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OVERTURE TO NU Add your comment on this item1

Transcending the "Natural" Add your comment on this item2


Laurence J. Victor



            NU is the name of an Epic Drama, a Poetic/Scientific/Technological/Spiritual Opera/Dance/Symphony.  This Overture to NU, will introduce themes that run through the whole "production" of NU. Add your comment on this item3


            What distinguishes NU from other stories of the galdee of homo sapiens (the biological species), humankind (the cultural/societal/spiritual complex of human activity) interacting with GAIA, and Planetary Humanity (the viable, sustainable org that we have the potential to become)? Add your comment on this item4


            NEW adheres to the "natural". Add your comment on this item5


            Until very recently, the galdee of humankind has been adequately explained by the application of contemporary scientific knowledge to the social/political/economic ecology of human orgs (nested hierarchies or holarchies from individuals to nations and transnational corporations).  The unique characteristics of humans (such as language use, technological prowess, creativity and spirituality) were treated as mutational variations on the fundamental processes long in play in the "natural" world (which includes the social behavior of other living beings) in the current story of the evolution of life on planet Earth. Add your comment on this item6

            Individuals and teams have been creatively innovative, and their behavior and production had ripple effects on the dance of humankind. Some persons thought about "the big picture" and wrote books and instructed students - some even organizing movements. There was a diversity of opinion. Yet, what actually happened was more a "natural" enfolding of these mutations into the selection processes of humankind.  Many believed they were intentionally creating new worlds, and some were quite successful in experiencing some things happen as they intended - for the short term. But, most of this belief in human control over their destiny was a delusion. Add your comment on this item7


            Humankind's story has been written and re-written many times, with great variation. The accepted grand scheme is an evolution through eras of hunter-gathering, horticulture, agriculture, industrialization, and on into a variety of names for our rapidly changing post-industrial form (with pockets of previous forms continuing to exist).  There are competing hypothesis as to what were the main driving forces for change.  We speak of the rise and fall of Civilizations, with many hypothetical causes and influences -- but with a sense that this is "natural" as applied to humankind (with its unique features).  Although some speak and write about influencing this process (e.g., breaking from the cycles of war), their words and actions appear to be absorbed by the process. Most acquiesce to this fate and seek solace in beliefs of afterlife. Add your comment on this item8


            This traditional story, in all its variations, is boxed in the context of the new being defined as what is novel in the present (the Here & Now) in terms of what was, the past. We live in the present facing backwards (or looking only through the rearview mirror). What is imagined as the future are extrapolations of patterns discovered in records from the past. The present is actually the most recent past.  Futurists and those investing in the future develop sophisticated tools for forecasting, and have varying degrees of success in anticipating trends and making them opportunities.  Some who study the "natural" processes learn how to intervene and influence "natural" change to their advantage.  But, all of this remains in the box of accepting human galdee as "natural", albeit with a unique human flavor. Add your comment on this item9


            Frequently small groups may attempt to withdraw from the mainstream and set up their retreat or envisioned Utopian community. Some have been relatively successful in maintaining a strong degree of independence. But none have aspired towards an Utopian humankind beyond the naive view that it would consist of a simple network of Utopian communities like their own.  Indeed, some Utopian movements have been successful in establishing viable networks of intentional communities.  Yet, even these can be subsumed as variations of the "natural", both as to the inner dynamics within the intentional communities and their relationship with their societal niches. Add your comment on this item10


            Perpetual poverty is an accepted universal, barring some divine or extraterrestrial intervention. The same for the cycles of war. Individuals may have imaginative dreams and visions of life without poverty or war, and as mentioned above they may write and organize towards achieving that vision. But, until now, we could accurately predict their fate. Add your comment on this item11


            What is different now? Add your comment on this item12


            NU transcends the "natural". Add your comment on this item13


            There continues to emerge persons and orgs who believe that ordinary humans have the potential to create "Heaven on Earth".  They have existed before, and as before most believe that this mission can be accomplished by knowing more accurately and then manipulating the "natural " processes.  Their mission is to transFORM the present state of humankind, by gradual incremental interventional operations into a new state that meets their practical-ideal criteria. Add your comment on this item14


