VII. Pedia Sapiens: A Genesis Future on Earth and in the Heavens
3. Positive Personal Enhancement within Community
Lopez, Shane and C. R. Snyder, eds. Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. A 700 page second edition of this premier source as it moves beyond prior, albeit necessary, concerns for psychic maladies to cover self and social enhancement over behavioral, lifespan, emotion, cognitive, interpersonal, biological, coping strategies, and other aspects. Typical chapters are “Toward a Science of Mental Health” by Corey Keyes, and “Curiosity and Interest: The Benefits of Thriving on Novelty and Challenge” by Todd Kashdan and Paul Silva.
The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology is the seminal reference in the field of positive psychology, which in recent years has transcended academia to capture the imagination of the general public. The handbook provides a roadmap for the psychology needed by the majority of the population - those who don't need treatment but want to achieve the lives to which they aspire. These 65 chapters summarize all of the relevant literature in the field. The content's breadth and depth provide an unparalleled cross-disciplinary look at positive psychology from diverse fields and all branches of psychology, including social, clinical, personality, counseling, school, and developmental psychology. Topics include not only happiness but also hope, strengths, positive emotions, life longings, creativity, emotional creativity, courage, and more, plus guidelines for applying what has worked for people across time and cultures.
Lopez, Shane, et al, eds. Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2015. This comprehensive textbook champions a 21st century movement in this field to turn from an initial emphasis on pathologies, maladies, and dysfunctions to getting on with personal and social well-being, enjoyment, and service. An especial chapter on “Eastern and Western Perspectives on Positive Psychology” proposes the same capsule we had earlier used this site: me + We = US. This complementary of free individual and interdependent group, long embodied by Yin, Yang and Tao, is so obvious if we just might think about it. Altogether now a truly viable life style, neighborhood, and nation can be achieved. As the quotes notes, the authors make a vital distinction between West and East. While “me” wants each day to be better, “We” people abide in a dynamic harmony. In a creative union, difficult day will be followed by a good time.
“A good fortune may forebode a bad luck, which may in turn disguise a good fortune.” This Chinese proverb exemplifies the Eastern perspective that the world and its inhabitants are in a perpetual state of flux. Thus, just as surely as good times occur, so, to, will bad times visit us. This expectation of and desire for balance distinguishes Eastern’ views of optimal function from the more linear path taken by Westerners to resolve problems and monitor progress. Ever adaptive and mindful, Easterners move with the cycle of life until the change process becomes natural and enlightenment (i.e., being able to see things clearly for what they are) is achieved.
McKibben, Bill. Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age. New York: Times Books, 2003. McKibben's writings offer thoughtful cautionary concerns as the potential to intentionally remake ourselves increases.
Mercer, Calvin and Tracy Trothen, eds.
Religion and Transhumanism: The Unknown Feature of Human Enhancement.
Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO,
The editors are professors of religion at East Carolina University, Greenville and Queen’s University, Ontario. The collection surveys our novel, awesome potentials to heal, reconceive, and transform evolved bodies, reproduction, brains, along with societies, environments and spiritual community within the milieu of Western and Eastern sacred heritage and destinies. An opening chapter is Transhumanism and the Meaning of Life by the futurist Anders Sandberg which views personal, planetary and onto cosmic neocreations. An array of authors then consider how these vistas might fulfill traditional eschatologies of transfiguration, resurrection, peaceable kingdom, divine transcendence, and so on. Pierre Teilhard, Nikolai Fedorov, Francis Bacon, and Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity are cited often.
Montero, Maritza and Christopher Sonn, eds. Psychology of Liberation. New York: Springer, 2009. The editors are respectively from Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, and Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. Essays about the ways of praxis and empowerment across the spectrum of oppression and exploitation from Latin America and South Africa to Middle East cultures, with an attention to gender issues.
Naam, Ramez. More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancemrnt. New York: Broadway Books, 2005. Much as a response to its critics such as Leon Kass, Bill McKibben, and Francis Fukuyama, a journalist surveys revolutionary potentials for the enhancement and recreation of every aspect of human life. These advances include “choosing our bodies,” to boost strength, speed, and stamina, “choosing our minds,” to increase memory, attention, intelligence, along with an extended life span, designer babies, and so on. Naam gives due space to ethical concerns, but sees us as the evolutionary carriers of a new Cambrian genesis. The problem is, I would add, that such transfigurations remain incompatible with religions which hold that people are unworthy of such aspirations, and they do not have a cosmology to explain, justify and offer guidance.
Oeppen, Jim and James Vaupel. Broken Limits to Life Expectancy. Science. 296/1029, 2002. A summary report on the historically significant change in human life span from a 25 year average for millennia to a steady and linear rise in the last century into the 70’s and high 80’s with no sign of an upper limit.
Because best-practice life expectancy has increased 2.5 years per decade for a century and a half, one reasonable scenario would be that this trend will continue in the coming decades. (1031)
Pearson, Carol. Awakening the Heroes Within. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. An example of a “self-help” book on how to consciously attend to ones own psychic passage in order to better prepare for social action in the world. Archetypal patterns are evoked to assist inner development and life’s journey toward wholeness. The working concept and goal is androgyny, an effective balance and unity of the feminine and masculine.
Pluess, Michael, ed. Genetics of Psychological Well-Being: The Role of Heritability and Genetics in Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. This novel collection, edited by a Queen Mary University psychologist, opens with a chapter about “salutogenetics,” a word coined for an approach that focuses on supportive factors for human health and well-being, rather than those that cause disease, wellness instead of pathogenesis. Once again, from another take, a singular universe to human expanse and juncture of participatory transformation is proffered.
This landmark book summarizes the state of knowledge regarding heritability and molecular genetics in positive psychology. Divided into four parts, it starts by exploring the basics of genetics and associated research methodology, providing the reader with the knowledge required to understand the empirical work presented throughout the volume. The second part of the book focuses on heritability estimates of the most important positive psychology concepts based on quantitative behavioural genetics studies. In the third section of the book, results from more recent molecular genetics studies are presented including candidate gene, gene-environment interaction, as well as genome-wide association studies. The fourth and final part of the book discusses more overarching questions regarding the roles of genes and environment in the development of well-being as well as a review and discussion of the current state of knowledge and future direction in this new field of inquiry.
Post, Stephen and Robert Binstock. The Fountain of Youth: Cultural, Scientific, and Ethical Perspectives on a Biomedical Goal. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. A gamut of issues from religious to feminist, societal, political and nutritional is discussed with regard to revolutionary abilities to much extend human years.
Post, Stephen and Robert Binstock, eds. The Fountain of Youth: Cultural, Scientific and Ethical Perspectives on a Biomedical Goal. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. A comprehensive reader on the sudden capacity to much extend the human span. Three stages are noted: compressed morbidity - a long, active life and brief death; decelerated aging – a healthy average of over 110 years; and arrested aging – its indefinite postponement. An extensive annotated bibliography on all aspects of this novel vista is included.
Prescott, Susan and Alan Logan. Larger Than Life: Injecting Hope into the Planetary Health Paradigm. Challenges. 9/1, 2018. Reviewed more in A Viable Gaia, along with a physiosphere health and welfare which is imperative for any societal, environmental remediation and sustainability, peoples a need an ingrained sense it is all worthwhile, that a better day can actually be achieved.