II. Earth Learn: A Planetary Prodigy Comes to Her/His Own Knowledge
4. World Natural PhiloSophia: An Ubuntu Universe
The venerable pursuit of philosophical inquiry and conjecture has a huge, eclectic literature. This general section will gather global eastern/southern voices and visions beyond western/northern works. It will also note a once and future natural philosophy which was the original name for scientific studies in Isaac Newton’s 17th century. This vista since been set aside, but a 21st century revival is imperative says Freeman Dyson (search) to regain an integral coherence. Thus we purpose a Natural PhiloSophia genre to newly contain both Philip and Sophia within a 2020 holistic bicameral vision.
Abede, Rediet, et al. Narratives and Counternarratives on Data Sharing in Africa. arXiv:2103.01168. A seven person team posted at UC Berkeley (RD), University of the Witwatersrand, UC Dublin, Carnegie Mellon University, IBM Research Africa, and Deloitte Africa contend that the Global South is actually graced by a different, relational culture than North/West particulate bytes. Their essence is more about integral storytelling, drama rather than data, which by a prosodic integrity can convey a meaningful, ethical message. For more about the lead author, an Ethiopian-American AI scientist, and this project see A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms in Quanta Magazine (April 2021)
As machine learning and data science applications grow ever more prevalent, there is an increased focus on data sharing and open data initiatives in the context of the African continent. Many argue that data sharing can support research and policy design to alleviate poverty, inequality, and derivative effects in Africa. But conversations around accessing and sharing African data are too often driven by nonAfrican stakeholders. These perspectives employ deficit narratives, focusing on lack of education, training, and technological resources as the causes of problems in the data ecosystem. We argue that these narratives obscure the full complexity of African data efforts. We use storytelling via fictional personas built from interviews with African data experts to provide alternative versions. Along with studies on data practices within the continent, we identify recurring impediments and inequities in sharing data benefits. We discuss issues arising from power imbalances resulting from the legacies of colonialism, ethno-centrism, and slavery, disinvestment in building trust, and Western-centric policies that are ill-suited to the African context. (Abstract excerpt)
Allott, Philip. Eutopia: New Philosophy and New Law for a Troubled World. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2016. A Cambridge University emeritus professor of international public law dutifully tries to gather, arrange, survey and revive the philosophical mind and mission into the 21st century. A unique essay with numbered paragraphs tours human psychology, society, culture, and affairs with regard to imagination, knowledge, memory, emotion, individual and polity, perennial views, and so on. Each chapter is followed by pithy quotes from sages and scholars across the millennia. His reach is mostly western, European, with a touch of Oriental wisdom and Pierre Teilhard, But every entry is by a man, while the second quote does cite the absolute banishment of feminine contributions as a fatal flaw. And alas our male left brain cannot even consider an encompassing natural reality to philosophize about.
The human world is in a mess. The human mind is in a mess. And now the human species is threatening its own survival by its own inventions and by war. For thousands of years, human beings conducted a great debate about the human condition and human possibilities, about philosophy and society and law. In 1516, Thomas More, in his book Utopia, contributed to the ancient debate, at another time of profound transformation in the human world. In our own time, we have witnessed a collapse in intellectual life, and a collapse in the theory and practice of education. The old debate is, for all practical purposes, dead. In 2016, Philip Allott's Eutopia resumes the debate about the role of philosophy and society and law in making a better human future, responding to a human world that More could not have imagined. And he lets us hear the voices of some of those who contributed to the great debate in the past, voices that still resonate today.
Ani, Marimba. Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1994. Noted more in Part VI, The Complementarity of Civilizations, this work offers a sensitive insight into traditional African wisdom which is of much palliative value for a new millennium.
Asante, Molefi Kete. Facing South to Africa: Toward an Afrocentric Critical Orientation. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014. In his latest essay, the Chair of African American Studies at Temple University continues his mission to express a distinctive organic, communitarian philosophy, in contrast to Northern postmodern mechanism. A major resource is now the elucidation by Maulana Karenga (2004, search) and others of ancient Kemetic wisdom and its vivifying, ethical Maat principle.
Asouzu, Innocent. The Method and Principle of Complementary Reflection in and Beyond African Philosophy. Munster: LIT Verlag, 2005. An Igbo Nigerian scholar explains at length that traditional African wisdom teaches not conflict and polarity, much a European view, but a salutary accord between mutual elements and relations. How the world today needs this venerable essence if it is to survive, he argues and advises.
