Wisdom and the Future
The Center for Future Consciousness &
The Wisdom Page

In This Issue
Editorial: Superior Minds
Online Course on the Virtues: Love
Wisdom, Death, and the Transcendental
Consciousness Expansion
Dead Poet Wisdom Review
Eight Dimensions of Wise Design
Sonnets on Toward Wisdom
Robot Overlordz Interview
Archive Pages for CFC and TWP
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Tom Lombardo's Books on the Future, Wisdom, and Future Consciousness 

Wisdom, Consciousness, and the Future


This Month's Highlights
December, 2014


Included in this month's issue of Wisdom and the Future:   

  • Editorial: Superior Minds
  • Virtue of the Month: Love - Leland R. Beaumont 
  • Wisdom, Death, and the Transcendental: Beauty, Nature, the Arts, and Love by Walter Moss
  • Consciousness Expansion - Self-Evolution using the S2 Model by Debashis Chowdhury
  • Dead Poet Wisdom - A film review by Leland R. Beaumont
  • Eight Dimensions of Wise Design that could Change Everything - A Video Talk by Kiko Suarez
  • Sonnets on Toward Wisdom by Alan Nordstrom
  • Robot Overlordz Audio Interview
  • Archive Pages for Center for Future Consciousness and The Wisdom Page 


Editorial: "Superior Minds"
Tom Lombardo   




Wisdom is a human ideal--a capacity involving principles of excellence in our thinking, states of consciousness, and behavior. Different writers, cultures, and historical periods describe this ideal capacity in different ways, including the theory that wisdom is more of a journey and direction rather than an end state. Regardless of how it is defined, as a process or a goal, wisdom is understood as a mode of excellence in psychological functioning. What remains in contention, however, is whether it can be taught.


There are those writers and speakers on wisdom who expound on various practices, attitudes, and strategies that, if cultivated, will presumably lead to greater wisdom; as an ideal state or direction, these thinkers assert that wisdom is something that can be purposely nurtured and grown through such practices. There are others, however, that would argue that wisdom cannot be learned or cultivated or taught, and that it simply emerges (spontaneously) through life experiences, or as an even more radical proposal, that it is inborn. 


I cast my lot with the former group. It seems to me that wisdom can be intentionally pursued and developed, and that the purposeful intent to do so greatly facilitates (if not being a necessary condition for) its growth within the human mind. It also seems that in this process of self-development we can learn from others, and benefit from their instruction and guidance. 


Since wisdom is a psychologically holistic capacity involving thought, intuition, emotion, motives, and behavior, synthesized with values and ethics, it recommends itself as a highly desirable pursuit, not only in our individual lives but collectively, across future generations. As I have stated, "A future-focused, evolutionary vision of wisdom should be the guiding light for our personal development and our future psycho-social evolution." Though there are numerous ways to envision the future evolution of the human mind, it seems to me that wisdom provides a holistic (and hence balanced) and ethical (hence virtuous and good) vision of future ideal human evolution.  





But, as the contemporary positive psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi has said, "It is easier for us to imagine ourselves living among better appliances than among better human beings." What is a better human being? 


In a new paper (included in a recent issue of this newsletter) on "The Future Evolution of Consciousness," I argued, in resonance with Csikszentmihalyi, that when futurist science fiction attempts to address future human evolution, and in particular, the future evolution of the human mind, it illustrates what a struggle and challenge it is for the human imagination to describe what evolved minds would be like. (Note that in futurist literature, there is much speculation about future economics, technology, cities, and environments, but little about future human psychology.)


Of course, we could imagine minds more intelligent (greater memory, thinking speed, integration of knowledge), but this cognitively-biased and simplistic view of an advanced mind is not sufficient, for it leaves out, at the very least, ethics, emotions, values, and purposes. It lacks depth and imagination. Paradoxically, an ideal vision of an evolved human mind that is simply more intelligent is not very intelligent. An evolved mind would "feel" different; the sense of an evolved self-identity (it seems to me) would transcend our fuzzy, ineffectual, and (frequently) morally impoverished conscious selves. 


