Wisdom and the Future
The Center for Future Consciousness &
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This Month's Highlights
January, 2016

Included in this month's issue of Wisdom and the Future
  • Editorial: The Evolution of Well-Being and the Good: Part II: A Review of "Happiness Donut: A Confucian Critique of Positive Psychology" by Louise Sundararajan - Tom Lombardo
  • "What Matters": Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Leland Beaumont 
  • "Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future" - Final Published Version - Tom Lombardo - Special Issue of Journal of Futures Studies - "Futures Studies and Science Fiction"
  • Three New Book Reviews - Ethics Reading List - Leland Beaumont
  • "What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness" - TED Talk Video - Robert Waldinger
  • Finland Futures Research Centre Newsletter: "Futures Studies Tackling Wicked Problems"
  • Futures Studies and Integral Theory Articles - Dennis Morgan 
  • Robot Overlordz: Virtual Existence Podcast
  • Rick Trowbridge Moves to the Mountains
  • 2015 - Year in Review - Jerome Glenn
  • Archive Pages for Center for Future Consciousness and The Wisdom Page 
The Evolution of Well-Being and the Good: Part II: A Review of "Happiness Donut: A Confucian Critique of Positive Psychology" by Louise Sundararajan 
Tom Lombardo


In the September issue of Wisdom and the Future I reviewed "In Search of Coherence: Sketching a Theory of Sustainable Well-Being" by Timo Hämäläinen (2014), an excellent article providing a contemporary overview and theory of well-being. At that time, I mentioned that I would be reviewing two other connected articles pertaining to the theme of well-being. As the editorial this month, here is my review of one of these articles. (My reviews of both articles, appropriately integrated, will be found in my forthcoming book The Psychology of the Future)

*  *  *  *  *

Louise Sundararajan, in her article "Happiness Donut: A Confucian Critique of Positive Psychology" (2005), argues that Martin Seligmanʼs vision of positive psychology (Seligman, 2002; Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) not only has a Western bias regarding what constitutes psychological well-being, but it is contradictory or inconsistent in its stated understanding of the relationship between facts uncovered in positive psychological research and ethical thinking.

Consider the latter point first: Seligman (2002) and other positive psychologists identify a variety of different traits and qualities of experience and behavior, such as optimism, perseverance, creativity, wisdom, love, and happiness, that are "positive features" of psychological well being, indeed of the "good life" (Snyder and Lopez, 2005; Haidt, 2006) Seligman and others furthermore argue that these features can be scientifically studied and understood. In fact, according to its advocates, one central strength of positive psychology is that it can provide an empirical (scientific) understanding of those factors that make up the good life or psychological well being.

Yet according to Sundararajan, when Seligman considers whether this research into well-being has any direct ethical implications, Seligman seems to balk on this question, stating that although he can identify the factors of psychological well-being he cannot draw ethical implications; that is, he cannot ethically or morally argue that we should pursue such traits or experiences. Science can list and describe the facts of human psychology, but science cannot prescribe; science has to be value free.

Hence, according to Sundararajan, Seligman paradoxically appears to be providing a vision of well-being and the good life that has no moral or ethical dimension (no "moral map"). On the surface, this seems rather bizarre, since when we consider what would constitute a good life, wouldnʼt we naturally include within our ideas ethical concepts, values, and prescriptions as well as facts?

Read the entire article.  
"What Matters"
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Lee Beaumont 


"What Matters" Series

"Wise people seek a life well lived. The recent series on the virtue of the month provides moral guidance, but we must also focus our efforts on what matters most. While the virtues guide us in doing things right, focusing on what matters guides us in doing the right things. Therefore, we have begun a monthly exploration of What Matters. Each month explore one topic that suggests how you should spend your time to attain fulfillment and live a meaningful life. What is most significant to you, your family, your community, nation and the world? How does what matters most change as your needs are met, as you gain experience, and as you grow and mature? Series topics will address surviving, thriving, recreation, success, significance, transcendence, and avoiding distractions and dead ends."

