Tue, Jul 30, 2013 - Page 8 News List

New paradigm must be adopted

By Jerome Keating

With this change, Renaissance confidence changed to Baroque emotion and skepticism. Earth was no longer seen as the center of the universe, but resources and commodities still remained and seemed limitless in availability. Man’s metaphysical/teleological paradigms of purpose struggled to adapt and keep pace.

Fast forward to the 20th century, where science and technology developed air travel and oceans could be spanned in less than a day.

In The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman kept this global reality even though he used the past flat metaphor to illustrate how in the global village, the playing field has become more level.

Yet though we now have a global village and a more level technological playing field, our science had also created new problems.

Among them are the threat of nuclear destruction, an economic model dependent on over-consumption, dwindling resources and of course global warming. These new moral issues challenge our metaphysical and teleological paradigms to adapt.

In this “brave new world,” multinational companies can cross boundaries and become major players along with countries, but all still think in terms of competing monopolies with a winner-takes-all mentality.

While science now also points to a global village that needs to face existence in a galaxy, the mind-set of everyone remains operationally in our solar system where man is the dominant life form.

The arts and science fiction continue to contribute. A surprising panic was caused in the US with an imagined invasion from Mars (War of the Worlds, Orson Welles’ radio drama, 1938), but that fear receded in recent years when NASA’s Mars Rover traveled to Mars and dispelled the possibility of that threat.

Nonetheless the reality of having to deal with other life forms in the galaxy has continued. The arts boldly continue to precede science in anticipating what other life forms could be out there in the galaxy and asking whether they are friend or foe.

Multiple possibilities have arisen from ET to Klingons and Vulcans, to Transformers and more. Though these are perceived hypothetical threats from without, they still point to the need for a new paradigmatic perspective.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, most native Americans never knew that Europeans existed, let alone that they would soon be on their shores. If they knew the scope and impact of that threat, they might have rethought their territorial paradigms and united.

The same could be said of Taiwan’s Aborigines, who in the 16th century, made up 98 percent of the population, while they now make up about 2 percent.

Those are threats from without, but there are also threats from within and this is the reality of what cli-fi is telling us; the global village is not enough. In a galactic paradigm, the global village becomes a global house/home and mankind must now get its house in order.

Taiwanese should be able to relate to this challenge and perhaps best lead the way in resolving it, for they are a microcosm of this macrocosm.

They face a real external threat from a hegemonic China, which, though loaded with its own pollution, corruption, lack of democracy and growing consumption, still wants to control Taiwan.

However, at the same time, Taiwan must also resolve continued internal threats: It has achieved a well-earned democracy and functioning economy, but its house is not in order.

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