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September 14, 2007

antithesis to modernity?

{I wrote most of this right after the blogpost linked below...so much of this line of thinking is percolating concerning my prospectus, grant proposal, teaching, interpreting physics....anyway, today is the Celebration Party for the Crew and Shore Support for Shemaya's Serenity Sail, 2007. More thoughts will follow, I'm sure!}

Just because sailing resists the dominant forces of modernity, does not necessarily make it postmodern, eh? I have continued to wonder if describing my deja vu moment (while sailing) as a "personal cosmology" (as I did on the boat) was the best framing, or if "personal ontology" (as I wrote in that blogpost) is most accurate.

I'm sure cosmology is what leapt to mind because of Laurence Bergreen's application of the term to those metaphysical thinkers trying to imagine the entire universe during Magellan's time. Interestingly, the wikipedia entry states that the first use of the term did not occur until 1730, more than two centuries after Magellan's voyage. Ontology, however, is more precise (for this particular usage) because the term is used to describe a set of concepts and the relationships among them. The "objects" (in this case) are myself (!), my conscious - as in deliberately chosen - epistemology, and the phenomenological experience known as deja vu.

I think the original philosophical definitions and use of "ontology" and the recent borrowing of the label by the field of Artificial Intelligence serve equally well to describe the (known, apperceived) structural framework of my personal consciousness. As John Gregg (who maintains a terrific site on consciousness) defines it, "Essentially, ontology is the study of what actually is. For most people, for most purposes, ontology ultimately comes down to physics." Yes. The structure of knowledge (paradigm) that I have adopted concerning the experience of deja vu emphasizes the aspect of its meaning which implies "remembering the future." Despite our conscious experience of time as linear (and all the physical evidence around us indicating that it only moves in one direction), the physics of temporality is much more complicated. This is related to Gregg's

"hard problem" of subjective consciousness. The hard problem is hard because it just does not seem amenable to the sort of analysis that modern science knows how to do.

The microsocial challenge is wrestling ourselves (individually, interpersonally, relationally) out of the dialectical grip of modernity's knowledge constructs; the macrosocial parallel is the institutionalization of paradigms based on the new knowledges gleaned (especially) from quantum physics, cognitive neuroscience, and language studies (e.g., voice, language-as-action).

Posted by Steph at September 14, 2007 8:35 AM


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