Monday, July 27, 2009


DAN NOVAK Resume/Vita 2009

Philosophy of Postmodern/Global/Future Studies; Technology and Planetary Praxis; The Creative-Critical Pedagogy of Learning Communities; The Contemplative Perspective on Ecology; Religious Practice of Community and Engaged Action

TEACHING EXPERIENCE *University of Rhode Island Feinstein College of Continuing Education: 2000-present: Initiator/co-instructor of the BGS Social Science Seminar on Globalization; co-leader and instructor of the BGS Humanities Seminar, “The Sixties and Its Legacies”*URI School of Education: 1996-2006, Part-time Instructor, An Introduction to American Education, and previously, The Psychology of Learning *URI Professional Training and Development Presenter: 2003-4*Wrentham State School for the Developmentally Disabled: 1984-92, special education work with the severely developmentally disabled as a direct care worker and supervisor*New Life Enterprises: 1978-82, a principal in a community rehabilitation business*The University Without Walls Program: 1971-77, The Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities: 1971-77, Core Staff advisor/facilitator and seminar leader*Sullivan County Community College, State University of New York: 1970-71, Instructor in Philosophy and Humanities *Hofstra University, Philosophy Department: 1969-70, Part-time Instructor

Manhattan College, 1960-64, B.A. Honors in PhilosophyYale University Graduate School, 1964-66, PhilosophyThe New School for Social Research, 1966-69, Philosophy and SociologyUniversity of Rhode Island, M.A. in Education, 1996 (Thesis: “The Curriculum of Consciousness: A History of the Disciplines From the Greeks to Postmodernity”)

Chair of the Town of West Greenwich, R.I. Conservation Commission (1994-present)Founding Trustee of the Town of West Greenwich Land Trust (1998)President of the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Commissions (present)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A New Concept of the Global Professional

Needed: A New Concept of the Global Professional

Ancient Greek/Roman/Hellenistic discovery and oath of profession as art and calling ­ as in medicine, for example

Medieval concept of profession as guild craft: the stages of expertise as apprentice, journeyman, and master

The rise of modern universities and scientific/scholarly societies: the paradigm of empirical knowledge as the basis for professional pursuit

Max Weber: 19th century society as bureaucratic ­ the professions as specializations of knowledge-practice with defined disciplinary operations and legally sanctioned protocols of prescribed relationships with clients and status/privilege relationships with peers

Consciousness revolutions and experiments of the 1960s-70s: the demythologization of knowledge and skill -- expertise to be exercised for and by the people; the writings of Ivan Illich on ‘deschooling’ society’s monopologic of expertise-institutions vis-à-vis a new sense of the “tools for conviviality” …taking control of life-domains from experts, from learning, transport and shelter to health care ­ e.g. in the Feminist revolutionary manifesto, Our Bodies, Our Selves…

A new concept needed: that of the global professional in the 21st century: the professional as transdisciplinary amateur

· appetite, curiosity, a fresh and inquiring mind as defining the amateur ­ like the etym of the philosopher, a “lover of knowledge,” a life-long learner who doesn’t stop at the stage of degree credentialization or career-pinnacle recognition but whose love of his/her field always is revealing something new ­ and substantively new all the time…

· a “don’t-know mind” ­ a Socratic watchword as he demolished the pretensions and pomposities of the experts of his day (how clear is a general on the nature of true courage?…) and a confession (e.g. vis-à-vis death) that we truly don’t know about ultimate things despite our arrogant carryings on (reputed words of a famous Oxford don: “What I don’t know isn’t knowledge!”); how many paradigms of knowledge have to bite the dust before we -- in practice ­ acknowledge this in our educational endeavors?... a favorite teaching phrase of a famous Korean-American Zen Master: ‘Only go straight and don’t know!’ ...Edward Said’s concept of the true intellectual…

· grounded: what distinguishes the true amateur from the dilettante or the dabbler [although as the author of the famous psychology of the flow-peak experience Csikszentmihalyi reminds us, dilettante originally meant one who takes delight in], is a solid grounding in the knowledge and standards ­ explicit and tacit -- of a particular (historically honored) discipline or area/field of investigation; thorough digging in one spot is a necessity; of particular note: if a practitioner in any field doesn’t realize that their field is infinite with respect to refinement and development ­ “ars longa, vita brevis” ­ then he or she is a hack, is in it just for the job/money, is not a professional

· an appreciation of interconnectivity: the recognition of the intrinsic inner connections that plumbing deeply in the various fields reveals ­ ‘ a unified field theory isn’t a fantasy or dream, but that toward which all fields move… knowledge is ultimately one, there is no such thing as ‘history’ or ‘math’ or ‘science’ or ‘art’ or ‘philosophy’ or ‘medicine’ or ‘technology’ or ‘political science’ under the bright moon of enlightenment ­ or in the nature of things: all things, and all inquiries, end in a silence we can’t articulate but can only and finally appreciate in that silence ­ whether transcendent, awe-struck, or dumb… And note: there is a huge difference between ‘interdisciplinary’ and a ‘transdisciplinary’ perspective…

· an amateur does not have a “bedside manner” as an adjunct to his or her profession ­ now back to a calling (Parker Palmer), or way of life ­ he or she dwells in care; a global responsibility or stewardship, a planetary and deeply personal habitation (Theodore Roszak) supervenes in which the rigors of response-ability, intimacy, and sensitivity to what is needed become the norm; there are discrete domains of activity and care but these distinct domains do not occlude our freedom of movement or our solidarity with each other; sabbatical forms of rest and refreshment are at the heart of the sane and loving amateur, no longer at the mercy and tyranny of artifically pressurized scholarship, punishing and rigid schedules or beguiling badges of status; thus the true amateur becomes the ‘animateur’ (Peter Senge) or ‘servant leader’ (John Greenleaf) in a variety of continually trans-secting settings as backyard becomes planet, planet becomes backyard, and ditch becomes salvation…

IMPORTANT NOTE: After schematizing a concept of the new global professional and how his/her practice differs from the bureaucratic expert, attention should be given to a similarly new concept of the global ­ and globally educated/formed ­ citizen…

“City-zen-ship:” the art and practice of living in community, on whatever level…

Cheers, Dan Novak

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Course Syllabus: Terrarium, Cyberspace, and Mall

BGS Social Science Seminar, Fall 2007


BGS Social Science Seminar Fall 2007 Providence
Shepard Bldg. Room ---- Mondays and Wednesdays 6:00 pm to 8:45 pm
Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education, The University of Rhode Island
Instructor: Dan Novak E-mail: ; Phone: 397-4586
Individual conferences available (usually before or after regular class sessions)

Florida, R. (2002). The Rise of the Creative Class. New York: Basic Books.
Hartmann, T. (1999). The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight. New York: Harmony Books.
Harvey, M. (2003). The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.
Novak, D. (2007). Weblog. (outlines and articles)
Pink, D. (2005). A Whole New Mind. New York: Riverhead Books.
Schor, J. (1998). The Overspent American. New York: Basic Books.
Strathern, O. (2007). A Brief History of the Future. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers.
(Note: A small fee will be requested for the xeroxing of additional articles and excerpts)

EXPECTATIONS, POLICIES AND GRADES Desired outcome: maximum individual student and group success; good academic output, building self-confidence and a useful learning strategies and community; ATTENDANCE, yes, all classes… contact instructor as soon as possible before (or after!) any contingency arises…
CONDUCT OF CLASS: courtesy and respect; we will operate in different modes and styles: lecture-tours to present vistas, guest lecturers to advocate for diff points of view, individual work, sharing in the round, collaborative work in groups and as whole class…
There is no mechanical or statistical grading procedure for this course. There will not be a final exam. There are many ways to succeed in our effort. In terms of the assessment, some guiding criteria or ‘holistic rubrics’ to keep in mind are:
Actual response – whether assignment actually done, task or question aptly answered
Quantity – length of response (note: sometimes brevity is apt, sometimes more is needed)
Quality – excellence, the degree of thoughtfulness, depth or thoroughness
Effort – evidence of genuinely trying to understand and/or respond to an assignment
Progress – the evolution of a student’s work throughout the portfolio
Organization and clarity – how well assignments are structured or presented
Creativity / “X-Factor” – significant originality (vividly or subtly) displayed
Special Contribution – made in any form to the group or class/course as a whole

Note: A student doesn’t pass or fail on the basis of one assignment! Some rough and ready letter designations: F=always attainable! D=very weak, needs lots of work, C=passing/OK, B=good (good means good! have a beer!), A=outstanding contributions (champagne!)








