Posted: Sun, August 11, 2013 | By: Transhumanism
“ Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges, and the infinity in which he is engulfed.” Blaise Pascal, 1670
This statement was true 343 years ago; it is not the case today. Through centuries of physics, cosmology, biology and chemistry we have indeed discovered the essence of our origin. We know on profoundly vast, and on unimaginably small levels that we in fact emerged from nothingness. We are indeed a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. What we are discovering today, at an impressive rate, is the nature of the infinity in which we are engulfed. Notice that Pascal did not say “the infinity in which we will be engulfed”. His was a present tense observation. In our lifetimes, the same science that illuminated the beginning is unveiling the infinity we are a part of right now. We are rapidly discovering how to be eternal; transcending our biology, psychology, sociology, technology, ecology and cosmology in order to merge into our highest purpose and potential. “God is in the future”, a dear friend of mine says. That simple phrase turned my world view on end, and I find it more correct than any of my previous programming. We are engulfed in infinity at this moment. We are just beginning to embrace it, assimilate it and act on it as truth. We don’t have to discard any of the wisdom gleaned over the millennia to move forward. It will be an expansive and integrative journey.
Standing in this infinity, we are in the middle; having come so far in our evolution and having so far still to go. Today anyone, without even the assistance of any materials can manipulate their biology through sleep habits, change their mood with light exposure, slow aging through nutrition and exercise, reduce stress related illness with quality interpersonal connection, promote better organ function with touch, create new neural networks with games and puzzles, and be a perpetual student of as much as possible. With tools and materials we can map our brains, watch them work in real time, implant, modify and remove memories, cure disease, enhance our intellect, replace body parts, and create machines to show us the universe. Along the way we have learned a few things about what works being human. We nurture each other, teach each other, police each other, heal each other, and inspire each other. Granted, three are elements of this middle phase human experience that regress us as we take two steps forward, making us take one step back. Greed, unchecked competition, selfishness, rigidity, disconnection, all are our anchors to continuing emergence. As a species, we still struggle with these things. But today we are not blind as Pascal described. We see more and more pieces to the puzzle of where we came from, where we are currently, and are designing the future to which we are headed.
As we stumble through the middle picking up clues and making meaning for ourselves, I propose that integration is the key to unlocking the next doors to our evolution. Before we populate our world with artificial intelligence, we need to more thoroughly understand our own. It’s kind of like a 14 year old girl having a baby. She hasn’t yet matured herself completely; the child will most likely not have the same potentials it would have if she had been 24 when she conceived. We have made multiple advances and incredible strides toward the next phase of our evolution and eventual transcendence; where we will find/create/ be the God of the future. But we are still lacking in all the tools to get there. The internal skills; the compass of our psyche. The compass will only work correctly when it is made of the right substances. As individuals, and as a collective; we can start with a most fundamental and necessary ingredient; integrity. Integrity of speech and action, integrity of mind and body, integration of experiment with intuition, the individual into the whole, beginning with integration of both hemispheres of our individual brains.
We have two mostly separate hemispheres. They function together, but can function almost identically alone. From split brain research, we know that when the two aren’t able to work together through the corpus callosum, one mind can actually be in conflict with itself. An extreme example is a split brain patient may reach for a piece of cake with one hand and the other will have to literally restrain it from sabotaging the person’s diet. The more separate or disintegrated we are; the more conflict and struggle we encounter. Now, consider another dichotomy in our minds. The emotional versus the logical systems of decision making. The amygdala and the pre- frontal cortex can find themselves in awful stalemates. Dissonance between “head and heart” is difficult for all of us. Here is exactly where we need to evolve through integration. Extreme dominance or absence of one or the other is not evolutionarily sound. Our capacity for emotion may serve to protect our individual interests, and our capacity for logic may compel us to make strides in technology, but we need both to develop in tandem to keep the most efficient momentum.
We have these distinct aspects of ourselves, but haven’t always. Psychologist Julian Jaynes proposed that until about 3000 years ago, we had no conscious awareness. He referred to us as bi-cameral humans, meaning we used two distinct ways of knowing. He thought that our brains were divided still into two discreet hemispheres that didn’t work together, but that the left gave orders to the right. (He actually theorized that as language developed the right hemisphere produced “verbal” commands similar to auditory hallucinations; voices in the head, that were interpreted as gods speaking to man.) About this time, he suggested that the division of labor began to shift and the hemispheres began to work together; thus producing meta consciousness. If this is true, then the next step is to perfect their cooperation in order to bring about meta-existence.
Emergence; progression through stages from a lower level of organization to a higher one are not uncommon in psychology. Psychologist Carol Gilligan summarized our ethical development as proceeding through the stages of Egocentric, Ethnocentric, Worldcentric then finally Beingcentric. Lawrence Kohlberg’s (basic) stages of moral development; pre-conventional, conventional and post conventional describe how we go from being concerned with self interest to conformity and cooperation to embracing universal principals. Ken Wilber has been largely credited for taking the pre personal and subsequent personal paradigms of psychology into the transpersonal. Each process, each stage theory is a process of emergence and expansion. From individual to collective, from single to cooperative, from chaos to order. In evolutionary terms, the next selection will be of humans who are fully integrated and who are then ready to transcend the definition of being human.
When we can approach problems with both logic and intuition; which is emotion based, we will push the evolutionary envelope as we will be more effective problem solvers, innovators, explorers, creators, and eventually “gods”. When we can maximize the potential of the brain structurally and chemically, we will be able to solve the problems of disease, grief, death, war, scarcity, and all of the problems we have from living in disintegration now. The disintegration of existing in mortal flesh and expiring minds will eventually be overcome by the critical mass of evolving minds which pushes us into the next phase of our development as species. We may do this by evolving each of our own psyches to be a coherent and congruent entity. And then we may move on to expanding into an even greater awareness; one where we can truly comprehend and shape the infinity in which we are engulfed.