The Network Man, Thinking and Acting in Complexity

“NETWORK MAN” – a Presentation

The Internet, tourism and immigration, satellite television, cosmopolitan cities: all these phenomena are converging to confront us with an unprecedented profusion of culture. This hodgepodge of philosophies, religions and lifestyles has lead to a juxtaposition of groups and milieus, each tending to shut itself off from the others. This has often resulted in crises of identity, and often in ideas of “cultural relativism” or simply skeptical indifference – which is an ironic accompaniment to the emergence of global complexity.

But can this mild tolerance last? Lacking fruitful contact, exchange and integration, are not our societies heading toward implosion?

At a time when man seems on the verge of abandoning himself to passive resignation, and to consider social and political evolution as inevitable and outside the sphere of his influence, this work takes into account the fantastic potentiality of the present. Nothing is inevitable. Our goal is to help bring about a realization that is resolutely optimistic and practical. Everyone is capable of consciously mastering his or her own cultural miscegenation, of gaining better self-understanding, of discovering new experiences, of becoming the influencer of his or her own destiny and of the orientation of the entire society.

Our intention here is to open up the way to a constructive confrontation between the myriads of discrete social worlds, so that different communities may avoid either embarking on a spiral of hatred or remaining in ignorance of each other.

This confrontation will first of all take place in the minds of a few ‘network men’, indefatigable explorers prepared to risk being destabilized in order to integrate contradictory viewpoints. They will become the creators of their own lives by consciously choosing from each field whatever they genuinely find acceptable.

In this way, we have real power, since each individual can initiate concrete action on a smaller or larger scale.

Here we present ways of doing this, both through means which already exist and through those still to become reality. All the ingredients for a revolutionary change in our awareness are here; what is missing are the catalysts – space-junctions, network-networks, etc. - and even a Charter which will allow these trends, as yet too scattered, to acknowledge each other’s existence.

Contents

Introduction – Towards a true society of communication

PART ONE

CHAPTER 1 Locating the challenges of planetary civilisation

Identical or identifying?

Overthrowing points of reference

Formidable simplifying factors

CHAPTER 2 Detecting information gaps

A shock example

Information not passed on

The top media

‘Disinformation’?

Sociological compartmentalization

Everyone to his own reality – the ‘pluriverse’

CHAPTER 3 Grasping the dynamics of choice…..34

What our opinions depend

Information fingerprints

The unconscious

The importance of values

Foundations of dialogue

Mr Average discovers the world

CHAPTER 4 Confronting ideas with reality

Is politics blind?

Weighing up the effects of our actions

The end of closed systems

How an ideology functions

Thought, the servant of the passions?

Increasing our frames of reference

Skepticism and dogmatism

Rehabilitating intellectual demands

CHAPTER 5 Thinking in complex terms

Living with uncertainty

The provisional truths of science

The certainties of philosophy

Should we rid ourselves of beliefs?

Constructing complex thought-forms

Practical files: How to assume control of our lives

Practical file 1: Beginning a research project

Practical file 2: Encountering someone involved in society

Practical file 3: Opening our lives to new experiences

Practical file 4: Re-learning how to debate

Practical file 5: Arguing with precision

Practical file 6: Analysing critically

Practical file 7: Assessing our research

PART TWO

CHAPTER 6 Mobilising our power

A gigantic society – more power to the individual

‘Tiny’ revolutions

Personal action and group change

Information, the key to power

CHAPTER 7 Creating forums for change………..97

New communication zones

Breaking down barriers

How to remove barriers

Discussing initiatives emanating from the people

CHAPTER 8 Experimenting with decompartmentalization

A world of possibility

The Connection network

CHAPTER 9 Thinking collectively

The Internet – opportunity or quagmire?

A methodical, open forum

Structure and functioning

The Institute for Philosophical Research

CHAPTER 10 Opening up the school A closed milieu

Opening up to the world

Wisdom, the goal of education

CHAPTER 11 Engaging in genuine dialogue A vicious circle

Discussion and group development

A new approach

CHAPTER 12 Education for the 21st century individual

Making these teaching units a reality

The point of the project and its aims

Practical files: How to act as network-individuals

Practical file 8: Creating a network

Practical file 9: Making up a network of groups

Practical file 10: Stimulating large-scale action

Practical file 11: Thinking collectively

Practical file 12: Education and training

Conclusion: Using complex thought to foster individual action

Realisation 1: Recognizing what we don’t know

Realization 2: Contradictory truths

Realization 3: We have the power

An open mind

Expressing ourselves politically

A suggested Charter……………………………………………………………….155