Tag Archives: indigenous science paradigm

10 December 1988 Personal Correspondence on Paradigm Shift, Peace Research, etc.

Dec. 10, ’88

Dear Norm

Your letter and the Fibonacci Factor arrived. I thank you for them. But I am not going to “Edit” your writing. I am no “editor” anyway. So instead, I would rather talk about a general problem.

The problem has to do with the puzzling phenomena of “Popularity”. I got a book honoring David Bohm. The book is deceiving in that Bohm is not as “Popular” among professional scientists as the contributing authors in the book suggest by their generous praises. When he was invited by a student group at King’s College, University of London, to give a talk, no professor of the university showed up to listen. When Bohm came to lecture at Red Dear, I did inform his old admirers at Theoretical Physics Inst. U of A. No physiscist showed up in the Red Dear meeting, except me. It was almost like Peace meeting/lecture, poorly attended and ignored by elites that operate and control the “currency” of social scale communication.

Wm. Reich’s works, Immanuel Velikowski’s works, etc. had some following but academically did not “catch on” in the “currrency” of that sub-culture. Thomas Kuhn’s work on “Paradigm Shift” had to wait 10 years in an obscurity — first published in Unity of Science but little attention was paid then, including by those who were associated with the Unity of Science movement in late 1950’s. —. Only after Kuhn dissociated with Unity of Science and re-published essentially the same essay as a separate book, it came into the “currency”. Academics eagerly came on to the bandwagon, probably because, once isolated from the “radical” idea of Unity of Science, it became safe to adapt the catch phrase “Paradigm Shift” into academic vocabulary.

How come Marx got to be so popular that Marx himself had to say am not a Marxist? Whereas Fourier is now forgotten. Why Newton won and Leibniz lost? Both Faraday and Maxwell had “Vortex Cosmology” which was the foundation of Electromagnetic Field Theory, yet hardly any Physicist knows that today. It seems that a Prophet to gain the popular currency, he or she had to be falsified. I guess your Peace Research did not grow exactly as you envisioned. The unpopularity of CPREA, say relative to other recent comers such as Educators For Peace etc., has been well known to us for a long time.

That brings another question; namely “Why anyone would do it?” Van Gogh painted what he wanted. While he was alive, he was nobody. He had a “Lust For Life” and driven insane by that. He could not help himself. Flaubert wrote Madame Bovery, but that is the only one book that he wrote. He did not care to become a professional “Writer”, nor did he do anything else. He was not Popular in the town where he lived as an obscure man. Of course, that one work was enough. But, it appears that those who had a Gift was more like unwilling Victims than Hero. Certainly they did not seek Success. They did what they were driven to do.

We are stricken by the beauty of the “different” World, say, in reading Fabl’s Diary on Insects. He was not writing for a recognition of his scientific works. It meant to be private Love letters to Lady Nature. Since she did not write, he had to record her part as well.

That is quite different story from authors in our “Professionalized” Age, where one is either a “Knowledge Producer” or a “Knowledge Consmer”. If you are Knowledge Producer, then you have to assert your knowledge, advertise it and sell it in the Fashion Market. There can be a great Success in it and certainly the sense of Power is enormous. If one is a Knowledge Consumer, then one is to buy the “Latest”, Just as one buys new car, Hi-Fi computer, or dresses to show off to those who are slower in wit to catch on.

Keynes was the first man to introduce Mathematics into Economics and made Economics a “Science”. Before Keynes, Economics was Just a matter of “Opinions”. His Science changed our way of living since then. Yet in his old age he came to tell his students that “The Economic Utility of Economics is to employ Economists”. Indeed his Science created thousands of Jobs for economists. Before that time “economists” are “Moral Philosophers” and, other than generating “hot air” or interesting odd conversation in typical snobbish British tea parties, they had no practical utility and hence no employment After Keynes, Governments, Business, eagerly sought for economists. The market price of economists shot up. Seeing that many students wanted to have degrees in economics, universities which used to have one or two “Economic Moral Philosophers” had to employ Economics Professors. Where there was a handful of Economists, there came thousands of Economists, employed at very high salary.

