Whether between left or right, natural or social, qualitative or quantitative, physical or mental, there is something undoubtedly between the actuality and its perception. While actuality does not alone conform the reality, perception is blind without a context as well.
Beyond the attempts to unify these domains, in aims to evoke something practical out of this endeavour, what ought to be observed is the relation between the two. As in this reality lies the meaning of the actual but also the actual of the meaning.
Whether seeking equilibrium from epistemological thoughts like dialectical materialism–aiming the abstract a truth part from either dichotomy, or from observing the relation more as a societal spectacle in which real is made unreal and vice versa, the contemporary cultural landscape seems to have (hopefully momentarily) lost their ability to distinct these two, for example in form of; opinions and facts (acknowledging there is none permanent but at least a shareable process to aim for one). A lie is not truth, war is not peace, slavery is not freedom.
While the world is becoming further educated, further aware–its people further connected and further communicated to–of further accumulated knowledge and, one would assume, also having an ever growing number of different representations (for the aforementioned qualities of having the knowledge and access to potentially take part in the global societal conversation, one could also worryingly observe and ever growing presence of censorship and propaganda; a two baller riffle to exercise full power over the intellectual development of the global society (as a vacuum).
At the verge of the arrival of quite a passable AI, merely as a language model, one cannot but reflect that the distinction (allowing such utilisation) between a language model presented only selected sources, under a strictly planned logic, is not far enough removed from what the homogenous sterile contemporary schooling appears to be. Yet, even a lesson can be unlearned, as long as we are left with some ability, in this metaphor critical thinking, to crack the glass and free ourselves out of the vacuum.
Major part of the vacuum or its pressing (oppressing) power, under the critical sustainability thought, comes from path-dependency, which too appears to derive from our schooling–not just formal but of the culture we all exist under (not on). However, this path-dependency is not for the ‘human nature’ as an unchangeable deterministic logic of wolfs and sheeps, or the farmer and the fur in a mesh cage, but a schooled culture of the human–of course existing in our bodily and environmental nature. Surely, no universal huma nature exists, but a culture out of which we now must imagine ourselves out.
Paradoxically, human is the blame, human is innocent, yet human is also the one supposed to act. Experts of sustainability, professional activists, agents of change–united in rhetoric rather than impact. Among hundreds of conceptualisations of capable agents, it seems intentionally seldom to address the structures in which these agents are supposed to exercise their transformative potential; to address the true barrier to change. Path-dependency is an outcome of the path as much as the dependency; although to step out and on to a new path one must be independent, not dependent. Free from bein g ruled, while also refusing to rule; as others appear not as actors but as structure in the societal vacuum.
Postdoctoral researcher of Sustainability Science
University of Helsinki
Ph.D Student of Sustainability Science
DENVI / HELSUS at the University of Helsinki