Dear Eric, Michelle, and others
Hope you don't mind a completely different point of view. I hope this
will make you look at things from a different perspective. This is
reminding you there are other ways of knowing.
First time hearing this idea of Non-anthropocentric design. Does this
mean that at will one can be anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric?
Like in the morning one does anthropocentric design and in the
I am totally confused.
I have heard about anthropocentric worldview and eco-centric world
view. To my understanding, we can not change our worldviews at will
because it is part and parcel of our formation. It is embedded in our
thought process, language etc
Anthropocentrism is a product of modernity as the conditions that
modernity provides can only produce anthropocentric people. Once
again, I would like to state what I mean by modernity. It means
mediated knowing rather than direct knowing. That is dependence on
text, now digital for 'acquiring knowledge'. This also means
discarding the biological aspects that enable us to know which is what
all living beings, including the non-literate people, use to make
sense of the world. It is discarding of this process embedded in life
that has turned us into anthropocentric.
The pliability of the brain can be a boon as well as a bane. In that
sense, the conditions or the context is really powerful as it is what
is dictating the formation of the brain which means our beingness or
the mind. Cognition or 'learning' is not a one-way traffic. It is the
process by which we become what we are. It is not only for knowing the
world but for being in the world. So we are the product of text (the
present generation of the digital)
I would like to mention that among the indigenous languages there is
no word for WASTE. To waste is not part of their consciousness. The
reason is their language is 'nature' centric as there no waste in
nature. This is true nature centrism. Waste is a modern man's
invention. At best what we attempt to do is to talk about recycling
and not go deeper and find out how did this concept enter our
consciousness. (What I mean by indigenous is a way of being and
knowing rooted in context)
Seeing nature as outside of us is the problem with modern humans.
Nature is us! This is anthropocentrism.
We have interfered in all the natural process, destroyed their
habitat, destroyed the nature-centric people, denied their way of
knowing and being and now pretend to help them. Help is the worst
response one can do because help comes from arrogance and superiority
complex. At this point, I would like to point out a speech Ivan Illich
did few years to the US volunteers when they were planning to go to
Latin America to 'help' them.
To Hell with Good Intentions
by Ivan Illich
An address by Monsignor Ivan Illich to the Conference on InterAmerican
Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 20, 1968. In
his usual biting and sometimes sarcastic style, Illich goes to the
heart of the deep dangers of paternalism inherent in any voluntary
service activity, but especially in any international service
"mission." Parts of the speech are outdated and must be viewed in the
historical context of 1968 when it was delivered, but the entire
speech is retained for the full impact of his point and at Ivan
IN THE CONVERSATIONS WHICH I HAVE HAD TODAY, I was impressed by two
things, and I want to state them before I launch into my prepared
I was impressed by your insight that the motivation of U.S. volunteers
overseas springs mostly from very alienated feelings and concepts. I
was equally impressed, by what I interpret as a step forward among
would-be volunteers like you: openness to the idea that the only thing
you can legitimately volunteer for in Latin America might be voluntary
powerlessness, voluntary presence as receivers, as such, as hopefully
beloved or adopted ones without any way of returning the gift.
I was equally impressed by the hypocrisy of most of you: by the
hypocrisy of the atmosphere prevailing here. I say this as a brother
speaking to brothers and sisters. I say it against many resistances
within me; but it must be said. Your very insight, your very openness
to evaluations of past programs make you hypocrites because you - or
at least most of you - have decided to spend this next summer in
Mexico, and therefore, you are unwilling to go far enough in your
reappraisal of your program. You close your eyes because you want to
go ahead and could not do so if you looked at some facts.
It is quite possible that this hypocrisy is unconscious in most of
you. Intellectually, you are ready to see that the motivations which
could legitimate volunteer action overseas in 1963 cannot be invoked
for the same action in 1968. "Mission-vacations" among poor Mexicans
were "the thing" to do for well-off U.S. students earlier in this
decade: sentimental concern for newly-discovered. poverty south of the
border combined with total blindness to much worse poverty at home
justified such benevolent excursions. Intellectual insight into the
difficulties of fruitful volunteer action had not sobered the spirit
of Peace Corps Papal-and-Self-Styled Volunteers.
Today, the existence of organizations like yours is offensive to
Mexico. I wanted to make this statement in order to explain why I feel
sick about it all and in order to make you aware that good intentions
have not much to do with what we are discussing here. To hell with
good intentions. This is a theological statement. You will not help
anybody by your good intentions. There is an Irish saying that the
road to hell is paved with good intentions; this sums up the same
The very frustration which participation in CIASP programs might mean
for you, could lead you to new awareness: the awareness that even
North Americans can receive the gift of hospitality without the
slightest ability to pay for it; the awareness that for some gifts one
cannot even say "thank you."
Now to my prepared statement................
Just replace the word poor and see what happens!
Hope this email was useful in some amount of re reflection.
On 09/12/2018, Michelle Westerlaken <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi there,
> Thanks everyone for sharing so many useful resources and ideas about
> non-anthropocentric / human de-centred design.
> In my PhD research I take an attempt at re-designing our interactions and
> relationships with other animals by constructing a worldview through which
> we can speculate on the meaning of “non-speciesism". Asking questions like:
> what will a world that rejects speciesism be like? How will we engage with
> other animals in such a society? What kind of animal encounters can still
> take place?
> Actually, together with Erik Sandelin (who started this e-mail thread) we
> just finished a podcast recording in which we discuss the struggles we face
> in designing for/with other animals. Erik does a short reading of his book
> involving design perspectives of Temple Grandin and we discuss our
> transformations as designers in this field working with animals including
> birds, cats, Magellanic penguins, and black ants. It’s freely accessible
TEXT DISTORTS, DIGITAL DESTROYS, WORLD AWAKENS
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