Ecological Epistemology: Fundamentals <ul><li>For this segment   </li></ul><ul><li>Two Works will be reviewed </li></ul><u...
Mind and Nature: Chapter Two <ul><ul><ul><li>In this chapter Bateson  lists  some “basic ideas… or elementary propositions...
1. Science Never Proves Anything <ul><li>Science can improve hypotheses and disprove them but it is never able to claim fi...
2. The Map is not the territory, and the Name is Not the Thing Named <ul><ul><li>There are “multiple versions of the world...
3. There is No Objective Experience <ul><li>“All experience is subjective… our brains make the  images  (economic and effi...
4. The Processes of Image Formation are Unconscious <ul><li>The processes of perception are inaccessible; only the product...
5. The division of the perceived universe into parts and wholes is convenient and may be necessary, but no necessity deter...
6. Divergent Sequences Are Unpredictable 7.Convergent Sequences Are Predictable <ul><li>How the particular and individual ...
8. Nothing will come of Nothing <ul><li>“No new order or pattern can be created without information” </li></ul><ul><ul><li...
9. Number is Different From Quantity <ul><li>Number is the product of counting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is Digital: Exact,...
10. Quantity does not  Determine Pattern <ul><li>“It is impossible, in principle, to explain any pattern by invoking a sin...
11. There are no Monotone “Values” in Biology <ul><li>“A monotone value is one that either only increases or only decrease...
12. Sometimes Small  Is Beautiful <ul><li>Size is only beneficial within the level of tolerance for a system </li></ul><ul...
13. Logic is a Poor Model of Cause and Effect <ul><li>When the sequences of cause and effect become circular or more compl...
14. Causality does not Work Backward <ul><li>A change in any part of the system “can be regarded a cause for change at a  ...
15. Language Commonly Stresses Only one side of any Interaction <ul><li>No “thing” possesses any characteristics or qualit...
16. “Stability” and “Change” Describe parts of our Descriptions <ul><li>Stability is maintained in the living world of the...
The Global Semiosphere <ul><li>By Jesper Hoffmeyer </li></ul><ul><li>Paper presented at the 5th IASS congress in Berkeley,...
From Biosphere to Semiosphere <ul><li>The fundamental semiotic (communication through signs) character of animate nature i...
Semiotic Survival <ul><li>The survival of organisms depends on effective communication throughout the ecological space tha...
Umwelt:  (environment&quot; or &quot;surrounding world” in German) <ul><li>Biologist Jakob von Uexk ü ll </li></ul><ul><li...
Biology and Semiotics <ul><li>“ Due to the Cartesian [reductionist epistemology] heritage… of modern science, biology has ...
Semiotic Web <ul><li>Organism gradually developed a semiotic network throughout the surface (and immediate subsurface of t...
The Semiosphere <ul><li>“ Like the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, or the biosphere. It penetrates these spheres and consists...
Semiosphere Preeminent Over Biosphere  <ul><li>Biosphere is a reductionist category that is not elegant enough to explain ...
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Ecological Epistemology Fundamentals 2 19 08

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livingwebconsulting.com, Richard Currie Smith Ph.D. U of MN Eco-Anthropology Course

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Ecological Epistemology Fundamentals 2 19 08