That happened within a few decades. That is remarkable achievement of an Intellectual Production. That is why Keynes was a Great Intellectual Hero. And we mean “Success” of Science by such a model.

[*1. In the case of Einstein, the division of labor was in place and there appeared “self-appointed salesmen” who did much of selling. The QM case needs some elaborations. But at any rate, increase in professional employment are quite visible. I am an old fashion guy and had no idea about “Science as Profession”, until I came to read Max Weber in my later years.]

[*2. The group that Kuhn used to associated with was moving toward “Sociology of Science” which is to talk about such phenomena. Kuhn cut that part off, and that is how he became “Famous”. One has to know when to say a certain thing, or rather not to say certain things at wrong times, if one wishes to be “current” in the popular market.]

I do not think you had any idea about Success of your “Peace Science” would be like when you started. But, the idea of “success” in that sense is well established and operating as a Cultural Standard in our society. Regardless we think of it or not, we are controlled by it. Even if we ignore it, the standard of success is held by the society and people Judge us by that. They ask “What’s in it for me?”, If you do not give out an illusion, people see no “Utility” in what you are selling and hence go away. Of course, it is peculiar characteristic of the modern Euro-American society that “Knowing” in a very peculiar sense became almost like “utility, — because of the technology of printing, perhaps — and it became sellable commodity in the market. Arts became market good, and with the advent of T.V. even “spiritualty” became Billion Dollar Industry. The Capitalism triumphed everywhere, despite all that talk by Socialists. Veblen, Schumpter were right in saying Socialism is just a stage of the Capitalism. Marx was completely off the mark in this respect.

Given that, you have a choice of either to be a “Successful Scientist” in selling your products or to be a “Hermit” (or Jesus Christ, Buddha, Medicine Man, etc.) in waiting for Disciples to find and come to you. I did find you and came, but I do not think that was your idea of success. Another choice would be like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Lenin, Mao, Castro, etc. They are “activists” and their writings were secondary to acting in importance.

I think about such cases because of my peculiar position relative to Native science that Pam and her group is doing. I am not a “Native”, therefore I cannot be the one who is doing. I stand aside and see what is going on. That suits me alright in that I am a “surveyor”. But it is peculiar. I get a sense as if I am an Alien from a different World. I tell them to be passionate, yet that is not my passion. A stage director pick up a script and formulate actions that actors perform. Where is my own life/lust? I ask “What’s in it for me?” Not that I want anything out of it, but what I wonder why that is my business. To be without “trust” is to be “Meaningless”. I am at the edge of Nietzschean World where a burning Passion/Lust/Will To Power meets with a Total Meaningliessness. If Love Making is a meeting of Life and Death, what I have is a very odd kind of Sex. It is a Sex that I am not in it — as if I am castrated —. I do not feel it “happy one”.

If some people had to be victims of Hiroshima/Nagasaki Bombs, not by their choice but by “accident”, and live a life in a Hell thereafter, I do not have much complain to make. Besides I now know enough about how Native Wisdom has been treated. Being just useful to the others may be one thing I can do. So I aim at that. I just have to careful so that I do not sound bitter. I should stop at being cynical. I might invent a science of how to Make Cynical Love for the benefit of all cynical people out there. After all, it ought to be my specialty to put together contradictions.

[In a sense, Peace Research, Native Science are Science of Making Love for those who have troubles. What is ironical is that the castrated one is the one who is talking. One who does not talk. Every time I write “Native Science is” I know and feel I am faking. It is not for me to say. Yet I do tell Pam what Native Science is or is not. I do it  only because she can say no to that any time she decides to do so.]

