Volume 1, Number 4
December, 2012
In This Issue
Editorial: Taking Responsibility for the Future
New Essay: Consciousness, Cosmic Evolution, & the Technological Singularity
Wendell Bell's Memories of the Future
Update: The Psychology of the Future
Archive: Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates
Center for Future Consciousness Website
Books by Tom Lombardo


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Upcoming Events

The Psychology of the Future: Consciousness, Wisdom, & the Self - A five-session new workshop and presentation at Sun City Grand, Chaparral Center, 19781 N. Remington Drive, Surprise, AZ. Dates: Jan. 24, 31, and Feb. 7, 14, and 21 from 10:00 am to 12:00. 

This Month's Highlights:  
  • Editorial: Taking Responsibility for the Future
  • New Essay: Consciousness, Cosmic Evolution,  and the Technological Singularity     
  • Life Journey of a Futurist: Memories of the Future by Wendell Bell - Book Review   
  • New Course - The Psychology of the Future: Consciousness, Wisdom, and the Self   
  • Archive: Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates   
Taking Responsibility for the Future

"The evolution of man is the evolution of consciousness & 'consciousness' cannot evolve unconsciously. The evolution of man is an evolution of his will, & 'will' cannot evolve involuntarily. The evolution of man is the evolution of his power of doing, & 'doing' cannot be the result of things which 'happen.'" George Gurdjieff

In my new course, The Psychology of the Future, one of the central topics addressed is the character virtue of self-responsibility. Here are some of the key points:

Throughout the last century, the science of psychology has attempted to explain human behavior and states of consciousness in terms of environmental, genetic, and physiological causes. This deterministic approach of cause and effect runs counter to the philosophy of free will; presumably people do not act, feel, or think the way they do because of choices they make, but rather because environmental, genetic, or physiological factors cause them to be that way. This way of understanding humans absolves us of self-responsibility. Our future is set. How can we possibly control or direct it, and consequently be held accountable for it?

Yet a significant percentage of contemporary futurists, not being psychologists, contend that the future is possibilities, filled with choices, and that humanity (to some degree at least) has the power and (hence) responsibility to direct the evolution of the future in desirable directions. Indeed, if everything (including humans) is deterministic, then what would be the point of thinking ahead--of anticipating and being informed and thoughtful about trends and possibilities-since what difference would it make?

Though not to deny that the philosophy of determinism has some degree of truth, if we think and behave as if we have no choice, no power, no responsibility for directing our future, we become passive, fatalistic, more depressed and more anxious, and more prone to live in a "hedonism of the present." Believing that we have the capacity to produce desired effects in the future through our actions--that is, possessing the trait of  self-efficacy--generates more productive, hopeful, and tenacious action and significantly contributes to our mental health. We feel better and literally do better when we cultivate a mindset of self-empowerment and consequently self-responsibility.

Roy Baumeister has proposed that "willpower" or "self-control" is the "queen of all virtues." He has argued that most human problems are due to lack of self-control and that self-control, along with IQ, is the biggest predictor of success in life. Indeed, the noted futurist Michael Marian has stated that our collective failure in solving our biggest global problems today is significantly due to a failure of will.

Throughout my writings I have proposed that the strengthening of a specific set of characters virtues is central to developing heightened future consciousness, the foundational virtue of which is self-responsibility. Key virtues, such as courage, optimism, and wisdom, are all personal accomplishments, realized through purposeful effort and practice; strengthening them requires believing and acting on the conviction that you possess the capacity to guide your own psychological development and future. Virtues grow within us because we feel responsible for their realization and act accordingly. Hence, none of the key character virtues associated with heightened future consciousness can develop without cultivating the foundational virtue of self-responsibility.

Interestingly, according to Baumeister, psychological research has increasingly revealed many of the key factors connected with willpower, as well as principles and strategies for strengthening it. For example, we possess only a limited amount of general willpower per day (whatever tasks we use it for), and consequently need to regularly rest and recuperate to replenish it. But we can exercise and strengthen our generalized willpower; we can routinely set simple goals and achieve them; we can regularly work on goals we find personally fascinating and important. Generalized willpower is strengthened through such activities and will transfer to working on other tasks. (Think of willpower as if it were the muscles of your body; how would you strengthen them?) Further, there are other important principles such as establishing an orderly daily routine of action (you will use up less willpower); establishing an orderly environment (you will be less distracted, which would use up willpower); and, in general, using one's willpower for positive tasks rather than resisting temptations--it is better to avoid the temptations.