PORTFOLIO ASSIGNMENTS (each class, collections on 9/24, 10/10 and at end)
AN APPROXIMATELY 7 PAGE APA STYLE PAPER (due on 10/17; revisable)
A GROUP PROJECT/PRESENTATION (due between 11/26 and 12/10)

PORTFOLIO ASSIGNMENTS: There will be a variety of kinds of assignments, exercises and project notes, but there will one kind of generic format, STANDARD RESPONSE MODES (“SRM”) (4 necessary, 4 optionals) -- occasionally modified -- which will allow students to shape their portfolios in their individual ways and according to their individual interests:
(a) your choice of a “juicy word” and its definition {JUICY WORD}
(b) brief summary of author’s essential contrast or main points {SUMMARIZE}
(c) your reaction to the text (e.g., your choice of a quotation from the text and briefly why you think this is significant/surprising to you) {REACTION}
(d) a question you have arising from the reading {QUESTION}
(e) bring in some field data: a cultural exhibit or live “specimen” relating to class themes or discussions – e.g. share a brief but revealing personal anecdote or interaction that took place that day; a magazine photo; a found news article; note the subtext of a TV commercial; a street observation, etc. {SPECIMEN}
(f) agree with at length or dispute an author’s position in a text; take a stand and provide reasoning and/or evidence to back up your view {AGREE/DISAGREE}
(g) probe a text’s meaning, not worrying about being right or wrong – thinking out loud on paper, just analyzing slowly and/or patiently unpacking till you have a better handle on what an author is saying {EXPLORE}
(h) devise an exercise or try an experiment – imagine, design, create, invent, play, or plan something new! {EXPERIMENT/CREATE}



Mutual introductions… syllabus overview… texts and themes… expectations, policies and courtesies… criteria and grading… class participation and discovery, portfolio assignments, short required APA research paper, group collaborative project…

QUESTION: “What does it mean to learn, work and play in a globalized environment?” -- theme: survival in different historical settings requires different sets of skills

TWO SOCIOLOGICAL WARM-UPS (What’s happening around us?)

Mon. 9/10: SOBRIETY
Readings: Juliet Schor, The Overspent American – Preface, chapters 1 to 3 (pp. 1-63), chap. 4 (pp. 67-74) and chap. 6 (pp. 154-158)
Assignment: SRM
Some themes
-- a micro-lens on the dynamics of our famously consumer society
-- social scanning and aspiration; issues of optimism and pessimism
-- evidence and inference; field specimens (Nancy Drew: everything is evidence!)

Wed. 9/12: OPTIMISM
Readings: Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class – Preface, chaps. 1 (pp.1-17), 2 (pp.21-37), 9 (pp. 144-162), and 10 (pp. 166-170)
Assignment: SRM
Some themes:
-- an optimistic view of a new and economically significant “creative class” emerging
-- a reinterpretation of our ‘time warp’… and a transformation of everyday life?
-- the “creative ethos” and a hunger for active (and quality) experience


“The Social Sciences” – An Historical Sociology of a Variety of Kindred Disciplines… A Variety of Methodological Approaches

Some disciplinary cousins: psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, political science, and political economy -- the distinctive perspective and kind of imagination found in the social sciences… (Bertrand Russell quote: “Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.” The Arts & Humanities=what you yearn to know…The Social Sciences=what you maybe possibly know… Life, Business, Politics, Spirituality=what you absolutely must know!)

Readings: DN/ “Three Worldviews and Their Pedagogical Traditions”
DN/ “Three Modes of Inquiry” and (optional) DN/ “A Learning Community Mandala”
Assignment: SRM for “Three Worldviews”… and a Crystal Ball Exercise
Some themes: In what age or time or period are we living? – Modern? Postmodern? Global? Planetary? Space Age? Information Age? What is happening? What is the primary dynamic of our time? A next step in the evolution of our culture?
A Mega-historical and a Magical History Tour… A ‘Crystal Ball Exercise…
Three historical and philosophical paradigms, three traditions of inquiry and their toolboxes and styles, particularly empirically-oriented methodological approaches…

Readings: Neil Postman, excerpt from his The End of Education (“Spaceship Earth”) on archeology, anthropology and astronomy as the new fundamental ‘basic subjects’
Articles by Ruby Payne (on the persistence of poverty and social class) and Barbara Ehrenreich (on dancing – collective exuberance -- as the real revolution)
Assignments: SRM for Postman; surprising quotes from the two articles; and a mini profile of a classic or contemporary economist, anthropologist or sociologist

Sociology, anthropology and economics in particular: quantitative and qualitative kinds of studies -- from econometrics and mathematical models to empirical field studies to several types of phenomenological approaches…

What is the ‘unit of study’ or primary dynamic of sociology? – the interaction? the encounter, the pack, the behavior of large numbers or masses, power hierarchy, the organization, the grid, the matrix, the all but invisible structural environment?….. Society as a contesting ensemble of practices (projects, games, zones, clubs, classes).

A brief canvass of the views of classical and contemporary economists and sociologists…

Beyond simple prediction and confirmation: the newer approaches of computerized projections or imaginative projection: scientific simulations and futurist scenario building

DN/”Language and Power” – language, social place, agency, achievement and power
Michael Harvey, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing – chap. 6 (pp.56-61), chaps. 7, 8 and Appendix: Document and Citation Format – APA format
Juliet Schor, “Prices and commodities: Unsustainable consumption and the global economy”
Assignments: SRMs for DN/”Language” and Harvey, chap.7 “Paragraphs” –
(Survey the structure of the Schor paper and see how she documents her material.)

Different types of intelligence and imagination…writing in different modes and styles… writing as process and as product… finding reliable sources online… helpful hints…

Research in the Social Sciences… APA paper style… anatomy of a sample paper

Assignment of an approximately seven page student paper on any topic of your choice that demonstrates knowledge/skill in APA style citation, ability to find reliable sources, and produce an acceptable APA style paper {N. B. However many revisions necessary, this accepted short paper is required to pass the course!…}

------------ ** First Collection of Individual Student Portfolios ** -----------------

“Learning, Work, and Play in the New Globalized Environment”

Reading: George Myerson, excerpt from his Heidegger, Habermas and the Mobile Phone
Assignment: SRM
-- the mobile phone (iPhone!) as medium and metaphor of the new technology
-- the technology of desire and “concrete metaphysics”
-- the speed/saturation of information and messages versus dialogue and communication
-- silence and noise, silence and violence, silence and intimacy
-- rationality as slowness, and giving reasons, inquiry as patience and togetherness

Reading: Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind – “Afterword” (pp. 232-234), and pp. 13-153
Assignment: SRM – with emphasis on the optionals!
-- a liberal optimistic view stressing opportunities
-- the globalization of labor and demands
-- left and right brain orientations and styles of discourse: analysis vs. sympathy
-- old skills in a new key: holistic and symphonic use of the mind’s powers
-- the new global environment’s paradoxes and playbooks
-- new and expansive forms of expression

Readings: Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight (pp. 243-248), Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class chap. 3 (pp. 44-66) and
Dinesh D’Souza, The Virtue of Prosperity (short excerpts)
Assignment: SRM (spanning the three readings)
-- traditional and new sources of wealth, different kinds of poverty – especially that generated by industrialization; notions of abundance and prosperity
-- techno-capitalism and American affluence as a good thing and how it beneficially impacts inequality and redefines poverty
-- prosperity as attitude, virtue and social practice; moral qualms and moral critique
Reading: Thom Hartmann, The Last Days of Ancient Sunlight, Part Two (pp. 97-203)
Assignment: SRM

-- two ‘socio-logics’: the dominator versus the partnership models (Eisler and Korten) ---their characteristic forms of empire (‘younger culture’ as expansive and aggressive) and earth-based, ‘older’ tribal cultures
-- corporate, commercial globalization versus a new orders of human consciousness and the mission of building an inclusive narrative/network of global citizenship ‘from below’

----------- ** Second Collection of Individual Student Portfolios ** ------------------


------------ ***Note: APA PAPER DUE ON WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER17th*** -------

(Scenarios as exploratory vehicles… exploring six distinct global dynamics)


Readings: Oona Strathern, A Brief History of the Future, chap.7 (pp. 242-255), chap.1;
DN/“A Futurist Manifesto” (2002);
DN/ “Savages, Cyborgs, and Saints” Scenario I;
a short illustrative excerpt, e.g. from "Soldier" in Bruce Sterling's Tomorrow Now
Assignment: begin group advocacy project notes

Film video selections: from Mel Gibson’s “Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome” or Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld”

extreme social fragmentation and militaristic regression; rule by thugs; apocalyptic, catastrophic and/or dire scenarios; societal ungovernability, chaos or a new feudalism

Readings: Strathern, A Brief History, chaps. 2 and 3 (pp. 44-116)
DN/ “Savages, Cyborgs, and Saints,” Scenario II;
excerpt, e.g. from Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle
Assignment: project notes

Film video selection: from “Alphaville” or “Gattica” or “Fahrenheit 451”
extreme homogenization or monoculture, commercial/corporate hegemony {GUEST?}

Readings: Strathern, chap. 7 (pp. 219-241)
DN/ S, C, & S, Scenario III;
excerpt, e.g. from "The Conquest of Human Nature" in D'Souza's The Virtue of Prosperity
Assignment: project notes

Film selection: Michael Keaton in “Multiplicity” ?

major and centrifugal technologically mediated transformations of the human species into different evolutionary lines and multiple futures {GUEST?}

Reading: DN/ S, C, & S, Scenario IV;
excerpt, e.g. from Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History
Assignment: project notes

Film selection: chauvinistic celebration of democratic icons and/or principles? ---
John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Ken Burns?…

modernity pro and con: the eventual triumph of steady state modernity (science, capitalism, technology, and liberal democracy)
classical liberal and incrementalist views of global development; the conservative wisdom of inertia vs. the ‘new growth’ theory of progressive economic expansion;
trans-national corporate hegemony versus critical interpretations of modernity; the lure of luxury versus radical Marxist and leftist concepts of historical progression and struggle…

Wed. 10/31: (CONTINUED)
continuance of previous class discussions; {GUEST?}

Reading: DN/ S, C, &S, Scenario V;
excerpt, e.g. from David Korten, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
Assignment: project notes

Film selection: from “The Lathe of Heaven” (film version of Ursula Le Guin’s novel)

the new age evolution and planetization of consciousness: enlightened cybernetic infrastructure; the materialization of global sensitivity and intelligence {GUEST?}

Reading: DN/ S, C, & C, Scenario VI;
excerpt, e.g. "caves, frogs, birds, and angels" -- assorted parables from Plato to Parker Palmer
Assignment: project notes

Film selection: “What Dreams May Come”? “Siddhartha”? “The Razor’s Edge”? (to be decided)

the participatory/dramatic/existential nature of the universe; the paradoxes, polarities and ‘politics’ of an “alternation cosmology”

(Student “symphonies”: based on the platform of the six previous scenarios, vividly articulating, arguing for, and gaining sympathy for your considered vision of the future)

Mon. 11/19 and Wed. 11/21:

------------------ ** Thanksgiving Break** ------------------------------

STUDENT GROUP PRESENTATIONS: imaginative projections and advocacies; testings, defenses, discussions; critiques and evaluations

Mon. 11/26

Wed. 11/28

Mon. 12/3

Wed. 12/5


Between December 17th or 19th:

(Note: top graphic on title page is from NASA.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Savages, Cyborgs, and Saints

“Savages, Cyborgs and Saints: Premonitions of the Space Age”

Six Historical Worldviews and Scenarios of the Future

(Dan Novak, 10.22.06, for the Brandaris Group)

What will the long – or deep – future of humanity look like and feel like?

