World Order Conference
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Second Interdisciplinary Conference on The Evolution of World Order: Global and Local Responsibilities for a Just and Sustainable Civilization
June 3 - 6, 1999, At Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Canada

Sharing An Extra Skin
Heiner Benking

University of Ulm, Humboldt-Huniversity, Berlin, Germany,  homesite:

Lamenting over the fact that individuals and societies have lost overview, orientation, directions, positions, and values will not resolve the global identification crises we face on individual and collective levels. Lost in our lament is the realization that we are overwhelmed or even dumbed down by overload, under-use and misuse of what we receive through new multi-media communication means. In our haste to travel extensively and collect data we have underprivileged context, having lost cognizance of origin, quality, and purpose. Our crisis is a crisis of world-views, of identification and place.

After a review of ambiguous and possibly misleading modern concepts and oversimplified metaphors like: Net, Organism, Virtual Reality, Cyberspace, Cyberculture, this paper will suggest how we can try to expand, extend, and explore our potentials by transferring ways to feel, think, and behave from physical realms to conceptual and imaginary realms. Using a model of a global workspace of the mind which is connected internally and externally, we will also suggest ways to understand how we move, navigate, and explore stages of mindscapes or knowscapes in our working lives.

Culture binds us together, securing coherence through a common context of relations and values. Without these common grounds we are left with a chaos of self-amplification devoid of any regard and respect for the rest. There is a saying among Indigenous traditions that "we all share one skin:" we are proposing an inquiry into sharing this skin from semantic, organizational, infrastructure, and cognitive dimensions - and beyond. Sharing within this conceptual superstructure can accommodate not only different mind sets, and cultures, but also many different "skies," not by proposing a "super-organism" or super-system, but by suggesting ways to think, feel and share along and across scales, to embody and immerse into meaning and "positions," to take on other eyes, ears, and feelings, reflecting on objects, subjects, metaphors and transformations.

Children have always used this "conceptual superstructure" as a means to play with and puzzle through what is known and what is not known and can not be known. We propose a similar constructing of architectures to establish where we are and what we can see, and how the consequent cognitive dimensions can change when we immerse ourselves or combine various viewpoints at the same time (Hellmuth Plessner on excentric positionality).

Any single picture, display, or metaphor can be easily misinterpreted without the merging and morphing of ideas. Just as we are able to see objects in space from different angles and with different lenses, transforming our mind sets may allow us to gain the necessary flexibility and mobility required to avoid the dualistic polarization traps, realizing alternatives in perspective and creative alternative. Using Space as a Potential, we will Find in Space Meaning by daring to draw these maps and share our ways... on whatever level.

We will better learn to talk about abstract things by making them real. We will learn to listen, aware of the infinite ways to approach and observe a theme/topic/topos. By embodying this "real communication" we will enable ourselves to engage in diverse cultural conversations, to gain insights and understanding, and to develop tolerance. We will begin to understand that things can be changed in time, with different objectives, scopes, expectations, just by becoming aware of the checks and balances; not by fighting against them but by reflecting on our horizons and schemas, becoming calm, flexible and cheerful as we accept change and sharing, not only our own skies but all skies and all skins in commonality. As we learn how to breath in our perspectives of the world with patience and tolerance, our breath of life will become and continue to become a breath of communal and conjoined creativity.

more about WOC:
     Some keen observer of history said, "The inevitable seldom happens." Indeed, how often have you heard people say, "Who would have thought ten years ago ..."? Fill in the rest yourself, for instance, "that the Soviet Union would be no more in less than five years" or "that the demise of the Soviet Union would not be a consequence of a war" ... "that hope of peace in the Middle East would now soar, now dwindle, sometimes both at once" or "that in addition to natural disasters (like floods and earthquakes) and man-made disasters (like wars), also previously unimagined man-made natural disasters would threaten the survival of the human race in the coming millenium."

     How did the man-made world get to be what it is and why? What can we expect in coming centuries for our children and theirs? What can be done, if anything, to give our children and theirs a chance to live in safety, and with dignity? What do others, including some who think for a living, think of all this?

          1. Environmental Imperatives for a Sustainable World
          2. The Role of Science and Technology
          3. The Search for Universal Values as a Foundation of World Order
          4. The Role of Religion: Spirituality and Ethics
          5. Global Governance or Chaos and World Disorder
          6. The UN Today and What It Might Be in Future
          7. International Organizations: IMF and World Bank; Transnational Corporations;
                                                                                      Trade Unions; NGOs;
          Professional Societies; Secret Societies
          8. Domains of Sovereignty for Nations, Provinces, and Municipalities
          9. International Political Economy: NAFTA-WTO-MAI-etc. and Alternatives
          10. The Earth Charter: Challenge for Individuals, Educators and the Media
          Guidelines for Contributors

Conference Committee Members:
Anatol Rapoport (honorary conference chair); Helmut Burkhardt (conference co-chair); Walter Dorn; Cheshmak Farhoumand; Shirley Farlinger; Eric Fawcett; Terry Gardner;Michael Greenspoon (conference co-chair); Lynn Holden; Helen Izumi; Mickey Masuda; Julia Morton-Marr; Ross Wilcock; David Woolfson.

Conference Sponsors:
Science for Peace (SfP); The International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), Canadian Division; Physicians for Global Survival, Canada The International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Social Responsibility (INES); McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, University of Toronto; Soka Gakkai International Canada (SGIC), Caledon Centre for Culture and Education; Voice of Women for Peace; Ryerson Polytechnic University, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.