INFINITE POTENTIAL BLOCKED

The existing potential of humankind, to begin actualizing in this year 2016, is virtually “infinite” when we attempt to comprehend it. It is not infinite in the mathematical sense, but very, very, very large.  It has awesome MSC: Magnitude/Scope/Complexity. This potential continues to galdee (grow, adapt, learn, develop, evolve, emerge); however, its actualization is blocked.

Should we first explore the MSC of our potential or should we first explore what is blocking its actualization and how might we break the block? Actually, this choice reveals one aspect of the block. Our potential can’t be actualized one insight at a time. And, my use of “insight” to label a “unit” potential (among many) reveals another aspect of the block: we need to invent/create a “means of sharing” (a system of languages and human technologies) to begin our “learning to comprehend and actualize” our “potential”.

METAPHOR:  Seeds are exemplars of potential. A small package, blocked from sprouting until the “situation is right”.

SSS:  viable Seeds, fertile Soils, nurturing Scaffolding. For viable seeds to sprout they need fertile soils, and for the sprouts to grow and mature they need nurturing scaffolding. Today, many are so busy creating new seeds (books, apps, websites, orgs) hoping they will find fertile soil. IMA (In My Analysis)  no serious effort is being done to learn how to create fertile Soils and nurturing Scaffolding for our many excellent Seeds. The paradox is that what we create to promote the need for learning to create soils and scaffolding are usually, themselves, seeds landing on infertile soils.  This creating requires more than conversation or message exchange.

Occasionally, and more and more frequently, I experience a “mental rush” and grok the unbelievable enormity of our potential. The experience is brief and each time I “remember” having such experiences before. But, it is difficult to maintain the full grok of this near infinity.

 

The most recent was while viewing the 2016 Oscar awards ceremony. It began with the sudden awareness of how many possible quality movies were screened in 2015 of which I had been totally unaware. Why had I not heard of them?  Now-a-days I see only a few movies a year in theaters. This quickly cascaded to imagining ALL the movies produced in 2015, in all countries, and in all past years – then, the many home videos made, with cell phones, and published on YouTube.  Then, there are training videos and documentaries. What percent could any person actually view, or even know about? Then, there are all the other “presentations” (concerts, lectures, plays, dances, expositions, etc.) throughout history.

A visit to a major library or bookstore often triggers this experience – of all the written word ever published, including the numbers each year, accelerating.  Once-Upon-a-Time I often “quested” among the stacks of University libraries. Slowly wander randomly selected stacks and explore the book categories. All those books on such a narrow topic, old and new. And then you realize that not all the publications for that category are there; and that many books fall in many categories, but are shelved in only one. From my small list of favorite fiction writers, their production is far beyond what I can read (or listen to).

Weekly I skim the journal SCIENCE from the AAAS.  I note the titles of all articles and think on the topic explored. From my extensive background in science – also science’s history and philosophy – I know that I could learn to fully comprehend any article, given decades to learn and study the requisite disciplines.  I earned my PhD in physics using a slide rule. The measuring instrumentation and data analysis & presentation systems have exponentially surpassed what I had available 5-6 decades ago. What can actually be “observed” today staggers my imagination. The topics of investigation have also exploded exponentially.  SCIENCE is but one of thousands of scientific journals. Then, there are the online publications of all domains of knowledge. Then, consider the active minds of all those who write and read useful knowledge.

We now have 7.4 billion human selves living on this finite, planet Earth. Each is unique; a mix of similarities and difference. Many have participated in or authored the movies or texts, and many have viewed or read some. Their collective knowledge and experience exceeds that in the material form of film, printed pages, or computer memory storage. Among this enormous population are specific competencies, learned within their wildly diverse cultures, many which have not been codified. The resource in the collective minds of humankind is awesome to imagine. Related to this are all the interesting places and cultures to visit and study.

I call this my expanding IGNORANCE: knowing OF what I don’t yet know or comprehend, or can’t yet do or appreciate.

More and more humans are actively participating while interacting with this diverse symbolic media. This grew, in spurts, during our emergence with the transcribed word, the printed word, the recorded word, the broadcast word, and how the digital word in cyberspace. From person’s addicted to cell-phone texting, blogging,  emailing, posting and commenting, to gaming, etc. – humankind is becoming embedded with its semiotic production – as never before. And, it is only beginning. How our mental processes and even brain architecture changes when so embedded is yet to be revealed. We must seriously attend to these changes if we are to survive/thrive.

It is a known psychological fact that humans have poor intuition for large numbers: one, two, three, many, many-many, many-many-many, etc. The collective knowledge and competencies in the semiotic production of humankind is many “orders of magnitude” larger than our current population of 7.4 billion.  In mathematics, the number of different points in a region is a smaller infinity than the infinity of the number of curves that could be drawn in that region. When we consider the possible relationships between humans, and the much larger population of relationships between specific knowledge and competency, we truly approach mathematical infinities.

Once I read a claim: everything to be known is already known by someone; the problem is to find them. Although this is quite false, there is a truth in the fact that a great amount of valuable knowledge and competencies already exists.

I have a problem. I can find interest in anything. And, my engagement exploring new knowledge only varies slightly from random, trivial, accidentally encountered knowledge (the interest often comes from relations between that knowledge with other knowledge) to knowledge that is paradigm shifting.  At 81 years, I have abandoned a Bucket List of things yet to do. I am easily diverted from important things to do to enjoy things of interest.   I also believe myself to have a challenge, a mission: I believe I have knowledge highly relevant to the positive future of humankind/Gaia. I don’t find this knowledge expressed by others and have discovered it very difficult to share this knowledge with others. I fully expect this is the case for many – with the exception for the belief my knowledge has extreme value.