What will the intensive development of the spectrum of human temperaments, projects and cultures look like in the cosmic era (say, 3006 C. E.)?

Which philosophy best explains the fundamental changes happening in the world right now?

Which scenario of the future will best express what our world will evolve into?

The following six sketches are an incomplete attempt to describe six major alternative ways of being that promise to solidify or threaten to obliterate the human family. They project six qualitatively different interpretations of human nature. These socio-political-philosophical worldviews aren’t necessarily exclusive – but they do represent distinct and contrasting lines of evolution for the human species (or sets of subspecies). The scenarios below can be seen both as perennial possibilities, but also as intensively developed cultures -- versus merely tracing linear, chronological sequences.

They are:

I Regression to Savagery

II Empire

III Techno-Apotheosis

IV Triumph of Democracy / End of History

V Planetary Enlightenment

VI Existence as Drama: the Alternation Cosmology and the Participatory Universe

Scenario I Savagery and control

Human nature: we are heir to a multiplicity of affects -- discordant and idiosyncratic; we are actually a bundle of fundamentally incoherent and/or conflictual impulses; there is a certain tremulousness of our being, a perceived precariousness, a fearfulness and anxiety underneath everything that craves protection (protectedness), safety and security; at the same time we – or more precisely our dominant motive/affect – craves lebensraum, the desire for power, control and ascendance in whatever realm we can manage to secure and batten against the forces of disintegration of existence; we strive to continue in existence

Way of death: fearfulness and anxiety – “the coward dies a thousand deaths, the hero dies but once”… the threat or actuality of sudden and violent death… the state of being terrorized or tortured… the state of repression and denial…

Classic Philosophers: Thrasymacus in Plato’s Republic: might makes right, the assertion of primal force as the final law; Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan: the savage state of man in nature without governance, the ‘war of all against all;’ de Sade: the purpose of life is the unrestricted and unrestrained assertion of my sovereign liberty, the full and absolute execution of my desires; Nietzsche: the fundamental truth of the ‘will to power’ (control) – each affect wishes to grow and hold sway; Freud’s concept or zone of the ‘id’ – the amoral realm of impulses longing to be born against the denials and repressions of the ‘real’ world, the thin veneer of civilization… Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘hell is other people’…

Contemporary Philosophers: John Gray’s Straw Dogs

Novels and Movies: The Lord of the Flies, The Heart of Darkness, the ring of power in The Ring Trilogy, “Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome” (and innumerable post-nuclear holocaust/apocalyptic films)…

Classic age or historical period: the Medieval “dark ages” of feudalism; the fascism of the Third Reich; the circumstance of atavism, war the only constant; the perpetual possibility of a major period of regression, or the chaotic confusion after a gigantic natural or man-made cataclysm; the historical and cyclic tendency toward entropy and dissolution…

Future scenario: a disintegrating, fragmented and regressive world of increasing fear and violence in which security concerns become paramount – whether in surveillance systems and in the increasingly reliance on the fiefdoms and zones of influence of apparently strong and nationalist/localist leaders… One thinks of the perpetual war scenarios described in Orwell’s 1984. Or scenarios of pervasive environmental degradation as described in James Kunstler‘s The Long Emergency… Or Robert Kaplan’s version of the onus of empire ‘the coming anarchy’… a dark age of barbarians with sophisticated weapons and a climate of intimidation… hi-tech weapons with primitive consciousness

Scenario II Totality of State Control

Human nature: we are pleasure seeking and ingenious/teachable animals with a high coefficient of gullibility or susceptibility to images and image manipulation (as with the rows of captives/captivated in Plato’s allegory of the cave incessantly arguing about the merits of flitting images); we are creatures of great docility, that is, we are eminently teachable, able to be conditioned by the predominant apparatus around us – be it social, religious, political, cultural…

Way of death: continual oblivion secured mainly through pleasure and amnesia, comforting, drug-like or cocoon-like forgetfulness; immediate satiation of all desires, death by chocolate (name your ‘poison’ or your controlling ‘soma’)…

Classic Philosophers: Plato’s Republic (?) and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan in both calling for absolute control of all segments of society under the aegis of the ruling class or the absolute sovereignty of the monarchy… Not too many defenders of absolute monarchy, total state control, or the notion of the validity of Empire (maybe some Christian apologists of the Middle Ages, or maybe Rudyard Kipling’s poetry of the British Raj? Lenin/Stalin’s Communist blueprints? Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf? Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book?)… In the 1960s Herbert Marcuse pointed out the parallel systems of control exhibited by USSR propaganda and US advertising… Also formulations like the Situationalist manifesto of Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle and the massive critique of totalist political regimes in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, and by untiring jeremiads and historical analyses of state/cultural disciplinary regimes given by Foucault… In recent times, the classic formulation and critique of the wedding of political and commercial hegemony by Marxians Hardt and Negri in their book, Empire… Perhaps the most mischievous critique of this libidinal and illusional nexus that governs our time is in the work of Jean Baudrillard, e.g. his Simulations…

Recent Philosopher: Canadian Kalle Lasn, in his jeremiad, Culture Jam

Novels and Films: Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited, a thousand sci-fi dystopias, Fahrenheit 451, The Truman Show, The Matrix…

Classic Age or Historical Period: Historical empires of all sorts – from the Egyptian and Babylonian, to the Persian and Roman, the great European and ‘new world’ empires of the Spanish, French and British; utopian blueprints; fascisms… totalitarian fascist and communist regimes (and also the USA, despite its avowed democratic ideology, becoming the dupe of oligarchic/commercial/military interests and momentum?…) – revolutionary and charismatic societies originally celebrating freedom and liberation and by successive turns becoming militarily powerful and developing forms – intentional or unintentional – of domestic control… the way states become big and powerful and reflexively aggressive… the very tendency toward empire, toward tight unification and uniformity, toward an all embracing totality…

Future Scenario: a global monoculture, a world-wide mall, a seamless integration of corporate control over financial and commercial markets, not an intentional “empire” but guaranteed by military protection and progressively anticipatory surveillance/tracking (see “Minority Report” and GIS monitoring of your back yard)… and control of the abdicated electorate by ubiquitous entertainment empires and omni-screen virtual immersions… an immense diversity of styles amounting to a comfort-driven uniformity… an enormous circus tent or set of theme parks whose unrelenting montage of images and roars of applause mask and drown out anything that resembles pain… only pleasure and conformance are permitted…

Scenario III Accelerating Technological Convergence or Divergence

Lines of human-technology converge and combine to create an unprecedented transformation into either a new trans-human species (beyond the biological or the ‘machine’), the famed “Singularity” event, and/or eventuates in a variety of posthuman species with distinctly different futurals and destinies…

Human nature: We are what we make… Tools R Us – “homo faber” -- tools as instruments and as consequent environments are not extraneous but essential to human nature – our amplifications are us, as Marshall McLuhan continually reminded us… We have always been “amphibians” in Aldous Huxley’s phrase, inhabitants simultaneously of/in multiple worlds, or “cyborgs” in Donna Haraway’s famous locution: we have always been and are intrinsically hybrids, creatures whose cerebellums, thumbs and range of virtual extensions have provided the media of our radial/centrifugal energy… civilization has always been the glyph, the book and the screen, the spear and the probe… Every instrument, from telescope to microscope, from horse to car to rocket, has extended our consciousness and altered our space and time sense ratio, our understanding of where we are and where we were… our sensitivity and tactility is always being extended with inherent portals and perceptivities (Whitehead’s ‘prehensions’)… Our consequent ‘world’ is ever being enlarged… We are infinitely malleable, perfectible and transformable sentient beings in constant evolution and generating new domains of interactivity… technology is not synonymous with machines or the machine age but is more in the nature of evolving design, as in software… technology (our nature) may be hard in the beginning but soft in the end…

