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        minding the future good of humanity
gary e. davis
January 20, 2008
There can be no such thing, no such determination or denotation called the future good of humanity, due to the plurality of emergent trends (good directions or Goods) that form leading features of our history—a wisdom of the play—humanity in play—that can only gain singularity in retrospect.

Yet, isn’t it our nature to seek singularities?—coherings—as if some god writes the Telos, or evolution has discernible integrity of a god. But a god is merely personification of mystery, the folkway of humanity’s childhood, developing now into epistemic and conceptual ambition of scientific humanity, itself becoming a discernible singularity of Earth’s so-called “scientific community,” like the chaos of bees in a singularity of their hive, leading intelligence quorum-sensing a telos of mind, Earthmind or the intelligence of Earth discerning its place in the cosmos, the increasingly self-designing species beyond any god-man.

Futural good of humanity might be that pluralities thrive, that trends define themselves, and leads gain deserved prevalence in their play of reflectively learning from each other.

A future good is that there be a good future. So, what’s good? Surely, it’s good that one’s life is enhanced and its organization flourishes to a high degree of enhancing itself, a self-enhancing organization of life in lifelong learning. Likewise for non-living organizations, which nonetheless live as the hive of their members: the learning organization (including, of course, organizations devoted to learning, i.e., educational organizations), which thriving entrepreneurial ventures always are, dependent on risky venturing and innovation for their ongoing health. In a healthy society, learning never ends, due to the thriving of its organizations and lives.

Generally, I’d argue that the evolution of society can be no better than its appreciation of itself—identification of itself—as a learning society. Enhancement of humanity is ultimately a self-enhancement of its lives, its organizations, and its societies. The enhancement of humanity is woven from its learnability, which is what intelligence is fundamentally about. Intelligence of Earth is a theme of emergent learnability in evolution.

But let this not seem to be some strident futurism! Enhancement of humanity greatly requires applying as much intelligence as possible to poverty and degradation—but it’s a bogglingly complex condition of humanity calling for “innovative knowledge institutions and partnerships,” as a recent Science Editorial discusses:
Highly varied local situations and the uncertainty of complex social and ecological systems call for flexible, experimental, and adaptive learning-based approaches....Institutions must transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries to generate new ideas and technologies and link science with policy and governance to frame questions and foster social change....[I]nstitutions function best by having partnerships with nongovernment and government agencies, as well as with community organizations. 11 Jan. 2008

The challenge of “development,” in the normal sense of public policy discourse, is a challenge of evolutionary engineering, exemplified by the Science Editorial, which suggests no technocratic hegemony, rather a well-formed organization of the enabling of capability, localist innovation, and durable institutionalization of developmental resourcefulness. (I have tens of articles that contribute to a humanistic ethos of evolutionary engineering.)

So, firstly, interest in enhancing humanity is the human interest in universalization of decent capability. There is obviously so much to understand about this—ergo, this blog!

Yet, interest in enhancing humanity is also (“secondarily“) interest in maximizing high capability within developed societies, if only for the sake of evolutionary engineering, but also for its own sake (as art and pure inquiry expresses its self-formative warrant). This includes appreciating the reality of humanity—of mind in nature, if you will—that high capability expresses, inasmuch as one is able to do that (and able to understand what their endeavor involves).

Understanding that is edifying for those of us outside the estate, so to speak (e.g., outside the largely-hidden globality of the practicing scientific community; or outside the research university as singular global community). But self-formative inquiry is also necessary for the community itself, at least as inquiry that furthers the efficacy, if not the capability, of itself, whatever the future employment. Seeking enhancement of research capability also expresses the nature of human capability: to be “simply” interested in understanding itself, like the pure interest in understanding the cosmos.

This “secondary” interest of humanity is not elitist. It’s at least necessary for furthering capability for pursuing humanity’s first interest in universalizing decent capability. Nobel economist Amartya Sen’s famous contribution to evolutionary engineering of capability exemplifies how interdomainal inquiry can be translated into dramatically practical outcomes. “Translation research” is an industry. But the translation of secondary interest to primary interest is a function of the secondary results, which are primary to the future of any other work, as well as primordial to the future of itself—so, I’ll call it primordial work, primordial inquiry.

Vital to primordial inquiry is its apparently aimless intensity of explorations, due to need to be unbiased by anticipations of particular outcomes, in order to stay open to basic discovery. The inquiry is not aimless to itself, just Open. Only outside of it all does it look aimless.

For example, one sees the rewards of translation research for professional education in a recent compilation on “the learning sciences” (a recent interdomainal consolidation), but epistemology futures for that translational area may depend on advances in cognitive neuroscience, which needs to go wherever it goes, regardless of translational prospecting. Though the latter is a thriving interdomainity (I don’t like the term “interdisciplinarity,” as I prefer academic ‘domain’ now to academic ‘discipline’, correlate to finding the basis of politics/discipline in culture/domain)—it’s an interdomainity of psychology, neuroscience, molecular biology, psychiatry, philosophy, and whatall else that may seem to hardly know its identity, as to what “cognitive neuroscience” “really” is. All the better for the evolution of the interdomainal area—humanity best minding its ownmost business of self-designing enhancement!

love of enhancing humanity

    Be fair. © 2014, g. e. davis.