not transport his theories into disciplinary discourses in same fashion as they did Foucault's and Derrida's.

    According to Alfonso Montuori in "Edgar Morin: A partial introduction" "The 6 volume Method is perhaps Morin's culminating work, a remarkable and seemingly inexhaustible treasure trove of insights, reflection, and a real manual for those who are interested in broadening the nature of human inquiry.

    Drawing on cybernetics, information theory, systems theory, but also integrating all the work he has done before, from the work on imagination in his research on movies to his profound reflections on death, Method integrates Morin's journey and provides the reader with an alternative to the traditional assumptions and method of inquiry of our time."

    Morin was elevated to the dignity of Knight Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, in the Honours List of Bastille Day 2021 by French President Macron.

    Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021 at 12:55:22 PM

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    Principles of Pertinent Knowledge

    - from: Seven Complex Lessons in an Education for the Future

    Edgar Morin

    "The twentieth century lived under the dominion of pseudo-rationality claiming to be the sole rationality, which atrophied comprehension, reflection and long-term vision. Inadequate to handle the most serious problems, this pseudo-rationality created one of the most serious problems ever to face humanity.

    "Which leaves us with the paradox: the twentieth century produced gigantic progress in all fields of scientific knowledge and technology. At the same time it produced a new kind of blindness to complex, fundamental, global problems, and this blindness generated countless errors and illusions, beginning with the scientists, technicians and specialists themselves. Why?

    "Because the major principles of pertinent learning are misunderstood. Fragmentation and compartmentalization of knowledge keeps us from grasping 'that which is woven together'. Shouldn't the present century liberate itself from the control of mutilated, mutilating rationality so that the human mind can finally control it?

    "It means understanding disjunctive, reductive thought by exercising thought that distinguishes and connects. It does not mean giving up knowledge of the parts for knowledge of the whole, or giving up analysis for synthesis, it means conjugating them. This is the challenge of complexity which ineluctably confronts us as our planetary era advances and evolves."

    Submitted on Sunday, Oct 24, 2021 at 1:51:29 PM

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