Reflections in relation to the article “Are living beings extended autopoietic systems? An embodied reply.” | Humberto Maturana Romesín

Abstract

This is a very interesting article, and I would like to make a few epistemological and operational reflective commentaries that it evokes in me.

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Beyond Science and Technology: Creating Planetary Health Needs Not Just ‘Head Stuff’, but Social Engagement and ‘Heart, Gut and Spirit’ Stuff | Prof Trevor Hancock

I have been involved in studying and working within what is now called the Anthropocene for almost 50 years, and in all that time, not only have we failed to make much progress, but the state of the Earth’s ecosystems has generally worsened. Yet somehow we must create a world in which everyone on Earth has good health and a good quality of life—a matter of social justice—while living within the physical and ecological constraints of the one small planet that is our home; this is the focus of the new field of planetary health. Our worsening situation is not due to lack of knowledge, science and technology; in broad terms, we knew most of the challenges and many of the needed solutions back in the 1970s. Instead, the challenges we face are social, rooted in cultural values, political ideologies, legal and economic systems, ethical principles and spiritual/religious beliefs. Therefore, we have to move beyond science and technology and address these broader socio-cultural issues by engaging in economic, legal and political work, complementing and supplementing ‘head stuff’ with ‘heart, gut and spirit stuff’, and working from the grass roots up.

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The Degenerate Monkey | Eugene Halton (2014)

One of these days, perhaps, there will come a writer of opinions less humdrum than those of Dr. (Alfred Russel) Wallace, and less in awe of the learned and official world . . . who will argue, like a new Bernard Mandeville, that man is but a degenerate monkey, with a paranoic talent for self-satisfaction, no matter what scrapes he may get himself into, calling them ‘civilization,’ and who, in place of the unerring instincts of other races, has an unhappy faculty for occupying himself with words and abstractions, and for going wrong in a hundred ways before he is driven, willy-nilly, into the right one. (CN 3: 17–18, 1901).

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MUSIC IS RHYTHM, RHYTHM IS LIFE: THE LIVING MOMENT | Eugene Halton (2016)

“Music is Rhythm, Rhythm is Life.” This maxim, uttered by former Motown drummer Bill “Sticks” Nicks to my class and me a few years back, opens a portal to what being human involves. Most accounts of what it means to be human make cognitive capacities, language and reflective thinking, the be-all and end-all of human distinction. But think about it: how many animals do you know who beat rhythm for aesthetic enjoyment and social communion?

In this essay I reflect upon moments from musical experiences, primarily from blues music, to illustrate the place of the spontaneous gesture and ensemble improvisation in interaction, in and out of the music.

Keywords: Musical experiences; gesture; improvisation

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Behind the Scenes and Elections: Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada | Prof. John McMurtry

As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few joining the dots.

For example, no media reports that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral and illegal embargo against oil-competitor Iran. A cynical reply is that this is predictable. Canada attacks any designated US Enemy in junior partnership with global corporate command.

But this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself without knowing it.

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The Living Gesture and the Signifying Moment | Eugene Halton (2004)

Drawing from Peircean semiotics, from the Greek conception of phronesis, and from considerations of bodily awareness as a basis of reasonableness, I attempt to show how the living gesture touches our deepest signifying nature, the self, and public life. Gestural bodily awareness, more than knowledge, connects us with the very conditions out of which the human body evolved into its present condition and remains a vital resource in the face of a devitalizing, rationalistic consumption culture. It may be precisely these deep-rooted abilities for what I term “self-originated experience” that can ultimately offset automatism.

