Lois Holzman

Interactive talk
Sat 23 January 2021
19:30 CET (Brussels time)

The Performance Movement: The Obvious and Outrageous Way Out of the Epistemological Fly Bottle.

All along, we have been betting our future on the human capacity to know things, to make sense of the world. It sounds like the most innocent of truisms. But this all-pervasive cognitive bias has brought our species dangerously close to "developmental paralysis”. For decades now we have been talking about sustainability and yet we seem to make little progress in putting this vision into practice. We seem like flies buzzing inside a bottle, unable to find our way out. There's a feeling that we may not be able to find a way forward, into a truly thriving Anthropocene, unless we are able to learn ourselves out of the epistemological traps bound up with our Platonic heritage.

How do we move beyond knowing? Through performance. Or, more precisely, through an activity-based, performatory approach to understanding human subjectivity. Changing, growing does not hinge on knowing, but on a direct, activity-based interaction with the world. Non-epistemic understanding is indistinguishable from participation in the life process. Children show us how to do this. They come to be knowers relatively late in the process of social adaptation. Prior to this they are virtuoso developers. We ought to rediscover this child-like ability to leverage our developmental potential.

Lois Holzman has been very influential in bringing these insights to social change and human/community development efforts worldwide. She introduces performatory approaches to hundreds of grassroots practitioners and supports their home-grown initiatives to develop people and their communities in order to engage poverty, violence, conflict, underdevelopment and environmental destruction. She is a prolific author. Recently she published The Overweight Brain: How our obsession with knowing keeps us from getting smart enough to make a better world, in which she presents some of these ideas in an accessible way.
End Of Knowing: New Developmental Way of Learning
Fred Newman, Lois Holzman