            NU takes the position that as well intended these movements for transformation are, in a very practical sense (with a general systems analysis) they cannot achieve their objectives. Significant reform is impossible in practice; and even much more so given the evidence of fundamental Earth changes (e.g., global warming, but much more). Add your comment on this item15


            NU challenges our human comprehension of "the natural", when we examine how we come to this knowledge. It is a semantic convention whether we wish to call the processes of reality which include human processes (now and potential) as an "extended natural", or "transcendent of natural".  Although I don't envision a sharp existential break between what we conventionally view as "natural" and what is uniquely human, I find it fruitful to use the semantic contrast between the conventional "natural" and what the NU view of humanity adds to our NU reality. Add your comment on this item16


            There are both practical/technological and philosophical/scientific approaches to comprehending NU (and to actually making NU a living reality - not only in the future, but by LIVING_NU_NOW).  One might suggest a third approach: the spiritual/aesthetic. NU also provides a re-interpretation of the historic galdee of humankind. Add your comment on this item17


            NOTE: I am not proposing "supernatural" entities or processes as reported in stories of ghosts, demons, or hierarchies of higher beings, Instead, think of how we today view the "natural" as contrasted with the view we had at any chosen period in our past.  I use "natural" as referring to our scientific comprehension of processes studied on earth and in the whole of the cosmological universe. What I claim in proposing that NU transcends the "natural" is that our current comprehension of scientific reality is insufficient and incomplete (and in places, in error) such that we fail to recognize in ourselves unique potentials that when recognized, studied, and applied will seaf us in breaking from the box and creating a viable and sustainable organization of humans in balance with planet Earth. Add your comment on this item18


            We may discover that we can interact without known means of energy exchange - but that is not what I mean. I don't expect us to overtly violate "natural" laws, like levitating, becoming invisible, or being able to walk through walls.  I refer primarily to our cognitive processes and how they relate to our organizing and learning, in creating societal structures. I am claiming that when examined closely, and without traditional bias, human organizing via languaging will have emergent properties not derivative from the physical, chemical, or biological.  Nor will they be in direct conflict with those scientific laws - which by their very nature are the result of the study of "natural processes" where human interaction is assumed to be negligible and can be ignored. The domain of applicability of scientific knowledge is validated for situations where humans are, at most, neutral observers.  The human sciences, where the object of research are humans and their processes (psychology, anthropology, human biology, for example) are not limited to the "natural" - yet our research, to date, is constrained by such believed limitations.  The crux of the matter is that this paradigm of the contemporary human sciences blocks us from any serious study and experimentation in discovering ways of truly uplifting the whole human population from poverty, truly eliminating unnecessary violence and war, and creating a viable planetary human system of organizations that meets our dreams of NU.  When we properly study and comprehend the "natural" processes that lead humans to practice deception, conspiracy, greed, and dogmatic stupidity we can create lives for ourselves where these "natural" propensities are either eliminated or securely constrained. Add your comment on this item19


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            PHILOSOPHICAL/SCIENTIFIC APPROACHES TO NU Add your comment on this item20


            ARE HUMANS ONLY ADVANCED ANIMALS OR SOMETHING MORE? Add your comment on this item21


            Are humans only animals with greater cognitive competencies (as are present in mammals to a lesser extent) with language?  Might humans represent a new emergent domain of reality beyond the biological, as the biological (in contemporary scientific perspectives) emerged from an inanimate universe of galaxies and star dust?  Biological systems contain the basic components of the prior inanimate universe, but it would require considerable imagination to dream of the rich life in GAIA if one knew only the physics and chemistry of matter and force fields. Human systems with languaging, creativity, spirituality and aesthetics have a biological foundation, but what is emerging can no better be imagined than we could imagine life when there was no life. Add your comment on this item22


