I’ve added this on my contribution – as Richard Green added “But the planet is not a lifeboat. It is a starship. It has huge hydroponic gardens and an almost infinite supply of solar energy… “. Suddenly I noticed the “life”-boat metaphor and the problems we have with undecidable propositions.I think the situation of the lifeboat is even worse (the “life”-part, i suddenly notice, adds a funny metaphor in the perspective of my previous contribution, this is how subconscious works). As a sentence, it is a Gödel-case, a sentence of the “this sentence has no proof”-kind. The sentence is both solvable and unsolvable, irrespective any position. When in an actual lifeboat, it has no deeper meaning then “keep on rowing with what we have”; when on shore – as we are all – these are all instances of the saying: “the best boatmen are at shore”. So we’re at a paradox. Varela calls this kind of understanding “.. a sense of paradox in the linguistic domain (in “The Creative Circle”, a contribution in Watzalawick’s “The Invented Reality” – the lifeboat example is clearly an invented reality). I think, when it has this sense in the linguistic domain, that it is an actual paradox.
The planet we live on – the “lifeboat” seems both a metaphor of our situation and the actual situation – is a dynamical system with a clear boundary. Just like the lifeboat, the paradox is introduced through the boundary. As Spencer Brown (Laws of Form) proved, “making a distinction” is the only necessary – and inevitable, i’m afraid – condition for creating paradox. The paradoxes shows themselves both in the un-decidability (note the implied absence of a distinction) of the sentence being true and untrue AND in the undecidedablity in the actual situation. There exists “no solution”, not in the linguistic domain, nor in the actual space, but – as I’ve said – to go on living*). Anyone having a solution for global problems has been proven to be suffering the Utopia-syndrome. In the future, it will be worse ;-).
While writing this, i noticed that there is a hidden joke in the abbreviation of United Nations: UN. There very nature of making decisions on a planetary scale is in de word UN-decidable. The decision making process in the United Nations (like on Syria, Balkan, Central Africa, human rights, …) is failing again and again, not because the UN is – or is destined to be – a failure; it is because we’re in a whole-whole paradox and this is as good as it gets with the current level of UNderstanding.
*) the distinction between the physical, actual world (work) and the abstract, thinking world (mind), nicely reflects Spinoza’s two substances.