Our Philosophy

The Institute for Cultural Evolution (“ICE”) is a social policy foundation or “think tank” working to employ new breakthroughs in the understanding of values, cultural systems, and worldviews to help positively influence the American political landscape. Neither left nor right nor centrist, we are a forward-looking institution that is applying a developmental or “evolutionary” perspective to the challenges of American politics and beyond.

The strategies we use to widen perspectives and integrate politically opposed viewpoints are new and unique. They are based on fresh insights into how worldviews form and how human culture evolves—insights that help expand our thinking beyond left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative. By illuminating at least three major worldviews at work in our nation’s political electorate (referred to on this site as “traditional,” “modernist,” and “postmodern or progressive”) we expand the the analysis of political dynamics in ways that can lead to new alliances. By clarifying the tensions between these worldviews, our analysis provides insight into the underlying causes of polarization and stagnation that inhibit even common sense action on issues important to the future of our country and to the world.

Certainly, Washington D.C.’s rich repertoire of think tanks and public policy institutes abound with information, data, research, and potentially powerful solutions to many of our country’s greatest challenges. Yet few, if any, of these organizations are currently focusing on the deeper cultural conflicts that so often prevent those same solutions from ever seeing the light of day. Such cultural issues, while acknowledged, are often seen as too murky and confusing to effectively address. Nevertheless, the current political impasse that stymies even the best of our collective intentions calls out for institutions that can bring light to these subtleties and help us see through the culture wars that constrain and prevent progress in our own country and abroad.

Our philosophical approach is outlined in more detail in ICE’s Premises and Principles of the Evolutionary Worldview paper (downloadable here). Briefly put, the evolutionary or integral philosophy that guides ICE’s approach has itself evolved over the last century through the work of Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Ken Wilber, Jean Gebser, Clare Graves, and others. Although these founders of integral philosophy differ on many points, they have all recognized that a deeper understanding of the human condition shows how, in at least some places, human nature itself has developed, values and worldviews have evolved, concepts of “worldcentric” morality have come to replace more narrow ethnocentric sensibilities, democracies have replaced tyrannies, economic engagement has replaced military competition, science and technology have flourished in place of myth and superstition, and merit-based organizations have replaced those based on race, class and caste. As a result of this ongoing evolution of culture, some segments of the world’s population have increasingly come to reject war, to condemn oppression, embrace diversity, and to place a high value on the preservation of the natural environment. Understanding how these evolving values have cohered historically to form worldviews, and appreciating how those worldviews inform human society today is central to appreciating ICE’s approach to current events.