This never-before published essay by Ken Wilber delves into the intricate dynamics of societal evolution, emphasizing the interplay between technological advancements, cultural worldviews, and governance systems. Through an integral lens, Wilber explores the potential for new and more authentic modes of being and consciousness to emerge, emphasizing the evolutionary Eros that drives social transformation.
Wilber underscores the importance of the Lower-Right quadrant (techno-economic base) as a significant determinant of the average level of consciousness in the Lower Left (cultural beliefs and worldviews). Conversely, he also highlights that the cultural and collective consciousness in the Lower Left is essential to support and sustain the advancements in the Lower Right. The essay touches on the challenges of introducing new governance systems without corresponding shifts in collective consciousness and discusses the concept of “legitimation crisis,” where prevailing worldviews face challenges in maintaining their influence.
The scientific process plays out in a multi-scale system comprising subsystems, each with their own properties and dynamics. For the practice of science to generate useful world models — and lead to the development of enabling technologies — practicing scientists, their theories, methods, dissemination, and infrastructure (e.g., funding and laboratories) must all fit together in an orchestrated manner. Scientific practice has broad societal implications that go beyond mere scientific progress: we base our decisions on theoretical (i.e., models and forecasts) and technological (e.g., vaccines and smartphones) scientific advances. This paper applies the free energy principle to provide a multi-scale description of science understood as evidence-seeking processes in a nested hierarchy of living (biological and behavioural) and epistemic (linguistic) structures. This allows us to naturalise the scientific process — as distributed self-evidencing — in terms of dynamics that can be read as inference or Bayesian belief updating; i.e., processes that maximize the evidence for a generative model of the sensed and measured world. The ensuing meta-theoretical approach dispels the notion of science as truth-pointing and foregrounds inference to the best explanation — as evinced by the beliefs of scientists and their encultured niche. Crucially, it furnishes a way of simulating the practice of science, which may have a foundational role in the next generation of augmented intelligence systems. Epistemologically, it also addresses some key questions; e.g., is science a special? And in what ways is scientific pursuit an existential imperative for all beings? These questions may be foundational in how we use and design intelligent systems.
Award-winning educator and activist Shakil Choudhury is the author of the outstanding book Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice, and in this potent conversation we learn a lot we perhaps didn’t know about the psychological, emotional, and neurobiological reasons for our ingrained biases, and the systemic bias in the culture at large. How and why do we discriminate? Many of our biases are hidden in the unconscious, which makes it that much harder to bring them into the light so we can begin to understand what’s going on and find ways to move ourselves and society toward justice and equity. Shakil explains that changing societal norms is at the heart of the battle for racial and social justice, as our habitual cultural behaviors tend to be viewed as legitimate, normal, and natural, when actually they may be outdated, off base, offensive, and unjust. Shakil deftly lines us out with specific steps we can take to recognize and change our own behaviors, as well as actions organizational leaders can take to effect change on a broader level.
Shakil contends that educating people to become diversity and equity literate is the first essential step, and the 360-hour program he has designed to this end has proven very effective. Once people see the data, they cannot help understanding the drivers of racial and social injustice more clearly, which leads to the place where real transformation can happen. Shakil’s extraordinarily insightful and illuminating approach is fueled by many years of contemplative practice, and he leaves us with a vision of what we are fighting for—not just what we are fighting against—based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of Beloved Community. Small groups of dedicated people have managed to successfully nudge societal norms in the direction of justice in the past, and this conversation and Shakil’s book, Deep Diversity, most certainly contribute a compassionate nudge in the right direction. Bit by bit, recognizing that this is a journey, Shakil conveys both the means and the hope that justice will prevail. Recorded April 26, 2023.
“Can we hold the tension between our common humanity and our differences simultaneously?”
Societies must transform their dynamics to support the flourishing of life. There is increasing interest in regeneration and regenerative practice as a solution, but also limited cohered understanding of what constitutes regenerative systems at social-ecological scales. In this perspective we present a conceptual, cross-disciplinary, and action-oriented regenerative systems framework, the Regenerative Lens, informed by a wide literature review. The framework emphasizes that regenerative systems maintain positive reinforcing cycles of wellbeing within and beyond themselves, especially between humans and wider nature, such that ‘‘life begets life.’’ We identify five key qualities needed in systems to encourage such dynamics: an ecological worldview embodied in human action; mutualism; high diversity; agency for humans and non-humans to act regeneratively; and continuous reflexivity. We apply the Lens to an envisioned future food system to illustrate its utility as a reflexive tool and for stretching ambition. We hope that the conceptual clarity provided here will aid the necessary acceleration of learning and action toward regenerative systems.
This 32 minute animation – in 4 Acts – describes the backdrop for The Great Simplification – an economic / cultural transition beginning in the not-too-distant future.
