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Earth EEs/EHEs; Planetary Consciousness
Record Type: Review   ID: 460

Imaginary Landscapes: Making Worlds of Myth and Science

Thompson, William Irwin

Thompson argues: "Mind is . . larger than ideologies or world views and as we become sensitive to multidimensionality at the edge of our limited forms of perception, we may register the images that are metaphors for the knowledge that is coming to us from all the other dimensions beyond the three we have habitually constituted as our `world' " (p. 83). History shows us that when a new world view is born, it originates not so much in a mass of new facts but in "an entirely new mentality, a new mode of imagining" (p. 96). He promulgates a postmodern view of the self based on Francisco Varela's work on immunity, suggesting that AIDS may "signify a "membrane anomaly' that calls upon us to reconceptualize the nature of `the self.' If, "from the influence of a Varelan way of thinking, we begin to suspect that a pathogen isn't an object, but a relationship in a linguistic domain, then we may need to change our ideas of treatment to ones in which the immune system is `retuned' to new states of harmonic integration in which we learn to tolerate aliens by seeing the self as a cloud in a clouded sky and not as a lord in a walled-in fortress" (p. 99).

He argues against the beginning of single disciplines or single cultures. Thompson evidences a new postmodern kind of science expressed in the biology of Maturana and Varela, the nonlinear dynamics of the Gaia hypothesis of Lovelock and Margolis, Prigogine's chemistry, and the chaos dynamics of the new topology. In this view, the universe is undetermined, open, and life is "a dialogue between chaos and order" (p. 119). He points out the resonance of this view with Buddhist philosophy. He notes: "The solitary and competent ego is a fiction, but even a `fact' is a fiction, for a fact without a world is like a flame without an atmosphere" (p. 128). "What frames and defines a world is the act of participating in a context" (p. 129). He sketches an imaginary biology based on the ideas of Abraham, Lovelock, Margulis, and Varela "in a new mental space that is larger than their books taken singly" (p. 130). He intuits that we are moving into the fifth great age, out of that Industrialization into that of Planetization.

Publisher Information:New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. 198p. 5 figs; Index: 193-198; 112 refs
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