I. Our Earthuman Edition: A 21st Century, PhiloSophia, eLibrary of eCosmos, PediaPedia Resource
B. An Earthropo to Ecosmo Sapience Finds a Phenomenal, Independent. UniVerse to WumanVerse
Gore, Al. The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. New York: Random House, 2013. Some two decades after his prescient Earth in the Balance, eight years as vice-president, a stolen election, and lately as world philosopher citizen, we are gifted by another manifesto that only Al Gore could write. From 2012 these megatrends are Earth, Inc. as rapacious capitalism, Global Mind via the ubiquitous Internet, Power in the Balance sans any international order, Outgrowth for a frenzy of material and energy consumption, Reinvention of Life and Death as it bodes for technological transhumanism, and The Edge of global climate change that now verifies his steady alarm, which blasts “liars for hire” deniers. On message, the plethora of information he marshals in each case is seen to accord the same response – take back and save the planet from myopic, corrupt self-interests, rift with greed and guns, by way of an integrally ecological biosphere, unified yet diversely human in scale, a sustainable wealth and health good for children and creatures.
In 1851 Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote; “By means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time. The round globe is a vast brain, instinct with intelligence.” (45) Since the nervous system connects to the human brain and the brain gives rise to the mind, it was understandable that one of the twentieth century’s greatest theologians, Teilhard de Chardin, would modify Hawthorn’s metaphor yet again. In the 1950’s he envisioned the “planetization” of consciousness within a technologically enabled network of human thoughts that he termed the “Global Mind.” And while the current reality may not yet match Teilhard’s expansive meaning when he used that provocative image, some technologists believe that what is emerging may nevertheless mark the beginning of en entirely new era. (46)
Greene, Brian. Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe. New York: Knopf, 2020. This is the latest science bestseller by the Columbia University physicist, which as the final paragraph below cites, continues to drain and deny any and all modicum of purpose and hope – get used to it, there isn’t any. We also note 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by historian Yuval Harari (2019) which doubles down that there is no story or meaning. We add that a February 10 review by Philip Ball in Nature strongly criticized the book for this unmerited conclusion.
As we hurtle toward a cold and barren cosmos, we must accept that there is no grand design. Particles are not endowed with purpose. There is no final answer hovering in the depths of space awaiting discovery. Instead, certain special collections of particles can think and feel and reflect, and within these subjective worlds they can create purpose. (325)
Gregersen, Neils, ed. From Complexity to Life: On the Emergence of Life and Meaning. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. A revolution is in process about what kind of universe this is. Rather than an expiring cosmos as mandated by the second law of thermodynamics, the scientists represented here, some whom are also theologians, find a natural tendency of complex systems to organize into nested scales of increased information and sentience. As a result, a quickening universe by means of this organic development becomes evident. Harold Morowitz, Paul Davies, Stuart Kauffman, Ian Stewart, Werner Loewenstein, and many others explore its auspicious implications.
Thus the history of the universe is not so much one of entropic degeneration and decay as a story of the progressive enrichment of systems on all scales, from atoms to galaxies. (Davies, 85)
Grinchenko, Sergey. Meta-evolution of Nature System: The Framework of History. Social Evolution and History. 5/1, 2008. In the vein of the prior Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, a new periodical creates a space not permitted by academia where holistic meta-narratives of an ordained cosmic genesis can be exercised. Albeit in technical abstraction, a Russian Academy of Sciences informatics philosopher here describes a natural development by way of many repetitive scales from universe to human. Currently a “Cosmo-Humankind” phase by virtue of cognitive reason and discovery can intentionally take up and enhance its future florescence.
The conclusion is made that the process of development of the Universe as a whole seems to be purposeful, aimed at self-formation as a complete system of hierarchical search optimization aiming at the permanent maximization of its efficiency. (42)
Grinspoon, David. Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016. The inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress studied with Carl Sagan and Lynn Margulis, and earned a doctorate in Planetary Sciences from the University of Arizona. This volume follows his 2004 Lonely Planets, quoted on my home page and slide show, many articles and credits in between, to expansively situate our global abode in a conducive while contingent universe. A main theme is a nascent, worldwide cerebral faculty, seen as a fulfillment of Vernadsky’s and Teilhard’s noosphere. By this view, the present Anthropocene age would gain a mindful intelligence, evident in continental Internet linkages, which could serve as a palliative resource. This novel, awakening personsphere is then dubbed a Terra Sapiens. The book came out on November 6. Since the election, a myopic world beset by national warlords playing nuclear and cyber games seems bent on destroying itself. Any wider vision to foster a common identity and allegiance as Earthlings with a significance to the fate and future of the cosmos, is of imperative, crucial value.
Now we have to come to grips with our own significance. We’ve entered an age where we are radically changing the plotline, to the point where we cannot see nature clearly if we insist on ignoring our own growing role. Not only that, but as far as we know, Earth is the only place in the universe with life and intelligence. That may soon change, but for all we know we could be determining the future of all life. (209) Our world is changing in unprecedented ways because of a new dynamic, a new set of processes, a new motive force we are obliged to examine. We are that force, and this puts us right back in the center. (209)
Grinspoon, David. Lonely Planets. New York: Harper Collins, 2003. An astroscientist writes a lively natural philosophy of life in the universe. Grinspoon navigates between the rare earth theory that we are alone and the moribund mechanical version so as to perceive an evolving cosmos that inherently becomes richer in animate complexity and sentient intelligence.