I f the above sounds “bitter” already to you, then I can amend it somewhat by talking about “Beauty in Discourse”. When people talk or communicate, something beautiful happens — at least some of the times —. Even PLO and Zionist might achieve such a beauty. [In Nws today, I find out that a Jewish Ladies organization met with Arafat and had discussed the Peace Plan.] However, in general, the Joy and wonder of such a moment is too much. So people do not wish to come into “Heavy Talks”. Friendship, Loveship, and Fraternity, even in times of war, are like miracle. But people appear not to want that. “Don’t dare touch me, because something beautiful might happen and I don’t know what to do with it!” is the usual attitude. But that small probability — so small that one might say it has a “negative probability” is nonetheless there.

It also had happened in physics. When Quantum Physics was “in making”, only small number of people came together and discussed, argued, and even fought about what was about to be made. Private letters, frequent visits, discussion meetings, conference were held, involving no more than a dozen people. What was that held together? Where the Passion and the Lust came from? How did they know what they were dreaming about is of any importance?

The development of Q.M. was so different from the individualistic ones like that of Newton, Galilei, or Descartes. And remarkably, it was international. Race nor Creed did not matter. Even Japanese were allowed to join. In comparison to the “organizational Egoism” that I can observe among Peace Research, Education, Action, groups’ that was one hell of a “festival”. Unfortunately, as Q.M. got to be an established science, that “spirit” disappeared. Human Race was not quite ready to have Love Affair in a social scale any larger than a dozen people.

Incidentally, Einstein was a member of what they called themselves “Olympians”. They met regularly at cafe and discussed many things. Somehow, Einstein himself did not mention that too often. The cases of Castro, Mao, etc. can be traced to a small group of people. That is what I call the Beauty of Discourse. To be sure, groups may also corrupt. We have the phenomenon of “In Group” just as well to spoil the beauty.

But some day, I hope it will come to pass that I can talk about Native Science without pain of reminding myself that I am an outsider. For that beautiful time to come, Native have to become free and former imperialists become free. I think the situation of Natives have a parallel with “Arab-Israel conflict”. Peace Research is yet to work on the problem. So I have to do the work. I may not be around to see the result, but that is o.k. So many millions of people are killed every year. We let it keep going on. If I am one of them, I deserve the same treatment.

It is ironical that people who think I am a happy-go-lucky kind of guy and have no idea how debilitating the pain of depression is helping me to put on a brave face and keep working. I they knew, they would get depressed and we all go down together. That helps nobody. In the Science of Sun Dance, “Brave” means the degree of ability to contain one’s own inner pain. Europeans did not see anything beyond physical pains on the surface. Many Natives also lost the “science” of Sun Dance. For example Deloria’s description of Sun Dance in God Is Red only refers to physical pain. He has Europeanized to that extent. The sense of “Brave” to contain inner pain is forgotten. High incidence of Alcoholism, violence to others, and decay/death of native community indicate that. To learn such a science is a significant reward to me. Something must have told me to study Native Science, knowing my weakness.


Sam K.

P.S. The enclosed are some of my recent writings. I send your manuscript on Fibonacci to Pam. I think she is in California now.

8 December 1988 Personal Correspondence on Indigenous Science, Education Philosophy, Anthropic Principle, etc.

Dec. 8, ’88

The student’s name is Ronald. He came from Germany, currently majoring in Philosophy. If he is serious I would mention your name.


I am most interested in your teaching plan for Native Science and appreciated your generosity to share with me. I take it that you are asking me about general philosophy/strategy of Native Science Education. So I shall follow up the “strategy of discourse” that we started to discuss. As to the teaching plan, in technical sense, I am not familiar enough with your education course to comment. I think your prof in the course will help you for that.

1. There is a trap that “teachers” fall into very easily. That is inherent in the Word/Notion of “teaching”. We tend to think that we have to “put some knowledge into student’s head”. But that is the very same “missionary” attitude that victimized Natives. I call that “Intellectual Colonialism”. You might find Kipling’s poem “Whitemen’s Burden” very interesting in this regard. If you “teach” Native children, I recommend that you keep the poem with you all the time.

