Conceptual clarifications about "Utopias and the Information Society"

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This elucidation is attached to the seminar From Ancient Utopias to Cyberutopias. An introduction to political philosophy held at the Munich University of Applied Science under the supervision of J.M. Díaz Nafría. The goal is contributing to the conceptual clarification to which glossaLAB is devoted to, namely the understanding of information and systems from multiple perspectives, and at the same time contributiong to the objectives of the seminar as explained in the next paragraph.

The relations between utopias, systems and political philosophy

One may ask, what has this purpose to do with the historical study of utopias and its manifestation in current cyberutopias, as an introduction to political philosophy. Well, the relation is probably much stronger than what one would think in first sight.

One needs first bearing in mind that a system is the result of interacting parts whose cooperative activity makes the system to endure (preserving some kind of identity) and that creates some functionality for the system itself and for the environment where it happens to exist. At the same time, it is clear that any utopia is devised, first of all, to fulfil some wishful characteristics and, second, to endure. Since, in addition, it is composed by parts whose interaction suppose to be responsible for the wishful objectives, then a utopia is nothing but a system, indeed a social system. However it is not as any other social system we may be willing to study, it is a system proposed as a goal that suppose to be worth being pursued, i.e., a goal we may strive to achieve, and even sometimes the target of a programme we may carefully plan. The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano puts it very nicely in the following words:

"Utopia is on the horizon. I walk two steps, it takes two steps away, and the horizon runs ten steps further. So, for what does the utopia works? For that, it serves to walk."

And when we speak of walking for a social system (particularly of it requires decision making) that's nothing but politics. From that perspective, political action always involves some utopia, be it more or less explicit. And when we want to delve into the different political approaches to understand them better, then we need to focus on the utopias which are moving the political action, and that is doing political philosophy. And what about dystopias? That's something we dislike, we wish to avoid them. That's clearly not a model to fulfil, but rather a model to scape from. Therefore, it is also a reason to walk for the social system.

Indeed the study of systems enables us to preview the space of possibilities in which the system may move. And we may see that if we set the (social) system in a particular way, the space of possibilities often displays areas which are better to avoid. A saylor needs to mark in the navigation chart not only the seaports but also the pitfalls to avoid. All in all when we analyse any utopia from its utopic and dystopic sides, we are clarifying the ultimate meanings of political approaches which is a way of doing political philosophy and even assesing the value of political proposals.

You can find below a (non-exhaustive) list of topics which are worth working in, classified according to the family of utopias in which they can be categorised using the clasification proposed during the lectures. Participants can work in just one topic or in several ones and find the connections existing with other concepts within the network of clarified concepts.

Creating a user

Obviously, the first simply step to do for working in glossaLAB platform is creating a user, identified by your full name and providing a brief research profile of yourself (condensed in a paragraph). Since we will measure the diversity and integration of disciplines when your user has been created, you should go to your user page (e.g. User:Modestos Stavrakis) and select -at the bottom of the edition page- the categories corresponding to the knowledge domains of your studies (the set of categories, organised in 9 trunks, contains more than 60, which are derived from the Universal Decimal Classification of disciplines). In this video you can see the process of user creation, the logging into the platform as accredited user and the initiation of the editing.

Preliminary clarifications (for participants in the seminar)

As a previous step to clarify other terms in more detail, we will continue herewith the clarification of the concepts I ask you about since the beginning of the seminar. You don't need to make any deep research on the meaning, the idea is collecting the different views you have with respect these concepts, but nevertheless with the purpose of improving what has already been clarified before. Indeed, you may see other clarifications from your colleagues when you arrive to the page.

  • If your view is significantly different to what already was given (or the page is still empty), you can add a new paragraph and start your contribution with the following format (suppose you are clarifying 'concept' and your user name is Anne Smith):
'''Concept''' can be understood as ... 
Supporters of this understanding: [[User:Anne Smith]]
  • If your understanding is very similar to what some of your colleagues has clarified before, you can just try to improve it (don't worry about overwriting because the original text can be recovered and the novelty you provide can be distinguished using the history tool), or to contribute with some further detail in the same direction. Below the corresponding paragraph you should add your user name to the list of supporters as shown above.

To provide your views just follow the following links: Utopia (preliminary) | Dystopia (preliminary) | Abstract vs concrete utopia (preliminary) | Information society (preliminary) | Cyberutopia (preliminary)

Guidelines for contributors (participants in the seminar)

The elaboration of your contribution(s) is something you can do in collaboration with other colleagues and assisted by the course's teacher. You need first to determine in what family of utopia your are you going to work in the first place. It may happen, when you start, that there are other entries worth being added (for instance, a concept you use which is not clarified yet). If you need to open a new voice, you can create a new article and communicate the action to the supervisor to provide the necessary components to be properly managed and supervised.

Since your contribution needs to be adequately embedded within the glossaLAB's conceptual network, therefore, it is important to be aware what is already there and to establish connections with other conceptual clarifications. First of all, your topic may already be opened and it may have some content you should review in order to enhance or complete in the way you wish. The documentation section within the seminar's website contains published materials you can use for backing-up your contribution(s).

Possible Seminar's Topics

The perfect Language

The computable language | The analytical language | A unified language | The perfect translator

The Perfect Thinking

The computable mind | Artificial Intelligence (Cyberutopias) | Deep Learning | Machine Learning | Spiegel's "Her"

The Perfect Wisdom

The universal library | The ubiquitous education | The web as a reservoir of wisdom | The network as a new paradigm for wisdom

The Perfect Social Order

The computable social order | Homeland Earth | Making peace with nature | Engineering the environment | Cybersubsidiarity | Other worlds are possible | A Global Sustainable Information Society | Huxley's "A Brave New World" | Wachowski Sisters' "Matrix""] | Deleuze's "Control society" | Neom: An absurd city project in Saudi Arabia | Project Cybersin

The Perfect Transparent Society

A transparent world | The network transparency | Orwell's "1984" | The social dilemma

The Perfect Trustful Society

A trustful information society | crypto-anarchism | cyber-punk | The anarchist shaping of technology | e-Participative Democracy| The soft power | Huxley's "A Brave New World"

The Perfect Purpose

Humans reason d'etre | Maximal human expression | Love for mankind through a higher purposes | Shaping of technology through the will and purpose of mankind | Interdependency of all other perfect utopias with 'The Purpose' | Examples of purpose as shown in fictional works like: E.E.Smith's "Lensmen-Series", David Brin's "The Uplift War" end co... | Examples and consequences of lost purpose as shown in fictional works like: Huxley's "A Brave New World" | The danger of misguided purpose