Type of Death: the rejection of death as a biological inevitability; the prospect of an indefinite prolongation of biological life; new, “improved” genetic/bio designs; downloading consciousness into other “translations” of ourselves (cloning and/or molecular patterning/transmissions, e.g. a la Star Trek ‘beamings’); “death” as techno-metamorphosis: transmogrification into the symbiotic-alien, consciousness amalgamation into strange and novel perceptions in new bionic and/or virtual media… the letting go of the familiar human… radically different posthuman cultures, real and virtual planetary dwellings and cosmic peregrinations… the never-ending project of the persistence and metamorphosis of life…
Classic Philosophers: Prometheus, the mythical titan and bringer of fire as the iconic hero of the technological quest for extension and control, of the quest for godlike freedom… Archimedes, the archetype of the mathematician-physicist-scientist-inventor, Democritus and Lucretius, the early Greek and Roman atomists who taught that all was essentially material, that the gods were figments of our imagination and that humans should not give in the emotional slavery of fear by being dupes of our own imagination… Bacon’s Novum Organum; Diderot, Voltaire and the French Encyclopedists, who piloted the Euro-Enlightenment project of the dissemination of knowledge and practical industry to improve the lot of mankind beyond enslaving monarchies, hereditary aristocracies and religious clerics; LaMettrie, author of Man, the Machine, August Comte, author of positivism and the religion of mankind; Marinetti, A Futurist Manifesto, Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner who proposed the project of a thoroughgoing scientific ‘behavioral science’… Utopian philosophers who promoted the idea of the perfectibility of mankind… Techno-utopians like Buckminster Fuller (Nine Chains to the Moon, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, etc.) who felt such perfectibility was necessary to survival as well as materially achievable… Marvin Minsky and a host of cyber/computer engineers and theorists… Donna Haraway, Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; Paul Virilio, Open Sky and The Art of the Motor; Technophiles of more recent sorts like the X-Tropians and the Trans-Humanists celebrated in the journal, Mondo 2000…

Recent Advocates: Alan Harrington, The Immortalist; Freeman Dyson, Infinite in All Directions; Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot; Michio Kaku, Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century; Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, The Singularity Is Near; Bruce Sterling, Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years; Robert Zimmerman, Leaving Earth; Michael Zey, The Future Factor…

Novels and Film: Science fiction generally (starting with Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, through Clarke and Asimov to Larry Niven and Doris Lessing)… utopian fiction (like Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward)… novel and later film based on Ursula LeGuin’s The Lathe of Heaven… novel and film from Stanislav Lem’s Solaris, William Gibson’s cyber-classic Necromancer and the ‘cyberpunk fiction’ of others like Bruce Sterling; the sci-fi series by Iain Banks, The Culture…

Classical Age or Historical Period: …………………………every age?…………….
a continual historical identifying preoccupation with our products and projections, homunculi and all manner of inventions, from puppets to steam engines and cars to robots……. Marx: societies always configure around their predominant material projections which in turn become their infrastructures………… technologically defined or configured societies -- the French utopian Fourier’s socialist experiment? the ‘new man’ project Soviet Russia? a variety of Sixties’communes? the New Alchemy Institute? the international space station? online cyber-communities?

Future Scenario: Our evolution is continuing at an increasingly accelerated pace and, as we approach a collective quantum jump, we also find ourselves in possession of an array of interacting instruments and knowledge of micro-processes that give our species to keys of material creation itself… Humans will make themselves/ourselves into either subservience to the technological apotheosis of a more capable complex emergent entity (with something much more capable than one of our first babies, computer chess champ, Deep Blue) or again speciation into a surprising variety of divaricating subcultures/worlds that mirror the spectrum of human temperaments and interests…

We are living in a postmodern era defined by a matrix of intersecting technological developments, all of which in tandem threaten to empower or threaten our integrity as a species: medical/cryonic (indefinite extensions or prolongations of human lifespans), genetic design (control, design and even creation of entire life patternings and posthuman forms), nano-technology (control of matter itself!), cyber- AI, AL, robotics, virtual domains and interactivity spheres, space faring and eventual species diasphora… At the very least such developments may require major adjustments in human society… At the most, they present radical options for not only centrifugal cultures but different human evolutionary lines and futures… Humanity will take control of not only its own evolution, but of the very processes of creation itself…

It is important to emphasize that this array of techno-enabled futures is not (and never has been) mere speculation. The “future” in its archetypical reality is always active and under construction and today’s phase – the 20th and 21st centuries – is proceeding in the form of major iconic projects:
1) the physical plumbing and control of the processes of matter (“programming the universe” as information, atoms as bits, nanotechnology developments…)
2) genetic decipherment and design ( the ‘DNA Project’); more than medical or cosmetic redesigns of the human; aging patterns overcome and strategic prolongations of bio-existence; cryonic preservation/resuscitation tactically achieved…
3) experimentation and development of ‘artificial’ life patterns (the computerized, silicon based “game of life”) and ‘artificial intelligence’ combined with robotics (Kurzweil’s “spiritual machines”) that will qualitatively transcend human intelligence and action capabilities, perhaps moral capabilities as well -- since humans seem to be such poor stewards of life, what with war as a prime characteristic feature of human history… Brautigan’s telling poetic phrase, “and all watched over by machines of loving grace”…
4) the elaboration of virtual reality venues and cyber-domains of experience, moving from game-like settings and programs to holographic projections in/onto virtual ‘planets’ – though the scenes will ever be more complex and shifting, it will be discovered that the scripts of our lives have always been informed by the projections of the imagination… the dimensions of vividness and ‘depth’ will always be pursued…
5) the technologies that will permit space-flight, space-faring and space-colonization will finally be achieved as well as being commercially and scientifically exploited… space travel will entail unique encapsulations, dwelling colonies and/or different forms entirely for the human (humus=soil, earth)…new forms of “traveling,” e.g. perhaps quantum tunneling that will enable faster than light travel and will create abrupt and startling ‘appearances’ here and in sundry realms… communing with hosts of interstellar species as human mutants emerge and migrate in the ever-enlarging cosmos… perhaps the achievement of celestial or angelic status or frequency of being…

Scenario IV “The End of History” -- The Triumph of Western Rationality, Liberal Democracy and Material Progress

Human nature: We humans are creatures defined by our rationality and the overcoming of our superstitious tendencies. We thrive on free inquiry, free trade and the pursuit of happiness. The defining event of human history was the birth of Western science, the empirical scientific method and the technologies and social arrangements associated with that – our infatuation with material betterment and social progress, defined as the progress of freedom. What we are essentially is really described by the confirmed results of the latest science. If we are quarks and reflexes, so be it. If we are cognitive concatenations of neural nets and brain activity, so be it. If we are animals evolving over aeons, so be it. A likely story of human genesis is presented by astronomer Carl Sagan in his The Dragons of Eden and his Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. The unbelievably large physical ‘cosmos’ is our home. There are no ‘supernatural’ forces, beings or gods – other than in our superstitious minds. Whatever our ‘raw material,’ the ethos and practice of science and untrammeled commerce really defines and completes us as human beings.

Way of death/dying: death by tedium and despair?… the same/old, same/old repetition, an unending series of limited/linear commercial fulfillments, “bad faith” in the sense that there be no broader horizon than our familiar roster of wants, needs, desires and concerns… the Kierkegaardian despair of the finite being resigned to the finite, despite hunger after the infinite… why would the question or desire of an ‘afterlife’ even arise if it were not for the condition of scarcity and want?…

Classic Philosophers: greats of early modern science and the philosophers of the European Enlightenment… Adam Smith and John Locke… Hegel as the great philosopher of the historical process… August Comte and his “positive philosophy” of the progress of science and the solidarity/welfare of mankind… socially conscious scientist evangelizers and popularizers like H. G. Wells and Carl Sagan, Stephen J. Gould and Richard Dawkins… philosophers of science like Karl Popper… the great classical and recent economist-apologists for market capitalism, like Frederick Hayek

Recent advocates: Francis Fukuyama in his now classic, The End of History; Virginia Postrel, The Future and Its Enemies and her The Substance of Style, and Gregg Easterbrook, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse

Novels and Films: ……… utopian depictions of a cornucopian future?

The Historical Age: The early modern era of the West has given us physical science, market capitalism as a form of commercial activity, and technology and science-based medicine. It has also given birth to the notion of freedom and the modern form of the liberal democratic state wherein all can pursue their dreams and livelihoods. Despite the major and threatening totalitarian aberrations of the last century, the triumph of modern liberal democracy seems assured – the victory of rationality over extreme irrationalities and totalitarianisms based on fear and political repression. Democracies don’t fight each other; they trade with each other! The world, despite wars and temporary setbacks is slowly but surely evolving toward the final rational plateau of peaceful commerce, individual freedom (with reasonable, consented to restrictions) and continued technological progress, aiming toward medical and eudaemonic well-being. The great cataclysms of human history will eventually terminate in a peaceful planet suffused with material contentment. If history is defined as wrenching struggles and transitions, then we will all collectively enter a period that can rightfully be called, “the end of history.”

Future Scenario: While we are experiencing turbulence now (Iraq and Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea), the values and direction of Western liberal democracy (along with scientific empiricism and free market capitalism) represent the true progress of mankind. The Fukuyama thesis of the victory in the long run of the institutions of liberal democracy means that we should indeed fight to protect those values and will eventually win and usher in “the end of history.” In the end, no more need for warfare and no great crises or transitions or revolutions – only steady scientific/technology progress… the reaching of a kind of steady state and relatively satisfying plateau for mankind…
That flowering and leveling off of species material welfare will almost certainly occur, despite a bittersweet tinge – we can have it all if the all is limited and that’s all we want. A humane, global, corporate capitalism goes along with the pursuit of rationality and the liberal democratic state.

