Designing the New World Picture

Abstract for Presentation at Conference: “Code”
Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSA)
Portland, ME, November 2007

Art and science can work together to construct human flourishing. We recognize the height of Greek culture that celebrated empiricism and the birth of democracy. The Italian Renaissance is acknowledged as the rebirth of that intelligent discipline. We celebrate the conciliation of art and science and the ability to solve problems and construct a better world. Phidias and Leonardo, empirically measuring proportion and discovering anatomy’s meaning, symbolize artists working towards seeing the truth. These prior cultural achievements are signified by a transition from theism to recognition of the real “daemon” powers that we must contend with – nature and life, Dionysos and Eros.

In our time, the problem isn’t anatomy/physiology; it is ecology/equality – not concerns of the city- or nation-state, but global family. Now, concerns for global justice require a reformation/renaissance. I define 1945 as the turning point, with Oppenheimer’s famous quotation, “I am become death,” because we began to see, and now see the lethal naivety of theistic and technological hubris – and the necessity of designing the new world picture. With the aid of modern science, particularly ecology and the Gaia Hypothesis, we see the world as an interpenetrating culture.

The birth of nature and death of narcissus, BNDN, is the universal code of environmental justice – and an evolving emergence of a supervening global culture. The code signifies two moral necessities: First, acknowledge obedience to nature, and secondly, transfigure our childish narcissism and wish for omnipotence/superiority. BNDN signifies that we need to decode the purposiveness of nature in order to design environmental justice – a tacit birthright to a fair share of nature.