Re: Learning the earth system LO3928

John Woods (
Wed, 29 Nov 1995 08:05:33 -0600 (CST)

Replying to LO3919 --

An observation on the post just below that talks about the different ways
we categorize what we do as we interact with and create our world: We
cannot avoid such interaction. Adapting to the world is creating the
world. That's how it works.

We also quite naturally come up with ways of defining our interactions
with the world, such as "social engneering" for example, in talking about
public policy to create a better life for all. This inevitably and
naturally draws criticism of one group's approach about such engineering
as being problematical from the perspective of some other group. (We get
into trouble when these disagreeing groups each think they, and only they,
have a pipeline to the truth.)

What's going on here? It strikes me that any effort to make the world a
better place will be flawed and, fortunately, we have the ability to
recognize that and learn from our experience. No solution can take in all
its possible consequences. We never get things right, but we can't avoid
trying. That's what life is all about. We'll always be involved in some
archetype that is in one or another self-limiting. That's what drives
evolution and learning.

So let's try to never take too seriously any particular solution or
conclusion. There in no absolutely right way to do anything. We
struggle, we learn and then we do that some more. We have the gift of
being able to realize this about ourselves and maybe even enjoy the
process sometimes.

>However, the question was the viability of the idea of 'tampering with
>nature', and I'm not sure that what Don said undermined the relevance of
>Rorty's comment to that issue - as part of the map, granted - Rorty's
>recognition of the 'language games' in our discourses and institutions
>would probably not have allowed of a more ambitious territorialising
>interpretation. There is indeed the continuing puzzle that those who
>impute 'social engineering' (which is paradigmatic with 'tampering with
>nature') to those who believe they are 'co-discovering and co-creating
>reality' may typically see themselves as located within the kind of
>ahistorical 'nature' that Rorty refers to - and may consequently see it as
>quite legitimate to exclude and demonise such 'social co-creations' -
>while viewing an externalised technological culture quite harmlessly and
>unproblematically. I can understand, I think, how Don saw my comment as
>enshrining a category error, but perhaps that's because I wanted to draw a
>parallel rather than a distinction between 'engineering society' and
>'engineering science'. Part of the puzzle is the thinking that we are
>doing totally different kinds of things when we engage in those two
>David Frampton

John Woods
"There are no successes or failures, only learning experiences"