Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Phil Paine on knowledge: too good not to steal

The unique Phil Paine, over at has a post from the 17th that is too good not to steal, or rather, quote in full:

Saturday, February 17, 2007 - Forging a Frame

Issues of democracy and political reason, environmental issues, economic questions relating to prosperity and social justice, and issues of personal freedom and cultural vitality, are all interconnected. The challenge to the coming generation will be to devise a language and a frame of reference that can handle all of these interlocking issues on the same level of sophistication. As things stand, we are far from that state of affairs. If a political theorist talks about the environment, any scientist is baffled by their inability to grasp scientific principles (witness any statement by a politician or political scientist about global warming). Crusaders for human rights causes, and cultural figures seem to learn their politics from comic books, and are capable of the most inane pronouncements and absurd solutions. Environmentalists, who are aware of the complexities of nature, cannot grasp the ecological patterns of economies, or remember that human beings are part of nature. There is nothing in this wider forum of ideas that resembles the underlying commonality of purpose and method that allows a herpetologist and a cosmologist to see a snake and a galaxy as points of interest in a continuum of inquiry. Yet all these political, economic, environmental, moral, and cultural issues are part of a continuum, the entirety of our experience as human beings. Every question posed within one component of that experience requires an answer that can be reached and understood from the standpoint of all the other components.

I see the task of my time as being the forging of that common frame of reference.


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