Research Agenda of The Abs-Tract Organization
The Systematic Study of Abstraction and Beyond
TATO’s research agenda will focus on six major streams. For now, our focus is primarily abstraction, laying the groundwork for the other subjects and special projects.
- meta- theory (& metamodernism)
- public sociology
- epistemic justice
- evolutionary globalization
- systemic-conspiracy (military industrial complex)
A breakdown of these areas is as follows:
Abstraction. Abstraction is generally defined as a conceptual process of complexity reduction that highlights the essential properties or first principles of a given object or idea. It is a manifold term differentiated across many fields: math, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and social theory.
Metamodernism. Meta-theory refers to theory about theory; studies about studies. This includes meta- analysis and other meta- tools for deconstructing the knowledge-power nexus, building consensus, and fostering epistemic communities. Meta-theory investigates the philosophy of science and asks higher-order. This dovetails with the new paradigm of metamodernism.
Public Sociology. Public sociology is the field to communicate insights from social theory into the public discourse. The public has a right to know about sociology and society, to be able to put ideas into action. TATO will produce reports, videos, lecture series, and educational tools to instill a ‘sociological imagination’ in a global context.
Epistemic Justice. Epistemic Justice seeks to address the “knowledge gaps” in society for just social outcomes. Knowledge is power, and constructed ignorance creates injustices that arise as a result of the deprivation of essential knowledge. Consumer protection is an example institutional enforcement mechanism. This is where critical theory comes to meet common sense.
Evolutionary Globalization. The evolutionary theory of globalization is the only one compatible with metamodernism, as it subsumes other models. A comprehensive approach of systems theory, worldviews, and the philosophy of history lays bare the collective existential threat of climate change, a key feature of which has been its systematic denial. We are advancing global civil society ahead of corporate and state hegemony.
Systemic-Conspiracy (Military- Industrial Complex). Referred to as the ‘defense industrial base’ by insiders, the ‘war machine’ (by outsiders) has grown to include, media, academia, congress, sports, entertainment, pharma, oil, and prisons, among other industries. By definitively exposing the structure of the ‘systemic conspiracy,’ we can demonstrate effective demilitarization policies.
This agenda will facilitate and assist scholars already working in these areas, and spearhead collaborative projects, starting with developing research papers, articles, blogs, and survey research. These six areas have distinct importance but also overlap in various ways. For example, Public Sociology, Epistemic Justice, and the Military-Industrial Complex all concern the knowledge and worldviews of citizens and the outcomes of justice and peace. Beyond research, TATO’s public role would be to educate citizenry as well as other think tanks and intellectuals on the ‘deep’ nature of the problem, and lead the way in extricating ourselves from it.
Abstraction is the core methodology and motif/theme/aesthetic, but all research areas are vitally important. Centrality is given to abstraction for a multitude of reasons, not limited to the following. It is the key thinking process that underlies all cognition and knowledge production. It is the superlative epistemology and diagnostic framework for understanding complex social problems. I highlight the following reasons for abstraction being the paramount precursor to think tank work:
1. Complexity Reduction. The meta-problem is that the “problem” is too abstract. Extant global crises, such as climate change are perpetuated in large part by systemic denial and ignorance of the consequences of society. Climate change is not a technical challenge so much as it is a political paradox, and the suppression of it is a free market aberration.
2. Epistemic Integrity. Abstraction as a general process of simplification or ideation, subject to (ab-)use. Beware false or “vicious” abstractions, that bastardize and adulterate information. TATO aims to map knowledge with depth and veracity (truth distillation) into a superordinate knowledge framework and superrationality, enabling the depoliticizing and demystification of complex phenomena.
3. Paradigm Shift and Update. The great volume and specificity of existing abstraction research — from philosophy and social theory to AI and globalization — needs consolidation and more validation and exposure. Abstraction can be revitalized in the emergent paradigm of metamodernism.
4. Resilience and Reflexivity. Abstraction as a problem solving methodology is itself meta-, recursive, self-referential, self-evident. It is an autocritique; examination of conscience. Abstraction is a process implicit in other forms of concept creation and model development. All professionals can benefit from better abstraction, and can implement it in their work. “Abstraction” as a timeless process can be traced from our primordial origins to the present moment, back again to the origins of the universe, and forward into the future.
TATO’s consolidated research library is 4000+, with 500+ critical titles alone on philosophical and sociological abstraction. We are inviting scholars already working on TATO’s core issues, to collaborate on the research agenda and consensus building via abstraction. A broad goal of the research agenda is to advance the paradigm of metamodernism, and to communicate findings through simple abstract models and profound thesis statements. White Papers on the other five areas are forthcoming, dependent on support.