Paradoxes and the unity of difference

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The morning workshop gave rise to many different observations on sustainability, many of these observations took the form of a dualistic opposition – a set of antipoles, conflicting positions from neither of which sustainability could be achieved.
Examples are the difference between nature/culture, inner/outer, personal/political and social/individual – several of which echoed the age old dichotomy of structure and agency.
The most overarching of these is the difference between structure and individual, and it illustrates the difficulty of sustainability: because for the structuralist sustainability can only be achieved by widescale system change – but how to change systems when the people therein’s beliefs and habits are caught up in the old paradigm. From the individual viewpoint the barrier is in the paradigm – change it and anything will follow. But how to transform people’s ideas and values when they are caught up in the structures and norms established by the old system? The common sentiment seemed to be that the change has to come from somebody else.

A possible approach could be a dissolution of the inherent tension through the unity of the difference, conceiving sustainability as a paradoxical position between the two, a collapse of the antagonism. While not neccesarily a practical solution per se, this is at least conceptual cleaving of the gordian knot.

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Among the concepts proposed as such unities where
Authenticity (understood as an act in the world true to our inner nature – also seen as generosity)

Mindshift or New Paradigm (not just a belief severed from action, but a overarching modus operandi of society – maybe conceivable as disposition or epistheme)

Platform (as a loose coupling bridging the fixation of structure with the fluidity of agency)
The potential of such constructs remain to be seen, but could be one venue of exploration in the movement towards a vision for 100 years.

Another suggestion lay in the day’s other workshop: maybe the most practical and concrete approach is simply designing, leading and contributing to the sort of organization championed by Joseph Bragdon and others. The genuinely good organization might be the metastructure that could navigate the reach between individual action and the sum total of society. That task is is immensely challenging in its actuality, but it is possible, and as we saw – it has been done before.

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