Volume 1, Number 11
August, 2013
In This Issue
Editorial: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Self-Conscious Human Mind
West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future
Journal of Futures Studies: New June Issue
New Course: Advanced Theory and Practice in Strategic Thinking
New Book: The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan
The Future Evolution of the Human Mind - and Beyond
Archive: Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates
Center for Future Consciousness Website
Books by Tom Lombardo


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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.

The Future Evolution of the Human Mind - and Beyond

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.

This Month's Highlights:  
  • Editorial: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Self-Conscious Purposeful Human Mind     
  • Update on the West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future   
  • Journal of Futures Studies: New June Issue   
  • New Course in "Advanced Theory and Practice in Strategic Thinking" by Victor V. Motti 
  • New Book: The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan  
  • The Future Evolution of the Human Mind - and Beyond 
  • Archive: Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates   
An Evolutionary Perspective on the Self-Conscious Purposeful Human Mind  

"The most extraordinary fact about public awareness of evolution is not that 50 percent don't believe it but that nearly 100 percent haven't connected it to anything of importance in their lives." David Sloan Wilson

"We are nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself." Julian Huxley

Over the last few months a new idea has been taking form in my mind. The self-conscious, purposeful human mind is an evolutionary structure and process that is an innovative development of and facilitator in the overall evolutionary process of nature. Our individual streams of consciousness constitute a highly advanced evolutionary process that uniquely contributes to the ongoing evolution of nature and the earth, and potentially the cosmos.

This theory answers the question of what humans are and provides an overall sense of our direction regarding our past and future. We are evolution become purposeful and self-conscious.

The theory builds upon a variety of ideas regarding how humans fit into the evolutionary make-up of reality:  
  • We exist within an evolutionary universe.
  • Our biological ancestral history, as revealed through fossil evidence, is transformative and evolutionary.
  • In epochal or stage theories of cosmic evolution, after the progressive emergence of physical, chemical, and biological realities of increasing complexity, human culture and technology, building upon these foundational realities, are more recent developments of the evolutionary hierarchy of increasing complexity.
  • Through such stages or epochs the process of evolution is evolving. Each major stage, more complex than its predecessor, involves new mechanisms and principles for speeding up and advancing the process of evolution.


Given these opening points, how does the conscious human mind fit into the evolutionary process and sequence of stages? Typical depictions of the major stages of evolution progress from the physical, to the chemical, biological, and finally, the cultural and technological, the latter two woven together because cultural advances impact technological advances and vice versa. But where is the individual conscious mind in such schemes? Indeed, the reality and the role of consciousness have been highly problematic and perplexing within scientific evolutionary frameworks. Yet it seems that fundamentally we are conscious beings (of course possessing physical bodies) and equally creations and expressions of evolution. Further, both our culture and technology have required our conscious minds to create them. What is the role and place of consciousness in evolution?

My proposal is that the self-conscious human mind facilitates the process of evolution, and that it does so in ways that go beyond and accelerate the process of evolution over and above the biological and the physical. The human mind realizes this enhanced evolutionary capacity because of the variety of psychological abilities that it possesses (all a creation of evolution), including self-awareness, self-control, goal-setting, purpose, planning, learning and memory, thought and deliberation, choice, imagination and foresight, intimate sociability, and an ethical-evaluative mindset. Our basic psychological capacities of our conscious minds are advanced instruments of evolution.

Moreover, the life experience of each individual conscious mind is an evolutionary process facilitated by such psychological capacities noted above. The conscious mind is an ecological arena of mental evolution.

Consider that the ongoing flow of consciousness in an individual human mind shows an immensely rich transformative history across the life of an individual: perceptions solidify and flow; new memories form; feelings arise and subside; new thoughts, goals, and plans emerge; old thoughts recombine or are discarded; and attitudes and perspectives change through life. This is a competitive arena in analogous to the way in which a physical-ecological system is a competitive arena for biological evolution, except that the conscious human mind possesses a host of capacities for selection and integration that go way beyond the biological.

Our conscious minds, in our respective life experiences, are populated with an unending assortment of perceptions, thoughts, images, associations, and emotions, and out of this rich array of conscious content, we evaluate, debate, select, combine, and revise what we believe and how we see ourselves. The evolving content of the mind is perpetually being selected for based on our advanced psychological capacities. This life flow of individual consciousness is an evolutionary process, for over time the integrated sense of self and its understanding of itself and the world grow, through learning, competition, self-reflective thought, and all the other psychological capacities noted above.