Scenario V Evolution of Consciousness and Planetary Enlightenment

Human nature: We humans are more than merely rational creatures, we are an evolving cosmic consciousness, on a continuum with the embryonic consciousness in plants and animals, even with atoms and stars! We are sentience and interconnectedness and deep ecology expresses this fact. We are starstuff becoming conscious, and evolution generally becoming conscious of itself… We represent the apex of this planet’s evolution about to experience a saltation, major jump in our collective consciousness that will enable us to become more genuine stewards and caretakers of all the beings entrusted to us and with which we fraternize…

Way of death/dying: individual/collective transformation into a higher consciousness and/or larger, more expansive identity… the dilation of our contracted being or ego-defined condition to contain the whole swath of existence… a rainbow of powers and talents emerging from pain and crisis, death and suffering… the bursting of the ego-shell or chrysalis into a butterfly-like or nectar-producing being… a psychedelic merging into a holistic and compassionate connectedness, unseparated by familiar walls and filters…

Classic Philosophers: The ‘mystery’ and esoteric traditions generally (knowledge of other worlds and realities only given to ‘spiritually’ trained and prepared adepts… Paracelsus, Bruno and Renaissance advocates of “infinite worlds”… Renaissance and early modern utopian visionaries… the English Romantic Poets… Novalis and Goethe… Hegel as the philosopher of organic process and the career of the absolute mind/spirit/consciousness as manifested in history… American Transcendentalism; the late 19th and early 20th century Theosophical Movement… Henri Bergson in his Creative Evolution, William James, and Whitehead in his Process and Reality and the process philosophers generally… Political activist turned yogi, Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s rediscovery of the Indian/Vedic tradition in his The Life Divine and his doctrine and yoga of spiritual-cosmic evolution… George Gurdjieff’s All and Everything: Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson…

Recent advocates: the great Jesuit paleontologist, theologian, and mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man and The Future of Man, The Hymn of the Universe; Douglas Harding, The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth; Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth; Satprem, The Adventure of Consciousness; the counter cultural and new age visionaries of the 1960s-70s… the movement and thinkers of “deep ecology”… Ken Goffman, Countercultures Through the Ages; Ray and Anderson, The Cultural Creatives; Duane Elgin, The Promise Ahead; Ken Wilber, The Atman Project; Michael Murphy, The Future of the Body; Joanna Macy, The World As Self, The World As Lover, David Korten, The Great Turning

Novels and Films: Olaf Stapledon’s Starmaker; Aldous Huxley’s Island; A. C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land; Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia; David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus; Taoist inspired sci-fi novels of Ursula LeGuin…

Classic Age or Historical Period: rudimentary and dispersed awakenings in the “axial period” of human history (Karl Jaspers), corresponding to the birth of the great religions from about 500 B.C. to roughly 500 A.D…. esoteric spiritual societies and utopian commune movements of all sorts from ancient secret initiation brotherhoods and sisterhoods to early Christian ecstatic communities to utopian experiments of all sorts; dissident religious groups and communities; the social-political consciousness movements of the 1960s-70s from Civil Rights to Feminism to the Anti-War Protests and Peace Movement to the Psychedelic movement to the influx of the Asian wisdom and meditation traditions…

Future Scenario: We are living in the midst of a great planetary enlightenment, the flowering of consciousness in which technology will reach its maturity in providing flexible and sensitive tactility, and an almost endless supply of energy and abundance, ending aeons of scarcity and contest over limited resources… Collective moral consciousness and individual awareness will match the new seamless and luminous terrestrial-infrastructural “body” of humankind and there will be a golden age of art as humans are liberated by technology to new realms of ludic enjoyment and activity… There may be a great planetary crisis that may precipitate and be the midwife of this collective quantum leap… There will be new “octaves” or cosmic frequencies accessed by human evolution (Gurdjieff) and encounters with higher order celestial beings and/or angelic species… a hope-filled sense that we are close to a major planetary convergence, alignment and leap wherein the local and global in proper resonance and relationship…

Scenario VI Saints, Sages, and Existentialists

The participatory universe, the dramatic world, and the alternation cosmology

Human nature: We humans have the entire gamut of impulses, tendencies and ways of being from the most noble to the most savage… we contain the entire spectrum of latencies or possible ranges of behavior – that gets cultivated according to our karma and choice… we have the seed of enlightened buddhahood within us as well as the most heinous dictator and murderer… Our “nature” contains every realm or level of being… we are actually the most obtuse matter, the most amazing actual and potential energies and processes, the actuality of sage-like understanding and the possibility of universal love… As the great teachers and sages have told us, and as the great saints have exemplified, what we are is always in the balance: we are always falling asleep and into habits which easily grow vile, we are always struggling with ourselves (the great truth of the Manichean war of good and evil in our souls), we are always expressing enlightened wisdom and behavior – whether we know it or not… and we are always subject to “temptation” (and its resurrected cousin, blessing) while alive… the world’s perpetual chaos, disorder and imbalance is the continual possibility of grace… “the world” is the mandala or translation/choice of our consciousness, we create our worlds – exactly… the world always poses the “koan” or the impossible to answer need for reconciling action… awareness of drama and action in accord with our deepest nature makes us fully human…

Way of death/dying: St. Paul: ‘I die daily’… We are always the subject of incomplete deaths…. Realization is complete dying to the known and venerated (and hence complete birth or resurrection or final coming to)... the notion that we have never left home (‘been born’), that moment to moment we are in our true home, that we are not wandering “in time” as orphans, that dying to the ego and its agenda is supremely necessary (or supremely unnecessary!), that the ego (and 'other'!) is not so much to be transcended as to be seen as an artful mirage, having fewer habiliments than the proverbial emperor -- the real royalty or aristocrat being the divine heart at the center of our soul! (according to Meister Eckhart), that most deaths are postponements and perpetuations of suffering we insist on and (as say Krishnamurti and the Buddha)… we can only die right now -- or, in Sri Nisagardatta's arch phrase, "you" have never been born, so how you gonna die?! -- or, the one who is born is the one who must undergo dying...

Classic Philosophers: the great religious sages and teachers: Moses, Kung Fu Tzu, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Siddhartha the Buddha, Jesus, St. Paul, Plotinus, St. Augustine, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, St. John of the Cross, George Fox, Hui Neng, Huang Po, Bankei, Shankara, Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, Aurobindo, Gandhi, Pascal, Simone Weil, Kierkegaard, Krishnamurti, Thomas Merton, Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi, St. Teresa of Avila, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, etc.… Aldous Huxley’s great compendium, The Perennial Philosophy…

Recent Advocates: Harding’s The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth and his On Having No Head; Joseph Goldstein’s The Experience of Insight; Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness; James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games; Robert Thurman, Infinite Life

Novels and Films: Plato’s famous allegory of the cave in his The Republic; Dante’s Divine Comedy; Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy; Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage, Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and Magister Ludi (The Bead Game) ………all the great works of fiction! -- as explicating and unfolding the virtually infinite variations of the law of karma (given circumstance, intentional and unintentional consciousness and the net of consequences of action, suffering and transcendence...) – including and especially science fiction; all great films likewise… Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”…

Classic Age or Historical Period: the peaceful reign of the Buddhist king, Ashoka?… every age; none of them… the world will always be the world, enlightenment will always be enlightenment; “matter” and “spirit” will always be perpetual possibilities on the same spectrum; samsara and nirvana are strangely convertible… reality is always aboriginally sacred, yet has to be made sacred… there is a path, and there is no path or raft or ladder to the Highest…

Future Scenario: We are living in the world we have always lived in -- one of perennial danger and possibility that is both extensive and intensive… The nature of the world is always its being out of balance, and balance is only a transient achievement although an important one… The world always is off-center, full of tension and oppositions, always hangs in the balance awaiting determinative decision. Existential choice is the nature of this world – we always create it with our actions and their consequences. The world is unavoidably participatory and can be cultivated in innumerable ways, depending on one’s bent… Ecstasy, whether of a sexual, power, understanding or compassionate sort can always be had by cultivating the appropriate regimen and path of life. The world is filled with Sapphos, Margaret Thatchers and Mother Teresas… Polarities define the world, ironies and surds as well. Be careful about what you do because, one, you’ll achieve it, and two, your most prized work may be translated into its opposite… The world is pure discontinuity filled with a palette of beguiling patterns and absorbing incarnations…
Full realization is as available and open as it is difficult and challenging…

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why Progressives Should Care About Human Destiny in Space

By Tad Daley, AlterNetPosted on August 11, 2007, Printed on August 11, 2007

Everybody knows that whether it's lavish Broadway spectacle or humble community theater, the lead actors have understudies. If Hamlet, Sky Masterson or Galinda the Good Witch come down with laryngitis a couple of hours before curtain, some brave soul needs to be ready, at a moment's notice, to step into the breach.

But perhaps not everybody knows that astronauts, too, have "understudies." If Mission Specialist No. 4 comes down with laryngitis a couple of days before launch, NASA doesn't want to scrub a flight after years of training by the crew and all the preparation that goes into every mission by thousands more on the ground.

The crew of the Challenger, which perished on Jan. 28, 1986, when the space shuttle disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean 73 seconds after liftoff, had backups. Christa McAuliffe, who was selected to be the first "schoolteacher in space," was herself backed up by another schoolteacher. Her name was Barbara Radding Morgan, who taught elementary school in Fresno, Calif., and was then 34 years old.

On Wednesday evening, more than 21 years later, Ms. Morgan, now 55, went up on the space shuttle Endeavor as NASA's first "educator in space" to continue the mission that Ms. McAuliffe began two long decades ago. And she's doing it from the same place where McAuliffe sat -- in the middle of the lower deck.

Morgan and the rest of the Endeavor's seven-member crew will be spending about two weeks at the international space station to continue a construction project that will include replacing a gyroscope, attaching a new truss segment to the station and delivering 5,000 pounds of cargo.

