Overview & Orientation
Overclaims & Oversimplifications ?

Heiner Benking

InterSymp'97 – Culture of Peace Baden-Baden, August 18-23, 1997

Symposium on  Culture of Peace  - Plenary Session

Cultivating a Human Cognition by Dialogue, Heiner Benking, Creative Member, The Club of Budapest,  FAW, Ulm

General Discussion on Culture of Peace

Moderatorsw: Prof. George Lasker, IIAS, and Dr. Vladimir Lomeiko, UNESCO



Ad-hoc Discussion Paper and Presentation Outline to be seen as an annex and summary of the paper: "Understanding and Sharing in a Cognitive Panorama"


Whoever wants to seriously study the truth of things
should not investigate just one science
Because all parts of science
are interconnected in mutual dependency.

Wer ernsthaft die Wahrheit der Dinge ergründen will,
darf sich keiner einzelnen Wissenschaft verschreiben;
denn alle Teile der Wissenschaft
stehen im Verbund wechselseitiger Abhängigkeit.

A review of Descartes’ Success and Error and how we might be able to overcome our own fallacies, instead of searching for scapegoats.   A proposal for a synergy of old and new (synoptic, integral, and diagonal) thinking which should lead to joint action and implementations.

It is a privilege to start off an address in a Symposium, chaired by Vladimir Lomeiko, by putting NEW THINKING as the central issue and link between our perception and action. The phrase "We have to learn to think in a new way" is from the first page of Bertrand Russell's 'Man's Peril' (1954) and is the textual basis of the Russell-Einstein Memorial. Gorbachev, after Gromyko and Lomeiko, used it later for `new thinking' to `provide the intellectual framework in which both a domestic and a foreign reform agenda could succeed'. This paper outlines such an intellectual framework, literally builds a scaffolding or conceptual superstructure of shareable information spaces, inhabitable and navigable Problem-Learning-Solution spaces. These space-scapes can be explored, transformed and merged, providing a platform for embodied lateral ‘deep’ 'thinking'.

As I just returned from last month’s press conference for the ‘PLANETARY LEADERSHIP AWARD’ for Michail Gorbachev. He also introduced his new book ‘New Thinking’ (translated by author) as it was just published first in German as: Neues Denken. In admiration for Gorbachev, a new Honorary Member of the CLUB OF BUDAPEST, but also disillusioned ‘about the plethora of ‘new talk’ about ‘new thinking’ (without orientation and doing) I will not present the paper as paper, which is anyway available, but will try to focus on some central issues, such as:

·        Sharing frames of references,

·        Finding agreement, checks and balances in the world of ideas, and

·        How we can use our potentials for the next phylogenetic step: investing in sharable concepts and exploiting (mental) mobility and movement as the basic extension systems and thereby becoming aware about our fixations on real and ideal territories, without learning to take away boundaries and reconfigure categories of our thinking.

·        Models and mental models,

·        The mind’s eye, and

·        A creative tolerance to see in perspective obvious over-claims and over-simplifications, see their
     proportions and consequences.

·        Focus is on making us aware of mental territories, may they be reductionistic or synoptic.

To be concise:

The paper is about sharing representations and orientations towards fresh and feasible ideas and co-creation - inviting voices in groups, finding consensus, and supporting joint activities.   Each person is a resource for the human community. Each mind harbors ongoing explorations, connections, waiting to be shared with companion minds. Nuances and flavors and unappreciated spontaneity developed in one person or group of persons, opening up panoramas and channels in others.  NOW, learning the skills of sharing those recognitions, those internal discoveries, becomes the challenge and goal of humanity.  Respect for source.   Anticipation of benefit.  Belief in innate skills.  Trust in the clarity of thought and in depth of feelings.  Compassion forged with Competence. Skill alone is not enough to create the future. Vision and sense-of-place are needed too.

We cannot predict the chemistry, biology or environment in which new wisdom or social advancements reside, so we must protect and nurture and enable as many Sciences as possible ... each has a vision of experience to share with the rest.

I think we are as a culture in a deep trap – we can not expect ‘new thinking’ to happen – as we ceased to listen and somehow to think independently or fresh at all, we can only enable ‘possibilities’ by actively exploring new language, new thought, new options. We avoid looking at self-models, extension systems and shared realities possible in ‘common frames of reference’ (FOURTH REALITY or participatory realities as we learn in media or communication classes); instead we have our scientific and political establishment sign one mandate after the other towards: harmonization, common understanding or universal tolerance, or succumbing by buing into pictures like: THE SECOND FLOOD (Ascott, Lévy) or THIRD BOMB (Einstein) using a martial and potentially dangerous imagery/language - but do not dare to look over the next fence into the neighbouring domains’ garden, address the sectarianism of sciences, our increasing loss of orientation and raise of apathy and the impact of cyberculture of our frameworks of being (meta-paradigms or self-models). As all is written already I would like to propose at the next page to structure a possibly fruitful dialogue and add some references.

