What is the Global Mind Charter? You could call it a manifesto in support of human potential from a secular humanist perspective, although one needn't be a fellow atheistic freethinker in order to agree with nearly all of it. It's also intended as an ethical statement soliciting the widest possible support. As a vision of the farther reaches of mind, of humanist consciousness, it's also intended to prompt doubts about the adequacy of current systems to either sustain let alone accelerate progressive improvements in all of our abilities to think, create, learn, and generally function at the highest levels in all domains of mental capability.
Why was it written and what is its practical purpose?
"To put it bluntly, we need a different kind of human being," wrote Maslow in his Farther Reaches of Human Nature (p. 56). That is putting it bluntly, but that is where I'm at and I assume many others. How can we look at our world of problems, of human error, from sexual assault to climate change, from war to religious fundamentalism, from "crystal healing" to the Tea Party, from the alleged end of the world in 2012 to child abuse, from the Bush presidency to deadening and design-impoverished architecture to cancer to the wastelands of popular media and forever on, and not think that a whole suite of capabilities, the entirety of our humanness in fact, have been systematically underdeveloped in our species?
It occurred to me that we really need a wholesale redesign of every relevant system in order to maximize every person's capabilities. This is not a new idea, of course. The basic impulse is present in many different times, places and thinkers. But I've never seen a manifesto or political program that placed comprehensive improvement of the human mind at its center.
Other ideas were floating around at the time of its writing, with which I won't labor the reader's attention other than to elaborate on two points. First, I've long harbored a frustration with the secular movement's inattention to the future. What are the possible, probable and preferable futures that we wish to inhabit, both for ourselves and for future generations? What are the possible details of these futures? How do we know what road to take if we haven't really thought about where we're going? (More on humanism's relationship to the future in a future post.) What maps do we use? The GMC is my attempt to spur more dialogue about the humanist future--the future of the movement, the future-oriented kind of dialogue that must happen more often, and the stories we tell ourselves about our purposes.
Second, if we assume that rational argument and evidence won't persuade many or most people , that indeed we live in a culture in which we don't have the right kind of soil in which reason can grow, then what are the factors that can change this? How much is the skeptic movement spinning its wheels when it doesn't address the many social changes necessary to build a more intelligent, creative and evolvable culture?
So, there it is. Perhaps a small contribution to a humanist politics, an example of 'what is humanist ethics'....
This is a first draft, and I'd love your feedback. What have I missed? How do you understand the future of the mind?
commented at 8:16 pm, July 27, 2012
I'm not sure this is what you were thinking when you said "the secular movement's inattention to the future." But I've been thinking about another movement recently called "transhumanism" which I understand is the "intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities."
However the experiences of atomic scientists show the danger that things will move too fast. The way in which a process can take on a life of its own. We can, as they did, create insurmountable problems in almost no time flat. Should we do more ethical thinking up front if we are not to be surprised and shocked by the consequences of our inventions.
I believe we need to consider the ethical issues in advanced artificial intelligence and the converging technologies of: Nano, Bio, Info., Cogno.) http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechnologies/Report/NBIC_report.pdf. New and more direct pathways towards human goals are envisioned in working habits, in economic activity, and in the humanities; but what are the inherent dangers in this convergence and what are the 'preferable futures that we wish to inhabit?"
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