Many of the educators who had competed with Morgan and McAuliffe to become the first teacher in orbit, were in Florida to watch the liftoff. Even June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of the Challenger's commander, was present for the launch.

"The Challenger crew -- my husband Dick Scobee, the teacher Christa McAuliffe -- they would be so happy with Barbara Morgan. They'd be excited for her, they'd be proud of her and her following through with the mission for the teacher to fly in space,'' said Scobee Rodgers, founding chairman of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

But why go to all the trouble to launch a now 55-year-old woman into the cosmos?

What is the meaning of Barbara Morgan? As we approach our 50th anniversary as a spacefaring civilization (Sputnik was launched into orbit by the late USSR on Oct. 4, 1957), what is the space program for?

And why should progressives, with a full menu of more immediate causes on our activist plates, care about this one?

I heard one answer last month, in Kansas City, at the commemoration of the centennial, on 7/7/7, of the birth of perhaps the greatest apostle of human destiny in space that humanity has yet produced -- Robert A. Heinlein. His majestic Time Enough for Love told the life story of Lazarus Long, one of the most charismatic characters in 20th century literature. Setting the scene in the year 4272, Heinlein wrote, "We are no longer able to make a reasoned guess at the numbers of the Human Race, nor do we have even an approximate count of the colonized planets. The most we can say is that there must be in excess of two thousand colonized planets, in excess of five hundred billion people. The colonized planets may be twice that number, the Human Race could be four times that numerous. ... Pioneers care little about sending records to the home office; they are busy staying alive ..."

4272. That's not so far off. It's just a little bit longer in the one direction than Caesar and Christ are in the other. But that's what the voyages of Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan are really about. All of us now alive, on behalf of all those not yet alive, have only just barely embarked on that endless expedition. That is the journey, for the Human Race, toward immortality.

What does immortality have to do with progressive values? Conservatives, most fundamentally, are about the idea that individuals ought to devote their blood, tears, toil and sweat to pursuing their own individual interests ... and leave it to other individuals to do the same. But if political progressives are about anything, we are about the idea that our lives are about something larger than ourselves. The idea that, as Michael Moore says in Sicko, we are not a "me society" but a "we society." The idea that we have obligations and responsibilities not just to ourselves and our immediate families, but also to the community of the whole.

And that means ultimately not only the human community of the present moment, but also the community of our remotest ancestors and our distant descendants as well. Space is ultimately about our duties to generations beyond our own. "The greatest good for the greatest number," said progressive giant Teddy Roosevelt, "applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction."

A second core progressive value beckons to us from space as well. Progressives believe that our national citizenship must be accompanied by a global citizenship, that our allegiance to our nation stands alongside an allegiance to humanity, that our national patriotism must in the end be transcended by a planetary patriotism. We stand in the tradition of what the great psychologist Erik Erikson called an "all-human solidarity." We see the first glimmerings of what the political scientist Robert C. Tucker calls an "ethic of specieshood." We are the vanguard of what Voltaire called "the party of humanity."And space has already shown that it can serve as perhaps the single greatest engine of human unity.

On July 20, 1979, on the tenth anniversary of humanity's first footsteps on the moon, Neil Armstrong was asked how he had felt as he saluted the flag up there. "I suppose you're thinking about pride and patriotism," he replied. "But we didn't have a strong nationalistic feeling at that time. We felt more that it was a venture of all mankind." (One wonders if any consideration was given, in the high councils of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, to having Armstrong and Aldrin plant not a flag of the United States on the moon, but a flag of Planet Earth.)

Many of the fortunate souls who have made it into Earth orbit (and the infinitesimal 27 who have left Earth orbit and ventured to the moon) have expressed remarkably similar sentiments.

"The first day or so we all pointed to our countries," said the Saudi astronaut Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud. "The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth." "The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone," said the Russian astronaut Aleksei Leonov, "our home that must be defended like a holy relic." "From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty," said Edgar Mitchell, one of only 12 humans to have walked on the surface of another world. "You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'"

This is why the late Carl Sagan claimed that spaceflight was actually subversive. Although governments have ventured into space, Sagan observed, largely for nationalistic reasons, "it was a small irony that almost everyone who entered space received a startling glimpse of a transnational perspective, of the Earth as one world."

Seeing our planet as a whole, apparently, enables one to see our planet as a whole.

Finally, space may someday deliver to us arguably the greatest progressive value of all. The ethic of human unity that space seems inevitably to engender may, down the road, ultimately engender permanent human peace as well.

Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels, widely considered the greatest science fiction series ever constructed, are set much further down the road than Time Enough for Love -- not 2200, but 20 or 25,000 years in the future. The Foundation's universe contains several million colonized star systems and several quadrillion human beings, so widely dispersed that anthropologists debate which among the millions was humanity's original sun. And yet, for all the extent, diversity and complexity of human affairs, humanity has managed to abolish war. The human race has forged itself into a single politically unified community -- what Asimov calls a "Galactic Empire." The unraveling of that community, and the reintroduction of war into human affairs, is the grand cataclysm that protagonist Hari Seldon and his compatriots, for seven epic novels, endeavor to prevent (or at least to mitigate).

How's that for something toward which we on the left can aspire? Progressives insist that it is within the power of the human imagination to create enduring universal peace. We maintain that there can be a next step in the social evolution of our species. In the spring of 2003, many of us demonstrated against a preemptive, unilateral, illegal and very unwise war, the consequences of which we can still only dimly foresee. But for all of our efforts in the past four years to "end the war," isn't our deepest aspiration actually to "end war"?

Bertrand Russell taught us that the greatest moral imperative was this: "One must care about a world one will never see." So in addition to all of our urgent work on all of our urgent struggles, progressives should consider joining and participating in the work of hardy and underappreciated space advocacy organizations like the Planetary Society, the National Space Society, the Mars Society and the Space Frontier Foundation.

Perhaps the single best line of the Heinlein Centennial was uttered to us on an enormous video screen, from Sri Lanka, by 90-year-old Arthur C. Clarke, when he said, "Robert Heinlein will be revered by future generations. If any."

Stephen Hawking, similarly, in remarks just before boarding his widely publicized zero-gravity airplane flight in April, said, "Life on Earth is at risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus. ... I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space."

And the Royal Astronomer Martin Rees, of Cambridge University, in his chilling 2003 book Our Final Hour, surveyed the litany of macro-dangers facing humanity (some natural but most of our own making) -- asteroid impact, climate change, nuclear apocalypse, bioterror, nanotechnology spinning out of control, the enormous destructive potentials that can be unleashed today by just a few malevolent individuals. Then he delivered this astonishing verdict: "I think the odds are no better than 50-50 that our present civilization on Earth will survive to the end of the present century."

How such a forecast has failed to generate any political debate whatsoever -- among progressives or anyone else -- is surely a testament to the shallowness of our contemporary political conversation.

There are two responses that progressives might make to the challenges posed by Clarke, Hawking and Rees -- and to the responsibilities passed on to us by Teddy Roosevelt. One is to confront those challenges head on, to focus upon not only Iraq and impeachment and the issues of the hour, but also the issues of the century, and to endeavor over time to perhaps alter Rees' odds for the better. The other is to dedicate ourselves to the goal, however distant, of establishing the human race permanently beyond the cradle of its birth. First beyond our planet, then beyond our solar system, as we venture, slowly but inexorably, in tiny lifeboats afloat on an infinite sea, to live forever among the stars.

These twin undertakings, obviously, need not be mutually exclusive. After all, people who do everything possible to protect their health still take out life insurance policies. Unfortunately, the agendas of our politicians these days seem mostly about neither of these undertakings. The legacies of Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan, educators and astronauts, seem quite obviously about both.

Tad Daley is a veteran progressive political adviser and nuclear disarmament policy analyst. He has served as a policy aide for the late U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston, as national issues director for Rep. Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign and as a co-founder of Progressive Democrats of America,
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Global Consciousness / Personal Awareness Worldview


MOTTOES: What is truly valuable is not the past, nor the future, but in the drama and depth of the present moment. ...Remember: Be here now! ...Go within. ... Find your true nature. ... Become who you are. ...

TIME: the 1960s and 70s (with roots in the perennial spiritual traditions)

PLACE: USA and Western Europe

PIONEERS AND HEROES: Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy), Michael Murphy (founder of Esalen Growth Institute), Charlotte Selver (sensory awareness teacher), Ida Rolf (body work), Matthias Alexander and Moshe Feldenkris (postural and structural awareness), Paul Goodman (social critic), Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Ram Dass and Daisetz Suzuki (popularizers and translators of Eastern Traditions: Yoga, Zen, Taoism)...

MYTHIC FIGURE: the Buddha, the historical figure of Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as 'the fully enlightened one', the awakened, a fully conscious and compassionate being

IMAGE/FEELING/FLAVOR: the entire cosmos is alive and sensitive had we but the consciousness to perceive it... the non-realization of this truth - of the fact that everyone and everything feels - brings untold misery (the manifold lines of karma, or the consequences of ignorant/unkind action)... the world is an intricate "mandala" or astral diagram of uniquely appropriate correspondences... the world is like a vast necklace of interconnected gems - simultaneously reflecting and being reflected ("Indra's Net")

QUOTES: "If you walk, walk. If you run, run. But above all, don't wobble!" (Zen)
"If you can drink a cup of tea correctly, you can do anything well." (Gurdjieff)
"By drinking a cup of green tea I helped stop the war." (Said during the Viet Nam War)
"There is no way to peace; peace is the way." (Slogan during the Viet Nam War protests)

LIFE MAXIMS: Trust your deeper (native, intuitive) wisdom... Live your deep truth... Maintain a 'beginner's mind'... Be faithful to the process and the product will be fine... We all are always on the journey, with the deep uncertainty that entails... Stay attentive, alert and invincibly kind ("ahimsa")...

