Core Philosophies in a Sustainable Society
In moving from old to new paradigms, we should be considerate of the ways we appropriate and apply knowledge. The modern paradigm was in place from 1700 to the present day, and with it the distribution of knowledge was established through linear, rational, and evidence-based processes. But is this really the most effective way of learning? Most of us who have been through standardized testing would say no.
It is very likely for the failures inherent in instrumentalist thinking that we have yet to undertake real change for sustainability; specialist negations lack the momentum to incite action or change constructs to the extent we need. So whilescientific backing still has a role to play, it is secondary to public engagement, which at any rate emits from oral language. The actual knowledge we need that serves to affect our philosophies we gain from deep immersion and constant inquiry in order to make connections between previously unrelated concepts.
Having absorbed new concepts in the proper way, we learn to reinvent by being intentional with our thoughts and critiquing what we’ve observed in ways that suggest new possibilities. Applications can take the form of both direct and abstract interventions, each commanded by the drive to re-language the system. In taking on these new methods for learning, we take the first step in this age’s project of redesigning law, state, science, politics, economics, and culture for contemporary demands.
It should first be established that sustainability is primarily an ethical — or perhaps political — question, and only secondarily an economic or technical task; this will be the only way of truly redesigning the cultural paradigm to ensure sustainability becomes a fact of everyday life. The project will require integrating sustainability into the educational system (to ensure appreciation for nature from a young age), eradicating hierarchical dualism to favor “feminine” skills of intuition, creativity, and craft, and restructuring the
everyday and its patterns of work and leisure to allow for more personal reflection. The strategies for this will vary between cultures and regions, though a sustainable lifestyle will generally allow for more time, greater autonomy of the conscience, stronger relationships with others and nature, and less dependency on work or objects.
In the strife for real sustainability, particularly as we deal with efficiency efforts — which are necessary and should be pursued — we need to recall the aspects of our human selves that science and rationalism have so often degraded or omitted: our desires to become more than what we are, to participate and create legacies, and to manifest our emotions; if anything, our desire to do more than just survive. The evidence for this is ubiquitous: everything from sports to art to museums to literature symbolizes our innate drive to express ourselves — without feeling the pressure to return something back to the ecosystem.
Computers are only more efficient in delivering information, but they lack our abilities to contemplate, remember, create, understand, and, most importantly, forget; they are simplistic versions of ourselves that only serve to reinforce the worldview already in existence. To derive sustainability in the digital age, we need to consider the middle ground between contemporary society, which is vulnerably centered around the Internet, and the old world, which had little of our modern strife for information; therefore, we need to ask precisely what it is that we want from computers. Our goal is not to eradicate personal technology, but to transition to a more well-rounded version of its use.
In using judgment to determine what should be saved and what can be omitted in designing the digital sphere to cater to our human drive, we allow ourselves to think critically about our blind spots and the ways in which things could be. And in distinguishing between the state of the digital world today versus tomorrow, we can also find the middle ground between the economy and the environment by proposing new ways of framing capital to be more complementary.
We will develop new ways of considering our utilitarian knowledge — our facts, statistics, and interactions — as it relates to our inner knowledge and the ways in which we be, rather than do or have. In this way, we become able
to challenge modern ideologies and discuss socioeconomic justice, localization, and our relationship with products — thereby exposing the scale of transformation we will require in changing paradigms.