  1. 1. Ecological Epistemology: Fundamentals <ul><li>For this segment </li></ul><ul><li>Two Works will be reviewed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity by Gregory Bateson, Chapter Two </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Global Semiosphere , by Jesper Hoffmeyer </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Mind and Nature: Chapter Two <ul><ul><ul><li>In this chapter Bateson lists some “basic ideas… or elementary propositions” concerning the living world and some “tools of thought” for its effective scientific study </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Every Schoolboy Knows </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. 1. Science Never Proves Anything <ul><li>Science can improve hypotheses and disprove them but it is never able to claim final knowledge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Science probes, based on prevailing presuppositions, it does not prove </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. 2. The Map is not the territory, and the Name is Not the Thing Named <ul><ul><li>There are “multiple versions of the world” derived from diverse cultures & subcultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A Cultural Map is a cognitive framework through which a cultural group navigates interaction with the environment, it is not the actual “territory” itself </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A Name is a classification given to a “thing” within the cultural map of a group, it is not the actual thing itself it is instead a “coded” representation. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. 3. There is No Objective Experience <ul><li>“All experience is subjective… our brains make the images (economic and efficient bundles of information) that we think we ‘perceive.’” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience is always mediated by sense organs, neural pathways, and the cultural context that gives the experience meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No coconuts or pigs in the brain only images, and no “correct or real” description by any culture </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 4. The Processes of Image Formation are Unconscious <ul><li>The processes of perception are inaccessible; only the products are conscious (i.e. images in automobile side-view mirror are closer than what they appear) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A range of cultural presuppositions are built into the finished image including epistemological assumptions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In Occidental culture this means the predominance of a reductionist inductive way of perceiving the environment </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. 5. The division of the perceived universe into parts and wholes is convenient and may be necessary, but no necessity determines how it will be done <ul><li>Explanation grows out of description but description will always contain by necessity arbitrary characteristics </li></ul>
  8. 8. 6. Divergent Sequences Are Unpredictable 7.Convergent Sequences Are Predictable <ul><li>How the particular and individual will diverge from the present is difficult to predict with certainty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More specific = more unpredictable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How the broad and generic may converge in the future is able to be predicted with some certainty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More general = more predictability </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. 8. Nothing will come of Nothing <ul><li>“No new order or pattern can be created without information” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New information is drawn from the random </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readiness allows the living system “to select components of the random which thereby become new information” </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. 9. Number is Different From Quantity <ul><li>Number is the product of counting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is Digital: Exact, on-off, a jump </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I.E., 1,2, or 3 gallons of water can be a precise count </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Quantity is the product of measurement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is Analog: Approximate, graded, no jump </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I.E., A gallon of water, cannot be precise amount </li></ul></ul></ul>Code Duality
  11. 11. 10. Quantity does not Determine Pattern <ul><li>“It is impossible, in principle, to explain any pattern by invoking a single quantity.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A comparison or ratio between quantities is needed for any pattern to be discerned </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. 11. There are no Monotone “Values” in Biology <ul><li>“A monotone value is one that either only increases or only decreases.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Desired substances: items of diet, environmental temperature, entertainment, sex, etc. have an optimal amount. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Above optimal level = Toxic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Below optimal level = Deprivation </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. 12. Sometimes Small Is Beautiful <ul><li>Size is only beneficial within the level of tolerance for a system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When a threshold is reached increase in a component will be detrimental to the system as a whole </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I.E. The fable of the “Polyploid Horse” (A horse with more than two homologous sets of chromosomes) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. 13. Logic is a Poor Model of Cause and Effect <ul><li>When the sequences of cause and effect become circular or more complex than circular then the timeless logic of syllogism (If this, then this) becomes self-contradictory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I.E., If the body becomes warm it then acts to cool itself, if cooling occurs then the body acts to warm itself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What appears contradictory in term of logic is understandable within if-then time oriented processes of self-correcting complex systems </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. 14. Causality does not Work Backward <ul><li>A change in any part of the system “can be regarded a cause for change at a later time in any variable anywhere in the system.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I.E., a significant rise in the temperature in a room can cause a body to sweat to promote cooling several minutes later </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>However, sweating does not begin before the body experiences the rise in temperature </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. 15. Language Commonly Stresses Only one side of any Interaction <ul><li>No “thing” possesses any characteristics or qualities. “All qualities and attributes refer to at least two sets of interactions.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I.E., A stone is “hard” only when placed in relationship with something else by an interpreting observer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stones are made “real” and become “objects” through the culture of the observer who interprets meaning of the stone by it’s relationship to other culturally determined things </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. 16. “Stability” and “Change” Describe parts of our Descriptions <ul><li>Stability is maintained in the living world of the Creatura by the oscillation of small self-correcting changes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In contrast to the maintenance of stability through rigidity in the non-living world of the Pleroma, it is through the dynamic process of self-correcting for optimal balance that stability in the living system is maintained </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. The Global Semiosphere <ul><li>By Jesper Hoffmeyer </li></ul><ul><li>Paper presented at the 5th IASS congress in Berkeley, June 1995. In Irmengard Rauch and Gerald F. Carr (eds.): Semiotics Around the World. Proceedings of the Fifth Congress of the International Association for Semiotic Studies. Berkeley 1994. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter 1997, pp. 933-936. </li></ul>
  19. 19. From Biosphere to Semiosphere <ul><li>The fundamental semiotic (communication through signs) character of animate nature is shown in the working of heredity. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Because living systems are mortal survival over time depends not on physical means (like rocks) but on semiotic means, DNA coded messages in the genome (like dogs) </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Semiotic Survival <ul><li>The survival of organisms depends on effective communication throughout the ecological space that they inhabit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“Every organism is born into a world of significance. Whatever an organism senses also means something to it, food, escape, sexual reproduction etc.” </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Umwelt: (environment&quot; or &quot;surrounding world” in German) <ul><li>Biologist Jakob von Uexk ü ll </li></ul><ul><li>For an organism, perception allows it to imprint “meaning on the meaningless object and thereby makes it into a subject-related meaning-carrier in the respective Umwelt (subjective universe).” </li></ul>
  22. 22. Biology and Semiotics <ul><li>“ Due to the Cartesian [reductionist epistemology] heritage… of modern science, biology has only reluctantly incorporated the communicative aspects of life into its theory system.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thus presently ecosystem = biomass, energy flow, food chains </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicative aspects of life are not allowed to play any fundamental role </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bias toward material physics-oriented aspects has blinded biology and ecology to the importance of the semiotic web unfolding throughout ecosystems </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Semiotic Web <ul><li>Organism gradually developed a semiotic network throughout the surface (and immediate subsurface of the earth) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A “contrapuntal duet,” adding independent melodies to make a harmonic whole, was established, a Semiosphere </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. The Semiosphere <ul><li>“ Like the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, or the biosphere. It penetrates these spheres and consists in communication: sounds, odours, movements, colours, electric fields, waves of any kind, chemical signals, touch etc.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organism “occupy specific semiotic niches , they will have to master a set of signs of visual, acoustic, olfactory, tactile and chemical origin in order to survive in the semiosphere. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Semiotic demands to populations are often a decisive challenge to success.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Semiosphere Preeminent Over Biosphere <ul><li>Biosphere is a reductionist category that is not elegant enough to explain the environment of organisms which, unlike the non-living world, depend on communication to survive and thrive. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If life is to survive the semiosphere, the communicative matrix which is intrinsic to life, must be understood, sustained, and be allowed to develop </li></ul></ul>
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