So this 20th-century Industrial Age-model of democracy, where rulers are at a distant from the public, is gone. Now it's embarrassingly clear that the rulers, the elites, don't really know what's going [on] or what they're doing. And at the same time, the public has no shared organization, no common leaders, no ideology. Instead, we have a divided populace united only by its disdain for the status quo.
— Martin Gurri, A Decade of Revolt
Tell the truth or at least don't lie. Remember to build in truth, because there is no hiding from it. We live in the times when the secret of every heart shall be revealed.
Sarah A. Hoyt
The election of President Trump, the call for Brexit, the unease in France with the yellow vest movement, the upheavals in Hong Kong, the importation of foreign Islamic influences, the hostile rise of China on the Global stage, the remarkable decline in fertility accompanied by fertility raters well below replacement, the end of the Post WWII Bretton Woods global system, and the rising resistance of the "deplorables" against the rule of self-proclaimed and self-absorbed elites, all hint at the possibility we are entering into a period of radical institutional change that will play out over the next few decades.
It was only after attack the on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, that the signal "noise" of previous possibilities was resolved into one definitive statement; in retrospect, the preemptive military strike was inevitable. Hindsight sees all!
This raises an interesting possibility: Are we living in a time of multiple possibilities that will only collapse into a coherent narrative by an event or events that will take place sometime in the future? Perhaps we are living through one of the great transformational periods in human history, where something as yet inconceivable is about to be born? How are we to read the entrails of our times, as we slaughter the goat and laid bare its inner workings?
The interesting possibility is that historians may look back at our times and, with all the advantages of hindsight, come to the conclusion that Western civilization is shifting into a new and higher perspective, a Novum Organon that will radically change how human beings exist. For them, such a shift will be obvious; for us, it is a matter of faith, hope, and perhaps most of all, charity. For above all it takes love to open the gates of perception to a reality greater than the world of scarcity, loss, and death that preoccupies our more primitive selves.
It is Bernard Lonergan's work in both Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1971) that provides a clue as to what may be moving forward, where the talents of an incarnate subject can be brought forward as a corrective measure in history. This is as much a radical change as the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ (where for the first time intellectual, moral, and religious conversion became a real possibility to be actualized in in the millenniums to come) and the emergence of wealth-creating recurring schemes of operations brought about through a combination of an industrial revolution and scientific innovation (capitalism). From our perspective, Lonergan's organon is the next logical step in human development. It is an exercise in trying to understand the culture that will come after our own, one already transformed by Lonergan's ideas, and using that "future" perspective to better understand our own age. We play the role of a future historian who, in hindsight, works out the dynamics of a past age as a necessary sequence leading to the reality of his own times.
It is a mark of maturity when a person learns to take responsibility for their own actions. By placing our own times in the context of a future reality that may not be achievable yet is now a distinct possibility we challenge ourselves to become better than who we are. This is a far cry from from the victim hood and ungratefulness that characterizes a culture built around rights rather than duties: an ungrateful people convinced and secure in their own status as victims are little more than slaves in training. Casting aside all responsibility for their miserable existence may be emotionally gratifying, but it does little to change their situation.
Becoming truly human is a difficult task at best--and our "Progressive" culture does not make it any easier. Perhaps this can be best observed in prevailing attitudes of elites and ruling classes to consider themselves as arbitrators of all moral behavior, using their power and position to lord it over others who are perceived as beneath their consideration, i.e., "deplorables." This is a far cry from the older idea of noblesse oblige, where the wealthy classes were expected to fulfill certain social responsibilities for those less well off. Even this is a wild cry from the once common Christian notion that to lead one had to serve. Cultural failures have their consequences.
And a fundamental institution change ranging from global to regional to local levels that started over a century ago is now playing out on the world stage. Is is part of the eternal battle between freedom and slavery, between good and evil. As such, this change demands a response, demands taking a position. For there are two fundamental orientations at play, an elite ruling class whose virtual signaling defines them, and a "deplorable" class whose traditional Western values are being swept under the table. Already, in phrasing the dialectic in this way, a position has been taken. But the question still remains: which one constitutes a position in Lonergan's sense that while incomplete is firmly grounded in reality and capable of being improved, and which one is a counter-position grounded in myth and magic and hence only open to ultimate failure? In the end, only one side will prevail. And whether you like it or not, whether you admit it or not, you are playing a role in how this conflict will end.