*  *  *  *  * 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 

With physiological needs, human rights, and psychological needs now addressed, we have all we need to survive (See previous issues: November; September; July ). Because there can be so much more to life, this month we pause and look forward to needs beyond survival. In 1943 psychologist Abraham Maslow provided  great insight when he published the hierarchy of needs. Based on his study of exemplary people, the hierarchy proposes several levels of needs that go beyond survival and describe growth toward self-actualization. Please study Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs this month as a preview of the many needs that allow us to flourish and not merely survive.  

Leland Beaumont

"Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future" - Tom Lombardo
Special Issue of Journal of Futures Studies - "Futures Studies and Science Fiction"

The special issue on "Futures Studies and Science Fiction" within the Journal of Futures Studies, that I co-edited with Jose Ramos, has been completed and is available online. I have the lead article on "Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future." My thanks to Jose for supporting this endeavor, and thanks to all those people who contributed into the issue.

From the article abstract: "Science fiction is the most visible and influential form of futurist thinking in contemporary popular culture. As futurist narrative, science fiction resonates with the psychological disposition to give meaning and purpose to life through stories; it facilitates total person immersion in the future; and it stimulates all the major dimensions of future consciousness. As the "evolutionary mythology of the future," science fiction facilitates the purposeful evolution of scientifically informed holistic future consciousness. Science fiction encompasses the future of everything and can stimulate cosmic consciousness."

Read the article.

Other articles in the issue:

What in the World? Storyworlds, Science Fiction, and Futures Studies 
Peter von Stackelberg and Alex McDowell

Chasing Black Swans through Science Fiction: Surprising Future Events in the Stories of a Finnish Writing Competition
Toni Ahlqvist, Tuomo Uotila, and Olli Hietanen

Science Fiction and Bodies of the Future: Alternative Gender Realities in Hollywood Cinema
Rocío Carrasco, Mercedes García Ordaz, and Francisco José Martínez López

Three New Book Reviews
by Leland Beaumont:
The Future We Want
Moral Tribes
The Wisest One in the Room

Ethics Reading List

Leland Beaumont contributed three new book reviews this month:

The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century by Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara (Ed.) 

"Born out of massive political discontent and the Occupy movement, the collection of ten essays in this timely book each characterizes an important social problem before suggesting a solution. In each case the suggested solution is a bold shift toward socialism."

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene

"This is the best book I have read in many years. It provides a new level of clarity on ethical reasoning and essential issues I have been curious about for a very long time."

The Wisest One in the Room: How You Can Benefit from Social Psychology's Most Powerful Insights by Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross

"Of the many definitions proposed for wisdom, perhaps the most intriguing is "seeing beyond illusion." When most people are captivated by illusions, the wisest one in the room sees past them and proposes new solutions.  The authors draw on recent research in social psychology, judgement, and decision making to help us become wiser."

Lee has also been developing a general "secular ethics" reading list. See the List.

"What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness"
TED Talk Video - Robert Waldinger

An excellent TED Talk YouTube Video on happiness by Robert Waldinger.

"What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it's fame and money, you're not alone - but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you're mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life."

Watch the Video.
Finland Futures Research Centre Newsletter:
"Futures Studies Tackling Wicked Problems"

" 'Futures Studies Tackling Wicked Problems' was an international forum for the philosophies, methods, ideas and concrete examples to find out what is going on in the field of futures research, education and action.

The aim of the conference was to harness the views of preferable futures and methods for reaching them. The participants worked collaboratively discussing research, initiatives and projects to gather various views and compose ideas to face future challenges."

In the July issue of Wisdom and the Future I described my trip to Finland and my participation in the Futures Conference "Futures Studies Tackling Wicked Problems" at Turku University. An informative illustrated newsletter has been published online on the conference.

Futures Studies and Integral Theory Articles  Dennis Morgan

My friend and futurist colleague, Dennis Morgan, who has previously contributed to Wisdom and the Future, recently published on Academia Edu a set of papers and presentations integrating futurist and philosophical issues and themes.