There are many negative aspects to this vast potential. Some “negatives” may simply be attributed to “growing pains”; but some aspects may be quite dangerous if not attended to. One very negative and dangerous aspect is the grossly inadequate distribution of knowledge and competencies among the global human population. This is well beyond the real limitation of one person’s capacity to learn only a very, very tiny fraction of the collective knowledge of humankind – even that captured in semiotic structures (sems).

This limitation is not only among those many deprived of a nurturing life and availability to develop and learn. Many of the most well off, most educated, and most powerful lack specific knowledge and competencies such that they present a real danger to our very survival. The whole world is a tragic Theater of the Absurd, now amplified by the Election 2016 in the USA. Depth knowledge of this Theater of the Absurd takes some effort to go beyond the mass media, as well as having a “strong stomach” to engage such horrors.  I have discovered that my total lack of visual imagery has protected me from strong emotional reaction to such horrors, and permits me to examine them conceptually.

This Theater of the Absurd becomes more terrifying when you imagine the lives and mental experiences of billions of humans as they dance in that Theater. Each human on Earth, literally & scientifically, experiences ONLY patterns of activity in their mind/brains. Each person believes they are doing “the best they can” given their inner world. They may not be succeeding and may blame their lack of success on imagined “enemies”. I won’t attempt to explore this important feature of our reality more in this document – but, it is vitally significant.

 

VIEW FROM ABOVE:

The special and unique propensities/attributes of humankind lead through a historical path to our current STATE OF THE WORLD in 2016, which I won’t detail at this time.  However poor humankind has been to many of its members throughout the rise and fall of civilizations, humankind has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in creating scientific/technical knowledge and related competencies for material systems where humans are not components: physics, chemistry, biology. Collectively, these successes have unwittingly contributed to humankind seriously damaging its home, supportive biosphere, atmosphere, and oceans.

With bodies, brains, and behaviors initially developed and selected to survive/thrive in tribal units, we are seriously over-stressed within a STATE OF THE WORLD best characterized by Theater of the Absurd. Humankind is individually and collectively “insane”. Yet, there is powerful creativity, humane empathy, and positive emotions and intuitions working desperately to “keep things together”. As mental illness in persons doesn’t mean everything is non-functional, there are “right” behaviors among humans even in this Dance of Madness. The issue is, can humankind, as a whole, survive itself?

Humankind is gifted with drives to both Conserve and to Change. Too much rigid efforts to keep things the same will result in increasing fragility as environments change. Too much spontaneous change would also lead to abandonment of valuable practices. This balance between Conservation and Creative Change is best exemplified in the science and technology of non-human systems. Trial and error were often the practice, but we learned from our errors and we were willing to risk, to advance.

Today, our Crisis-of-Crises has become global (effecting regional, local, and personal) while major positive efforts are limited to personal and local (online teams with planetary participation is still “local”). I will designate APC, those Activists for Positive Change, as a population for special attention.

APC  — Activists for Positive Change

There is not a sharp boundary between APC and the rest of humankind. A person could be very active in an APC movement, while at the same time continuing in practices that contribute to destruction of the biosphere and even to other human groups.

Most of APC are consciously intent on FIXING human social/societal systems, although they may phrase what they intend as more fundamental change. For example, among thee APC are those who intend on reforming the economic system, while others intend on replacing the existing economic system with a better one. Both actions are transformations, as the replacement model would still be incremental: different parts replaced sequentially, and then tuned to work together. This is where the balance is to conserve big (focus on conserving the practice of viewing an economic system independent from other societal subsystems), where change is applied at the different steps in fixing or replacing.  Emerging are practices in the design and initial establishment of the new subsystem to be replaced. In my analysis “education” should replace “economics” as primary; but, we need all subsystems functional. – needs rework

Contemporary APC views new learning only in terms of acquiring competencies to better perform their intentions. Few in the APC consider a need for more learning to better comprehend the whole of reality and better imagine different options for successful change. Most APC are committed to a “cause”, a “project” to accomplish – “objectives” to achieve. The consequences of achieving their objectives is never carefully explored. The “goals” (consequences of the success of multiple project objectives) if of a MSC (Magnitude/Scope/Complexity) beyond the current competencies of contemporary APC movements and groups, including the technological features of our “social networks” to support/enable/augment/facilitate (seaf) the needed human interactivity.

There is blind faith among APC that it will all work out. Their metaphor is swarming of fish and birds. APC is very suspect of Big Picture Planning, as it smacks of dangerous top-down control. This blocks them from exploring new practices and models for MSC change – which are necessitated by the awesome uniqueness of our challenges, which will require equally awesomely unique methods.

Thus, I claim that APC and its trending futures are inadequate to the challenges we face. They are not to be blamed. Every human contributes in many ways to our current dysfunction. None will claim deliberate intent to harm other humans and threaten humankind; if their intentions include harming some persons, it is because – in their reality – those others are threatening humankind and must be stopped. Likewise, none will acknowledge that they are not doing enough, or not doing what is needed, because in their reality what they are doing is what they should be doing.

Many APC “sense” the great potential and “know personally” that there is “good in humans”.  They are doing what they can do, and are not competent to do much other – themselves. Social pressure within the APC movement helps them “keep the faith”.

Thus, our summary view from above is a seaming cauldron of awesome potential, contained by the dance of the absurd and grossly under utilized by the limited imagination and natural human conservatism by the Activists for Positive Change. For APC to challenge the elites hosting the Theater of the Absurd may appear necessary to stall collapse or catastrophe, but can’t lead to the real, significant, positive change they desire.

WHAT IS NEEDED: – yet to come.  No single document, no matter how long or how well written, can be adequate to stimulate and/or guide the collective changes we need. This document is not the whole answer.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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