Ecological Epistemology Intro


Published on Richard Currie Smith U of MN Ecological Anthropology Course

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  • Ecological Epistemology Intro

    1. 1. Ecological Epistemology: Introduction <ul><ul><li>The books four central ideas are: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humans are part of a living world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life is joined together by its “mental” or informational aspect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Official Occidental education lacks an elementary understanding of this knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A way to think more ecologically, as is provided in this book, is needed if the earth’s environment is to be preserved and restored </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity by Gregory Bateson, Chapter One </li></ul></ul>
    2. 2. Ecological Epistemology: Introduction <ul><ul><ul><li>Living systems include: redwood forests, deserts, plains, butterflies, humans, starfish, the segmenting egg, the U.S. Senate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There is a set of relationships or “ pattern that connects” living systems internally,with each other, and with their greater environments </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Ecological Epistemology: Introduction <ul><li>Lack of this information centered living system understanding by Occidental education derives from: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Application of obsolete physics model to life that fails to integrate the insights of information theory and “ cybernetics” </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Ecological Epistemology: Introduction <ul><li>Cybernetics : the study of communication and in open systems, from Greek kybernetes “steersman,” because feedback process involved in steering a boat illustrated the ( Stochastic ) pattern of information communication the cyberneticists saw operating in open or living systems. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Ecological Epistemology: Introduction <ul><li>Application of information centered cybernetic insights to living systems allowed Gregory Bateson to follow the Gnostics and Carl Jung, in dividing the world between: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pleroma: The non-living world of forces, impacts, universal laws, entropy - Kick a rock, (thing) prediction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Creatura: The living world of differences, variations, patterns , order - Kick a dog, (organism) probability </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. “The Pattern that Connects” the Living World <ul><li>Bateson asked: “why do schools teach almost nothing of the pattern that connects” the living world? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What pattern connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose and all four of them to me?” </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. The Pattern That Connects <ul><ul><ul><li>Bateson further asked: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How is “the total biological world in which we live and have our being… put together?” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ What is the pattern which connects all the living creatures?” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Why are the answers to these questions of crucial importance to “the survival of the whole biosphere?” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Science Contrasted with Religion and Art <ul><li>Science = Entropy, disorderly world of irrational random chance </li></ul><ul><li>Religion = Sacrament, orderly world of divinely inspired expression </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetics = Beauty, orderly world </li></ul><ul><li>of interconnected elegant patterns </li></ul>
    9. 9. Modern Western Science And Nature <ul><li>Cartesian reductionist view dominant in Western science & society </li></ul><ul><li>For the last 300 years </li></ul><ul><li>Humankind is separate from nature </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nature is best known by breaking it into parts and analyzing the Parts, reasoning from the small to the large or the particular to the general (Induction) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Humankind’s rational orderly intellect is superior to irrational disorderly nature </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Science and Technology Dominant Over Nature
    11. 11. Religion & Nature <ul><li>Plotinus the Platonist proves by means of the blossoms and leaves that from the Supreme God, whose beauty is invisible and ineffable, Providence reaches down to the things of earth here below. He points out that these frail and mortal objects could not be endowed with a beauty so immaculate and so exquisitely wrought, did they not issue from the Divinity which endlessly pervades with its invisible and unchanging beauty all things. </li></ul><ul><li>– SAINT AUGUSTINE, The City of God , 410 A.D. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Religion and Nature <ul><li>“ Providence (divine care) reaches down to the things of earth below” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An “aesthetic unity” underlies the living world that is top-down derived, reasoning from the large to the small or the general to the particular (Deduction) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of the elegant unity of the living world, not seeing the inherent beauty of the larger whole because a reductionist focus on the details of separate parts, was “an epistemological mistake” by modern Occidental Science </li></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Aesthetics and Nature <ul><li>Elegant Patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Connect the Living World </li></ul><ul><li>There seems to be something like a Gresham’s law of cultural evolution according to which the oversimplified ideas will always displace the sophisticated and the vulgar and the hateful will always displace the beautiful. And yet the beautiful persists. Gregory Bateson (1979[2002]:5) </li></ul>
    14. 14. Ecological Aesthetic <ul><li>No recognition of patterns of connection = no empathy, no beauty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For Wordsworth’s Character Peter Bly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ A primrose by the river’s brim </li></ul><ul><li>A yellow primrose was to him; And it was nothing more.” </li></ul>
    15. 15. Ecological Aesthetic <ul><li>The pattern that connects living entities is symmetrical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beauty in nature arises from perception of balanced proportions and correspondence in shape and forms within and between organisms. This is reasoning from a similarity of pattern (set of relationships), laterally from similarity to similarity (Abduction) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not quantity or size </li></ul></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Gross Anatomy Of Organisms Is: <ul><li>Repetitive and Modulated (Proportional) throughout their bodily forms, i. e., in Humans </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Humerous in upper arm corresponds to femur in thigh </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fingers in hand correspond to toes in foot </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Ecological Aesthetic <ul><li>Homology = Resemblance between the physical forms of organisms, a similarity between the relations of their parts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Illustrated by the resemblance between limb bones of human and horse, or appendages of crab and lobster </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Homology Between Human & Horse
    19. 19. Homology Between Lobster & Crab
    20. 20. Three Levels of Gross Anatomy Pattern Connection <ul><li>Similarity of the relations of parts: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Within organism </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bilateral symmetry of limbs in human </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Between two organisms </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Comparison between human and horse </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>3. Between multiple organisms </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Human and horse similarity is compared with the similarity between crab and lobster </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Homology Between Human & Horse - Lobster & Crab
    22. 22. The Pattern that Connects <ul><li>Is the generalized metapattern made up of the patterns which connect” the living world </li></ul><ul><li>Illustrated by an elephant & its trunk </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is “no-thing,” things exists because of relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It consists of ideas, messages of relevant information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ideas, “stories” are immanent in the forms of organisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisms are dynamic, “a dance of interacting parts” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisms are contextually (environmentally) situated in space and time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environment provides meaning (relevance) to organisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environment is a “transference” encoded from past learning </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. The Pattern that Connects <ul><li>In the following chapters Bateson will show how the patterns that connect the living world create a “sacred unity”of the biosphere that is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Similar to the deductively formulated unity of biosphere and humanity of many traditional cultures and ancient religions, which led them to “sanctify the total natural world” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily aesthetic, whatever the ups and downs of detail “the larger whole is primarily beautiful” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centered around a few simple abductive propositions necessary for a sacred unity to exist </li></ul></ul>