SOME CONTEMPORARY ADVOCATES AND CHAMPIONS: Thich Nhat Hanh, Ken Wilber, Jon Kabat-Zinn... Parker Palmer, Gay Hendricks, Theordore Roszak, R.G. Siu


NATURE/REALITY/METAPHYSICS: Nature is the vast interconnected texture of pure energy ... it is sheer vibratory energy, radio frequencies, astral correspondences... consciousness is nature becoming aware of itself... 'things' are not permanent substances but are inherently temporal, that is, temporary configurations or patterns of energy... Nature is an integral totality, a resonant whole (versus a discrete collection of atomic entities and/or a dualistic type system - e. g . MATTER-SPIRIT, MIND-BODY, FACTS-VALUES). Knowledge is not the same as understanding. Understand any one thing through and through and you understand the whole. A central NO-THING-NESS is both resident in things and, at the same time, far beyond individual things, acting as a kind of cosmic lure to evolution. Freedom is not guaranteed nor are achievements of any sort permanent. Nonetheless there is deep satisfaction in service and "returning home" to our true nature, in working and being in harmony with the underlying cosmic process (the Tao, Enlightenment, the Dharma). Right action puts us in harmony with all things.

SURD/PRINCIPLE OF ANTI-ORDER/SOURCE OF ERROR: the fact that all beings are necessarily limited. Individual selfhood is necessary and yet it is the source of endless problems and conflicting desires. Einstein referred to the self as a kind of cosmic 'optical illusion'. We see all through the 'I'. Individuality, or seemingly being a separate thing, is what Alan Watts, following Buddhism, called 'ignore-ance'. This condition is not so much the not having of knowledge, but rather the state of ignoring, being oblivious or unconscious of other beings. This congenital "blindness" is the root of our problems.

To be an individual entity means to develop an individual consciousness (ego, identity), which means in effect to systematically overlook the value of other things. When we are not aware of all the factors that compose us and affect us, we act as if we 'knew it all' or can do it all ourselves - we are thus ego-centric or ego-bound. Breaking out of the shell of that attitude, rejoining our deeper harmony and harkening to our life mission or destiny-work is 'enlightenment'. In transcending the 'me-and-mine' syndrome we become fully free.

THE MIND: In this worldview there are two kinds of "mind". The first is the mind we are all familiar with - conscious thinking or overt mental activity. The other is the deep seed of ENLIGHTENMENT within us - that which inexorably draws us to full functioning, full freedom, and the full realization (flowering) of what we are. So it is therefore important to distinguish the ceaseless mental flow of feelings, reactions and judgments that makes up our ordinary consciousness, from the non-discursive, silently aware and non-judgmental witnessing that is at the heart of the meditative/contemplative and spiritual traditions.

PRIMARY DISCIPLINE OR INSTRUMENT: the practice of meditation or mindful awareness; the use of some activity like pottery or sports as a meditative vehicle

ESSENTIAL COSMIC DYNAMIC: growth and becoming in two dimensions: outward, the chronological development and ripening of entities; and inward, the growth of interiority, sentiency and consciousness

IDEAL PERSON: a whole person, one who is integral, fully functioning and free... one who is living an intentional or dedicated life, while nonetheless 'dancing with chaos'... an enlightened sage... one whose life exemplifies service to the community...

IDEAL SOCIETY: a true community of equals, each making contributions in a non-egoistic way... a healed planet... a sense of global oneness with an endlessly creative menu of delicious "flavors" (e.g. of ethnic and national identities)...

Core Disciplines and Historical Curricula

The core disciplines of this worldview are those of relaxation, concentration and meditation. They all involve a deliberate withdrawal from ordinary activities (e. g. the ascetic practices of the shaman) in order to experience the ecstasy (the powerful rush of going beyond oneself) of communion with higher or cosmic or sacred power(s). This is the taproot of all religious traditions: , the communication with an invisible realm that ultimately gives life to, orders and guides everyday activities. Cultivating a deep quiet and a dedicated listening are the perennial prerequisites to opening to this realm or being(s) that both sustains and transforms our world. It is the adventure of the true hero, fighting the inner dragons; it is the path to wisdom.

There have been many echoes of this primordial religious tradition throughout the centuries. In the West, Plato may have been the heir not only of the iconoclastic Socrates but also of the 'mystery' traditions of Egypt and the mathematic-religious brotherhood of Pythagoras. Esoteric traditions, which stressed the notion of a 'secret knowledge' of ultimate things, sometimes converged, sometimes clashed, with established religions. Trailblazers in Far Eastern cultures like the Buddha, Confucius and Lao-Tzu stressed the importance of self-knowledge in arriving at the ultimate truth. The idea was that determinedly examining one's own experience brought deeper understanding than exhaustive knowledge of an "external" universe. In the West monastic communities spawned both world renowned scholars and scientists, and at the same time, preserved the tradition of "inner" contemplative knowledge and living.

There were the cosmopolitan universities of the ancient world. There were the religiously imbued universities of the medieval world. The latter became stigmatized by the term 'scholastic', meaning given over to excessively verbal argumentation. Western science became a breath of fresh air. And the tradition of science eventually spawned the counter tradition of Romanticism. Science in the modern era threatened to swallow up the entire universe by translating it into Newtonian mathematics. Descartes had divided up the world dualistically into two classes of beings: thinking conscious beings and the external extended world that was material, machine-like, and susceptible to mathematic treatment.
Poets like William Blake and William Wordsworth through their poetry tried to validate the importance of sensibility, feeling and the inner life.

The curricula of both primary schools and universities mirrored the above tendencies. Religious instruction slowly and eventually gave way to the primacy of scientific instruction. The nineteenth century became the highwater mark of rigorous historical scholarship and an increasing emphasis on scientific and industrial training. Romantic pedagogues like Rousseau, Froebel and Pestalozzi rebelled, defending the special genius and rights of the child. Montessori and Dewey continued this tradition. Ironies abounded. The German Herbart devised a truly dynamic psychology of consciousness only to have it metamorphize into a straitjacket pedagogy. German scientist par excellence Gustav Fechner, founder of 'psychophysics', became an advocate of a 'living cosmos'. William James was both a scientist and fearless investigator of consciousness. Rudolf Steiner, founder of the so-called Waldorf Schools, was part of a theosophist movement in the late 19th /early 20th century that called into question the reigning scientism of the time.

In the twentieth century the Romantic tradition has morphed into phenomenology, existentialism, process metaphysics, holism, the counter-cultural movement, and the assimilation of the Eastern wisdom traditions. American humanistic psychology bloomed with gestalt and somatic therapies and the entire human potential movement. The new curricula of consciousness and personal transformation was pursued in 'growth' institutes like Esalen in California. The discipline and practice of meditation had come to the West. There was a new context and frame for curricular development: new goals and priorities.


STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT / DIVISIONS OF SCHOOLING: people develop in a myriad of ways, at all rates and rhythms depending on life circumstance and experience, individual aptitudes and modalities... the lockstep pattern of schooling, so friendly to industrial needs and narrow economic requirements, does little justice to the flowering of human potentials, let alone to the unfoldment of our deeper nature...

STUDENT: a multi-petalled, multi-dimensional organism; a spiritual embryo

TEACHER: guide, facilitator and catalyst

TEXT: any compressed expression; any cultural icon or "shard" of meaning; the expressive physiognomy of faces, gestures, persons, relationships, situations, events, artworks, etc.; any configuration of signs requiring interpretation

MAIN AVENUE OF LEARNING: A student asked a zen master what was the essence of the Dharma (the path to enlightenment in Buddhism). The master responded "attention". The student continued, 'Is that all?' The master replied, 'Attention means attention.' The student persisted, 'And what does that mean?' The master: 'Attention means attention means attention!' Attention and awareness are the golden keys.

Myth, dreams and mis-takes often represent deeper structures of the psyche that we unaware of or deny with our conscious minds. Emotions are 'intelligent'.

Electronic networks and potentials become organic plasticity, which in turn are overshadowed by the "bandwiths" or frequences or channels of our almost boundless intuitive wisdom. There are an indefinite number of intelligences, terrestial and celestial. To be a true individual (a unified creature, an integral being) is to be open to and to embody many types of knowing. Integrity is multipotentiality.

The main question of learning for humans is not how we learn, but why we stop learning! What are the things that impede, obstruct, sabotage and constrain us?...

CENTRAL ACT(S) OF LEARNING: energy, passion,excitement; decision and choice; daring, boldness; persistence and determination; patience and peacefulness; reflectiveness

ELEMENTARY SKILLS: "the psychic abc's"; befriending ourselves; learning how to use our own organic 'bio-computers'; developing TRUST enough in basic relationships to feel safe in exploring; being in harmony and thus being able to work with ourselves; for every learning-desire there is a potential teacher/guide waiting, an appropriate syllabus unfolding, and a learning community gladly supporting...

SCHOOL: a sensitive and stimulating environment; a challenging environment (which can be anywhere); a voluntary association or intentional community with access to resources

STANDARDS: supportive feedback loops formed and refined in any process of learning; the demands of situations that need transforming; the impossible to fully articulate sense-of-rightness ("there are rules but no one rule"); everything one must take into account...