People, of course, to various degrees, get stuck in their minds, stabilizing into relatively solidified perspectives or mindsets on life and themselves, but the various psychological capacities of the mind allow for a potentially open-ended process in our mental development. And of course we can also say that people run amuck and streams of consciousness go into dysfunctional, confused, and tormented tailspins, but such aberrations are part of the rich collective array of successes and failures in the evolution of human minds over individual lifetimes.

Let us draw a comparison between our genetic evolutionary mechanism, involving DNA, and our conscious minds. Genetic evolution occurs across generations through the dual processes of genetic variations in DNA and natural selection of variations that survive to reproduction. (There may be other biological mechanisms at work as well.) Random mutation and natural selection are inter-generational processes, changes occurring only across generations. But the human mind, because it can learn, self-reflect, and self-evaluate can change its constellation of concepts, beliefs, attitudes, and desires within an individual lifetime. The human mind through its lifetime, to various degrees, creates (and/or learns) an unending array of new ideas for possible inclusion in its belief and motivational systems.

Moreover, what gets initially generated in this process are not just random variations of ideas but selected variations dependent upon a variety of thoughtful considerations. And then, from our ongoing creation of new candidates for inclusion in our psychological framework, we evaluate based upon standards, values, and goals. Furthermore, where biological evolution does not seem to think ahead for what is selected and what is not, psychological evolution does (again to various degrees) think ahead--the conscious mind temporally expands the arena of evaluation to include future consequences and the realization of goals, including ethical ones.

The expanded time span of concern within the conscious mind is connected with the development of purpose, that is, thinking, feeling, or behaving to achieve goals identified in the short or long-term future. Biological evolution, through natural selection of DNA variations, does not seem to involve purpose (and for that matter neither does physical or chemical evolution), but conscious minds purposefully evolve the contents of beliefs, goals, and plans. This is a significant dimension in the evolution of evolution with the emergence of conscious minds. Moreover the capacity for purposeful evolution spills over into both technological and cultural evolution; we evolve our tools and our collective values and beliefs with purpose, attempting to realize certain ends.

Another dimension of the evolution of evolution within conscious minds is that conscious minds, with self-identities, attempt to purposefully reproduce themselves. Of course, we could say that parents attempt to perpetuate their genes through nurturing and protecting their offspring, but this perspective is reductionistic and limiting. Parents consciously and purposefully attempt to perpetuate and further evolve their psychological identities, values, and belief systems through their children. Consciously we do not think in terms of genetic continuance and success; we think in terms of psychological and cultural continuance and success. Naturally, one could argue that human parents do not try to literally replicate their psychological identifies within their children, i.e., reproduce clones, but at best this is a half-truth. We aspire toward relatively autonomous (which we see ourselves as) improved versions of ourselves. Children continue our evolutionary process.

There is also a social-ecological selection mechanism in the evolution of conscious minds. Within the social-ecological arena of a multiplicity of conscious human minds we compete against each other for recognition, influence, viability, and basic psychological survival. Personalities are selected, highlighted, and evolved within the social arena through cultural and social standards. As individuals we can (and often do) attempt to modify or evolve these standards, often to favor our own psychological perpetuation and influence. In general, we can perpetuate our psychological imprint through the ongoing affairs in our lives, through our children, or through history (our legacy).

Of course, human minds also purposefully cooperate with each other, but this only adds to our evolutionary capacities and impact. Within the history of the cosmos we observe, as noted above, the hierarchical growth of complexity--of parts combining into more complex wholes--but with conscious human minds we find the thoughtful and purposeful integration of individual minds into groups of varying sizes to realize our various goals and values. We also can continually recombine into an ongoing variety of different groups. All told, we integrate with conscious purpose, rich emotionality, and deliberative, highly evolved, thought processes, a clear advance over earlier forms of concatenation and integration.

At the center of our conscious minds is the self (the "I" or "me"), which to various degrees necessarily possesses self-consciousness. It is the self that is the coordinator of consciousness; it is the self that learns, thinks, evaluates, and has values, purposes, and goals. It is the conscious self that attempts to continue and to grow and thrive.

