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The Gordian Knot of Sustainability
1  The Human Experience Institute, Vienna, Austria

Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
Abstract: Any comprehensive knowledge system of a certain complexity grounds in specific assumptions that give an answer to the fundamental questions of human being. These assumptions that usually stand at the beginning of any organized reasoning, have long reaching and mighty effects since they form the underlying matrix of any doing that follows. Often these conceptual prerequisites are forgotten thus turning into hidden but nevertheless powerful mental forces that then rule and organize human behavior and reasoning from the unconscious. It is this unconscious level of human behavior that poses a specific challenge to the societal transition process towards a sustainable life-style. Three interrelated sets of mental assumptions can be identified in this respect that play a decisive role for the human mindset. These hidden factors of human action can be referred to as the ontological cause, the epistemological cause, and the operational cause of human behavior and decision making. Any culture provides its members with an ontological worldview thus directing the mindset of its people into a specific direction. The ontological conception of the western scientific mind strongly influences the way modern people try to overcome the challenge of their unsustainable life-style. Similarly modern knowledge is grounded in a specific epistemology that, mostly unknowingly guides the industrial mind. The epistemological bedrock of knowing has a lasting effect on human perception and communication; it controls the way modern people deal with their problems. The operational cause eventually turns modern life into a rat race. It subjects the societal metabolism to a linear concept of logic that profoundly runs afoul the cyclic structure of nature. Ontological, epistemological and operational attractors form a cohesive, cognitive base-matrix whose reorganization has to be perceived as the Gordon Knot of sustainability. The paper is identical with the prolog of the current book project of the author with the working title: The Change Science. Turning the human mindset towards a sustainable life-style. It investigates the logical and practical consequences that have to be drawn from the previous scientific work of G.Frank[1],[2] in terms of a humanity under threat of self-imposed affliction. [1] Frank, Gerhard. Erlebniswissenschaft. Über die Kunst Menschen zu begeistern. LIT, 2011. [2] Frank, Gerhard. The Experience Science. A new discipline on the rise. LIT, in print.
Keywords: ontological, epistemological, industrial mindset, scientific mindset, modern life-style