Deborah, re: “I would phrase that differently. From my view, the main commodity of the future is the ability to emphatically embrace not knowing. The humanism we are discussing is closely tied to knowledge, sense-making, meaning. I am more interested in what shows up in the absence of those formalizations.”
Agreed, if this wasn’t a conversational type of writing, I would put my previous entry through a few more edits! But the format we are using for this symposium has the flavor of a live talk, where sometimes one wishes to go back and edit how one said something! Anyway, if I were to rephrase this particular sentence, I think I would likely address the word meaning (as Taney astutely points out) and not omit it. It is a vague word for our needs. Necessity calls for another!
The type of meaning I am referring to is tacit, unable to be told using explicit means (written and spoken word), non-discursive, embodied, and simultaneously- subjective and personal. This type of meaning is what I think all humans yearn for. It is the type of meaning yielded from a life immersed in creative practices, like art. The notion of meaning as the commodity of the future is one shared by Yuval Noah Harari who summarizes the power of this type of meaning when he says: "A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship. Whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is." We all have seen examples of individuals who have lived in accord to the system in every way and have succeeded in doing all the “right” things- but still, something is lacking- something significant. No amount of money or power will ever deliver it. Harari has also referred to the rise of the "useless class" in the 21st century- those with no options for a well-paid career due to those careers being taken by machine learning and artificial intelligence. This, in turn, will force an economic reform. Whatever that reform may be, the precious commodities of today- namely, money- will lose value/interest and give rise to the commodity of meaning (again, for the lack of more appropriate word). This personal, subjective meaning is one artists know well. A commodity of not knowing: if that means unlearning tendencies that have outlived their usefulness, I could go along with that. (I can think of a couple ripe candidates!)
I am interested too in what shows up in the absence or formalizations such as sense-making, but not really sure what that would be. I think we humans are built to find patterns and make sense of them. We are striving to make sense constantly- right now! - it is what we do. Making sense is imperative to acquiring this type of meaning I refer to. As an artist I would be afraid to lose these formalizations for they are tools, and the absence of sense may easily be construed as nonsense. This beckons of that horrible saying I used to hear in art school-“dumb as a painter”. Artists can be just as intelligent and conceptual as the scientist. But I think it is important that artists are taken seriously moving deeper in the 21st century. That means reckoning with the juggernaut called science.
Science, (the objective), must be acknowledged. No one can deny the success of science as a tool for problem solving. Art must exercise great care moving forward if it wants to restore relevancy, as it is already marginalized. If art can communicate with science, if science can have a foothold, however slight, into the subjective realm of art, we inch toward the notion EO Wilson has termed consilience. (Consilience means literally “a jumping together” and refers to a unification of currently disparate fields of human knowledge- the arts, humanities, sciences, etc.) This foothold is akin to the leading edge of a tree’s root, thin and wispy, sliding into cracks of the stone, and yet over time growing and splitting the matrix. This stone is the subjective realm of the unknown, that which currently eludes science.
Re: Bateson: I think what is being referred to in this wonderful quote is just this sense-making, the finding of this “pattern that connects” that Bateson has referred to and which in turn leads to this type of meaning. Notably, a symmetry is found here between objective and subjective equivalents- an inward meaning reflected in an outward meaning and vice versa: a unification of the opposites.
Re: mystic: This is a word I struggle with as it carries much baggage. The lure of the unknown- this fiery, passionate desire to understand that has driven us through the millennia holds a sense of mystery implicit. This is essential. I agree with you and yes, it is a difficult position to defend. Both (word and position) need to be expressed in a way that science can understand or contribute. Otherwise, it is too easily dismissed. However, I think we live at a fortunate time as interesting things are happening in neuroscience and consciousness studies for example. The near future may yield common ground atop which we may build.