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Calvin B. DeWitt Professor Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Presentation on theme: "Calvin B. DeWitt Professor Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies University of Wisconsin-Madison."— Presentation transcript:

1 Calvin B. DeWitt Professor Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies University of Wisconsin-Madison

2 Based upon a paper given at The University of Chicago DeWitt, C.B The Professor and the Pupil: Addressing Secularization and Disciplinary Fragmentation in Academia, J. Amer. Sci. Affiliation [PSCF] 59(2):

3 Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. ---Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board, 2005

4 Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted....protection of these assets can no longer be seen as an optional extra, to be considered once more pressing concerns such as wealth creation or national security have been dealt with. ---Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board, 2005

5 Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted....protection of these assets can no longer be seen as an optional extra, to be considered once more pressing concerns such as wealth creation or national security have been dealt with....healthy ecosystems are central to the aspirations of humankind.” ---Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board, 2005

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7 The Situation: Disciplinary and Practical Fragmentation Separation of Science and Praxis from Values Placement (conceptually) of the Human Economy outside of the Economy of Creation Disruption of the Economy of Creation Globalization of the Degradation of Creation

8 The Situation (Pass One): Disciplinary and Practical Fragmentation

9 My premise: Disciplinary fragmentation & reductionism …..have driven a descent down a cascade of smaller & smaller subsystems…

10 In “Life’s Irreducible Structure,” Michael Polanyi thoughtfully reflects on The structure of life, finding in the hierarchy of living things— from the sub-cellular level to tissues, organisms, ecosystems,and beyond—that any level being investigated has two sets of controls: one within that level and another above that level. ---Science 1968

11 Each level relies for its operations on all the levels below it. Each reduces the scope of the one immediately below it by imposing on it a boundary that harnesses it to the service of the next-higher level, and this control is transmitted stage by stage, down to the basic inanimate level. And as we ascend a hierarchy of boundaries, we reach to ever higher levels of meaning. Our understanding of the whole hierarchic edifice keeps deepening as we move upward from stage to stage. Michael Polanyi, 1968.

12 Szent-Gyorgyi describes in 1966 his descent into the quantum physics of muscle, losing life in the process, and climbing back up the ladder to discover life once again—the life that originally attracted him to a vocation in science. In another paper he writes: “…will the study of molecules ever tell us what the temple of life is, which is our body? In order to understand the temple, we must attempt to connect the bricks to higher units---walls, columns, and the like---in the hope that eventually we may even approach the sanctuary.

13 My premise: Disciplinary fragmentation & reductionism …..have driven a descent down a cascade of smaller & smaller subsystems…

14 My premise: Disciplinary fragmentation & reductionism …..have driven a descent down a cascade of smaller & smaller subsystems… This has broken the connections among scientia, ethics & praxis.

15 The Situation (Pass Two): Disciplinary and Practical Fragmentation Separation of Science and Praxis from Values

16 Scientia Ethics Praxis

17 Scientia How does the world work? Ethics What ought to be? Praxis Then what must we do?

18 Scientia: The body of knowledge whose elements we strive to make coherent ---within this body, and ---with the ways things are in the operations of the earth and the biosphere.

19 Ethics: Knowledge & understanding of what ought to be… with respect to human actions in the world. Requires: ---reading of the “text” of the biosphere together and coherently with the Oral and Written Ethical Texts that have stood the text of history.

20 Huston Smith, pre-eminent scholar of world religions: Science cannot provide counsel “concerning things that matter most.” Not all contents of the great wisdom traditions are “enduringly wise.”

21 Praxis: The actions of people in the world …derived from a knowledge of how things can be accomplished. …incorporates both this practice, and the body of practical knowledge upon which it depends.

22 The Situation (Pass Three): Disciplinary and Practical Fragmentation Separation of Science and Praxis from Values Placement (conceptually) of the Human Economy outside of the Economy of Creation

23 William Blake:

24 Praxis informs science on what more we need to know about the world. Ethics informs us on what more we need to consider on “what ought to be” before we act in the world.

25 Praxis, in its most robust and rich sense, flows from the fullest understanding of scientia and ethics, and is controlled by the interactions and interrelationships among all three corners of the triad. With these sources of knowledge, and the overarching control of the three interacting, Praxis directs human actions in the world toward shaping and reshaping human behavior in the direction of right living and restoring right living on earth.

26 The Situation (Pass Four): Disciplinary and Practical Fragmentation Separation of Science and Praxis from Values Placement (conceptually) of the Human Economy outside of the Economy of Creation Disruption of the Economy of Creation Globalization of the Degradation of Creation

27 Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted....protection of these assets can no longer be seen as an optional extra, to be considered once more pressing concerns such as wealth creation or national security have been dealt with....healthy ecosystems are central to the aspirations of humankind.” ---Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board, 2005

28 Praxis in the 21st Century The Needed Actions: Need for Recovery from Disciplinary Fragmentation Need for Recovery from Practical Fragmentation Need for Recovery from Secularization Re-Ligation of Science, Ethics, and Praxis Need for Placement of the Human Economy inside of Creation’s Economy Need for Recovery of Integrity of Creation

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