Recently, in researching and writing my new book on the evolution of science fiction, I came across and read two early classic novels that addressed the issue of evolved minds in very illuminating ways. The two novels are Two Planets (1897) by Kurd Lasswitz and The Amphibians: A Romance of 500,000 Years Hence (1924) by S. Fowler Wright. 




The first novel, written before H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (1898), with its infamous octopus-like malevolent Martians, describes in great detail an advanced Martian civilization, where the Martians are basically human in appearance but possess a set of psychological capacities that far exceed those of humans. The second novel, undoubtedly inspired by Wells' The Time Machine (1895), describes a future earth in which our modern species has disappeared and has been superseded by a variety of evolutionary offshoots, some more bestial and primitive, and some more evolved than contemporary humans.


These two novels illustrate how science fiction, at the very least, offers two different imaginative settings for envisioning more advanced minds than ours: We can move outward in time into a hypothetical future reality in which humans have evolved or even transcended to something higher in the evolutionary scale; or we can move outward into space into a hypothetical alien civilization in which we encounter alien minds that are superior to our minds. In both cases, we are projecting from the "here and now," from the way things are, attempting to describe something more advanced relative to whatever standards we believe are critical in defining a more evolved mind or consciousness. Wright's novel takes the first approach; Lasswitz's novel takes the second approach. 


Beginning with Lasswitz's novel, what first impresses the reader is the advanced science and physical technology of the Martians, but as the story unfolds it becomes clear that the Martians have both a much more cooperative society than humans and a much more evolved sense of mental self-control; indeed, they seem to have been able to create a world in which social cohesion and individual self-determination necessarily coexist. Critical to their psychology is the principle of self-responsibility; the Martians have developed a high level of autonomy and internal locus of control, where external factors or internal emotional states do not determine the direction of their thinking or their actions. They are masters of their own fate, having a deep sense of individual freedom. 


Moreover, their early education is focused upon developing their capacities of mental control and self-determination. Education is not so much an institution for exerting control over the youth, it is an institution for teaching the youth how to control themselves. Also, it is not grounded in memorization of facts and the physical sciences, but rather it is grounded in internal psychological capacities. Wisdom, as the Martians understand it, is at the center of their educational system. 


It is also noteworthy that their social cohesion is necessarily coupled with their individual self-control; social order does not preclude individual freedom but requires it; the society would fall apart without individual self-control. Hence, we have a "wise society" grounded in wise individuals. The social cohesion is built on choice rather than coercion. 


Within this hypothetical Martian civilization, technological evolution comes together with psychological evolution. Advances in the physical sciences and the application of this knowledge are a natural expression of their mental evolution. It is not an either-or situation, of choosing between psychological excellence or material power. A wise society (in this model) generates technological advances. Contrary to idealistic or spiritualistic visions of wisdom, science and technology are not seen as anathema to an evolved consciousness. (Although it does appear that it is the mental sphere and the ethics of the Martians that direct the evolution of the physical sphere.) 


A pivotal dramatic challenge in the novel concerns the clash of the two civilizations of Mars and Earth. The Martians do not wish to physically conquer the Earth, as in Wells' The War of the Worlds, but they do feel a sense of superiority over humans (while humans frequently feel the reciprocal, a sense of inferiority in the presence of the Martians), and the Martians wish to teach humans-to bring Earthlings up to their level-both at a techno-economic and a psycho-social level. This "education" is delivered with a sense of benevolence, but multiple problems and conflicts emerge, including the humans' primitive modes of thinking and feeling "infecting" some of the Martians. Can a superior mind maintain its level of excellence if it is immersed in a more barbarous and primitive environment? 