But how are we to know what we should do? This is a hard question to answer, given that the multitude of cultures surrounding us lead to a relative morality lest any group be offended, and the failure of any empirical heuristic structure to accommodate the richness and density of human existence. It is to answer this question that we propose an emergent cosmopolis institute firmly grounded in Bernard Lonergan's transcendental method and functional specializations as well as Otto Friedman's notions of professional practice during times of fundamental institutional change.
One can be a slave and leave it all up to fate; or one can take a stance and see where it leads. But in any case we are living at a time when great changes are taking place, where the status quo no longer holds, and where the challenges of our times will affect us all. And the freedom to choose is more important than ever. But who of us are truly free?
An emergent cosmopolis institute is one such response to such fundamental change. It would combine into one organization a focus on reflective understanding as the path to freedom, on improving one's own foundational stance through mutual self-mediation, on seeking authenticity through intellectual/moral/religious conversion, on providing tools for taking a professional approach to practical action, and on providing specific services to the general populace and universities by bringing the Divine Mystery into planning and policy-making where its absence has been most noticed.
This is a work in progress. Details of our explorations and discoveries may be found throughout the site.
Russell Charles Baker
December 21, 2019
At certain momentous points in history, the term "organon" has been used to designate an instrument of mind: not an instrument of the hand, like a hammer or nutmeg grater, or even so precious an instrument as a Stradivarius violin, but rather a developed talent of an incarnate subject, a way of structuring our conscious activities, that has been of immense importance for the human race.
— Frederick E. Crowe, "An Organon for our Time,"
The Lonergan Enterprise (USA: Crowley Publication, 1980), p. 6.
Entering Lonergan's Novum Organon
In determining whether a public figure is a "Communist" there are two unknowns. How far he can go and how far he wants to go. Both are contingent. What you can measure is his attitude to power. If he could wear the Ring, would he?
— Richard Fernandez (wretchardthecat)
A Cosmopolis Training Institute Production
TIdeas have consequences
Why an Emergent Cosmopolis Institute?
Who do you choose to be? How do you know if you're making the right choice? Doing the right thing? If you don't want to bend to the winds of fate, you have to know what is going wrong, what the root cause may be, and what remedial options are available. Personal decisions concerning one's orientation in life (intellectual [honesty], moral [courage], and religious [compassion] conversion and differentiation of mind [common sense, empirical science, interiority, transcendent, etc.]) conditions one's evaluation of the situation at hand, which in turn conditions any diagnosis concerning the root causes of the dysfunctional situation. And since foundational realities trump rational intelligence, there is always the question of the scope and constraints on reason. What to do, for in the end to do nothing is to act.
What difference might such an institute make? Members of an emergent cosmopolis institute seek the deeper trends and currents of history rather than short term gossip and commentary, seek wisdom and goodness over flashy intellect and undisciplined selves, seek the deep anchors of human living free of short term interests and biases based in either egotism or group allegiance--or both. It is to embrace the best of what it means to be human in a Judeo-Christian civilization. For humans, left to their own devices, prefer to enslave and dominate those around them--if they can do so. And the rationalizations and justifications used to do so become embedded in human intellectual endeavors, resulting in the diminishing and fragmentation of the public sphere where there is no possibility of rational discourse. If common sense runs rampant with no checks and balances, it destroys the very unity of a civilization.
What do you have to loose? Well, quite a bit, actually. Mostly any confidence in what you know as being what you know. The reality is that the words we use, the thoughts we thinking, and the questions we ask have all been contaminated by centuries upon centuries of deliberate distortion as various power seekers and holders have sought to rationalize or justify their "right" to hold power over others. Thankfully, we have Lonergan's work in both Insight and Method to provide guides to walking through the intellectual mine-fields that bedevil us.
