Center for Future Consciousness Website
West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future
Beginning April 2 (Tuesday) I will be hosting a new philosophical dialogue group that will meet every two weeks. We will be meeting from 6 to 8 pm and, as a start, the location will be at Sun City Grand, Chaparral Center, Navajo Room, 19871 Remington Drive, Surprise, AZ. Locations may vary for later meetings. See more details in this newsletter.
A ten-session new course at Sun City Grand, Chaparral Center, 19781 N. Remington Drive, Surprise, AZ. Dates and Time: Thursdays, 10 am to noon, beginning September 26th and running through December 5th. See Course Content in Newsletter.
The Future Evolution of the Human Mind - and Beyond
This Month's Highlights:
- Editorial: Best Science Fiction Movies (Part I)
- Craft: Transhumanist Issue
- Update on the West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future
- WFS and WFSF Annual Conferences
- The Future Evolution of the Human Mind - and Beyond
- Archive: Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates
Best Science Fiction Movies (Part I)
Over the last year I have watched a number of new science fiction movies, to name but a few, Prometheus
, Men in Black 3
, The Avengers
, Star Trek: Into Darkness
, and Cloud Atlas
. Ever since I was a child, held enthralled and mesmerized by the original versions of The War of the Worlds
, The Time Machine
, and Journey to the Center of the Earth
, I have been a science fiction movie addict, watching as many of them as I could, often against my better judgment regarding whether I expected anything approaching a quality movie experience. I go, pay the admission, always with some hope that what I will see will stimulate my senses, energize my imagination, and elevate my consciousness.
In general, though, I have found the majority of recent science fiction movies flat and disappointing. There are, of course, invariably great special effects to be found in all of them, but by and large, character development, plot, and philosophy are shallow and routine. In fact, it frequently seems to me that there is basically just one plot through many of these different movies: A powerful bad guy (or bad guys) with seemingly endless resources threatens our survival or well being, thus requiring the intervention of a flawed and reluctant good guy (or group of good guys) who, at the end of the movie, annihilates the bad guy and saves the world (or the universe).
Moreover, it often hits me that these movies could have been produced without the unique setting or ambience of science fiction; there is nothing especially science fiction about many of them. They could have been westerns. Science fiction merely adds spectacular special effects and more powerful villains. Indeed, one recent science fiction movie Cowboys and Aliens
was a western, and it quite naturally "worked," at least as well as any of these kinds of movies work.
Provoked by such recent cinematic experiences, both good and bad, I decided to create a "Best Science Fiction Movies" list to accompany my list (on the CFC website) of "Best Science Fiction Novels
." (Having read some very good new novels over the last year, I will also be revising and updating my science fiction novels page in the coming month.) Fortunately, Wikipedia
has what appears to be a complete list of all the science fiction movies that have been made since the beginning of the twentieth century, grouped by decade. I systematically went through this list to stimulate my recall on every science fiction movie that I had watched since I first started doing so as a kid. There are also numerous already existing lists of best science fiction movies on the Web, that have provided me with points of comparison for my own judgments. Though such lists of the best do show variability, it may not be that surprising that there is also a good deal of agreement among them.
Not all science fiction is about the future (for example, the Star Wars
movies presumably deal with a galactic civilization that existed a long time ago), but science fiction movies, like science fiction novels, more often than not concern themselves with and graphically visualize possible human futures. And since we live in a visual and multi-media rich collective consciousness, science fiction movies, due to their immense popularity (roughly 95% of the highest money making movies are science fiction or fantasy), greatly influence (as well as reflect) popular future consciousness. It is important to get a good sense of what "pictures of the future" we are showing to ourselves and which ones, at least, have some depth, real imagination, and thought provoking qualities. As I have proposed, science fiction is the mythology of the future
, and science fiction movies are the multi-media expression of this mythology.
My list of best science fiction movies will be up on the CFC website by next month. (The creation of such lists is subject to "temporal vacillation," where day to day one's judgments seem to change, but the list is reaching some relatively stable and clear order, and I already have a draft covering approximately one hundred and twenty-five movies.) As with my list of best science fiction novels, I will have a set of criteria outlined for my ranking.
In anticipation of this list, what I will note now is that of the movies that have been released over the last two years, I would include only one of them in the top twenty science fiction movies. That movie is Cloud Atlas
(2012). I highly recommend it. In fact, I recommend watching it at least twice, given the richness and complexity of the movie (it is almost three hours in length). Cloud Atlas
is an "original" artistic work, weaving seven different timelines and stories into a coherent whole. The viewer must follow these seven distinct stories, all of which unfold relatively simultaneously, with scenes and timelines switching back and forth, all brought vividly to life through top notch visualizations. The movie is not just a super-duper special effects extravaganza, however. It expands one's temporal consciousness, pulling in both history and the far future, and it does so in a way that helps the mind to keep it all together. Because of this historical element, some viewers may not even think of Cloud Atlas
as science fiction. I have found, though, that enriching a futuristic vision with an historical dimension--connecting past and future--actually elevates and empowers the science fiction story.
The characters in Cloud Atlas
are a diverse assortment of individuals, where interestingly, single actors or actresses play different roles across different time periods covered in the movie. The overall plot or theme of the movie is not "good guy destroys bad guy" (although some sub-plots contain this element), but rather the journey to enlightenment. Indeed, Cloud Atlas
attempts to be philosophical in its message: there is a theory of reality--of the connectedness of past, present, and future--that is articulated throughout the movie. But when all is said and done, I simply very much enjoyed watching this movie. In the end, my mind felt stimulated and enlightened and my heart felt touched in viewing it.
See you next month with my list.
