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Matthias Gross

Matthias Groß

Matthias Groß is Tenured Research Scientist at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany. His current research focuses on the utilization of geothermal energy. His most recent book is Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design (MIT Press, 2010).

 

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Abstract

No Equilibrium, No Resilience: From Adaptation to Experimenting with Nonknowledge

In accordance with its etymology, the notion of resilience has originally been developed as a means to describe a system to return to a former state after deformation. More recently, resilience has been defined to broadly focusing on the interplay between disturbance, reorganization, and adaptive learning. By so doing, resilience sometimes tends to have the same meaning as development, evolution, or interconnection, and so comes to mean the same as virtually anything that is subject to change. Furthermore, if there has never been any equilibrium in nature (as every ecologist knows) outside of cultural and political discourse, then conceptualizations of nature as ideally bouncing back to a former state are misleading as points of orientation. As a way out of the dilemma between portrays of maintaining balance or harmony and notions of resilience that can mean almost everything, this presentation will suggest a concept of real world experimentation with a strong focus on the deliberate but strategic usage of ignorance or “nonknowledge” in decision making as an alternative description of natural and social processes involving radical change. Such a view may even have potential to moving beyond conservative notions of adaptation to external changes.

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