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.
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Institute for Cultural Evolution
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The Institute for Cultural Evolution is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.
Polarity #4 is MERCY & JUSTICE. Mercy for the individual becomes unjust without concern for the good of the whole. And to be truly virtuous, justice must be balanced with care for each person.
Polarity #3 is COMPETITION & COOPERATION. One without the other can become problematic. But when both of these are brought together in a mutually correcting relationship that provides for both *challenge and support,* the value-creating potential of each side is maximized.
Polarity #2 is REAL & IDEAL. Each pole needs the other. Realism alone can lead to a cynical acceptance of a dysfunctional status quo. And unrealistic idealism can result in ineffectual wishful thinking. But through mutual co-correction they can fortify our power to improve things
In this new article by Carter Phipps, he asks where 50 years of "I'll do me and you do you" has gotten us.
This tweet is the first in a series of our favorite positive-positive interdependent polarities: LIBERTY & EQUALITY. These two values need each other to maximize their value creating capacity. Through a dynamic relationship of challenge and support, each pole trues-up the other.