In Rescuing Humanity, Willem H. Vanderburg reminds us that we have relied on discipline-based approaches for human knowing, doing, and organizing for less than a century. During this brief period, these approaches have become responsible for both our spectacular successes and most of our social and environmental crises. At their roots is a cultural mutation that includes secular religious attitudes that veil the limits of these approaches, leading to their overvaluation. Because their use, especially in science and technology, is primarily built up with mathematics, living entities and systems can be dealt with only as if their "architecture" or "design" is based on the principle of non-contradiction, which is true only for non-living entities. This distortion explains our many crises.
Vanderburg begins to explore the limits of discipline-based approaches, which guides the way toward developing complementary ones capable of transcending these limits. It is no different from a carpenter going beyond the limits of his hammer by reaching for other tools. As we grapple with everything from the impacts of social media, the ongoing climate crisis, and divisive political ideologies, Rescuing Humanity reveals that our civilization must learn to do the equivalent if humans and other living things are to continue making earth a home.
1. Our Physical Embodiment within the Relativity of Life and the World
2. Our Social and Cultural Embodiment in the Relativity of Human Life
3. Living with a Dual Relativity beyond Cultural Embodiment
4. Mathematics as the Non-Language of Science and Technique
5. Human Knowing and Discipline-Based Science
6. Human Doing, Technique, and the Living of Our Lives
Epilogue: Possessed by Secular Myths
Willem H. Vanderburg has taught preventive engineering, sociology, and environmental studies at the Centre for Technology and Social Development at the University of Toronto.
"Rescuing Humanity is a timely and important work. Any scholar or student interested in the perils and promises of contemporary technology will find this book a thought-provoking resource. Vanderburg shows that our reliance on a 'secular myth' of contemporary technology, along with its narrow and mathematical interpretation of economics, hobbles us from rising to the occasion of the environmental disasters that are upon our doorstep."
– Stuart Dreyfus, Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, University of California, Berkeley
"We must change the way we do things, particularly how and what we teach the technologists in our society. Human beings must not be a side-effect of what contemporary engineers call 'progress.' If we treat each other like objects, we will kill life on the planet. Vanderburg's incisive, passionate book shows us how to avoid this abyss, how to reset our minds, take back our agency about what we wish to do next. This is a guide about how to stop being a piece of data, and start being a human: it's a guide to surviving and flourishing in this new century."
– Tim Blackmore, Professor of Information and Media Studies, Western University