week_2-addressing_gauguins_questions

week_2-addressing_gauguins_questions - ENVS 2150 ENVS...

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ENVS 2150 ENVS 2150 Addressing ‘Gauguin’s Questions’: Addressing ‘Gauguin’s Questions’: What can we learn about technology What can we learn about technology and sustainability from our past? and sustainability from our past?
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One of the key themes to this course, and one which will be specifically highlighted next week, is that in order to endeavour towards and ultimately achieve sustainable societies, humanity must become reflexive regarding our actions. Basically, this means that we have to move beyond the boundaries of disciplinary conduct engrained in our minds via the process of specified training, and instead come to understand our world, our socio-cultural and political institutions, our technological industries, and our relationship to them, in an holistic and self-conscious manner. This is the ontological shift noted last lecture.
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We can begin to do this by examining our history, by learning from it. Do you feel that as a society, or as specialists within the institutions of society, we are doing a good job of learning from our past?
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This is why addressing Gauguin’s Questions is so important in helping us to cultivate a reflexive understanding of the world and our place in it. Who, then, is Guaguin, and what are his questions?
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Paul Guaguin was a French painter and writer who, while working at a time of great socio-cultural upheaval (rise of industry and Darwinism, couple with a renewed fervor for religious romanticism), expressed his angst toward his current existence by painting a mural and inscribing it with three simple, yet profound questions:
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Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? When we speak of understanding technological progress in the context of environmental and social sustainability, Gauguin’s third question, where are we going, becomes, possibly, the question of out time.
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The historian Ronald Wright describes contemporary society as a great ship steaming into the future. We are technologically advanced. We have utilized human ingenuity to create much wealth, luxury and social good. We have become a society fixated on progress, and much of that progress can be attributed to technological innovation.
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What Are we? What Are we? Let’s cast the analytic light, in a self- conscious manner, back onto ourselves. What kind of society are we today? What do we value? Why do we value that which we do? Are we conscious of the impact of our values beyond the scapes of our senses?
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We claim to live in the best times in our history. We have achieved breathtaking scientific, technological and economic achievements. These achievements provide us with a dazzling array of goods and services that make our lives ‘better.’
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The Economy is King Governments of all countries espouse economic growth as the key indicator to well-being. How, ultimately, do we achieve economic
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week_2-addressing_gauguins_questions - ENVS 2150 ENVS...

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