            We might vary the query and ask whether bacteria could imagine multi-celled eukaryotic organisms that further organized into complex societies with technological prowess. We might say that life itself was embryonic in its early millennia. Might it be that what humans have the potential to become over many millennia of non violent cultural/societal galdee makes our present state (as spectacular as it is to us) but embryonic? Add your comment on this item23


            It is an interesting exercise to examine humankind alternatively from each of the phases of life of a human - from the early stages of cell division following conception, to the various phases of embryonic and fetal development, through the birthing process, infant, child, and  youth development, puberty, the stages of adult development, to mid life crises, and the stages of eldering and the process of dying, and death.  Don't ask what stage best represents humankind today.  Learn more about humankind from each analog. Add your comment on this item24


            Contemporary science treats the four defining characteristics of humankind (languaging, creativity, spirituality and aesthetics) as "emergent" epiphenomenon. The result is that the scientific study of them has been very limited (with the possible exception of languaging). Add your comment on this item25




            Be it noted that the above (sem on "humans as only advanced animals or something more") was in the context of the conventional scientific story from the big bang, an expanding universe, star and atom creations, to solar systems and our very unique binary planetary system (Earth and Moon).  This is a story created by humans.  Add your comment on this item27


            Paradoxically, within this story we accept that each of our known worlds are constructed with brains interacting with environments, where brains and environments are themselves components of this construction. We have no direct access to an external reality. It is not outside of a nu scientific process to query whether their may be a kind of complementarity between our traditional cosmological story and one where humans (and probably other life forms) participate in the literal creation of the cosmological universe. Add your comment on this item28


            SPECULATIONS ON ALTERNATIVE REALITIES Add your comment on this item29


            This is speculation, but consider that most of what we know about the very small, the very large, and the very old is less than 200 years old. Almost all of the details result from the study of patterns in data displays fed by complex instruments. Theories are often embedded in the programs that massage the data before it is perceived by human scientists. There is building evidence that humans ("mentally") can influence the behavior of instruments.  Today the phenomenon is very weak. But, the direct effect of powerful nuclear forces requires complex human intervention - natural radioactive decay was an accidental discovery.  In a hypothetical parallel world, we may not yet know of the atom and the zoo of elementary particles.  What if life itself could influence the scientific instruments so that our scientific model of the physical universe (from quark to quasar) is a creative story?  Maybe other creative stories could be consistent with what we observe with our naked senses.  But then, what we experience via our senses is itself the result of very complex processes within the "instrumentation" of the brain. Add your comment on this item30


            I do not propose this speculation as being "real".  What has happened recently is the concepts of reality have changed, as has our very notion of knowledge and comprehension. No single, logically consistent linear explanatory system suffices to account for patterns in our recorded data. This was explicitly proposed by Neils Bohr in the early 20th Century and called the Principle of Complementarity (more popularly known by its exemplar, the so-called wave-particle duality).  But, the issue digs deeper.  The simple distinction between the observer and the observed in early Quantum Theory has become a tangled knot of circularity.  The linear is but a useful, simple tool.  Kurt Gödel, in 1931 asked the question, in logic, of logic: "Logic, are you Logical?", and the response was "No".  We post-moderns have yet to come to terms with the "discoveries" of Bohr (aided by William James) and Gödel. But, even these two "discoveries" are constructions within the tangled knot we call "reality". Add your comment on this item31


            It appears that the first conscious experiences of humans may have arisen first from inner imagination and fantasy, filled with gods, demons, and ancestors -- before we noted, in explicit consciousness, the sensory perceived world (which we had long perceived in the manner of other mammals).   Today, there are cultures that attribute "greater reality" to the dream/imaginative world than to the perceived world.  That the latter will and should supersede the former is no longer an empirically founded proposition of science - although most scientists would disagree, if they ever considered the issue.  Human cultures throughout our short history have constructed a great variety of interesting worlds. Each world was populated with humans who fully believed that their world was as they believed, and their behavior attempted to conform to the "laws" of their world.  Things often didn't happen as anticipated, but that seldom led them to doubt the TRUTH of their (constructed) REALITY. Add your comment on this item32