Proposed sequence of short presentations which should start a long discussion round:

1. I will start with two examples of deadlock thinking, the potential and dangers of metaphors like: space or tree, which alternatives exist,... But first a brief introduction and summary of the presentation:

2. I will present how we think in the old mould, with no fresh and independent thinking - being stuck in the old tracks, using words and pictures in an unimaginative and flat way, without watching or caring about our metaphors and reasoning.

3. I will focus on sharing – on cocreation or inter-personal realities, how they are invited and cultivated, and how they can trigger and ignite new thought. This has to do with the social innovation of magic round tables and time sharing and inviting and caring for typically ‘unheard’ voices.

4. is about common frames of references. How we can embody thought and find understanding by mapping and sharing meaning in adjacent definition- or situation spaces (this is about my primary work called a
COGNITIVE PANORAMA – 3Space/Time). This work is to agree on sharable structure to find understanding and ‘gauge the human prospectus’.

5. is about creativity oscillation between aspects, views, scales, words, and metaphors and how we can develop or better re-dignify imaginative and creative thinking – whether we call it lateral or diagonal – old or new. Any way it should be fresh, within, between, and beyond conventional tracks or domains, using space as a multi-hierachical definition realm, space-scapes in an architecture of situations.

6. is some final reflection on the next evolutionary, phylogenetic step:

               a.   paradigms and meta-paradigms,
               b.   mind-sets and self-models
               c.   extension systems for physical and mental mobility (locomotion)
                        -   helping to realise a detachment from physical and conceptual ‘territories’.

7. a summary, an attempt to find a merger between analysis, synthesis and synopsis, old and new thinking, and a cautious invitation to look deeper into the issues connected to WHOLENESS – HOLISM. I only want to quote Stephen Jay Kline here: His recipe is to go for the integration of three complementary views: 1) the reductionistic (piecewise) view of the components; 2) a synoptic view (overview) of the system, including its goals, and 3) observations of the structure, how the components join together to form the whole - A seminar on HOLISM the other day is ideally suited continue and test such deeper and interconnected thinking and see how it can be put to test.

"Wer Schranken denkend setzt, die wirklich nicht vorhanden
Und dann hinweg sie denkt, der hat die Welt verstanden.
Als wie Geometrie in ihren Liniennetzten
Den Raum, so fängt sich selbst das Denken in Gesetzen
Anschaulich macht man uns die Welt mit Länderkarten,
Nun müssen wir des Geistes Sternenkarten noch erwarten.
Indes geht, auf Gefahr den Richtweg zu verlieren,
der Geist durch sein Gebiet, wie wir durch’s Feld spazieren."
Rückertscher Vers aus derWeisheit der Brahmanen

"Whoever imagines mental barriers which actually do not exist
and then thinks them away, has understood the world.
As space is entrapped in geometry's network of lines,
thought is caught in its (own) inherent laws.
Maps make the world comprehensible to us;
we are still waiting for the star-maps of the spirit.
In the same way that ambling through fields
we risk getting lost, the spirit negotiates its terrain."
Rückert , Wisdom of Brahmins [t]        

Recommended readings:
GLOBAL CHANGE; LOCAL AND GLOBAL CHANGE exhibitions - On Sectarianism of Science, OPTIONS IIASA – Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Datenpraesentation, GI – Die Fliegende Lupe – Umweltschutz mit Adlerblick, Bild der Wisenschaften, Optics of Ethics, World Futures Studies Federation, Nairobi 1995 - Harmonization of Environmental Measurement, Access and Assimilation, GeoJournal – Visual Access and Assimilation Strategies, ISKO International Society for Knowledge Organisation, Netze und Geflechte in Natur und Gesellschaft, TU WAS CHANCEN 2000, GeoJournal, Kluwers - Situation-Rooms-Situation-Spaces, Fluchtweltern oder Sinnwelten, Uni Tübingen - WACRA – Context and Concept Mapping, TKE –Towards common frames of references FIG XX, Melbourne, Our view of Life is too flat, Children KNOWLEDGE spiral Newsletter – Creativity – Jugend Forscht - Creativity and Cognition ", Mental Architectures / Architektur für Denkräume, IFG - Transcultural Discourse, Academic BURSE, Ulm– The next phylogenetic step, Konrad Lorenz Institute lectures - .Brief ‘Zur Begriffskultur in den Sozialwissenschaften’– EuS Ethik und Sozial-wissenschaftenStreitschrift. Metaparadigms – Cognitive Panorama – Concil of Europe Report on New Ideas in Science and Art, New Spaces for Culture and Society – Wholeness Seminar, ISSS-Primer Group - Conceptual Navigation, ISKO, with Kim Veltman, McLuhan Perspective Unit, Toronto.

The full text of this paper "Understanding and Sharing in a Cognitive Panorama" is available at: http://www3.informatik.uni-erlangen.de:1200/Staff/graham/benking/benking.html   http://newciv.org/cob/members/benking/benking.html

NEW: see at  benking.de or  http://open-forum.de/Culture-of-Peace-IIAS-1997.htm and http://benking.de/Culture_of_Peace_Intersymp_97_Cognitives_Panorama.htm


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