The Need for Metadesign

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We became alienated from Nature

  • How this happened is a long and complex story.
  • What follows is an abbreviated version of a longer, more elaborate explanation.
  • In the West we have been inclined to see ideas as more important than experiences.

e.g. Euclid (external link) is associated with the idea of disembodied, rigorous argumentation.
e.g. Pythagoras (external link) suggested that the world is synonymous with number.
e.g. Plato (external link) believed in a realm of perfect generality that is beyond experience.
e.g. Aristotle's (external link) may have inspired the idea of 'pigeon-holing' with his 'logic of categories'.
e.g. Leibnitz (external link) made the assumption that indiscernibly different entities are identical.
e.g. Galileo (external link) separated space from time in his quest for an equation of motion.
e.g. Bacon (external link) created ruthless methods of scientific inquiry
e.g. Newton (external link) emphasised the idea of an 'objective', universal, predictable world.
e.g. Descartes (external link) - his grid system (e.g. A-Z map) reduces and ignores what is mapped.

The origins of instrumental rationality

  • The mindset created by Newton, Descartes et al. still influence our perceptions of society, industry, and Nature
  • In short, Classical Science created mechanistic 'Laws' and excluded the observer from the observation.
  • These ideas still strongly influence the way we behave (the idea of sustainability is a good example).
  • They characterized industrialization - which alienated workers from product and reduced their sense of purpose.
  • For the corporations the globalization of capital brought greater power.
  • Citizens were promised greater product choice, accessibility, mobility, income and consumer rights.
  • Designers became increasingly useful for feeding the machine that produces ever-increasing profits.
  • But this did not encourage greater personal involvement, imaginative engagement, or sense of responsibility.
  • Indeed, it has had worrying ethical, ecological, and social implications at the behavioural level.

Politics is bureacratic and rhetorical

  • Politicians ameliorate between the demands of corporations and voters.
  • They use political rhetoric as a way to maintain power by aggrandizing the speaker.
  • Legal, managerial, and academic thinking emerged from a discourse of empire and industry
  • It was inspired more by a rational quest for truth, than from a quest for beneficial outcomes.
  • This is why rhetorical language sometimes fails (e.g. causes effects opposite to those intended).
  • They create incentives and penalities (managing resources and legislation).

e.g. the logic of oratory
e.g. legislative modes of argumentation
e.g. philosophical claims to 'truth'
e.g. bureaucratic codes and rules

What should we do about these issues?

  • Trying to reform our behaviour is difficult so we first need to reform the environment (external link).
  • We need an alternative to the discourse of Instrumental rationality (external link).
  • This would need to include an auspicous form of reasoning
  • We need a form of design that would deliver, and sustain, a synergy-of-synergies (external link)
  • In order to achieve this we need to understand different orders of synergy and how they work
  • Greater connectivity would have implications at the ecological, social, economic and political levels
  • Our awareness and thinking needs to become less solipsistic, dis-integrated, disengaged
  • Humans need to be more attuned to the natural order, to each other, to the local, and to the global
  • Can design become the re-connector or healer?

return to / go to Metadesign Colloquium (28th & 29th June, 1007)
return to / go to m21 research project
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return to / go to Design Synergy 21