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The Isdom of the Wisdom Society: Embodying time as the heartland of humanity

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The Isdom of the Wisdom Society
Role of wisdom
Unexplainable nature of wisdom
"Isdom" -- the locus of wisdom?
Sustainable ecology of Isdom
Isdom's quenching boundary
Reification of the present
Emergence from Isdom
Memories and projections of Isdom
Dynamics of Isdom
Now-time of Isdom
Wisdom of Isdom
Being otherwise in Isdom
Sustaining dialogue of Isdom
Normality -- across the quenching boundary
Embodying kairos
Neti Neti -- none of the above
References

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Produced on the occasion of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva, 2003) in celebration of insights beyond those of the "information society" and of the "knowledge society" [See also website of Union of the Whys (2007)]
Introduction
Role of wisdom
Unexplainable nature of wisdom
"Isdom" -- the locus of wisdom?
Sustainable ecology of Isdom
Isdom's quenching boundary
Reification of the present
Emergence from Isdom
Memories and projections of Isdom
Dynamics of Isdom
Now-time of Isdom
Wisdom of Isdom
Being otherwise in Isdom
Sustaining dialogue of Isdom
Normality -- across the quenching boundary
Embodying kairos
Neti Neti -- none of the above
References

Introduction

Many studies explore the importance of the distinctions in the sequence from "data", through "information", then on to "knowledge", and finally to "wisdom" [more]. At each stage there is a much-studied challenge of "management" (as in "information management" and "knowledge management"). Arguments are also made for the importance of a corresponding "information society" or of a "knowledge society" -- perhaps expressed as a "knowledge-based society". But clearly it is easiest to argue the case for an "information" focus, especially to hardware, software and information vendors -- hence the title of the UN World Summit on the Information Society. It is more challenging to make a case for a "knowledge society", especially since "knowledge management" is in process of being disparaged as a fad term lacking any real content -- notably in those corporate environments that claim to practice it. And yet it is precisely the transfer of knowledge, in the form of "know-how" that has been a preoccupation of the United Nations over many development decades.

But, as Margaret Mead is reported to have declared on a memorable occasion: "We know all we need to know". The problem is that "we" do not know how to fit it together into a meaningfully communicable pattern which could catalyze appropriate action. As a philosopher, Mary Midgley (Wisdom, Information and Wonder: what is knowledge for? 1989) asks the question:

"In what sense is a thing known if five hundred people each know one constituent of it and nobody knows the whole? Or again; what if this truth has a thousand constituents and half of them are not known to anyone, but only stored in libraries? What if all of them only exist in libraries? Is it enough that somebody knows how to look them up if they should ever be needed? Indeed is it enough that this person should have access to a system which will look them up? Does the enquirer even have to understand the questions which these truths answer? (p. 6)

In fact there is no "we" with a shared awareness permitting coherent action. But as is noted on the cover of The (Updated) Last Whole Earth Catalog (1974): "We can't put it together; it is together". It is wisdom that is called upon to respond to such dilemmas -- not knowledge.

The following is therefore a necessarily naive exercise in envisaging the nature of a "wisdom society" -- as distinct from the much-studied "knowledge society". It follows from an earlier paper (Global Strategic Implications of the Unsaid: from myth-making towards a wisdom society, 2003) which points to approaches (and web resources) of various groups envisaging a wisdom society. The focus here is not on its desirability in principle or as an ideal, but rather on how it might already exist and function in reality -- for some at least. In this sense it is primarily speculative -- and perhaps essentially so. It is one thing to extol the archetype of an Arthurian Roundtable, for example, but it is another matter to consider the dynamics of such a group -- and what makes for its wisdom (with or without the presence of women).

Given the topic, the approach taken here is to emphasize, through hyperlinks, the existence of supportive or complementary arguments and resources.


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