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"It is not guilty pride but the ceaselessly reawakened instinct of the game which calls forth new worlds." (Heraclitus Reloaded)
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    The Space Collective and our Post Human Future
    Project: Polytopia
    I have been reading with great interest and pleasure Rene's latest post bringing forth with critical reflection the emergent relevance of the Space Collective. It brought to mind a few thoughts I would like to share here.

    Rene writes:

    To my knowledge, there is no faculty anywhere in the academic world which specifically addresses the future. In fact, the very subject tends to be dismissed as a legitimate topic for lack of empirical validation. Scientists at least are consistently pushing the envelope of their respective disciplines, but the Humanities are firmly entrenched in a canon-based tradition that is thoroughly out of step with the moving target that is our future. Everything concerning the world that lies ahead is routinely relegated to the realm of science-fiction, leaving it up to individual forward thinkers to make up for this wholesale denial of one of the most critically important subjects of our lives.


    And in a comment:

    ...Still, like yourself, we are wondering on a regular basis how to make the theoretical activities on this site more actionable. Right now I'm pretty fond of the concept of curriculum creation and there are many other ideas floating around to establish an effective connection with the world at large.


    There is no doubt that we are living in an era of an accelerating change. There is no doubt today that technological progress is becoming perhaps the single most influential force that shapes the future of human civilization. I would dare say even that there is (almost) no doubt that we become slowly but surely more intelligent. We, as a species, are increasingly capable to do more with less. There is no doubt about that. Yet, simultaneously we live in an era which is becoming less and less stable, economically, politically, conceptually and spiritually. These are all the symptoms of a great change that we all sense as the coming end of the human era. J.C. Oates, a leading American novelist wrote back in the 70's about this very experience:

    What appears to be the breaking down of civilization may well be simply the breaking up of old forms by life itself (not an eruption of madness or self destruction), a process that is entirely natural and inevitable. Perhaps we are in the tumultuous but exciting close of a centuries-old kind of consciousness - a few of us like theologians of the Medieval church encountering the unstoppable energy of the Renaissance. What we must avoid is the paranoia of history’s “true believers”, who have always misinterpreted a natural, evolutionary transformation of consciousness as being the violent conclusion of all history. [Ref: (New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature (1974)) images p.105]


    I deem this to be one of the most insightful reflections regarding the future, and I am continuously asking myself (and everybody around who cares to listen): Are we really in the midst of an evolutionary transformation of consciousness?

    Ray Kurzweil and others claim (see link above), that all information based technologies and branches of science are undergoing a lawful process of acceleration. But consciousness is not information based. At least not yet. On the other hand our consciousness rides this great wave of accelerating change, and has to fine balance on the crest of this awe inspiring wave not unlike the surfers catching those giant breaker waves of the ocean. It is the dynamic, perhaps acrobatic, balance of our transforming consciousness that will make the difference between surfing far and beyond, and being slapped by the very same breaker wave of change into an abyss of a post modern dark age.

    The transformation of consciousness, therefore, is not an option for us, it is an imperative. And since wisdom is the only recognizable mark of transforming consciousness, in this very sense I try to figure: do we become wiser while surfing this cresting wave of accelerating change? Here my thoughts are coinciding with the Space Collective and Rene's latest post, for I think the Space Collective may emerge as a very unique nexus in regards to the wisdom of the future and the future of wisdom. I was thinking about us, in the SC, holding in our hands a huge temporal scales of wisdom: one arm of the scale extends 2500 years back across history to the golden age of Greek Philosophers, the other arm extends 25 years forward into our future. Back then, a handful of humans such as Socrates and Plato have lain the foundations of western civilization's thought. Approximately at the same period in India, Gautama Buddha revolutionized eastern philosophy. None of them was particularly concerned about doing or acting, yet their influence extended across millennia. In contrast to the Judeo-Christian view that holds the human as essentially separate from and rightful master over nature, a view that is at the motivational basis of the utilitarian pursuit of knowledge and modern technological progress, the Greek approach to the pursuit of knowledge was largely aesthetic. Those great humans of 2500 years ago realized the transformative powers of pure thought. They made thought their doing and beauty their motive.



    25 years into the future, are we up to balance the scales? Are we up to invest our future with the transformative powers of pure thought? To catalyze a transformation of consciousness marked by a new kind of wisdom? In a plain historical perspective we are left with very little time. While our experiential time is accelerated one hundred fold at least, our wisdom still unfolds in slow time as compared to information fueled utilitarian intelligence. If we are to create space here for anything at all we have to create space for wisdom, for the evolution of consciousness, for the pursuit of knowledge which is aesthetic in nature. This I see as a vision and a challenge for the Space Collective to lead. We need not worry about doing so much. Everybody does, just look around and observe how busy our human species has become. We can, if we dare, trust in the transformative powers of pure thought, and bet on our aesthetic intuition to lead us into an interesting and sustainable post human era.

    In 25 years, perhaps in 50 years or 250 years, very soon anyway, and plausibly in our extended lifetime, the human era as we know it will end. In the post human era we will become dwellers of pure thought spaces, for eventually there will be no difference anymore between our thought spaces and action spaces. We can make the Space Collective the first vehicle of this grand unification.


    Sun, Nov 9, 2008  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    manfredmacx     Mon, Nov 10, 2008  Permanent link
    This is one of my major concerns as an university teacher. I teach at a new course called Technology and Digital Media. Even though this course takes place in a old, and conservative university in Brazil, we are inch by inch bridging the gap between old and new ways of thinking. I don´t have a Futurology class, but I already succeeded in creating a Worldbuilding discipline, and in my Creative Writing class, I encourage students to read and write science fiction.
     
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