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A Normative Ecosystemic Forecast to

the Problematic Trends of our Times


Andr Francisco Pilon
University of So Paulo
International Academy of Science, Health & Ecology
gaiarine@usp.br

Contemporary problems cannot be understood and solved within the present context of
weakening social bonds and cultural, political and economical clashes, a generous ground
for market-places manipulations, publicity-oriented interests, fragmented academic
formats and political maneuvers.
Instead of trying to adapt to droughts, floods, air pollution, land degradation, deforestation
and rising sea levels, that inevitably will lead to overall catastrophe, we should deal with
the present paradigms of growth, power, wealth, work and freedom embedded into the
cultural, social, political and economical institutions.
To face the problems of difficult settlement or solution in our times, critical aspects of
contemporary political, economic, environmental and cultural crisis should be considered in
view of the need of a conceptual space within which praiseworthy morals and essential
capacities are developed.
In our asymmetric societies, differences in power between natural persons and legal
persons diffuse responsibility along political and economic chains, definition of problems is
hazardous, reduced and fragmented by public policies, academic formats, mass-media
headlines and market-place interests.
Technological solutions bind nature with financial domains, overlooking social, cultural
and environmental impacts; public policies, research and teaching programmes usually deal
the consequences (not with the causes), ignoring the dynamic and complex configurations
intertwining all dimensions of being-in-the-world.
Public policies cannot be submitted to the interests of business corporations, urbanization
processes, governed by real estate, concentrate dwellings in distant areas and destroy green
spaces, without any concern for adequate housing, transportation, health, education and
security and other facilities.

Cities cannot remain as privileged centers for profit and capital accumulation, transforming
citizens in mere users and consumers; in many Global South countries development
policies cohabit with rampant corruption and criminality, both in the streets and in official
cabinets, to the advantage of a few.
Urban spaces should be linked with cultural values; healthy environments, conviviality,
landscapes, architecture, the arts, the letters, history, heritage; new paradigms of growth,
power, wealth, work and freedom should be embedded into the educational, cultural, social,
political and economical institutions.
To put forth normative forecasts to reach sustainable states and solve problematic trends, it
is necessary to counteract the prevailing power-driven ethos, which diverts human concern
into pseudo scientific advancement, technological gadgets, and unlimited material
consumption and production.
In view of an ecosystemic approach for strategic planning and evaluation of public policies,
research and teaching programmes, critical aspects of the political, economic,
environmental, cultural and ethical crisis should be considered and confronted with the
prevailing world system.
The transition to an ecosystem model of culture encompasses heterogeneous attributes,
behaviours and interactions of individuals and the dynamics of the systems in which they
live (institutions, populations, political, economic, cultural and ecological background),
adding positive value to new forms of being in the world.
To elicit the events, deal with the consequences and contribute for change (potential
outputs), a theoretical and practical framework, combining four dimensions of being in the
world (intimate, interactive, social and biophysical), is posited for public policies, research
and teaching programmes:
1) intimate dimension (knowledge, values, feelings, beliefs, commitments); 2) interactive
dimension (allegiances, solidarity, partnerships, leadership); 3) social dimension (public
policies, citizenship, advocacy, mass-media); 4) biophysical dimension (vital needs, natural
and built environment, artefacts).
Beyond the objectivistic description of facts or dissemination of information, peace
building, environmental equilibrium is linked to the acceptance of ethical norms, a host of

ethically interpreted and ordered social experiences, a capacity to develop morally relevant
interests as the bases of rights-bearing.
Instead of taking current trends for granted and project them into the future (exploratory
forecast), the definition of the desired goals and the exploration of new paths to reach them
(normative forecast) is posited, encompassing norms and policies for natural and built
environments, cultural, aesthetic and ethical values.
The proposal counteracts the adverse impact of the severe and recurring issues associated
with current development policies and structures, that wipe out biodiversity, demolish
living-spaces. abuse landscapes and resources, destroy natural and built environments and
generate unmanageable refuses that menace life.
The objective is not to solve taken for granted problems, but to unveil and work with the
dynamic and complex configurations that originate them: instead of being trapped into the
path-dependency of pre-established problem-definitions, a heuristic-hermeneutic process
reframes the problems.
The proposal puts forth normative forecasts to reach more sustainable future states and
include concrete steps to make clear how to apply an ecosystemic framework to public
policies, research and teaching programmes, in view of long-term sustainability issues and
problems rather than short-term events.
Rather than surrendering to specialisation and fragmentation, the proposal emphasizes the
general phenomenon and its consequences, encompassing the current world-system with
its boundaries, structures, techno-economic paradigms, support groups, rules of
legitimation, and coherence.
In the socio-cultural learning niches, the individual and collective project of life is unveiled
and dealt with by heuristic-hermeneutic experiences, generating awareness, interpretation
and understanding beyond established stereotypes, both from a thematic and an epistemic
point of view: what and how.
Instead of being trapped into the path-dependency of taken for granted pre-established
problem-definitions, the proposal unveils and works with the dynamic and complex
configurations that originate them; the capacity to ask wider questions reframes the
problems in the process, setting the ground for new paradigms for being-in-the-world.