Having a “good and righteous intention” is not enough. I would think that “Science Education” ought to be distinct from “Religious Education” in the sense “science” is not (ought not to be) imposition of “superior intellect” but a humble help to oneself and people.

Natives, particularly Inuits, feel offensive to offer even help if not asked. They are not individualists in European sense, but respect each person’s “Sovereignty of Thoughts and Act”. If you see a danger in your friends’ plan, you ready yourself for a “rescue” operation, and preferably you help your friends in their back so that they do not know what you have done.

Because of “time scale” and “distance” involved, Inuit Way is not practical in our “modern life”. So we have to “tell” our friends about the danger that they might fall into. And results do “teach” their children. But it is preferable that we keep the Inuit code of Etiquette in our mind.

Besides, education is “Empowerment”, not subjugation of people under an Authority, however right the Authority is. We engage la “discourse” and create a learning situation in which students hopefully learn “one’s own ability to learn”. Teachers are “facilitators”, not dictators who say “I am the Right, follow me”. Interestingly Christ and Lenin were called “Teacher” in the “follow me” sense. Buddha never has spoken in such a “commanding mode language”. Native Gods Wisemen, Wisewomen did not speak like that either, as far as I know. It is a distinct characteristic of “Judeo-Christian-Islam” mentality to “command”. [You note A.J. Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic says saying anything is “commanding”. That is the paradigm of European-Philosophy. I do acknowledge “practical efficiency” of European Way of talking, but there are questions as to such a sense of “Truth” which is distinctively Judeo-Christian-Islamic.]

Native Science Education, in my estimate, is not attempting “Teaching of Native Science.” in the Authoritarian sense of European Teaching. I think it is good that “Native Science” is mentioned and recognized, but there is a “Native Way of Education”.

We get paid “teaching”, therefore we like to assert and claim our “achievement” in teaching. If we are “practicing student teachers”, we like to get credit in “teaching”. But Education is inherently “invisible”. If your students say “I got my idea by my own power. The teacher did not help me”, then you are doing the best sense of education.

[It is idiotic and possibly “criminal”, but many of us university professors have tendency to “show off” how much we know in the name of Teaching. Some profs even make physics course as difficult as possible or adapt texts which look difficult (called “advanced”) and think that as evidence for “good teaching”. Since how much “Learning” students did in a course is not easily measurable, the deceit often goes through as “real education”. The Dean is not knowledgeable nor care enough to see through the “Show Offs” covering up bad education.

Worse yet, the very students who are victimized think that difficult equations are written on black board is “good teaching”.  If a prof does not do that they think the prof is slacking off etc. They like to be “impressed” by incomprehensibility. They do not know that “making things easy” takes more intelligence and efforts. Unconsciously, perhaps, they do not like to learn anyway, therefore “good show off” is better (in terms of prestige, etc. Thus such a practice goes on.]

In that sense, we should try very hard “not to teach”, but let students find out for their own.

[In this respect, I had several of very good teachers who were delighted to have us arguing against them. One of our teacher later received Nobel Prize. We used tell him “you do not know what you are talking about” etc. In order to fight with him, we read texts, references, papers etc., ahead of class time. We were ready to show him different ways to get the same results, at least. Many of us are now Professors but we do not have students who would dare argue.

We talked about this and came to a conclusion that we are not worthy of Trust by our students. We are not great teachers like our teachers were.]

2. The irony is, however, you probably find that “Try not Teach” takes more preparation than “Teaching”. Since you are not “controlling” students’ activities, thinking and feeling, you have to be very sensitive and understand “what is going on”.

Some children may have already “internalized” Authoritarian Teaching Mode, and ask you “Mr. Teacher. What you want?” And, if you reply “I want nothing”, then the children would complain that “You don’t care”.