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Wisdom and Responsible Leadership: Aesthetic Sensibility, Moral Imagination, and Systems Thinking | Sandra Waddock

Abstract The world needs wise leaders, but wisdom is clearly in short supply these days if the state of the world is any evidence. Just think of climate change, ecological damages done by modern industrial and agricultural practices, and collapsing and unfair mortgage and financial markets, not to mention the growing gap between rich and poor, as examples. But generally, the need for wisdom in leaders and managers, which is defined by Ackoff (Reflections 1(1): 14–24, 1999) as the capacity to think through the (short and long-term) consequences of actions, is under-appreciated. Using as a basis the argument that wisdom exists when three components—moral imagination (the good), systems understanding (the true), and aesthetic sensibility (the beautiful) are present (Waddock, Journal of Business Ethics Education 7: 177– 196, 2010), I explore the implications of this definition for teaching future leaders to be both wise and ethical in their decision making and actions.

Keywords Wisdom • Moral imagination • Systems • Aesthetics • Leadership

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MEMBRANE OF THE SELF: MARKETING, BOUNDARIES, AND THE CONSUMER-INCORPORATED SELF | Eugene Halton and Joseph D. Rumbo (2007)

Much has been written about the various strategies that marketers use to target variously situated consumers in contemporary society. The more sophisticated of these strategies rest upon the notion that each consumer, as a self, represents a site of contestation over the very definition of his/her selfhood. Whereas the marketers’ objective is to create selling messages designed to colonize each and every self in accordance with the desires of their corporate clients, such messages may be at odds with the development of a healthy, uncorporatized self.

Marketers use widely varied demographic and psychographic (lifestyle) techniques to group consumers into narrowly defined and purportedly unique market segments. Celebrants of advertising and consumer culture tend to argue that the sphere of consumption offers consumers untold liberating possibilities for constructing identities and projecting unique, highly personalized images of self (Firat & Venkatesh, 1995). We contend that all of these purportedly unique constructions of selfhood are nothing more than permutations of what we call the consumer-incorporated self, a self compromised by marketing ideology and brand affiliations in which consumption practices displace self-autonomy.

Unsurprisingly, the myriad strategies that marketers have developed for reaching different consumers typically derive from the predominant model of the self found in college-level textbooks on marketing management. Across the pages of these touchstones of marketing wisdom unfolds the template for the consumer-incorporated self, an idealized model of self that renders the consumer in largely behaviorist and cognitivist terms, subject to manipulation. Sprinkling marketing theory with influences culled from motivational psychology and neoclassical economics, this dehumanizing notion of self reduces the consumer to a combination of rational calculator and passive recipient of marketer manipulation.

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Mind Matters | Eugene Halton (2008)

The conceit that either mind is reducible to matter or that mind is utterly ethereal is rooted in a mind-versus-matter dichotomy that can be characterized as the modern error, a fatally flawed fallacy rooted in the philosophy and culture of nominalism. A Peircean semiotic outlook, applied to an understanding of social life, provides a new and full-bodied understanding of semiosis as the bridge between mind and matter, and human biology and culture. I begin by first delineating the false divide and showing Charles Sanders Peirce’s alternative to it, then explore the implications of a semiotic approach to mind as transaction, then consider the self-transcending nature of the human body-mind. Finally I outline my ecological, biosemiotic account of mind, which reveals that, indeed, mind matters, and in ways that unexpectedly resemble the forms of animism that characterized the hunting-gathering foragers through whom we anatomically modern humans emerged.

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Eden Inverted: On the Wild Self and the Contraction of Consciousness | Eugene Halton (2007)

Modern sci/tech has achieved precision, but the cost has tended to be the cutting away as unreal the body of the fountain of life, not only the outer biosphere of animate earth, but also the wild self, our biosemiotic essence, our capacities for empathic sensing, for poetic imagination, for full passionate awareness. Is it possible to keep the baby but change the bathwater, not throw them both out? The baby is our hunter-gatherer neotenous body-mind, the bathwater is the self-enclosures of consciousness that began with civilizational consciousness, that narrowed in the Judeo-Greco-Christian-Islamic bottleneck, and that strangulated in the modern mythic machine view of a tick-tock universe associated with science and technology. Why should we remain locked in this mental matrix, when reality is so much more?

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