Table I: Dimensions' equilibrium in the ecosystemic model of culture


Donors
Recipients
INTIMATE INTERACTIVE
SOCIAL
BIOPHYSICAL
INTIMATE
Creativity
Support
Services:
Vitality
INTERACTIVE Altruism
Teamwork
Alliances
Niches
SOCIAL
Citizenship Partnerships
Organisation
Spaces
BIOPHYSICAL
Care
Defence
Sustainability
Equilibrium

Table II: Dimensions' disruption in the non-ecosystemic model of culture


Victims
INTIMATE
INTERACTIVE
SOCIAL
BIOPHYSICAL

Inflictors
INTIMATE INTERACTIVE SOCIAL BIOPHYSICAL
Solipsism
Subjection
Neglect
Harm
Egotism
Fanaticism
Co-opting
Dispersal
Abuse
Corporatism
Tyranny
Extinction
Injury
Damage
Spoliation
Savageness

Table III: Intertwining the four dimensions of the world in the diagnosis and treatment of the problems
Stages of Process

INTIMATE

Diagnosing
the Events

Subject's Cognitive and


Affective Status
Existential Control

Eliciting
Changes
Evaluating
the Process

Subjects' Cultural,
Emotional and
Educational
Development
Well-Being
Awareness
Resilience
Creativity

INTERACTIVE

SOCIAL

BIOPHYSICAL

Dynamics of
Primary Groups
Communities
Organisation
Improving
Relationships
Social Networks
Community Building
Proactive Groups
Community
Solidarity
Cohesion

Cultural Aspects
Social Structure
Public Policies
Services
Public Policies
Law Enactment
Social Control
Civic Action
Social Movements
Well-Fare Policies
Social Trust
Citizenship

State of the
Natural and Built
Environments
Beings and Things
Quality of Natural and
Man-Made
Environments
Beings and Things
Equilibrium of
Natural and
Man-Made
Environments

The equilibrium (table I) or disruption (table II) between the different dimensions are
linked to opposite models of culture (ecosystemic or non-ecosystemic); the process of
change encompasses a synchronized work, considered the singularity and reciprocity of all
dimensions in the genesis and direction of the events (table III).
As a result it is expected that public policies, research and teaching programmes would
oblige to the following principles:
1) define the problems in the core of the boiling pot in view of a holistic, ecosystemic
framework, instead of reducing them to the bubbles of the surface (effects, fragmented,
taken for granted issues);
2) combine the four dimensions of being in the world (intimate, interactive, social and
biophysical) in the diagnosis and prognosis of the events, assessing their deficits and assets,
as donors and recipients;
4

3) promote the singularity of (identity, proper characteristics) and the reciprocity (mutual
support) between all dimensions of being in the world in view of their complementarity and
dynamic equilibrium;
4) contribute for the transition to an ecosystemic model of culture, in order to deal with the
problems of difficult settlement or solution in the world, as an essential condition for
consistency, effectiveness and endurance.
A concerted action by public and private sectors, social organisations, scientific and
technical institutions, requires that the various parties cease to defend their vested interests
in benefit of a real change in the forces which hold them together by tension and tear it
apart as each group seeks its own advantage.
The role of law is hampered by the very system in which they have its insertion, "legal" and
"illegal" strategies are mixed together in the assemblage of political and economical
interests; powerful lobbies, deeply ingrained in the public administration, favour megaprojects with intensive use of resources, rather than appropriate technologies.
To cope with environmental collapse, environmental justice should be extended beyond
national boundaries, beyond political and economical interests of malicious consortia and
corrupted or lenient governments, which easily comply to ill-intentioned propaganda and
lobbying by influential groups and questionable business organizations.
Beyond profit-searching motives of business corporations and other vested interests,
transboundary issues like human rights, pollution, deforestation, drugs and criminality
impose a significant reconfiguration of state control and political authority, on ethical
grounds, in a transnational basis, by transnational organisations.
Transforming humankind from goal-seeking individuals into ideal-seeking visionaries has
been one of main tasks of religious people, philosophers and men of good will. The main
obstacle is not people themselves, but the political, economic and cultural systems that
fabricate compliance and maintain them enchained.
Can we imagine a world in which wise and impartial international regulators, transnational
governance systems, would have the authority to implement the right set of norms and
policies to safeguard humanitys cultural inheritance, natural and built environments,
aesthetic and life saving values for future generations?