The tendency of matter, under certain conditions, to self-organize suggests a new picture of evolution. Traditional Darwinian theory has regarded evolution as a “blind watchmaker” where natural selection between random mutations leads to all innovation and adaptation. But complexity theory suggests that evolution may also refine and exploit the nascent emergent properties of matter. Natural selection may be helped along by some spontaneous pattern-forming habits built deep into this universe. (270) The universe is progressing in a direction toward greater intelligence, conscious awareness, and self-understanding. The dark universe becomes gradually more lit up with consciousness. (402)
Harari, Yuval. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. London: Harvill Secker, 2016. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian looks ahead from his 2015 bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind to future frontiers by scanning past and present cosmic and Earth evolution. With Cesar Hidalgo’s Why Information Grows (2015) as a guide, this temporal arc is most defined by a software-like source which increasingly manifests until it reaches human collaborative awareness. At this breakthrough point, while god-like, palliative and creative qualities are conveyed, this algorithmic arrow continues on its computational way without us. If to reflect, the epic scenario gets closer to veracity, but since academic humanities and sciences deny a greater reality with its own drive, course and destiny, it remains a strange abstraction. But if an organic, procreative, familial genesis could even be allowed, a genetic algorithome code might be seen to pass to our intentional continuance.
Well, let’s begin by explaining what an algorithm is. This is of great importance not only because this key concept will reappear in many of the following chapters, but also because the twenty-first century will be dominated by algorithms. An algorithm is a methodical set of steps that can be used to make calculations, resolve problems, and reach decisions. An algorithm isn’t a particular calculation, but the method followed when making the calculation. (Organisms are Algorithms, 83) Dataism says that the universe consists of data flows, and the value of any phenomenon or entity is determined by its contribution to data processing. Dataism puts the two together (Darwin & Turing), pointing out that exactly the same mathematical laws apply to both biochemical and electronic algorithms. (The Data Religion, 370)
Harman, Willis and Elisabet Sahtouris. Biology Revisioned. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 1998. Systems scientist Willis Harman and holistic biologist Elisabet Sahtouris collaborate to affirm an integral, living universe wherein autopoietic and symbiotic processes create and sustain a nested holarchy of whole systems “at all size levels, from macrocosm to microcosm.”
Harris, Errol. Cosmos and Anthropos. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1991. The veteran scholar offers a rare philosophical synopsis of a self-arranging, complementary, divinely oriented development which springs from and epitomizes a universally recurrent principle. One of the most succinct discernments of a greater nested genesis.
To sum up, we may say that the course of evolution has unfolded a complex branching series of forms, consisting of wholes within wholes, systems within systems, organisms within organisms. Each embodies and exemplifies, in its specific degree, the same principle of organization, while, as the scale proceeds, the form in which that principle specifies itself is a more adequate expression of its character, progressing from metabolic self-adaption, through increasing degrees of physiological and then behavioral efficiency, to conscious (perspective) appreciation of the presented situation. (92)
Haught, John. Darwin and Catholicism. Ruse, Michael, ed. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. This large volume covers the Darwinian influence from every historical, scientific, philosophical, cultural and religious aspect. We note this chapter out of sixty three by the Georgetown University theologian because it conveys, by way of the Jesuit scholars Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1995) and Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984), a profoundly alternative version. As the quote touches, Teilhard is famous for his vision of an evolutionary gestation from numinous matter via a nested complexity and consciousness to phenomenal people and onto spiritual personification. As expressed in Lonergan in the World (2014) by James Marsh, we are indeed here for “self-appropriation” within a just society, which involves creative knowledge, discovery, choice, and action.
Secular critics had long accused Catholics and other Christians of focusing so intently on the individual’s life after death that Christianity was unable to motivate the faithful to participate fully in what Teilhard called the “building of the earth.” After Darwin and contemporary cosmology, however, informed people realize that the universe is still a work in progress. Consequently, a cosmically and biologically reenergized Christian hope will turn human lives toward participation the ongoing work of creation rather than simply waiting to be rescued from “this veil of tears.” As Teilhard proposed, an evolution-informed Catholic faith can provide a “fresh incentive” to contribute to the great work of bringing the whole story of life and the universe to fulfillment. (492)
Haught, John. The Unfinished Universe. Commonweal. March, 2003. A succinct article that is a good introduction to the Georgetown University theologian’s synthesis of Whitehead, Teilhard and the new sciences which finds human beings to have a creative role in an incomplete, spiritually oriented genesis.
Hayward, Jeremy. Letters to Vanessa: On Love, Science and Awareness in an Enchanted World. Boston: Shambhala, 1997. A psychologist writes an insightful book of letters to his daughter saying it is all a matter of perception. Most folks live in a “dead world” unable to witness an animate vitality, as if colorblind to its magical creativity.
Well Vanessa, in this letter I’ve introduced you to the levels of patterning that permeate reality through and through - the dynamic fractals of nature, life and mind; the strange attractors, which show these dynamic fractals at work even within the midst of apparent chaos, bringing pools of order within that chaos that connect multiple levels of magnitude. And I’ve shown how, in many different traditions, this is expressed in the principle “as above, so below,” the principle of microcosm and macrocosm - that the human reflects and is reflected in heaven and earth. (197)