It seems to me that the conscious self, at least at this point in the evolutionary saga, is both the highest expression (as a product) of evolution and the most evolved mechanism for facilitating further evolution. It appears that, from a historical perspective over the last five thousand years, the human self is evolving, and the challenges of contemporary times are provoking further evolution. Our capacities for self-control and individual determination and responsibility appear to be evolving. The conscious self does, however, operate within a reciprocal feedback loop with its environment, for the very transformations surrounding it that are instigating its further evolution are transformations that human selves have collectively created.

There is the popular philosophical idea that the self is something to transcend--that the self is the cause of human misery due to its inherent self-centeredness and selfishness--but I believe this idea is totally wrongheaded. The myriad capacities and amazing color and uniqueness of conscious human selves are at the leading edge of the evolutionary process.

In conclusion, in this first effort to articulate an evolutionary perspective of the self-conscious human mind, one may ask: What does all of this have to due with the future?

In response, I will note two main points to be developed further:

First, any meaningful consideration or prediction of the future of humanity must include a theory of humanity and its overall trajectory that fits into the ongoing saga of evolution.

Second, the set of capacities and virtues that I have connected with heightened future consciousness and wisdom is at the core of our evolved abilities for our ongoing purposeful and efficacious self-evolution. Our highly developed psychological capacities--cognitive, motivational, and ethical--for purposefully creating our future is a consequence and amplifier of evolution.

More to come.

Tom Lombardo

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. 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 weave together philosophy and the future.

The first two months we discussed 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.

Our last two meetings we have been intensively involved in Jim Holt's excellent best selling book Why Does the World Exist?, which addresses in great philosophical and historical depth the question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" One fascinating dimension of our dialogue has been how participants have wanted to focus on the meaning, value, and validity of the question itself, rather than the various answers to the question that Holt reviews in the book. (There are at least two dozen relatively distinctive answers to the question covered in the book.) Our group is a real bunch of philosophers, for sure.

We will next be turning to, at our August 20th meeting, Ray Kurweil's new book How to Create a Mind, and from there to Lee's Smolin's Time Reborn

See book reviews on Existence, Why Does the World Exist?, and Consciousness in CFC Website and Newsletters.

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 .

Email me at tlombardo1@cox.net if you have any questions.

New June Issue - Journal of Futures Studies

Epistemology, Methods, and Applied and Alternative Futures

The Journal of Futures Studies
is a globally-oriented, trans-disciplinary referred journal. Its mission is to develop high-quality, futures-oriented research and thinking based on the evolving knowledge base of Futures Studies.

The Journal of Futures Studies is published by the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University, Tamsui, Taipei, Taiwan.

Jose Ramos
Queensland University of Technology, Australia

See the new June Issue, free online.


New Course in "Advanced Theory and Practice in Strategic Thinking"

Our dear friend and colleague, Victor Vahidi Motti, a member of the CFC Advisory Board, is offering a new course in Strategic Thinking. The one week course is divided into three basic modules:

Module One: Art and Science of Futures and Scenarios (two four-hour sessions)
 Module Two: Value-Focused vs. Alternative Focused Thinking (two four-hour sessions)
 Module Three: Building an integrated model of scenarios and decisions in an example (one four-hour session)

As Wendell Bell states, Victor " is today among the most promising scholars in futures studies. He is deeply involved in leading-edge discussions in the field and a dependable source of new ideas and intellectual stimulation."


New Science Fiction Book:  
The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan

Philosopher, entrepreneur, and former National Geographic and New York Times correspondent Zoltan Istvan presents his bestselling visionary novel, The Transhumanist Wager, as a seminal statement of our times.

"Congratulations on an excellent story--really well written, concise, and elegant." Editor, National Geographic News Service

The Wager: If a reasoning human being loves and values life, they will want to live as long as possible-the desire to be immortal. Nevertheless, it's impossible to know if they're going to be immortal once they die. To do nothing doesn't help the odds of attaining immortality-since it seems evident that everyone will die someday and possibly cease to exist. To try to do something scientifically constructive towards ensuring immortality beforehand is the most logical conclusion.



The Future Evolution of the Human Mind -  
and Beyond

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?   
Archives -
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: A first statement on an evolutionary theory of the self-conscious human mind, an update on the Philosophy and the Future Salon, the latest edition of the JFS, Victor's new course, Zoltan's new book, and the course outline and schedule for my new fall course on "The Future Evolution of the Human Mind -- and Beyond."
Tom & Jeanne Lombardo
Center For Future Consciousness