And that's only the start of things. The socio-political world in which we play out our lives is itself fragmented and fragmenting beyond any human effort to correct, for the very act of attempting to correct the situation automatically adds to the very fragmentation going on around us. Our world seems to be tearing itself apart and we have no idea why passions are so high and conflict so dear--only that they are.
And rationality goes by the board. When passions run high, when fads sweep over the public realm, when fantasy and myths are preferred over the difficult task of affirm what is in fact true, when history is set aside as irrelevant to contemporary concerns only to leave whole cultures adrift and thus susceptible to demagogues and rabble rousers, then what use is reason in the management of public affairs?
Sometimes you have to set current passions aside and spend the time and effort to get at the root of things. This may not be an easy thing to do when your world seems to be collapsing around you. Yet we have inherited more leisure time than most civilizations have ever seen to do just that. The question is: are our tools adequate to the task at hand?
Welcome to the Cosmopolis Institute project. This is a totally impossible endeavor, yet since many apparently impossible things are taking place on a daily bases, I'm putting my hat in the game. Of course, the ultimate arbitrator is the Divine Mystery and the universal perspective it holds. Given this transcendent reality, it will be interesting to observe how events unfold over the years, decades, and centuries to come. For there is more going on than we think (the Renaissance was only recognized as such long after the fact).
All the material contained within are either prototype educational experiments or resource materials for those interesting in joining our little community. Dense it is and has to be, for we are engaged in a multi-prong endeavor involving locating our collective blind spots, enhancing our freedom to follow the good via actualizing our potential for ongoing conversion, and seeking ways to bring that good into a world that seems to shun its very being.
Like many things of worth, the journey is not an easy one, perhaps impossible for most for few have the potential and the skills to consciously operate at the reflective level of the human good. And so it should be, for this is a specialized task within a greater whole. But it may well be essential for the well-being of our world and for whatever good we may pass down to our descendants.
Russell C. Baker
October 17, 2018
Embracing a Full-on Crisis in Authority
Origins, an introduction to an evaluative critique of history, has been posted in Educational Projects: Evaluative History
April 8, 2020
Final Thoughts on the Wuhan Virus posted in Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
April 6, 2020
A first cut of President Trump's level of conversion has been posted in Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
April 4, 2020
A Cosmopolis Perspective: Benchmark has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
April 4, 2020
Robustness and Trapped Resources added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
March 30, 2020
The Great Shakedown: Part III (three filters against folly)has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
March 28, 2020
The Great Shakedown: Part II (the great clarifier) has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
March 27, 2020
The Great Shakedown: Part I has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
March 25, 2020
Context is Everything has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
March 21, 2020
Exponential Agonies has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III
March 19, 2020
Upper Blade of Theory: sublation and conditioning among the three basic levels of recurring schemes of operation, with a primary focus on the institutional realm. Added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump III.
February 28, 2020
Back to Basics: Using the transdisciplinary framework to highlight the significant features of a fundamentally challenged global institutional structure. Added to Educational projects: Foundations: Trump III.
February 25, 2020
Setting in place a set of higher level operators (upper blade of theory) that would be useful in coming to understand the implications of the current Covid-19 epidemic. Added to Educational projects: Foundations: Trump II.
February 15, 2020
What China's reactions to the 2019 nCov potential pandemic tells us about group bias. Added to Educational projects: Foundations: Trump II.
February 11, 2020
Evil added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump II. Higher blade in different realms of meaning; sculpting meaning, and three successive stages of consciousness (meaning)
January 25, 2020
Facts added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump II.
January 20, 2020
A commentary on A Crisis in Authority has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump II. Fundamental insights:
January 13, 2020
A new paper titled A Decade of Revolt (Martin Gurri, 2014) has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump II. Here we have an important clue as to the nature of the fundamental institutional changes taking place around the world
December 28, 2019
Revised forward on the home page,
December 21, 2019
Title change from The Cosmopolis Institute to Novum Organon, pointing out that the former is but a tool for achieving the latter
December 20, 2019
Back to Basics, which deals with the possibility of a second organum emerging at this time in history, has been added to Educational Projects: Foundations: Trump II,
December 15, 2019