Bill MacKenty

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Transcend and Include - the future will have part of the past in it….

Posted in Blogging Writing on 02 - March 2024 at 08:41 PM (4 months ago). 772 views.

When we think about science fiction, or our futures, we should include Ken Wilber's ideas that evolution and growth transcend and include that which came before...

Science fiction asks us to imagine a possible future, often fantastic (sometimes quite dark) and live amongst the people who take it as normal.

So the good and the bad that accompany us now will most likely accompany us in the future - but it will be different. This is why I think many science fiction writers use a cataclysm as a device to purge the past. But we are still who we are - and moving humans through a crucible of change will not erase our fundamental nature. Aldous Huxley's book Brave New World addresses this through the London Hatchery and Conditioning Center - where this inconvenient human nature is purged and genetically altered. A terrifying future. The point here is science fiction should consider the way humans might evolve in the future.

Ken Wilber's integral theory, which posits that each stage of evolution transcends yet includes aspects of previous stages, provides a compelling lens through which to examine the trajectory of human progress as depicted in science fiction narratives. This philosophical framework suggests that as humanity evolves, it does not simply cast aside its former self but rather integrates and builds upon it, leading to increasingly complex and inclusive forms of existence. Science fiction, in its exploration of future possibilities, inherently grapples with this concept, presenting visions of humanity that are at once radically transformed and deeply familiar.

In considering how science fiction can incorporate Wilber's ideas, it's useful to explore the notion of developmental stages within human societies and individuals that are depicted in these stories. For instance, the genre often portrays technological advancements not just as tools but as catalysts for new forms of consciousness and social organization. This mirrors Wilber's assertion that each new stage of evolution brings about a greater capacity for complexity and empathy, suggesting a future where humanity's technological growth is matched by its moral and spiritual development.

However, science fiction also serves as a cautionary tale, warning against the potential pitfalls of neglecting the "include" aspect of Wilber's principle. Stories like H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" illustrate a future where humanity has split into two distinct species, the Eloi and the Morlocks, representing a failure to integrate the spectrum of human capabilities and impulses. This bifurcation is a direct consequence of societal choices that favor technological advancement at the expense of holistic development, underscoring the importance of integrating all aspects of human nature as we move forward.

Moreover, science fiction challenges us to consider not only how we might evolve but also how we ought to evolve. Octavia Butler's "Parable" series, for instance, delves into the concept of adaptability as a form of evolution, positing that the future of humanity lies not just in our physical or technological augmentation but in our ability to empathize, cooperate, and coexist with each other and with our environment. This reflects Wilber's idea of integral evolution, where the transcendence of previous stages of development includes a moral and ethical dimension, suggesting that our future evolution will be as much about who we choose to become as it is about the external forces shaping us.

In essence, science fiction, through its speculative lens, provides a rich milieu for examining the trajectory of human evolution in light of Ken Wilber's integral theory. By envisioning futures that both transcend and include our current state, the genre offers insight into the potential paths humanity might take, highlighting the importance of holistic development that encompasses not just technological prowess but also moral and spiritual growth.Spiritual may not directly equate to religious here... As we stand on the cusp of significant societal transformations, perhaps accelerated by technological advancements, the reflective mirror held up by science fiction becomes an invaluable tool for navigating the complexities of human evolution, urging us to consider not just what we can become, but what we should aspire to become.

This essay is my ideas and my thoughts. I used a LLM to help me edit and form parts of it