            What we must accept is that things haven't yet changed.  Constructed worlds have become more complex but no more secure in their being closer to the "ultimate". Humans are easily prone to hubris and exaggeration. A list of statements of ULTIMATE TRUTH by men and women of the HIGHEST AUTHORITY make humorous reading; but then we go out and make equivalently risky assertions. Add your comment on this item33


            EARTH IS POPULATED BY WIDE DIVERSITY OF WORLDS Add your comment on this item34


            This title phrase may first appear weird; isn't our Earth a world, so how can it be populated by worlds. Elsewhere there is explication on a potential shift of perspective/paradigm to each of us viewing ourselves as "worlds". We could rephrase this more conventionally by stating that Earth is populated by a wide diversity of cultures, each having their own beliefs about truth, reality, and the nature of their "world". Add your comment on this item35


            Those living in the elite cultures of the economically developed regions (many within pockets in developing and underdeveloped countries) believe in the secure reality as conveyed by Science and Technology, and the myths about social practices utilizing labels such as "democracy", "free enterprise", "capitalism", "globalization", etc.  What these people often don't realize is that their constructed world is known by and believed by a small minority of the human population.  Even among this elite population are many, who while they accept the material benefits of science and technology, and may be able to recite so-called scientific fact and theories, actually have a highly distorted view of the scientific or technological processes.  Indeed, when it comes to their views of their whole worlds, many believe in an external, dominant force they label "God", and much of their lifestyle and behaviors are dictated by these non-scientific beliefs. Add your comment on this item36


            Indeed, in 2005 this issue is coming to the surface in the United States where a majority of the population live in a world where personal opinion (often about their beliefs in God and Faith) trumps the findings of empirical research. This has always been the norm of "worlds" (with many variations); the "scientific worldview" (which has evolved) is actually quite recent and remains a small (if not powerful) minority. Add your comment on this item37


            Even within this constellation of scientific worldviews there is fundamental controversy, most of which is not only not made public, but is unknown to most practicing scientists and technologists working in their highly specialized sub-disciplines. The world of this elite in 2005 is vastly different from the world of this elite in 1905 or 1850. In our modern arrogance we wonder at the "stupidity" of our colleagues but a century ago. In 2005 we focus on our awesome achievements, but are oblivious of the lack of achievements in many other domains of reality relevant to human survival/thrival.  This general and abstract proposition cannot have significant meaning for most without an adequate exposure to some of the details of the history of our evolving worldviews -- which might be a future project for NU. Add your comment on this item38


            The significance and relevance of this "fact" about the limitations and insecurity of our "dominant" scientific worldview, is that those who devote their lives to activities whose goal is a real improvement of our living conditions and a more secure, sustainable future, buy into this worldview without doubt. Indeed, many attempt to construct their views of new worlds on their superficial interpretations of scientific discoveries, such as Quantum Theory. Add your comment on this item39


            I am not proposing that most of our scientific explanations of how the things they do study "work" will be proven "false" - although we may be in for some major paradigm shattering insights (as is in our tradition), but that the policies and practices of the scientific/technological establishments seaf R&D in some domains and severely limit R&D in other domains.  It is in these neglected domains of SciTech R&D that movements to create NU Worlds must reeee_seaf_galdee . Major neglected domains include quality education, quality organizing, quality healing, quality seafing of the galdee of individuals, interpersonal relationships, communities. Add your comment on this item40


            It is in this sense that I propose we view NU as transcending the "natural"; where "natural" applies to our contemporary scientific view of reality. But, also with an awareness that what is "natural" (the characteristics of "nature") may have widely diverse meaning for the majority of humans not accepting of our contemporary scientific worldview (even though they may benefit (or be oppressed) by its production. Add your comment on this item41


            SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL REALITIES OF SCIENCE (the views of Steve Fuller) -- to be written Add your comment on this item42