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Enhancing the Quality of Knowing through Integration of East-West metaphors


Enhancing the Quality of Knowing through Integration of East-West metaphors
A. Beyond the commodification of knowledge
Embodiment of knowledge
Knowledge in relationship
Knowledge in worldview
B. Social implications of knowledge organization
Social architecture and knowledge architecture
Knowledge organization and its social parallels
C. Fundamental metaphors of knowledge work
D. Sets and their comprehension
Vehicles for identity
F. Metaphors as conceptual scaffolding
"Global" as an example of a cognitive challenge
Crop-rotation as a metaphor of more fruitful relationships between set elements
Re-reading as a method
H. Polarities, territoriality and globality: insights from the I Ching
I. Subjectivity vs Objectivity
J. Relationship and Community
K. Archetypal knowledge objects basic to computers of the future
L. Succinctness, grokability and overload
M. Containers for comprehensible meaning in the future

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Paper prepared for the conference on 'Knowledge and East-West Traditions' (Bangalore, December 2000), sponsored by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (Bangalore), History of Science Association (Japan), Third World Network (Penang), Vidyartha Centre for Science and Technology (Colombo), Heinrich-Boell Foundation (Germany), UNESCO (Jakarta and Korea), Futures journal, World Future Studies Federation (WFSF), Third World Studies Center (University of the Philippines), Asian Center (University of the Philippines)


The paper briefly contrasts the commodification of knowledge, with its embodiment, its expression in relationship, or as a worldview. This is used to raise the possibility of forms of knowledge that may be relatively incomprehensible or incoherent to western-style science. Some social implications of knowledge organization are reviewed in the light of 'field', as an agricultural metaphor basic to knowledge work that helps to clarify issues of fragmentation, monoculture and integration. This metaphor is then used to clarify knowledge issues further in relation to: intellectual property and its possession; dispossession and resettlement; movement between fields; and embodiment. This framework introduces the challenge to science of set organization and comprehension, notably as a vehicle for identity and provision of coherence. Metaphors for understanding dynamics within sets are then presented as conceptual scaffolding, with 'global' offered as a cognitive challenge and 'crop-rotation' in fields as an example of a higher level of ordering set elements. Attention is drawn to the richness of eastern cultures as a source of relevant metaphors, emphasizing the use of 're-reading' as a metaphorical method. Some fundamental cognitive challenges are reviewed to which science eastern-style might therefore offer insights: polarization, territoriality and globality (using the I Ching as an illustrative metaphor); subjectivity vs objectivity; relationship and community (based on richer patterns of relationship between knower and known, notably in the light of eastern sexual metaphors); use of archetypal knowledge objects in computers in support of such insights; as well as questions of succinctness and comprehensibility in a period of increasing information overload and underuse. Ultimately the challenge is to design containers for meaning more appropriate to the challenges of society.

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