Investigating participatory epistemologies: towards inclusional research

Alan Rayner, along with an impressive crew of participants, has launched a website devoted to an in-depth investigation of participatory forms of knowing, which he calls inclusionality, and is opposted to the isolationist effect of pure objectivist views, which sees objects as separate from their invisible environments:

“A new public forum and website was launched at on 1st October 2007, aimed at understanding and growing beyond the mental block that gets in the way of human understanding. Most fundamentally, this mental block is the core premise of objective rationality, which assumes that material can be isolated from immaterial presence, such that an absolute demarcation can be made between the insides and outsides of discrete, fully definable objects (‘matter’ and ‘space’). This assumption leads to deep paradox, does not make sense of our everyday human experience and is not supported by contemporary scientific evidence implicit in quantum mechanics, relativity and non-linear theory. Nonetheless it remains deeply entrenched in our thinking and systems of governance, giving rise to profound conflict and corresponding psychological, social and environmental damage. It makes an ‘exception’ of the individual from the environment, and so views evolution as a competitive and selective process in which ‘favoured races are preserved in the struggle for life’. What has been called ‘inclusionality’ offers a way of transforming our understanding of all kinds of evolutionary processes by means of natural inclusion, the co-creative, fluid-dynamic transformation of all through all in receptive spatial context.

Inclusionality involves understanding Nature, and our human place in Nature, primarily as fluid and dynamical, not fixed and static. This entails envisaging ‘space’ as an endless and everywhere present (i.e. ‘non-local’) ‘pool’ of receptive influence, and ‘information’ as many-scaled responsive interfacing, through which dynamic relational flow-forms continually configure and reconfigure. In physical terms, this pool is hence ‘a relational continuum of mutually and dynamically inclusive – not exclusive – informational (locally apprehensible, electromagnetic) and spatial (non-local, gravitational and thermal) phases. Its dynamic relational flow-forms arise as local spheres of non-local influence.

An Inclusional Principle and Logic thereby emerges. This can be expressed ecologically as follows. Content is contextual: the inhabitant is a dynamic inclusion of the habitat, not an exception from it, as objective rationality would have us make believe. Content simultaneously forms from and gives expression to the receptive spatial pool that it fluid dynamically includes and is included in; the inhabitant transforms the habitat and vice versa as inseparable but distinguishable (discernible) aspects of one including the other, nested over all scales from microcosm to cosmos.. Inclusional flow entails the local-non-local logic of ‘somewhere as a dynamic inclusion of everywhere’, not solely the local logic of discrete, opposing objects.

The definitive logic of objective rationality – where space is regarded paradoxically and exclusively both as a three-dimensional container of isolated ‘objects’ and as passive ‘background material absence’ – is hence transformed into a dynamic relational logic where all evolves co-creatively through all. Inclusionality subsumes and reforms the singular rationalistic ideas that represent evolution as the consequence of individual adaptation and selective struggle for existence, and Humans, God, Time and Numbers as domineering abstractions from Nature. Our thinking, language, mathematics, science, art, theology, management and educational systems thereby deepen from what breeds opposition, hegemony, waste and conflict to what brings mutual understanding, diversity, sustainability and co-creative relationship.

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