In Wright's The Amphibians, a present day human time-travels forward half a million years into the future. In this future realm, we find one version of humanity's descendants having biologically evolved into an amphibious form that is able to live both on land and under water. Just as in Lasswitz's novel, the advanced form of human feels a sense of superiority toward present day humanity, as represented by the time traveler. Yet, again, at least for some of the amphibious humans, there is a sense of benevolence and good will toward us. 


Also, as with Lasswitz's Martians, Wright's future amphibious humans have evolved a heightened capacity of self-control, including control over their biological bodies. Whereas Lasswitz's Martians have an incredible physical technological civilization,the amphibians seem to have little if any physical technology, since through their advanced mental capacities they are able to guide and control nature without much in the way of physical tools. Through their will they can guide the behavior of animals and they can control the workings of their own bodies. Mind has conquered biology. 


Indeed, these beings appear to possess an amazing capacity for detachment of self; they see their bodies as an instrument of their minds, that they can fix or modify as needed, and whatever external events are occurring, they possess the capacity to "stand back" and assess the situation (without ever becoming unnerved) before making decisions. They can think and act very quickly, but they do not act impulsively or reactively. 


In sharp contrast to Lasswitz's Martians, who want to help humanity, one of the wisest leaders of the amphibious humans treats the time traveler with relative indifference, as we would treat some harmless lower life form. 


One additional common element in the two novels concerns the human inclination toward aggression, conflict, and physical violence. As in many, if not most, of our ideal visions of humans, which see violence and aggression as traits that need to be transcended or eradicated, when Lasswitz and Wright envisioned a more evolved type of mind, they both eliminated the disposition toward violence. Indeed, in both cases, violence and aggression are experienced by the evolved minds as viscerally repugnant. 


Delving deeper into the problem, in Wright's novel, violence is connected with psychological conflict. When the amphibian mind looks at us, what it sees is a mind filled with internal turmoil and irresolution--a consciousness fighting with itself--a sign of a primitive mind. The turmoil within us, as they see it, spills over into the outside, into violence and external conflict. In contrast, instead of experiencing ongoing internal conflicting states, the amphibians weigh pros and cons, and come to clear mental resolutions, realizing an internal and unified mental peace.


Such superiority notwithstanding, in both novels we find the superior minds learning important life lessons from our "inferior" mentalities and modes of behavior. As many writers of wisdom would acknowledge, true wisdom is never conceited or dogmatic, and is always open to new insights and learning. And at least in Lasswitz's novel, one of the superior Martians falls deeply in love with an earth man, achieves a more enlightened level of mental freedom within herself, and is able to realize with him a partnership of equality and mutual respect.  


Perhaps both the Martians and the amphibious humans, reflecting a rationalist detached ideal of human functioning (as in Plato), evince too much self-control and dispassionate decision making, and to be more realistic and balanced need a more heightened emotional side. Yet, even here, it does appear in the respective stories that the evolved minds are more in tune with and aware of their emotions than present day humans. Through increased inner awareness comes increased self-control. 


These comments only scratch the surface of the various ideas on highly evolved minds contained in these two novels. What is significant is that these stories allow the writers and the readers to thoughtfully consider, in concrete life situations, the possibilities of mental evolution and more advanced states of wisdom. How can we envision a wiser mind, or a wiser culture? Write a story-write many different stories-in which we can think out and explore diverse possibilities. 


Such imaginative extrapolation is a particular strength of these kinds of science fiction stories, as is the fact that they are frequently fun to read and charged with dramatic excitement, counteracting the tendency towards the serious, dry, and academic in pondering the possibilities of higher wisdom. Without question, good stories can teach us about human life, the universe, and everything in between. Imagining the possibilities of wisdom and mental evolution can inspire us and teach us. 


If we are to guide our own future evolution, and especially our growth toward increasing wisdom, we need stories about the possibilities of wisdom to stimulate our consciousness and inform our decisions and actions about preferable and not so preferable directions to take. 


Virtue of the Month
Lee Beaumont 

   "Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says 'I need you because I love you.'"
Erich Fromm

This month's virtue is love --the virtue that lures us toward the good. Where there is love, the other virtues are superseded and become redundant. While marching to his work detail in a concentration camp Viktor Frankl saw "The truth--that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire." Practice love every day, and let it guide your moral choices.




"Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead."

Oscar Wilde  




"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
Lao Tzu

*  *  *  *

The course includes Instructions for contacting the instructor. In addition, the Wikiversity platform encourages your participation in improving the course.  Comments on each page are welcome on the accompanying  "Talk" page, accessed via the "Discuss" tab.

We want to hear from you.

If you are interested in participating in a forum of active students to discuss assignments and share your thoughts, please let us know and we will work to provide a space for that. Also, we would like to be able to provide conscientious students a completion certificate at the end of the course, but we have not yet decided how best to assess completion. What are your ideas?

We certainly hope you continue to enjoy this tour of the virtues.

Leland Beaumont

Wisdom, Death, and the Transcendental: Beauty, Nature, the Arts, and Love 
by Walter Moss 

Marla Hice

In our latter years-- who knows how many more any of us have on this good earth--thoughts of death and the meaning of life come more naturally to us. We instinctively believe, or at least want to believe, that there's more to life than our humdrum existence. But what is that more?

Consciousness Expansion - Self-Evolution using the S2 Model 
by Debashis Chowdhury


Standing at the threshold of self-evolution, it is enormously helpful to have a development model that applies not only to ourselves, but to our human civilization and ultimately to our ability to make our mark as a cosmic aspirational entity. The S2 model helps us identify many areas that we can improve going forward.

Dead Poet Wisdom  
A Film Review 
by Leland R. Beaumont

It is fun and instructive to consider the film Dead Poets Society the struggle of wisdom-inquiry seeking to emerge within an esteemed fortress of certainty and tradition. In creating modern learning environments we need to meld the discipline and memorization required by traditional knowledge-based courses such as chemistry, Latin, and trigonometry with the exploration, risk taking, creativity, fun, and passion required for wisdom-inquiry.

Eight Dimensions of Wise Design that could Change Everything - A Video Talk by Kiko Suarez

The world is changing fast and we live in turbulent times, accelerated by the speed of technological change and rampant complexity. Bringing wisdom back to the center of our societal development, by focusing on 8 wisdom-centered design principles, could result in a better redefinition of our human condition and structures of living.

Sonnets on Toward Wisdom by Alan Nordstrom

"With care, compassion, kind solicitude  

Is lasting human happiness pursued;


There is no other way to realize  

What sages seek: the art of being wise,


For wisdom's not a cogitative art  

As much as it's a habit of your heart,


And there's no earthly purpose that's above  

Your tendering and garnering of love."


Read All the Sonnets 


Robot Overlordz 
Audio Interview


Our latest interview with the Robot Overlordz "Evolving Her Machine..." delves into AI, recent films on AI, and "Science Fiction as the Evolutionary Mythology of the Future."

Archive Pages for Center for Future Consciousness and Wisdom Page

From the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2014, I published two newsletters: the revitalized and redesigned
Wisdom Page Updates and Futurodyssey (the monthly publication of the
Center for Future Consciousness).  Readers
can view  issues of both
newsletters; each  newsletter has an Archive Page. View the Wisdom Page Updates Archive Page; view the Futurodyssey Archive Page.

Beginning in June, 2014, the newsletters were combined into one electronic journal that serves both The Wisdom Page and The Center for Future Consciousness. The Archive Page for this one publication can be accessed at Wisdom and the Future Archive Page.

The reader can subscribe to Wisdom and the Future either on The Wisdom Page or the Center for Future Consciousness Page. See
The Wisdom Page Contact Page or the Home Page of the Center for Future Consciousness.

That's it for this month: Science fiction visions of superior minds; love as the virtue of the month; wisdom, death, and the transcendental; consciousness expansion; a review of Dead Poets Society; more sonnets by Alan Nordstrom; eight dimensions of wise design; and another interview with Robot Overlordz.

Tom Lombardo