There are five sources of standards, five authorities to which we must harken: self, work assignment, partners or relationships, defining mission, and the sacred dimension of experience. Ultimately, judgments of "pass", "fail" and "excel" make reference to one of these measures which are present in any activity.

EVALUATION: initial estimate, interim feedback, and finally the sense of closure (satisfaction) that attends any complete experience and/or contribution to a cause (John Dewey) [Cf. STANDARDS]; evaluation means estimating, making a judgment which means constantly assessing the rightness or wrongness of an activity, getting rid of premature kinds of judgment to come to a deeply strong authentic self-determining measure of quality; a cybernetic hit or miss in the archery of experience...

Reading, Writing and Centering

READING: We are always scanning our environment in accord with dominant or dominating values, desires and expectations. We constantly interpret things as signs of what we wish to have or avoid. We are thus constantly composing/creating our world(s). We read facial-tones, body-language and situation-tones. We "edit" our very thoughts and feelings in the same way. We are always trying to make sense of ourselves and our environment. We are thus always 'making meaning', seeing how things fit into a larger picture, the picture that gives smaller actions and events meaning. It is always larger patterns that give smaller events meaning--- and smaller events, if they become highly charged, change larger patterns. This is the "hermeneutic circle", the feedback character, the confirming/disconfirming nature of events...

Thus reading is, first of all, the more or less automatic flow of reponses within the context of a larger pattern (stereotype, image, gestalt, cognitive-schemata, story-line, narrative, or worldview). The larger pattern either gets confirmed or there is dissonance, disturbance, disorder experienced. The dissonance itself is then folded into the larger picture or model or narrative - dismissed or denied - or else culminates in a crisis.

Secondly, reading is a stopping, a pausing, a being-stuck or struck, a conscious dallying or lingering with fascination. The automatic flow stops and there is an opening to or encounter with an 'other'. That is, there is the entertainment of something new, new information pours in voluntarily or involuntarily. Reading is scanning, rereading, multiple readings. Sometimes there is great struggling with resistances. Often there is not a linear but a circuitous path as the entity struggles and gasps for meaning in a sensitive apprehension (fear or hope). Understanding a person or a text is in principle the same: cues and clues are sought in the physiognomy, travelling through layers, probing the delicate texture of expression... Sometimes realization, insight, genuine meeting occurs... sometimes with a great burst of feeling... sometimes with quiet understanding...

Finally, in this spiral process of reading there is hopefully the integration of these inward and outward movements, of transforming and being transformed. The success of reading is the achievement of a new context for confirmation and problems, gaps and happinesses.

WRITING: Just as with reading, reading is rereading, writing is rewriting. It is the process of revising and the journey of revisioning. Also as with reading, writing follows the rhythm of flow and focus, of reevaluation, recollection and reflecting. It moves fast and slow, from 'breezegraphs' to 'writing with one's blood'. Like M. Jourdain in Moliere's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, we are always speaking the language of concentration without realizing it. Concentration is moving, focused energy. We 'pour' ourselves lightly, mediumly or intensely into things. We immerse ourselves in, we summarily deny and dismiss, we stand dazed and dumbfounded. Writing reflects our involvement.

MATHEMATICS: In the Third Worldview mathematics is a distinctive modality of intelligence, a sensitivity to certain dimensions of form. As such it is part of the revelation of beauty, displaying hidden orders, complexities and harmonies. But what it shares with every other modality or way of thinking (like art or engineering or politics) is that it is a way of framing unknowns. In the Third Worldview every situation is inherently incomplete and harboring many unknowns. Mathematics is surely the discovery and tabulation of interesting patterns. But it is more like creative-intuitive thinking in general, the becoming comfortable with unknowns, learning to be flexible and fluid, learning to be playful and open. Fear is the great constrictor of learning and knowing how to acknowledge and work with our mind-states, especially the negative ones, is a kind of primitive or meditative mathematics. As we learn this meta-art of dealing with our own consciousness, of deconstricting ourselves, we open up our own problem-solving abilities and access our native resources. We learn how-to-learn. Mathematics, as all the other arts and sciences, eventually leads to an appreciation and use of our 'beginner's mind' or 'don't-know mind'. It's not a matter of information but of reverencing and delighting in our native faculties. When we learn the arts of self-trust and fluidity, we become much better critics when critical evaluation is required. Mathematics is the art putting the horse before the cart.

CENTERING: Awareness-based pedagogy always refers to a base-state of awareness, whatever the activity. It is the integrating factor in an 'integral' or 'holistic' education. Just as Aristotle recognized four coordinates or "causes" of any activity (efficient, formal, material and final), awareness-based pedagogy notes at least five nodes/centers/focal or reference points in every activity: self/agent, partners/relationships, work/assignment, mission/value, and finally the creative source that transcends yet gives meaning to all enterprises, large and small - the Center, our cosmic solidarity, identity or progenitor.

Centering, like concentration (of energies and/or attention), is a natural, albeit often unconscious, part of all creative processes. Frequently we are so enmeshed into the objective or situational requirements of the creative process (getting the answer or working toward a satisfactory resolution) that we are quite unaware of this pregnant (and impartial) pausing, this being still and attentive, this sensitive and receptive listening. This stage in the creative process is made the centerpiece and constant companion of all endeavors in awareness-based pedagogy. It is the "fourth R". The art of conscious centering, of mindful awareness of feeling-states and situation-tones, this meditative practice of listening, allows us to access our 'higher' power(s) and/or deeper wisdom. It grounds and leavens every activity. It opens the possibilities of our deeper nature. It is the deep present forever asking "what is truly happening?"

Summary, appraisals and directions

IN SUM, the worldview of global consciousness and its attendant awareness-based pedagogy hinges on a pivotal paradox: to go deeply within, to attain a high degree of self awareness (familiarity with one's 'inner' feelings and states, sometimes quite subtle) is to simultaneously gain a sense of global identification and a solidarity with all creatures.
Self-consciousness is the experience of strain and anxiety. Self-awareness is the peaceful practice of slowly realizing what one has in common with all other creatures (e.g. the Buddha said no creature likes to suffer) to the enlightened point that there is no "other", that all creatures deserve reverence and respect. While the path to enlightenment is arduous (sometimes terribly so!), the promise of full liberation holds out the prospect of being truly at home with ourselves and in the universe. The practice of meditation, the path to self-knowledge, is the key to this fertile dissatisfaction and possible delight in all creatures. Enlightenment is the path of stewardship and service in the community of all creatures. We don't know where the cosmos begins or ends off.

WEAKNESSES, CRITICISMS, PROBLEMS: fuzzy-headed, utopian dreaming, guru-worshipping, lack of critical judgment, mystification... tending to neglect hard-headed realities... wallowing in feel-good, exaggerated self-esteem strategies... warm and fuzzy, completely lacking in intellectual or practical rigor... neglect of real problems by escape into a vague and nebulous 'within'... relies on the dubious faculty of intuition, which can have a thousand contradictory meanings... sometimes comforting but of no significance, let alone admitting of scientific verification... an outmoded path to nowhere... incomprehensible jargon... wild, undisciplined (and sometimes dangerous!) imaginings... generates true believers and blind followers... tendency toward otherworldliness...

STRENGTHS: individual empowerment; global and compassionate perspective...

FUTURE DIRECTIONS, PROMISING RESEARCH, VISION OF SUCCESS: a new framework and context for curriculum work; a new cosmic-community paradigm for understanding the universe; a sense of mission and purpose regarding the healing/saving of the planet for the "seventh generation" and the rehabilitation of the earth; the unioning of sensuous and spiritual values (e. g. revaluing the body); the rediscovery of the deeper mystical and contemplative springs of traditional religions; the earth, properly cared for, is a paradise; the present is always the 'coming of the millenium', the right or propitious time (the "kairos"), the needful time...

Select Bibliography

Romantic Poets: Blake, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Novalis, Holderlin, etc.

Philosophical Poets: Goethe, Fechner, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche

Romantic Pedagogists: Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Steiner, Montessori

Philosophers: Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution; John Dewey, Experience and Nature; Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality; Martin Heidegger, Being and Time; Martin Buber, I and Thou; Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be

American Psychology: William James, The Principles of Psychology, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Essays in Radical Empiricism and a Pluralistic Universe; Fritz Perls (et al.), Gestalt Therapy; Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person; Rollo May, Love and Will; Charles Brooks, Sensory Awareness

Culture Critics: Paul Goodman, Growing Up Absurd; Alan Watts, Nature, Man and Woman; Theodore Roszak, The Making of the Counter Culture;
Sam Keen, Inward Bound and The Passionate Life; Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Consciousness: Ken Wilber, No Boundary (Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth), The Spectrum of Consciousness, and Up From Eden

Meditation: Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Seung Sahn, Only Don't Know
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness
Joseph Goldstein, The Experience of Insight
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

Awareness-Based Pedagogy: Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
Mary Richards, Centering in Pottery, Poetry and the Person
Denise McCluggage, The Centered Skier
Margy Emerson, A Potter's Notes on Tai Chi Chuan
Gay Hendricks, The Centering Book(s) [series]
Parker Palmer, To Know As We Are Known
J. & M. Levy, The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration and Meditation

Planetary Politics: Duane Elgin, Voluntary Simplicity
Theodore Roszak, Person/Planet
Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society and Tools for Conviviality

Epistemology/Theory of Knowledge: Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation
R. G. Siu, The Tao of Science

Cosmology: Rosemary Ruether, Gaia and God
S. Nicholson & B. Rosen, Gaia's Hidden Life
Douglas Harding, On Having No Head and The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth; Gustav Fechner, The Zend Avesta