CRAFT - Community Resilience through Action for Future Transitions
Because our future is in our hands
My colleague in Australia, Dr. Paul Wildman
, has been publishing for some time an electronic futurist magazine Craft
, which this month I am highlighting in the CFC Newsletter. Of special interest, this latest issue is on transhumanism, collecting together a diverse and impressive collection of essays and articles on the topic.
From the home page,
"Welcome to CRAFT - an online magazine where crafters of materials turn to crafting deeds and words...Primarily our vision is one of a 'practical hope' through helping us as spectators, readers and/or digerati learn towards an embodied, thoughtful, critical, practical, empowered, interpersonal and experimental attitude."
On the present issue on transhumanism, the editors state,
"Transhumanism (TH) is the movement to use technology (mainly in the areas of life sciences, alternative energies, and computer science) to challenge biological limitations and eventually find solutions to such limitations. It is often linked with the idea that science and technology can be used to continually improve the human condition. Examples of TH include artificial intelligence, cryogenics, space colonization, cloning, medical implants, cyborgs, cognitive enhancement, life extension, defect elimination (form of eugenics) and so on. With its current momentum, TH will directly impact your grandchildren before 2030. We need to intelligently explore and critically assess a wide range of issues directly and indirectly related to TH......and this edition of CRAFT aims to do precisely this." Have a look at the issue.
|West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future
Beginning in April I started hosting a new philosophical dialogue group that meets roughly every two weeks on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8 pm. The location is Sun City Grand, Chaparral Center, Navajo Room, 19871 Remington Drive, Surprise, AZ. Locations may vary for later meetings.
The title "Philosophy and the Future" is intended to cover a very broad range of topics, including all the general issues of philosophy, such as wisdom, the philosophy of mind and consciousness, ethics, and cosmology. On the "futures" end of things, included are the future of science and technology, the human mind, and human society and culture; science fiction scenarios about the future; and space travel and exploration. Often we will weave together philosophy and the future.
The first two months we have been discussing new books under the general theme of "Consciousness and the Cosmos," including Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos, Christof Koch's Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist and David Brin's science fiction novel Existence.
Future meetings will frequently (though not always) take the form of selecting out other new books (in either philosophy or the future) and discussing them. The next books are the list are: Jim Holt's Why Does the World Exist?
, Ray Kurweil's How to Create a Mind
, and Lee Smolin's Time Reborn
This coming meeting, June 4th, we will dive into Holt's book--an excellent and thought-provoking read--which addresses the question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" Holt's book surveys a number of scientific and philosophical answers to this ultimate question.
In next month's Updates, I will be including book reviews on Koch's and Holt's books.
There will be a $5.00 nominal charge for attending Salon meetings through the entire remaining spring and summer. If you are interested in attending, you can register online
. If you don't get to registering before attending a meeting, come and we will work something out.
You can also register for the Salon on Meet-Up: West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future
Salon Meetings in May: May 14 and 28th.
Email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
|World Futurist Conferences this Summer
This summer two of the major world futurist organizations are hosting annual conferences.
The Future Evolution of the Human Mind -
Fall Course at Sun City Grand Learning Center, Surprise, AZ
September 26th through December 5th
I am offering this fall a new updated course "The Future Evolution of the Human Mind - and Beyond." I will be covering the topics below over a ten-session period.
- Introduction: The Question of Human Evolution - Are Humans Continuing to Evolve?
- The Study and Purposeful Evolution of Mind, Consciousness, Self, Society, and the Brain - A Brief History of Efforts to Understand and Improve Ourselves
- The Contemporary Transformation, Accelerative Change, and the Modern Existential Crisis - How the Speed and Stress of Modern Times May be Pushing Us Toward Further Evolution
- Cyborgs, Technology, and Human Evolution - The Interdependent Nature of Humans and Machines and What It Means for Our Future - The Promises of Transhumanism
- Humans, Ecology, and Nature - How Changes in the Environment and Our Understanding of Nature and Ecology Will Affect Us in the Future
- Biological and Biotechnological Evolution in Humans - Issues of Physical Health, Well-Being, and the Potential for Extended Mortality/Immortality - Will We Purposefully Alter Our Genetic Make-Up, Perhaps Creating a Diversity of Human Types?
- Computer and Robotic Augmentation and Transcendence - Will We Merge with Our Machines? Will Our Machines Transcend Us? What are the Possibilities of the Technological Singularity?
- Purposeful Psychological Evolution - Issues of Psychological Health and Well-Being - Can Humans Evolve their Minds and Personalities through Psychological Knowledge and Practices?
- Education and the Future of Psychology - How Will Future Education Transform the Human Mind?
- Society, Culture, and Psycho-Social Evolution - How will Ongoing Globalization and Urbanization Affect Our Future Psychological Evolution?
- Ethical, Spiritual, and Religious Evolution - What are the Possibilities of Ethical and Spiritual Evolution? What is Evolutionary Spirituality?
- Wisdom and Transcendence - Wisdom as the Central Ideal for Our Psycho-Social Evolution
- Space Travel and the Concept of Cosmic Consciousness - Will Our Descendents Become Inhabitants of the Cosmos? Will They Realize Cosmic Consciousness?
- Philosophical and Cosmological Perspectives and Conclusions - Is the Ongoing Evolution of Mind the Universe Waking Up? Why is There Consciousness in the Cosmos and What Does it Mean?
Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates
This last 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: The Best Science Fiction Movies (Part I), an in depth analysis of transhumanism in Craft, an update on the Philosophy and the Future Salon, announcements on the WFSF and WFS world conferences, and the course outline and schedule for my new fall course on "The Future Evolution of the Human Mind -- and Beyond."