Knowledge is potential power. The better we understand the psychology of willpower, the more we can intelligently guide its further development. Baumeister, indeed, believes that our capacity for self-control, grounded in our growing psychological knowledge, is evolving. We are becoming increasingly empowered. Aside from the apparent paradox that the more we understand the causes of a phenomenon, the more power and choices we have in guiding it, we should also recognize that freedom, self-control, and self-responsibility come in degrees--it is not all or none.

Yes, we should take responsibility for our future, including the future of our own minds and behavior, but it requires knowledge and concerted effort and practice. Choice is not a given; it is a capacity that needs to be purposefully acquired.

Tom Lombardo
New Essay: Consciousness, Cosmic Evolution,  and the Technological Singularity   

In this new essay (to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Futures Studies) I critically examine two influential evolutionary visions of the cosmos -- those of Eric Chaisson and Ray Kurzweil -- focusing on their explanations of consciousness within their evolutionary theoretical frameworks, and how they conceptualize the significance of consciousness within their respective views of the coming "technological singularity" (Vinge, 1993). My central argument is that a scientifically and philosophically credible understanding of the "technologically singularity" requires a satisfactory explanation of how consciousness fits into a cosmic evolutionary scheme. In examining both Chaisson and Kurzweil's ideas I conclude that neither Chaisson nor Kurzweil provides a satisfactory account of consciousness, and consequently neither one provides a scientific and philosophically satisfactory understanding of the "technological singularity."

Read the Essay.
Memories of the Future by Wendell Bell Transaction Publishers 2011
Book Review



Dr. Wendell Bell, professor emeritus in sociology from Yale University and author of the acknowledged two-volume futurist classic, Foundations of Futures Studies (1997), recounts his life journey and professional development in his new autobiographical work Memories of the Future. He chronicles his tumultuous yet happy childhood, his growing and life-long passion for reading, his emerging excellence as a student, his time in the Navy during World War II, his marriage and family life, his fascination with his graduate study of sociology, his extensive and intensive sociological research in Jamaica, his many years at Yale, watching and reflecting on the cultural revolution of the 1960s, and his eventual discovery and passionate dedication to the field of futures studies.

I met Wendell Bell in 1997, and we have remained friends and professional colleagues, frequently reading and reviewing each others' writings, through the years. I was once asked by a fellow futurist to give examples of individuals I would consider as "wise contemporary futurists," and one of the first that came to mind was Wendell Bell. Aside from possessing deep and expansive scholarly knowledge, Wendell has a warm and understanding heart and a real concern for the betterment of humanity.

Read the book review.      
The Psychology of the Future: Consciousness, Wisdom, and the Self

I am and will be the ongoing, transforming, and self-reflective story I tell and will tell myself about myself within the context of the story I tell myself about the world.

This fall I began the pilot of my new course: The Psychology of the Future - Flourishing in the Flow of Evolution. This winter, beginning in January, I will be continuing the course. Even if you did not attend the fall classes, the winter classes will be presented as a self-contained series of topics to empower you to create a more constructive and personally fulfilling life in the future. In the new five-week series, we will examine how to enhance your thinking, creativity, self-awareness and self-control, and capacity for wisdom. We will study, among other topics, the psychology of memory and deep learning, the nature of human understanding, the skills of critical and reflective thinking, methods for controlling and directing consciousness, and the central importance of wisdom in directing your future. We will conclude the course by constructing personalized ideal future self-narratives to provide a road map for your future self-development. For those of you who are interested in participating in some deep inquiry and thinking into the nature of the mind, consciousness, knowledge, and personal identity, this is the course for you. You can register at: AZ Grand Learning.

Archives - Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page  Updates

This fall I began publishing two redesigned newsletters: Futurodyssey--the online publication for the Center for Future Consciousness--and the Wisdom Page Updates--the online publication for The Wisdom Page. There are Archives for both newsletters. You can view earlier issues of each newsletter by going to:   


That's it for this month: Essays on self-responsibility and the future, consciousness and the technological singularity, and the life of Wendell Bell. Also my new course for the new year. Hope you all have an enlightening and enjoyable Holiday season. See you next year.
Tom & Jeanne Lombardo
Center For Future Consciousness