We made this movie, originally as a framing ‘teaser’ for the new podcast thegreatsimplification.com, but the project….expanded over time.
Part 1 describes how our species got to this point, and the role of energy in our economies
Part 2 gives an overview of the relationship between energy, technology, money and the environment and how global human society is (currently) akin to a metabolic heat engine
Part 3 gives an overview of individual (and aggregate) human behavior tendencies in a novel modern environment and why these dynamics are relevant to our current challenges
Part 4 describes how people look at the future wearing different popular lenses, but when wearing a ‘systems’ lens, it becomes clear that a Great Simplification is soon approaching.
In Thrive. Fundamentals for a New Economy, Kees Klomp and Shinta Oosterwaal provide insights into alternative approaches to economics that are sustainable and just for both society and the planet in the long term.
In twenty-four essays, internationally renowned economic thinkers like Kate Raworth, Charles Eisenstein, Clair Brown, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Daniel C. Wahl, share the alternatives that are available to us, such as doughnut economics, wellbeing economics, common good economics, regenerative economics, buddhist economics, commons economics, local economics, bioregional economics, indigenous economics and degrowth economics. Each of these approaches provides a realistic and enticing vision of a thriving future. Thrive offers readers the fundamentals for a new economy that is rooted in the well-being of humanity and of our planet. This book is a must-read for anyone in search of economic perspectives that contribute to a flourishing world.
Pathogenesis and salugenesis are the first and second stages of the two-stage problem of disease production and health recovery. Salugenesis is the automatic, evolutionarily conserved, ontogenetic sequence of molecular, cellular, organ system, and behavioral changes that is used by living systems to heal. It is a whole-body process that begins with mitochondria and the cell. The stages of salugenesis define a circle that is energy- and resource-consuming, genetically programmed, and environmentally responsive. Energy and metabolic resources are provided by mitochondrial and metabolic transformations that drive the cell danger response (CDR) and create the three phases of the healing cycle: Phase 1 — Inflammation, Phase 2 — Proliferation, and Phase 3 — Differentiation. Each phase requires a different mitochondrial phenotype. Without different mitochondria there can be no healing. The rise and fall of extracellular ATP (eATP) signaling is a key driver of the mitochondrial and metabolic reprogramming required to progress through the healing cycle. Sphingolipid and cholesterol-enriched membrane lipid rafts act as rheostats for tuning cellular sensitivity to purinergic signaling. Abnormal persistence of any phase of the CDR inhibits the healing cycle, creates dysfunctional cellular mosaics, causes the symptoms of chronic disease, and accelerates the process of aging. New research reframes the rising tide of chronic disease around the world as a systems problem caused by the combined action of pathogenic triggers and anthropogenic factors that interfere with the mitochondrial functions needed for healing. Once chronic pain, disability, or disease is established, salugenesis-based therapies will start where pathogenesis-based therapies end.
Sally J. Goerner is the Director of the Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics (RARE), former Science Advisor to the Capital Institute, and Managing Director of the North Carolina Sustainable Community Fund. With advanced degrees in engineering, systems science, and psychology, Dr. Goerner has lectured worldwide on how the Energy Network Sciences (ENS) create a common-sense narrative on how to achieve socioeconomic vitality by revitalising human networks. Dr. Goerner has authored over 50 articles and 5 books, including ‘After the Clockwork Universe: The Emerging Science and Culture of integral Society’ (1999) and ‘Sustainability as the Cutting Edge of Great Change’ (2007). Over her prolific career, Sally has been on a mission to contribute to a rigorous and unifying framework providing practitioners in different fields the systemic vision required to co-create the reforms we need for a healthy future.
What causes such a society to undergo a comprehensive change of life? The answer is that oligarchy is a cultural system that creates systemic problems by coloring all things. It’s not just economic – it’s political, environmental, agricultural, education. When multiple, interlocking, systemic problems happen at the same time, it creates huge pressure inside the society. In the beginning, nobody knows what to do – they are just casting about focusing on individual problems. Then, some of these people become reformers – heretics from the old system. They will figure out better ways in their area of concern: religion, science, education. Great change happens when the pressures get so large that there is a kind of tipping point. You can see this happening right now. Regular people are so fed up with the old way, that they’re willing to go with something new. That’s the point we’re at right now. You can’t predict whether we’re going to pick up effective reforms or not—after all, demagogues are rising and America elected Trump! Martin Luther had a great line: ‘the mad mob cares not that it be better, only that it be different. And, hence they get bees for flies and then hornets for bees’. My mission in life is to try to build well-informed self-organisation, because if the framework gets in place so that people that are in all different fields can see how their reforms fit together, then we can use its clarity and power to move this society in the right direction.
1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.