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Indigenous Ways of Knowing

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Western Science is certainly one of the great stories of human intellectual achievement and its offshoots are represented by many spectacular advances in technology. On the other hand it also conceals a form of what could perhaps be called unconscious colonialism, as when Western Science is taken as the yardstick by which all other knowledge systems are to be measured. Such an attitude lies behind Carl Sagan’s remark, when referring to the Big Bang, that at last all peoples know the true story of creation.

For much of the twentieth century the physical sciences seemed to be living in a golden age, with quantum theory, general relativity, chaos theory and the promise of artificial intelligence. But that golden age has faded. Superstrings did not live up to their promise to provide a ‘theory of everything.’ So maybe it is time for Western Science to pause and ask where it is going. Maybe it is time to engage in a dialogue with other knowledge system and question motives, approaches and goals. Maybe what is required is a new pluralistic community of sciences in which each actively learns from the others. And not only a dialogue with the physical sciences, but also the sciences of living systems, of health and healing, and even of the fate of the earth itself.

So let these knowledge systems speak for themselves via the words of their representatives whose essays are included here.