For many years, the idea of cultural evolution was very important to me. As a teenager, I watched on TV while civil rights workers were beaten beause they demanded equal rights for blacks in the American south and elsewhere. My understanding was that those stirring and dangerous efforts represented a change in how people thought about relations between the races in America. This was a change for the better, this was progress.
As years went by, I saw more progress at work in other emancipatory movements, including women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, Native American rights, differently abled peoples’ rights, animal rights, and even rights–or at least moral standing–for natural phenomena like trees, wildlife, and even ecosystems. These were heady times in the 1970s and 1980s. Progressive movements were making significant headway against traditional ways thinking and the institutions associated with them. In my philosophical research I was attracted to Hegel’s view that the development of human consciousness is helping to make possible the development of divine consciousness.
A backlash arose against the idea that consciousness, culture, and society could develop. Multiculturalists depicted that idea as an ideology aimed at imposing white, male, Eurocentric views in ways that ignored difference. Like many environmentalists, I was also suspicious of progressive ideals that justified the exploitation of nature. Continued reflection, however, ultimately reinforced my conviction that things are in fact getting better. Despite its dark side, modernity does open up possibilities closed off to people in traditional cultures. Likewise, Green/postmodern consciousness takes a step beyond modernity, by including nature as a domain worthy of respect, rather than merely as raw material for modern industry.
I am very pleased to be associated with ICE, which proposes to use the idea of cultural evolution to identify and to help resolve current socio-political sticking points, as in the climate change debate and in the current political stalemate in Washington. Crucial to this educational process is to encourage and to enable people, for instance, modernists and postmodern/Greens to appreciate the importance of understanding and appreciating the value that each side promotes. We will also remind people that those evolving from one cultural mode to another tend to dissociate themselves from the previous mode, as when moderns exhibit such scorn for traditional belief systems. We offer to moderns the possibility of acknowledging and integrating what remains valuable about traditional culture and consciousness, just as we offer Greens/postmoderns the same possibility with regard to modern consciousness and culture.
Like my colleagues, I look forward to meeting and learning from the many people whom we hope will share our vision that cultural evolution takes place, and that understanding this fact can make a world of difference when addressing complex cultural and social problems.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Institute for Cultural Evolution
743 Pine Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302 USA
The Institute for Cultural Evolution is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.
Critical Social Justice vs The Omni-American Vision - http://eepurl.com/hLu8N1
Check out today’s episode of This Week in the NYT, with @DailyEvolver. In this episode Jeff discusses how a post-progressive “hard but real compromise is possible” on abortion and how the role of women is devolving and evolving in the Muslim world.
3) Increasing ideological capture of the curriculum by progressive activists
4) Lack of adequate civic and moral education and programs for character development
In our most recent issue position on Education, we address 4 major issues locked up in the culture war:
1)Public school funding is often inadequate and unequal
2)American student performance and engagement lags internationally
Check out this fantastic interview that Eric Smith and Mike Bowen of @FreeBlckThought have with @gregthomas22
In it, Greg describes a highly needed post-progressive approach to anti-racism and previews the upcoming Shaping an Omni-American Future event.