Tentang UGM
IT Center


Posted by Administrator

Knowledge, Power & Politics: Where is Humanity Heading To?

Over the past centuries, many great sages and brilliant scientists have attempted to make sense of the world we live in, and unmask the authentic reality, which besets the laws of nature and everything else that connects the multiverse. Knowledge, as we know it, is a pathway to gain entry into the mysteries of the multiverse. It is also a ‘language’ used by human beings to connect all forces of nature, both within themselves and the environment surrounding them.Knowledge is something that makes human beings human, an inherent ability to live in harmony with the environment, other species and the self. In other words, knowledge and wisdom are the forces, which could prevent humanity from self-extinction.

Unfortunately, the pathway of knowledge has never been neutral nor value free. The struggle for humanity is lost when knowledge, in whatever form and manifestation, is subservient to power and politics, which are often driven by the whims and fancies of a few humans, who control them. However, to assume that knowledge can do without power and politics is tantamount to naiveté, and is counter intuitive to the kind of instinctive nature endowed in the humankind and our own understanding of how human beings and the world operate and interact.

Since humankind began to walk on earth, we have always struggled to seek the right balance between what wecould,wouldor shoulddo.Even as the development of science and technology have gone way beyond human imagination to date, we, as a species, have yet to truly comprehend the role of human beings on this planet, and how we perceive our stewardship on earth. This has resulted in a perpetual state of forgetfulness, where people begin only to think about what could be possible for them to acquire in this world. Sadly, not many people realize that their actions and behaviors, rightly or wrongly, could affect the vast number of human beings in future generations, who will replace us and inhabit the earth after our departure.

Just within the past 20th century alone, the human population has increased by five folds. And we are still far from finding an ultimate solution to the Mathussian problem, where the human population outgrows exponentially the source of their food, energy and nutrition, the main requirements for human beings to survive and thrive.In view of the humongous challenge before humankind, human beings have turned inwardly to spirituality and belief systems that offer new hope and meaning in their otherwise purposeless lives. Others prefer to rely on knowledge and wisdom to find the right path to human salvation and happiness.

This is in no way to argue that knowledge itself is sufficient for humankind to live by. After all, despite the vast scientific progress and technological developments, knowledge is increasingly becoming ever so divergent with less and less consensus on even some of the basic fundamentals of life and living in this planet, such as: How old is our planet? How did humankind first set foot on earth? Where do we go after we die? Is the world on the brink of destruction? Is global warming for real? Are natural disasters non-preventable? Are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) a valid alternative to food security? Is water a living organism and by extension able to ‘read’ our minds and thoughts? Etc.

Others would pose more mundane questions than the above, but equally pertinent ones, such as: Are politicians pulling our legs? Why corporations profiteering at the expense of the common people’s wages? Does the trickle down effect in Capitalism really work? Does sovereignty really matter when it comes to trans-Pacific trade deals? Why are there still many wars and conflicts going on around the world? How relevant are religions and any form of spirituality in the height of today scientific and technological know-how? Is democracy really the second best system before we can find a better one? Do people actually have a right to stand up against what they perceive to be a near complete domination of their lives and the daylight robbing of their privacy? Etc.

Alternative options abound to build a new kind of world that is fairer and more equitable than the existing one. But, in reality, options do not necessarily reside in the realm of knowledge and wisdom, rather in the sphere of power and politics, which are often managed brutally and unethically. In other words, our leaders, politicians and the men and women in power, whom we supposedly give our mandates to, ultimately determine the fate of the human species, almost in any part of the world.

This Conference therefore hopes to bring these questions to the fore, and see how scholars critically reflect on these problems and challenges, while at the same time expect universities, being one of the most marveled factories of knowledge and wisdom,to come up with intelligent alternative options, which ideally should serve the best interest of humankind. What is perhaps needed is knowledge that is based on an approach and perspective, which could transform humankind to become better, fairer, kinder, gentler and more conscious human beings through the knowledge that we gain in research and the power and politics we engage in social practice.