Ashok Gangadean’s interview with Dr. Ursula Goodenough, proseffor Biology, Dr. Karl H.Pibram, specialized in brain studies, and Dr. Daniel A. Monti, M.D. – Consciousness, Connectivity, and Integral Models of Reality
YOU TICKLE, THEREFORE I AM
‘To live is to be other.’ The philosophical implications of the commons sketched in its larger context of the outer and inner space of the unknown.
TO ANDREAS WEBER, a theoretical biologist in Germany, the commons is not simply a matter of public policy or economics. It is an existential condition of life in all its forms, from cellular matter to human beings. “The idea of the commons provides a unifying principle that dissolves the supposed opposition between nature and society/culture,” he writes. “It cancels the separation of the ecological and the social.” According to Weber, the commons provides us with the means to reimagine the universe and our role in it. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 147)
We also see, implicitly, a Newtonian universe in which large abstract forces buffet the inanimate particles of nature. In this view, human consciousness and meaning are insignificant if not moot in the cosmic scheme of things.
Our tacit metaphysical commitments, argues Weber, are the very basis for our “free market” economic and political structures. What’s so intriguing is that many scientists are starting to see the natural world and evolution through a different metaphysical prism, one that sees life as a system of cooperative agents constantly striving to build meaningful relationships and exchange “gifts.” Competition still exists, of course, but it is interwoven with deep, stabilising forms of cooperation.
In this new theoretical scheme, the subjective experiences of an organism matter. That’s because, in the emerging scheme of biological thought, all organisms are “meaning-making” living systems. Life is seen as an evolutionary process in which embodied subjects interact with their environment and other living organisms to create meaningful relationships. Subjectivity is not an illusion or an inconsequential side-story, as our existing metaphysics claims; it is not a mere bubble of ephemeral, trivial feelings in an empty universe. Rather, subjectivity is the centrepiece of a new “existential ecology” whose primary concern is subjects, not objects alone. Human beings are not isolated atoms adrift in a vast indifferent universe. Our human subjectivity is not separate from a nature that exists as an alien, unfathomable “other.” The subjective and the objective, the individual and the collective, blur into each other — just as in a commons!