Complementary reflection makes recourse to the principle of complementarity as a philosophical paradigm concerning the type of solution needed in our world today. It reformulates this principle, which it borrows from the ambience of traditional African philosophy and makes it a tool of explanation and understanding in a comprehensive, total, and universal manner. (21)
Bala, Arun, ed.. Asia, Europe, and the Emergence of Modern Science: Knowledge Crossing Boundaries. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. The editor was a National University of Singapore philosopher for some years, lately a visiting professor at the University of Toronto, and the author of The Dialogue of Civilizations in the Birth of Modern Science (2008). As the quote conveys, there is a need today to reevaluate and leaven western dominant analytic versions. Typical chapters are “Copernicus, Arabic Science, and the Scientific (R)evolution” by Michal Kokowski, “The Role of Intercultural Dialogue in the Rise of Modern Science” Anjam Khursheed, and “Diverse Cultural Contributions to a Science of Religion” by Donald Wiebe.
This volume brings together essays from leading thinkers, including natural and social scientists, historians, philosophers and educationists to examine what role Asian traditions of knowledge played in the rise of modern science in Europe, the implications this has for the epistemology of science, and whether pre-modern Asian traditions can provide resources for advancing scientific knowledge in future. Although studies in the past have attempted to address these issues they have generally been motivated by area studies concerns so that the approach has been dominated by binary perspectives which look at how dialogue with a particular Asian tradition – such as Chinese, Indian or Arabic-Islamic – impacted or can impact modern science. By contrast this study draws writers from a plurality of Asian cultures so as to not only better situate the contributions of the different Asian scientific traditions into a more balanced perspective, but also promote deeper insights into the ways in which influences from a diversity of civilizations get transmitted and modified as they cross boundaries of culture and become contextualized in new intellectual milieus.
Bell, Jeffery. Philosophy at the Edge of Chaos. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006. A literary exercise to align the philosophical project with a newly perceived nature dynamically poised between chaos and cosmos, an open creativity and structural order, hence a ‘chaosmos.’ But its laudable intent is laden with postmodern density and jargon that gets caught up in who said what when, rather than an effort to press on to the great questions in such a 21st century cosmic genesis.
As a dynamic system, chaosmos is necessarily self-identical (self-similar) and complete, for without the integrity of this self-identity, a system could not function and perdure; and yet chaosmos is forever open to an outside it presupposes, an immanent chaos which both threatens the systems and allows it to create novel applications. (178)
Black, Jeremy. The Power of Knowledge: How Information and Technology Made the Modern World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. Akin to Peter Burke below, the University of Exeter historian argues that recent history, mostly northern and western, is most of all a matter of an increasing quantity of informative, practical content, whose ramifications proceeded to define, empower, or inhibit civilizations.
Information is power. For more than five hundred years the success or failure of nations has been determined by a country’s ability to acquire knowledge and technical skill and transform them into strength and prosperity. Leading historian Jeremy Black approaches global history from a distinctive perspective, focusing on the relationship between information and society and demonstrating how the understanding and use of information have been the primary factors in the development and character of the modern age. Black suggests that the West’s ascension was a direct result of its institutions and social practices for acquiring, employing, and retaining information and the technology that was ultimately produced. His cogent and well-reasoned analysis looks at cartography and the hardware of communication, armaments and sea power, mercantilism and imperialism, science and astronomy, as well as bureaucracy and the management of information, linking the history of technology with the history of global power while providing important indicators for the future of our world. (Publisher)
Braidotti, Rosi. A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities. Theory, Culture, & Society. Online May, 2018. The Utrecht University philosopher and feminist theoretician (Wikipedia) posts her latest woman’s wisdom to guide this academic pursuit within its broadly conceived postmodern mindset. In regard, the paper tacitly reflects conceptual quandaries that current academic cultures are burdened with and compromised by. The quotes allude to a 21st century endeavor to disavow mechanical materialism for a natural animism via self-organizing energies which foster free persons in community. But these worthy efforts do not consider or address whether a creative (genesis) reality exists on its independent own, from which one and all can be appreciated as an exemplary phenomenon and participant.
