Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
University of Earth

December 2008 | Draft

Reservations on Designing the Future

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Originally prepared as a commentary on Designing 2050: pathways to sustainable prosperity on spaceship earth (2008) by Peter Ellyard.

It was unfortunate that my first glance, starting at the beginning, was brought up short by your initial comment about the (would be) optimistic future makers vs the others, using the glass full/empty metaphor. And clearly you despair at the condition of the latter, to the point that I wondered whether they were to be considered part of your readership.

As a point of departure this is not to my taste, and why would it be, since I have despaired of the world being divided into "either with us or against us" categories and what it leads to in strategic or religious eyes. For me the challenge is to reframe such binary thinking since either category is confronted with what to do with the other when they have the power to do so -- whether shoot them or re-educate them.

I have indeed been reflecting on the glass metaphor in that respect, since it is so fundamental for many as a way of distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys -- as the "us and them" metaphor gets applied.

One thought has been to consider the Moebius strip or the Klein bottle. It is quite hard to fill a Klein bottle and the sidedness of the Moebius strip is challenging in endeavouring to frame otherness.

I will not bore you with links to my writings on such matters -- simply to say that I take your initial preoccupation to heart given the challenge society faces with polarization of any form.

You have clearly put a huge amount of effort into the book and I must congratulate you on the achievement.

My second concern is with the nature of your emphasis on unified, globalized and planetized. Whilst not disagreeing with the intent I regret what I see as a representation of a whole which is not of requisite variety. Again I have endeavoured to suss out richer representations in my writings

The metaphor I would use in that respect is a musical one. What music would be adequate to represent that synthesis? And do we really hope that everyone should sing from the same hymn sheet? I guess, given your enthusiasm for Esperanto, you would answer yes. My view is that this does not reflect the requisite complexity of the cognitive ecosystem.

So back to glass full, etc it would seem to me that there are issues of taste. You have a strong preference for a particular taste -- shall we say vegetarian -- and deplore the need of those who indulge in meat, shellfish, etc. You have every right to hold this view. The problem again is that the reverse is true. How then to handle those with different taste preferences?

Using the spaceship metaphor, with which I resonate, you promote the use of cosmonaut, which is fine -- except that my preference might have been for noonaut which emphasizes the cognitive challenges of the variety of alternative realities. Again I have written on the challenge of noonautics.

Stylistically I regret the declarative mode that you use, again your right as a means of indicating your preferred future. However in distinguishing between future "makers" and "takers" you seem to forget that the future you "make" may actually be "taken" from the one I prefer, thereby depriving me of it to some degree. My guess is that others will not want their futures taken in this way either.

Again as a matter of taste, my preference is for more questions and fewer answers. It is the questioning process that I find more open to transcending the making/taking polarity.

This is also important to me as indicating a degree of doubt which is an inspiration to creativity of which I am deprived by declarative closure. And, basically, no doubt, no dialogue!

So I think, in my worldview, our differences are back to preferences of taste but you are not challenged by those whose tastes are otherwise. For you they are simply wrong and you have nothing to learn from them. For me they are a real challenge -- exactly where are they coming from and why? And what may be of value in their worldview? Not a question to your taste!

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