You have to understand them too, and have to consider “sensual” needs of humans to “belong” to a group. Not every students even in senior high is like a Native Brave who is aloof of the “collective security”. [The extreme Individualism of Native Braves is a “contradiction” to their “Communal Sharing Economy”. But let me postpone discussion of “Complementarity of the Opposites” for the time being.”]

On one hand we see that Einstein, Edison, Wright Brothers, et al were “Lone Wolf”. They did not have “Gang Mentality” — say like Nazi followers, American Lynch Mob, Bandwagon Riders, Opportunists, or what Nietzsche and Ortega called “Herd” —.

On the other hand, “Science” is a “Social Enterprise” if not a “Collective Intelligence” of a society/culture. No society will survive without a “Shared Myth” in common. “Science” is a part of the “Collective Subjectivity” which defines “Reality” as the basis/context for social scale actions.

It is not that the “Science Educator” has to know the answer to the dilemma, but the science educator is placing oneself to learn the situation. To “Learn” is to deal with problems. Deciding an “answer” is patently “unscientific”, for it means a refusal to learn.

So you go into the “mob scene” and try to make a sense of what your students are doing — inside their minds, which are enormously complex dynamics for each different ways —.

How a “teacher” prepare a lesson plan, in such a situation? We say “It is impossible”. But somehow we are “responsible”. That is to say, we ought to be “able to respond” whatever the situation there is.

The best we might do is to have a “Dream” of what might happen and prepare for it in a “non-specific” way. We are not there to stop what we consider “undesirable” by an exercise of our little “power”. [We are not going into Vietnam to teach people how to be “rational”, “intelligent”, “scientific” etc. Simply because we cannot.] We go into the mess and try to find out Native Science in the mind of children. We appreciate their intelligence, their silence, and pay due respect. Probably, that is the most that we can.

To be sure, we have added complication that our colleagues in teaching profession might not understand this. Yet “Education” is a social action. Each of us as an individual cannot do “education”. Your co-workers are essential. We need very best of communication among us. The trouble is, of course, we are not too competent in communicating. Even between a Wife and her Husband, or between the best of friends, we have troubles. We can hardly have the same Dream. We do not feel pains of others. In that, we are completely ignorant and “uneducated”.

When we come to think of “Education” as a Social action, we also become aware of problems of parents, society around, racial and ethical differences, etc. “Native Science Education” is nothing, if we are not prepared to take the pain of recognizing the problems.

Of course, we do not talk about such problems directly to our students. But, unless we have some idea as to what we are doing amidst all these problems, we cannot be a “teacher”, let alone be an educator. [Or it may be true that we can be a teacher because we are blind to the problems. Sometimes a Blind Romanticism may be a blessing, and that is how we “fall” in love. We find “love” is very painful thing soon enough. But then it is too late. We are trapped. We put the best of our brave face and pretend we are burning up in the flame of passion. No matter how good our preparation is, we are always vulnerable. We would consider ourselves lucky, if we have had a beautiful moment or two. Maybe, such is Being a Human.]

3. The above going is too pessimistic. I know humans have a natural Grace and things work out alright, despite all odd against it. But saying that may not be enough, so I add a “technical” suggestion.

If you are to do Native Science, perhaps it is helpful to consider beyond “Two in comparison/antagonism”.

To talk and think “Native Myth” tend to give an implicit meta-geometry of “One against Another”. Saying “Native Myth” implicitly implies “European Science” as its opposite. That is the basic “Formula” of Christian-Marxian Dialectics.

Hegelian Dialectics is a bit more complex (in my peculiar reading). It is not Two in Opposition, but a Complex towards Synthesis. And the “Discourse” would be helped by a better Meta-Geometry, say, of (2 x 2) Matrix at least.

The “European Science” contains a vague, implicit, but recognizable “myth, religion” which is held in a tension/contradiction. The meta-geometry of “One Against another” tends to obscure this internal tension/contradiction.

Native Science tends not show the “split” (say knowledge against spiritualty). By saying this, we are not comparing “Native Science” against “european Science” but rather seeing “Internal Structures/Relations”. (2 x2) Matrix let our “metaphors” (perceptions) wonder into subtler things. That is the merit.

