You are here


Four modes of travelling and navigating the knowledge universe ? (Part #1)

Annex 4 of Towards an Astrophysics of the Knowledge Universe: from astronautics to noonautics?

Four modes of travel?
"Globe"... "planets"... "celestial sphere"?
"Global" as integrative
Travel where / when / why?
Constraints and possibilities
Travelling "songlines" to engender the knowledge universe
Songlines as "elven pathways" through the knowledge universe?
Embodying a universe of "stargates"?

[Parts: Next | Last | All ] [Links: To-K | From-K | From-Kx ]


Following from the arguments of the main paper, four distinct "universes" can notably be distinguished, as in the following table

. . .
objective and subjective
(relevantial universe)
neither objective nor subjective
objective ("external")
(classificational universe)
subjective ("internal")
(relational universe)

This distribution benefits from the case made by Kinhide Mushakoji (Global Issues and Interparadigmatic Dialogue: essays on multipolar politics, 1988) for a quadrilemma (A, not-A, A and not-A, neither A nor not-A) as well as from the distinction, noted earlier, by Magoroh Maruyama regarding the different kinds of information universe (classificational, relational, and relevantial):

Typically how the knowledege universe is organized and navigated is a matter of personal choice subject, and perhaps predominantly so, to cultural and other constraints. The initial objective of astronautics and noonautics is to acquire "escape velocity" and get into some form of orbit -- reframing the constraints to the mundane world.

The term "noonaut" is used here as being more general than cybernaut, infonaut, psychonaut or ideonaut:

  • Cybernaut: This term is used to describe a person (an "electronic astronaut") who makes extensive use of the internet, specifically in terms of the exploration of cyberspace (cf Bruce Eisner, How a Psychonaut Became a Cybernaut, 2005)

  • Infonaut: This was introduced by Howard Rheingold (Tools for Thought: the history and future of mind-expanding technology, 1985): "The ones I call the "infonauts" are the older brothers and sisters of the adolescent hackers you read about in the papers. Most of them are in their twenties and thirties. They work for themselves or for some research institution or software house, and represent the first members of the McLuhan generation to use the technology invented by the von Neumann generation as tools to extend their imagination. From the science of designing what they call the "user interface"--where mind meets machine -- to the art of building educational microworlds, the infonauts have been using their new medium to create the mass-media version we will use fifteen years from now". Erik Davis (TechGnosis...) has an extensive discussion of the "gnostic infonaut"

  • Psychonaut: Psychonaut is used to describe one who uses trance technologies and, more specifically mind-altering substances, more for their ability to act as entheogens than for their inebriating (or social) effect. In effect, they are used as a means to achieve states of mind in which different perceptions, unhindered by everyday mental filters and processes, can arise. As such, psychonauts believe that when used with this intent, the mind altering substance's effects can be life altering and are not considered by their proponents to be mere hallucinations. An alternate description is that while some aspects of the experience may be hallucinatory, the realizations caused by those hallucinations and the mental, emotional and long term impact of the experience is real, usually positive, and enduring.

  • Ideonaut: By implication this term might be applied to those who explore online spaces (such as initiated in 2005) for the organization and management of potentially complicated, non-linear networks of thought, namely a forum for the visual manifestation and discovery of the shared experience of inter-related ideas, memories, thoughts, and conclusions. It contrasts with the normative funnelling of the rambling, interconnected nature of cognition into linear expositions of speech and language.

Such terms may be variously understood in their relationship to noosphere, cyberspace, infosphere and ideosphere:

  • Noosphere: Understood as the "sphere of human thought", noosphere is also sometimes used to refer to a transhuman consciousness emerging from the interactions of human minds, as proposed by the theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who added that the noosphere is evolving towards an ever greater integration.

  • Cyberspace: Although the world of the internet cannot be understood as a space, according to Erik Davis (TechGnosis...) "spatial metaphors have emerged that lend the medium an imaginary dimension that paradoxically make it more real". It is understood to consist of transactions, relationships, and thouight itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications (cf John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace***)

  • Infosphere: Coined by Luciano Floridi on the basis of biosphere. It denotes the whole informational environment constituted by all informational entities (thus including informational agents as well), their properties, interactions, processes and mutual relations. It is an environment comparable to, but different from cyberspace (which is only one of its sub-regions, as it were), since it also includes off-line and analogue spaces of information.

  • Ideosphere: much like the noosphere, the ideosphere this is the realm of memetic evolutionby comparison with the biosphere as the realm of biological evolution. It is the "place" where thoughts, theories and ideas are thought to be created, evaluated and evolved. The health of an ideosphere can be measured by its memetic diversity. It is considered to be "inside the minds" of all the humans in the world.

  • Cognosphere: In proposing this term, Thomas Whalen (Navigation through Knowledge Spaces) argues: "We have created, for ourselves, a knowledge sphere. Maybe, for aesthetic purposes, we should call it the cognosphere. The creation of the cognosphere did not start with the development of the World Wide Web. It started millions of years ago when people first passed information from one person on to a third party; that is, it started with the invention of the spoken word. Since then, the cognosphere has grown with every innovation in communications. The Web just happens to be the latest in a long series of innovations that have increased the richness of the cognosphere and have improved our ability to navigate through it."

  • Culturesphere: This term is variously used.

Use of "noonaut" and "noonautics" have the advantage of their association with "noosphere" in emphasizing exploration of more integrative dimensions -- in contrast with "lateral" movement to parallel fields of knowledge, or "drilling down" to more specific domains. However the focus on the navigational metaphor of "nautics" obscures other understandings of integrative exploration and "travel" (in "broadening the mind"), including forms of philosophy and cultural development (cf Integrative Knowledge and Transdisciplinarity Project).">Integrative Knowledge and Transdisciplinarity Project).

[Parts: Next | Last | All ] [Links: To-K | From-K | From-Kx ]