Friday, October 3, 2008

The Forgotten Map

“I am myself and my circumstances”

-José Ortega y Gasset

The present in which one stands is determined by some of the various decisions and routes one has taken in the past. Different situation ends with different results and this also affects the present stature in the person. These decisions not only stand for an individual but also for the communities and the overall society.

Considering the Judaeo-Christian or the so called Western civilisation has also undergone these decisions or ‘The Bifurcation’.

The world is a place where love was not only possible but made sense and had a universal meaning. This was said by Francis of Assisi formerly known as Giovanni Bernardone. But the world we have today is not that of Francis but of Machiavelli who believed that it is much safer to be feared than to be loved. This was during some time in the 12th century.

‘Truths are multiple and never just one.’ This was said by Giovanni Francesco Pico Della Mirandolla in the year 1497 when he refused to be enclosed with in one doctrine. But again this route was not navigated because a few years later Francis Bacon, a fervent believer in absolute truth and possibilities of certainty invited us to torture nature so that through the delivery of the secrets we could extract the truth.

In the year 1600 Giordano Bruno believed that everything has a life and has a soul. Everything for him was a manifestation of life. ‘What I see through the window are hats and coats covering automatic machines.’ This was whispered by René Descartes in his Metaphysical Reflection. The later took the upper hand and we have seen the triumph of mechanism and reductionism.

Science is the supreme manifestation of reason and reason is the supreme attribute of the human being. This was observed by Galileo and Newton for whom the language of nature was mathematics. They believed that We and the Nature are two separate entities where the former is the ‘observer’ and the later is the ‘observed’.

Science as Goethe conceived is in which the scientist would come to see God in Nature and Nature in God. He believed that science also helps to attain spiritual knowledge through proper training of observation, thinking, feeling, imagination & intuition.

That’s the way it is. The route which has been navigated has achieved spectacular success and achievements whereas the other route has remained as historical footnotes remembered by bookworms. The routes of the Newton, Galileo, Descartes, Bacon & Machiavelli has been highly used by Universities compared to the routes of Geothe, Bruno, Picot & Francis.

Mathematics instead of being a tool became and end where importance was given to things only which can be measured and be made to models to be interpreted that are divorced from reality but are theoretically very attractive.

This sudden change of the world into a world of confusion and a world of disenchantment where progress became paradoxical and absurd and we had to run into something as virtual reality to seek refuge. These are the reasons for the schizophrenia, depression and narcissism which have now become the mirror of the existential reality.

We are celebrating the glorification of reason but suddenly we have the feeling that something is missing. Our route has been guided by reason which has been a very successful one but the fact remains that we know a lot but understand very little.

Understanding is holistic whereas knowledge is fragmented.

Understanding is the result of integration whereas knowledge is the result of detachment.

Knowledge is not only the road to understanding rather it requires a different navigation on the whole.

A human phenomenon such as LOVE, we can study all the various aspect of it such as philosophical, sociological and even biochemical prospective. The result- we would know everything about love but we would eventually discover that we will not be able to understand it until and unless we fall in love.

So now we are becoming aware that knowledge itself is not enough but we have to learn how to attain understanding in order to achieve the completeness of our being and science.

Knowledge without understanding is HOLLOW, and understanding without knowledge is incomplete.

Language influences our perceptions and hence shapes our reason. Different ages of generation or themes has its own language

The dominant language of the first three centuries of the 2nd millennium was of teleological nature, where the actions by humans were related to a calling that was superior beyond the needs of everyday life. The construction made in this phase was enormous and time was never a concern because it was being built for eternity and eternity is timelessness.

The important lay in the deed and not in the time it might take.

The dominant language of the 19th century was marked by an orderly, logical, and aesthetically consistent relation of parts of the historical challenge of the times.

Economics became the dominant language of the 20th century. In the late twenties and the early thirties the result of many crises was a language which had the capacity of interpreting the crisis as well as overcoming it known as the Keynesian language. During the fifties and sixties the economist felt that they had found a way to overcome world poverty and promote true development. There was a positive change of many things in this period.

The last three decades of the 2oth century, the neo liberal discourse, has been a brutal one. It dramatically increased global poverty, many national economics have been crippled by the burden of debt with a brutal over-exploitation of both people and natural resources which leads to the destruction of ecosystem and alarming levels of biodiversity.

We tend to comfort ourselves being the members of the successful culture. But the truth lies that no matter how much we convince ourselves with concept of success we still are incomplete beings, materially overdeveloped and spiritually poor. And this poverty is responsible for the uneasiness and anxieties of the world today.

Thus the time has come for us to search for that undiscovered route that we did not navigate to help us to rescue from our existential confusion. We now have the opportunity to study the hazards and success, the tragedies and the glories of the already navigated route to unearth the alternative map for navigation.

And as a consequence we may be able to

Perhaps see everyone as brothers and sisters.

Perhaps to believe the harmony of many truths.

Perhaps to believe that Earth has a SOUL and everything has a life.

Perhaps to realise the value of intuition, spirituality and consciousness.

Or in Geothe’s words “if we seek comfort in the whole, we must learn to discover the whole in the smallest part.”

Our quest for knowledge has delayed our navigation towards understanding.

Thus to avoid the increasing distortion of reality and contributing to our confusion and to the falsification of knowledge and to avoid the spell of neo-liberal discourse one such navigation towards understanding is the call of today.

So there is a need for a new language that opens our vision towards understanding rather than power and domination. It would emerge from the depths of the self discovery as an inseparable part of the whole that is the cradle of miracle of life.

Thus the path which has not been taken or being avoided by choosing the already navigated or the successful path has to be unravelled so as to help us realise the essence of the knowledge and understanding as a whole.

The time has come to avert the various issues of global crisis and to find an alternative route from the past than the current path of reductionist science and neo liberal globalisation.

This change in language will give us a satisfaction of having bought about a new century worth living.

Thus the historical footnotes will bring about a renaissance to the modern day theory of comfort and educate us about the other aspect of life which is yet to be discovered and lived.

Biswa Bikash Singh

Product Design, PGDPD, 1st Sem

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