This book present interdisciplinary research in the social sciences and humanities by connecting seemingly disparate sources through a sensitivity to endangered human values. It links reflections on the contemporary relationship between art and technology in a post-modern context, seeing art in terms of crossing boundaries and exploring virtuality. It deals with the consequences of economics colonising other disciplines, in terms of the processes by which the “social” becomes the “economic”. Using Jantsch’s evolutionary paradigm, the concept of self-transcendence is seen as crucial for the understanding of human beings and their social systems. Incorporating recent thinking from the natural sciences, the learning process can be conceived as the life and activity of all complex systems, including those once conceived as organisms, machines, cultures or economies. Without the societal embrace of scientific and technological development no collective or individual meaning can be assigned to the production of new knowledge. The book seeks to recognise the point where a collective learning process becomes the heart of productivity, and where the shift from the hegemony of material labour to immaterial labour becomes fundamental. The author brings new understandings of art, the social, and technology together, based on the idea that history is not a story told in separate physical, social and spiritual spaces and that the most fundamental problem of today is how to find some shared meaning in a fractured world.
“The author analyses, at a global level, the process of the co-production of scientific and social order, of culture and technology, of life sciences and economic and political regimes. It rightly identifies the rise of the role of knowledge and the move of capital into life sciences as a new stage in the history of capitalism: what we can qualify as cognitive capitalism or biocapitalism. In this new era of capitalism, what is being manufactured and sold are not just tangible and non-tangible goods, whose increasing importance, as the author shows, poses unsurmountable theoretical problems to the theoretical apparatus of economic science. The increasing mercantilisation of the world appears at the same time as a bio-power, i.e. a set of instruments creating and controlling different forms of life, forms of communication, standards of socialisation, education, the individual and collective imaginary, etc. More fundamentally, the encounter of life sciences and the information technology integrates and subjects the most essential mechanisms of biological and social reproduction to the logic of capital valorization.
To understand the complexity of these changes and the ethical and philosophical questions that the development of technology and sciences poses to the future of mankind one must break through the disciplinary barriers delineating different disciplines in social sciences and those separating social sciences from natural sciences.
Professor Matko Mestrovic manages to tackle this challenge not only because of his impressive and masterful knowledge of different disciplines in the social and natural sciences, but he does it also owing to his capacity for theoretical elaboration that allows him to lay the foundations of a new transdisciplinary paradigm.
This is why his work can raise the awareness of the general public on two issues: on a global and profound vision of the challenges posed by the new millennium; and on the need for a radical theoretical innovation bringing into question the disciplinary certitudes in develop a social science able to better understand the movement and the ambiguity of history.”
— Carlo Vercellone, Université de Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne
“Meštrović provides a unique insight into the often forgotten relation between economics on the one hand and arts and culture on the other, demonstrating that these „domains“ function as a total social facticity and not as separate, entirely independent elements thereof. In doing so he is dispelling the illusions about the disciplinary self-containdness of individual forms of knowledge and is relying on those paradigms of contemporary scientific thought whose „epistemiological programs“ are based on close cooperation and „opening up“ and not on the persuasion about one's own positions and dispositions.”
— Prof. dr. Rade Kalanj, Redovni profesor na Odjelu za sociologiju
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Matko Mestrovic is Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economics, Zagreb, Croatia, and former Professor of the Design Theory at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb. An art critic and theorist, he was a key collaborator in organising the international New Tendencies movement in the early 1960s. His recent books include Commodity and Freedom (1995), Reality Time (2002), and Globalisation and its reflections in Croatia (2001).