What are species of Knowledge? Are they in the West?
Interview with Baba Rampuri in PlanetShifter Magazine
When I speak about species of knowledge disappearing, I am using the analogy of species of animals and plants disappearing. Since I tend to see the world in terms of resemblances and reflections, and see all things as interconnected, the greater analogy of species of anything disappearing speaks of our contracting universe. Orwell addressed this in the thirties.
I am not measuring the contracting universe in terms of distances, size of measurable space, but in our perception and knowledge of it. Our Speech is contracting, even our languages are shrinking, which can be measured in our vocabularies.
Until the so-called “Green Revolution” of the 60’s in India, 42,000 folk landraces of rice were known to exist there. Since that time when high yield varieties of rice were introduced and aggressively marketed, agriculture became an industry, and competitive national and international markets matured, more than 95% of these landraces have disappeared and only 23 varieties of rice dominate the entire market. Farmers can no longer afford to grow what their ancestors grew and have abandoned these varieties their families developed over the millennia, adapted to local circumstances and needs. The same is true with many food stuffs in India and around the world.
The historical root of our environmental crisis and our loss of wisdom traditions lies in the European Enlightenment that nurtured a conceptual dichotomy between the Natural World and the Human World. We have detached ourselves from the Natural World and gambled our entire existence on the somewhat fickle ideas and ideologies of man.
Like our extinct (local) folk landraces of rice, our wisdom traditions, our species of knowledge are also local. There are no universal truths, no perennial philosophies, and no ideologies to proselytize. If it’s local, there is no one to convince. Local species of knowledge are well diversified encompassing all areas of human endeavor, and in fact most of our modern technology and pharmacology was plundered from the storehouse of local knowledge.
The authority of the voice of local knowledge was lost to the authority of the mass printed text, the school (so that you could read the mass printed text), then the television, and now the computer screen and mobile telephone. And as we progress through this, our new information (that replaces knowledge) has less and less a connection to the Natural World and more to the fallible ideas of man.