Polyscopy

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"[T]he nineteenth century developed an extremely rigid frame for natural science which formed not only science but also the general outlook of great masses of people", Werner Heisenberg wrote in 1958. "[T]his frame was so narrow and rigid that it was difficult to find a place in it for many concepts of our language that had always belonged to its very substance, for instance, the concepts of mind, of the human soul or of life. [...] Confidence in the scientific method and in rational thinking replaced all other safeguards of the human mind." While the resulting approach to knowledge led to accelerated progress in those domains of interest where it could be successfully applied, notably in science and technology, it had devastating effects on some of the significant others. "One might say", the great physicist concluded, "that the most important change brought about by [the results of modern physics] consists in the dissolution of this rigid frame of concepts of the nineteenth century."

Polyscopy is an approach to knowledge, or technically a paradigm, which has been developed at the University of Oslo based on Heisenberg's and other relevant epistemological insights. It may be understood as "the scientific method" liberated from the constraints of traditional disciplines and made applicable to any question or task. During the past decade the polyscopy development has been extended through the work of the Knowledge Federation international R&D community, and applied to design of IT (knowledge media) and other knowledge work systems, and to knowledge work processes and institutions. Our vision is of an informed society – where what we believe, and the way we orient our action, reflect the state of the art knowledge in relevant areas. Our mission is to foster the evolution of socio-technical systems in pivotal domains including scientific communication, public informing and education, and ultimately of a "collective mind" or "global mind" – in which entirely new IT-enabled specialization and organization of work will help our vision become reality.

Our experiences so far have shown that when state-of-the-art insights are organized together and taken into consideration, what results is entirely different understanding of perennial themes including the nature and the pursuit of happiness, democracy and power, technological and other innovation, social creation of truth and meaning, and religion. This overarching insight has compelled us to add to our usual activity (establishing and developing knowledge federation as an academic field) a new one – organization of public dialogs through which the new understanding of core issues will be both shared and developed further. The most important result we expect of those dialogs, however, is the evolution of a public sphere or of a "collective mind" that will be capable of integrating the best insights of our best minds, historical and living, with the help of suitable technology and social processes, and engage our "collective intelligence" to co-create and maintain state-of-the-art understanding of core issues.

At the Earth Sharing dialog, which will take place June 22nd in Bergen, we will be launching this dialog series.

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