Beyond Epistemological Pluralism: Toward an Integrated Vision of the Future

Images of the Future: An Historical Perspective

The Application of Integral Theory to Futures Studies

The Dialectic of Utopian Images of the Future within the Idea of Progress

Robot Overlordz
"Virtual Existence"

"Robot Overlordz is a podcast about the future. On the show, we take a look at how society is changing through the lens of pop culture reviews, political commentary, technology trends, and social norms."

From the Robot Overlordz website:

"Continuing our look into virtual reality, we're rejoined by Tom and Jeanne Lombardo, of the Center For Future Consciousness, to take a look at how fiction and philosophy have regarded the Virtual Reality question. Are we ascending to a higher dimension in these virtual worlds? We also talk a bit more about science fiction as literature, and hear from Tom about recent additions to his collection. Recorded 11/22/2015."

This is the fourth in a series of podcasts with the Robot Overlordz. Previous interviews can be found at the link above.

Rick Trowbridge Moves to the Mountains

Rick Trowbridge, longstanding Wisdom Page Advisory Board member, and devoted philosopher, meditator, and explorer of consciousness, moved this last month from Rochester, New York to Superior, Arizona. His house is at the base of a scenic mountain ridge, so although Rick is not the wise man sitting at the top of the mountain, he is definitely the wise man living at the base of the mountain and contemplating its heights. Rick was attracted to Superior, a quiet little town an hour east of Phoenix, as a great place to study, write, and meditate, away from the frenzy of the urbanized and sub-urbanized modern way of life.

Jeanne and I went out to visit Rick and welcome him to Arizona on New Year's Eve day and we took some pictures of the town, the mountains, and Rick's place. Rick would like to start a "Center for Future Consciousness" in Superior.

We spent the day discussing evolution and debating the nature of reality--the vast spatial ambiance of the surroundings providing plenty of room for our thoughts to expand and grow--and before we left, Rick suggested we do some videos with him and me debating "What is real?" We will see.

2015 - Year in Review  Jerome Glenn

Jerome Glenn, Executive Director of the Millennium Project (featured in previous newsletters), compiles at the end of every year a list of outstanding events of the recent year. Jerry's list puts in perspective the good and bad, the ups and downs, and the overall energy and color of the previous year.

Here is his list of events:

2015 Year in Review (not listed in any priority)

  • UN Climate Change Agreement in Paris
  • Hottest year on record
  • Gene editing made much easier via CRISPR, could alter human evolution
  • Running water discovered on Mars
  • Skin cells turned into stem cells
  • Mass migration into Europe
  • Rise of ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh and Boko Haram
  • Russia takes Crimea
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement
  • Greek financial crisis
  • Earthquake in Nepal nearly 9000 die
  • US-China joint global warming statement on new goals
  • Pope's Encyclical Letter on global warming
  • Solar Impulse - solar electric airplane circumnavigates the globe
  • US-Cuba opens diplomatic relations
  • US Supreme Court ruling same sex marriages legal
  • Global Je suis Charlie demonstrations against ISIL attacks in Paris
  • Russian plane shot down over Egypt
  • Nuclear Framework Agreement with Iran
  • 3D printing and drones became mainstream
  • China expands island construction in South China Sea
  • Environmental movement is back: XL Pipeline & Climate Agreement
  • Carteret Islands environmental (sea level) refugees (Papua New Guinea)
  • Most UN Millennium Development Goals reached for 2015; Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030
  • 70th Anniversary of the United Nations
  • Fly by of Pluto video transmission received
  • Vertical landing of two kinds of reusable rocket sections.
  • Price of oil falls dramatically
  • Costs of security for public spaces and cyber space increases dramatically

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 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

My continuing discussion of well being and the good; the next installment of Lee Beaumont's "What Matters;" three new book reviews by Lee; the new edition of the Journal of Futures Studies on "Futures Studies and Science Fiction," which includes my article; a YouTube video on lifelong happiness; Dennis Morgan on philosophy, history, utopian thought, and futures studies; the newsletter on the "Tackling Wicked Problems" futures conference in Finland; another Robot Overlordz interview, this one on virtual reality; Rick Trowbridge moving to Arizona; and Jerome Glenn's year 2015 in review.  

Tom Lombardo