Thursday, December 18, 2008

On Rational Empiricism of Culture 

German sociologist Karl Mannheim in his Ideologie und Utopie (c.1929) and a social theorist Max Scheler in his Versuche zu einer Soziologie des Wissens (c.1924) have both postulated a view that life is not determined by our consciousness, but rather that our consciousness is determined by the way we live, and more importantly that all our knowledge is a product of culture that is the driving force behind all our knowledge, and behind most of our actions.

This means that what is meaningful and significant for someone from Judeo-Christian culture is not meanigful in the same way to someone with Budhist background, or with Islamic background.

Culture, being the soul of our society is the source of our social consciousness and the manifestation behind our individual personalities. Our relationship with culture is what unifies us and at the same time what separates us from other cultures.

This relationship can be directly traced to technology, how we use technology and how technology helps us cross cultural barriers and eventually break them. It is a dynamic process, albeit very slow and incremental.

In order to understand our role as cultured human beings in the ever evolving technological world we need to look at ourselves individually, and as a society in the context of where we came from and where we are going.

In Pre-Industrial society the main focus was on agriculture and on struggling with survival, with the law of diminishing returns.

In Industrial Society our focus is on energy and on producing goods, on the understanding of energy, its behavior and its various forms and in turning energy to our advantage. Our plans for getting away from fossil fuels, for example, our yearning to use fission effectively, and to learn to use other sources of energy that are far more powerful than fosssil fuels are the focus of Industrial society.

In Post-Industrial society the focus is not as much on agriculture and on manufacturing goods, but on knowledge, on sharing and obtaining knowledge and on making it freely available to everyone.

We are now beginning to enter this age, albeit very slowly and incrementally as our cultural barriers prevent us from freely sharing and accepting what we know in a way that would benefit everyone.

As those barriers are being challenged and we begin to transition to this new Age of Syncretism beyond the Industrial and Post-Industrial era this is the subject of my work.

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