What are the parameters that define a posthuman knowing subject, her scientific credibility and ethical accountability? Taking the posthumanities as an emergent field of enquiry based on the convergence of posthumanism and post-anthropocentrism, I argue that posthuman knowledge claims go beyond the critiques of the universalist image of ‘Man’ and of human exceptionalism. The conceptual foundation I envisage for the critical posthumanities is a neo-Spinozist monistic ontology that assumes radical immanence, i.e. the primacy of intelligent and self-organizing matter. This implies that the posthuman knowing subject has to be understood as a relational embodied and embedded, affective and accountable entity and not only as a transcendental consciousness. (Abstract)
Brooks, Thom. Philosophy Unbound: The Idea of Global Philosophy. Metaphilosophy. 44/3, 2013. A Durham University, UK, law professor admits that the prior centuries of western scholarly surmise has run its course, lost its way, and is in much need of revival and enhancement by learned contributions from over the whole continental Earth.
The future of philosophy is moving towards “global philosophy.” The idea of global philosophy is the view that different philosophical approaches may engage more substantially with each other to solve philosophical problems. Most solutions attempt to use only those available resources located within one philosophical tradition. A more promising approach might be to expand the range of available resources to better assist our ability to offer more compelling solutions. This search for new horizons in order to improve our clarity about philosophical issues is at the heart of global philosophy. The idea of global philosophy encourages us to look beyond our traditions to improve our philosophical problem-solving by our own lights. Global philosophy is a new approach whose time is coming. This essay offers the first account of this approach and an assessment of its future promise. (Abstract)
Burgin, Mark and Joseph Brenner. Operators in Nature, Science, Technology, and Society. Philosophies. Online September 7, 2017. UCLA and Chemindu College, Paris theorists collaborate on a broadly information-based view of a self-organizing universe to human reality. But the thorough, densely argued paper is laden with the usual abstract wordage, sans any consideration of, or relation to an actual “cosmic elephant.” As a result, while “a unified theory of operators and logic in reality” is sound, one wonders what, in translation, it might actually mean. This is a common problem for academic writings. Yet they rightly profess an innate logos or agency in effect as nature’s creative source. Operators seem to imply computational algorithms, or the like, as they inform and impel an emergent, semiotic evolution. Notably its human phase accrues a special role as “homo operator,” whence it may pass onto our informed intention. See also Revolution in Philosophy: Towards an Informational Metaphilosophy of Science by Kun Wu and JB in this journal, October 2, 2017.
6.3. Self-Operation, Self-Operators, and Self-Organization: Self-operation is a phenomenon that refers to the ability of human operators and organizations of humans to operate on themselves, that is, recursively. The term self-operation actually includes a number of processes that also take place at lower levels of reality and thus, self-operation is abundant in nature, society and technology. Among the many kinds of self-operation studied by researchers and used for practical purposes are self-modification, self-organization, self-regulation, self-management, self-replication, self-production, self-control, and self-programming. All of these processes in the broadest sense refer to properties of a system to change both its internal environment (structure) and external behavior (functioning). In general, all of the natural and social operators that execute these operations are ipso facto self-operators. In this paper, we will limit our discussion to self-organization, self-control and self-regulation. (17)
Burke, Peter. A Social History of Knowledge II: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2012. His earlier work is The Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot (Polity, 2000). An emeritus University of Cambridge cultural historian achieves a magisterial two volume set which views the mostly European course from the 15th to the 21st century as a collective and cumulative learning and literary endeavor. By way of deciphering, classifying, reconstruction, and so on, an encyclopedic corpus “From Gutenberg to Google” has accrued. A natural way to organize knowledge was a goal, but an alphabetic scheme became the default. It is duly noted that although women made contributions, the project was exclusively set up for and carried out by men.
Peter Burke follows up his Social History of Knowledge, picking up where the first volume left off around 1750 at the publication of the French Encyclopédie and following the story through to Wikipedia. The book is divided into 3 parts. The first argues that activities which appear to be timeless - gathering knowledge, analysing, disseminating and employing it - are in fact time-bound and take different forms in different periods and places. The second part tries to counter the tendency to write a triumphalist history of the 'growth' of knowledge by discussing losses of knowledge and the price of specialization. The third part offers geographical, sociological and chronological overviews, contrasting the experience of centres and peripheries and arguing that each of the main trends of the period - professionalization, secularization, nationalization, democratization, etc, coexisted and interacted with its opposite.