Even if it is wrong, we say like “Native Science and Native Religion” in comparison to “European Science and European Religion” (heuristics). By simply saying so, it already start mind of people wondering; about “internal structures”, not just comparison of “European versus Native”. This is a remarkable “Ritual” (Technology) for our thinking/talking. It is an extension fo the technology know as “asking a right question at right time”. (Let us call it “Seeing a problem in appropriate context”.) We use help of “mental geometry” (which is a “mathematics” and hence “science”).

It inevitably leads us into thinking what “Science” is for, relative to what “Religion” (Myth, Spirituality) is for. Why the split? Does not Native side also have troubles/tension? Native Americans are also Humans, not “Gods” nor “Beasts”. Characteristics of Humans are (i) that they have (if not create) problems, and (ii) that thye have ability to learn (to deal with problems). To put the same in another way, “Science” is (i) knowing Reality, and (ii) Changing Reality (even a minimal sense of change in “perception” of Reality). [If you wish to have (2 x 2) Matrix, you could multiply Love?Power pair in combination with them.]

The “Knowing” and “Changing” is a pair of Dialectical Oppositions. They can be viewed as “Knowing Reality” as a move towards Stability (conservative) and “Changing Reality” is a move from Sensitivity. What is Sensitive cannot be Stable, which the Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevski explained to Jesus in return. But it can also be viewed a s”Complementality”. You have seen an example of this in Quantum Epistemology in your Philosophy of Science course. You note that even Love, despite its intent to “preserve” and “protect”, changes everything. “Power” forces changes and defend stability Education (of both Power Way and Love Way) changes “self”, yet it is a construction of an “identity”.

How to use this (2 x 2) matrix as a tool for synthesis is a “science”. Interestingly, Native American had this science under the name of “Sacred Hoop”, consisting of 4 elements arranged in a circle. If we think of “Science” to be “Way of Thinking” to deal with problems in living, Natives had a better Science than the Science of Christian-Marxist (1 x 1) Dialectics.

Science of Native is not “Man against Nature” (God and Devil) or “Ego against object” (Subjectivity against Reality), but rather a Complex Circular Relationships which we recently have come call “Environment” (though we tend to think it as an object still).

To grasp the “Whole” is better achieved by “Hoop” metaphor than European Linear Metaphor. That is to say, Native Science is more sophisticated than European Mechanics.

[A copy of a speech by Chief Sealth is enclosed as example.]

4. Another recent “discovery” in European Science is “Anthropic Principle”. The “discovery” is in the sense of Columbus “discovered” America. For Natives have known the principle for a long time. Anthropic Principle says that the Universe in which intelligent being could possibly exist is a Miracle — the probability of such adverse to emerge is very, very small, one billionth of billionth of billionth. It is so small that the very notion of “Probability” becomes invalid. (A French Mathematician Polson knew that too small a probability cannot be handled by the usual Probability Theory.) Only the Grace of love could have made it possible. Needless to say such a “feeling” does not fit well within European science, and therefore it creates a tension.

The reverence towards “Environment” (Universe) cannot be generated without an appreciation of the Miracle/Grace that Anthropic Principle refers.

Unfortunately European Science stands on an Ideological denial that “There Exist No Miracle/Grace”. When you teach Native Science, you are implicitly breaking the “Fundamental Truth” (Dogma, Axiom) of European Science.

5. However, Native Science is not predicated on Linear One-Directional Time. “Time” can be multi-dimensional, or “Two Ways” (flow from the Future to the Past, as well as from the Past to the Future). That is also in agreement with recent “discovery” in Physics. (If you like, call it Metaphysics. But One-Way Linear Time is one metaphysical theory among many others.)

I do not wish to “lecture” on physics here, so I stop. But it seems that Native Science Education cannot be stopped within the “European convention”, let alone within its Ideology. The European Convention for itself is breaking down.