House of Wisdom (Arabic بيت الحكمة Bait al-Hikma)


See: Story Manu in 1001 Nights:


[1285] GlobalEthics  The "Ethics Summit" Story about Harun Al Raschids son Manu, ... Heiner Benking Independent Futurist and Facilitator, Associate of the Millennium Project of ...


Ethikgipfel Kühlungsborn, 1999 - Auf dem Weg zu einer ...


See also:


Tagore Einstein Council and Foundation   COUNCIL Meeting in June in Berlin




Material for “CONSTRUCTIONS”:




The article is a revised version of a plenary lecture and available in the APLS Journal.


"Is Humanity Destined to Self-Destruct?"

Lynton Keith Caldwell


Show or Schau:           

Show or Schau?


Lynton Caldwell (1999) allows us a look behind the facades or under the surface of the dangers threatening humankind. I subscribe to his analysis and synthesis of the threads and dilemmas, including his four lines of action. 

Given this unique chance to comment on such a fundamental and basic article, I will not lament over words, dates, or issues left out in his piece, as this would be the typical trick of people avoiding the big picture and the urgencies and immediacies at hand. Instead, I will try to go with him on a higher plateau of pondering where humankind is going and what the issues and challenges are in my view after reading his article.

Shared Images and Models

I definitely agree with Caldwell that we are in danger of losing our shared rationality. This danger is real, as we are not equipped by evolution for such fundamental and rapid change. Subject to this glut of new ways, means, and messages, we are out of touch and subject to confusion about the basics of our existence, like the "loss of distance" and the questioning of our feelings, positions, and perspectives in this new, strange environment. Being and feeling "lost in space" (slide 6), we try to avoid confronting our outdated world-models and views; instead, we invent "spaces of flow" or "a second flood" as part of a post-modern cyberculture. There are alternative and non-dualistic models that we can structure, merge, and morph (more about this later), but we are afraid of leaving the mold, afraid of leaving the shores and sailing into new lands. I will return to alternative models and views, even on very central terms like "net" or "space" later; at this point, I just want to give an example of how we use language metaphorically. I invite you, for example, to see "space" as an extensional potential that allows us to make issues real, and solid, and allows us to make issues and contexts real instead of making us feel "lost in space." So please take our terms for real, not as empty in a void of nothingness. We focus here on terms, as the modern technologies have usurped central terms like "space" or the "net." (slide 6) 

In a series at the Humboldt University in Berlin at the end of the millennium, which we called "Zeiten-Wende" or "Zeiten-Welten-Wende," (slide 4) I focussed on the modern media impact, on pictures and icons we use to paint and communicate possible futures. Examples from thinkers and writers through the ages included "show" (Illich), "varieté" (Huxley), "sweet mash" (in German, "brei" or pastry) according to the Grimm’s fairy tales. These pictures or analogies describe our modern world of edutainment, politainment, lawtainment, or bread and games as we know from Roman times, as in the following examples: images describing loss of control or freedom include "prison" (Orwell), "(second/final) flood" (Bible, Ascott, Lévy) "bomb" (Einstein for telecommunications impact). Lynton Caldwell is obviously not alone when pondering about our destiny, but he does more—he invites us take a "middle road."

Making Concepts Real and Adding Context

And that is exactly what I am working on and want to outline here: real alternatives. We have three alternatives: we can either immerse ourselves in the issues, or take on an observer status that makes us a little more immune to the details, or as the middle path, oscillate between the different perspectives, but in a way that we know where we are and what we are looking at, and in which context. Our exercise is one of physical and of mental mobility at the same time, bridging objects and subjects, re-establishing of creativity and fantasy in combination with questioning identities, values, levels, proportions, and consequences along and across scales, cultures, languages, and times. In this physical and deep immersive model, called "House of Eyes", children have tested alternative positions and perspectives for years.



Applications for Another Pattern Language? (slide 12)

This language based on spacial metaphors and embodyment evolved when we were thinking about patterns and fields as real. Are there applications, and can the findings be shared, or are we talking here about just another creative, artistic outcry?  First, we can share levels, proportions, horizons, and also "feelings." Second, we can consider new forms of multi-modal, multiple access search machines for the world wide web. And last but not least, we can engage in "culture navigation," which allows us to access and assimilate content from libraries and museums around the world, making multi-media, multi-lingual, multi-cultural connections, caring for a 'humane' multi-lingual (information) society. Another possible field is social systems design, and that might be close to what Caldwell is looking for.We must find ways to reach people. 

Let us start with the traditions of story telling. In one story, Mamun, the son of Harun al Rashid, saved his just-inherited, fast-deteriorating empire for decades by having artists design a positive, aesthetic, shared model/vision/picture—in this case, a model of a beautiful city and rich community. By jointly constructing positive futures, we can create realities that can become "true" if we share the dream and work on it! (late note: see the "Ethics Summit" presentation which covers the story from 1001 night in greater detail and how we can create new stories like this one, and develop the art of story-telling and dialogue.)



XXVII Annual Jean Gebser Conference

Worldly Expressions of the Integral

October 18-20, 2001 
Ohio University, Athens, OH



Concreteness in Integral Worlds

Heiner Benking and Sherryl Stalinski


The paper reviews representations and signs that might help us to come to common and shared realization in an integral age. It explores how we can use models and schemas in order to share
"common frames of reference." The authors explore possible ways of embodying and linking worlds or realities. These include the construction of a-perspective or extra realities that can help us to jointly create meaning and understanding beyond our directly observable meso-scale and ego-centric "environment/vicinity." We explore ways to merge and morph - know, connect, translate and transform schemas - and overcome the dualisms or schisms in our conceptions and mental models, as this is understood as one criteria in Gebser’s structure of moving from the Rational to the Integral. One step is seen to include and move beyond the physical and visual (perspective) space to shared and combined (merged and morphed spaces), spaces were we can jointly create and move boundaries in our perceived and created worlds using processes of dialogue. The authors suggest this fundamental step in coming to the concretion of shared dimensions in order to avoid the dangers of post-modern vagueness and Beliebigkeit, or the creations of new myths and belief systems, as they would lead us back into former forms of human development. Instead, we strive for a broader basis for imparting and dialogue - which is part the motto of the INTEGRAL STRUCTURE - coming to a broader and shared collective understanding.The authors believe that Gebser shows us a way out of dualistic, anthropocentric thinking that leaves us enslaved by physical space concepts and "boxed" thinking, and provides ways towards sharing not only physical but also mental manifestations and imaginations. Gebser seems to be urging us to look into the inclusion of all layers or structures and not ending only in meditative state, but standing on the ground, surveying the world with our eyes and sharing or imparting concepts of a bigger and shared picture in order to expand our realms of being. 

"The concretion of time

is one of the preconditions
for the integral structure;
only the concrete can be integrated,
never the merely abstract."
--Jean Gebser, The Ever-present Origin, p.99
(emphasis of"one" added by the authors)

words - yes words.
Make them solid
So you can pick them up
and throw them.
That is the problem.
How to make the intangible real, lifelike....
--J. R. Lloyd



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