Saturday, November 21, 2009

(2) Modern Comparisons

Finally I finished my theology program with a newly minted Master's
degree attesting to such. By this time I was approaching my middle
years. So here I was, a physicist at the Laboratory who also was
a fledgling theologian. In due course I decided simply to *enjoy*
my Omega Quest as I started calling my foray into Teilhardian
thought. As it turned out, this quiet little decision gave me the
freedom to walk down a number of paths. I had no specific agenda,
hence no pressure.

However, I did have some pet interests. One was this whole idea
of the Noosphere--the mental sphere of the Earth, which (at this
point in evolution) was focused on humanity's development.
Teilhard, himself, felt that our sudden 20th century move into
research and technology was the major outset of the Noosphere.

Turned out that besides David Bohm, there were some other modern
thinkers entering my line-of-sight when it came to Teilhard's idea
of the Noosphere. For example, I discovered the comparative
thought of Ervin Laszlo--the Founder of Systems Philosophy.

Laszlo does not believe that evolution is teleological, but none-
theless it is directional in that it directs a given non-linear system
to move further and further from equilibrium. And thus, this leads
to not only life but to intelligence!

As for societal systems, Laszlo notes the obvious--they are
self-evolving, autopoietic systems! And convergence plays a big
part in societal systems--moving from tribes, villages, ethnic
communities, colonies, provinces, nation-states, etc. And if
these societal systems decline, reach a level of chaos, they can
either bifurcate into destruction or move to a higher level open to
new societal forms--that historically are shaped by "individual
action and interaction and modified by changes in collective
culture and public policy."

In the case of Humanity there is the natural jump to the subject
of "Mind." Laszlo considers the phenomenon of mind as the
most remarkable of all experienced phenomena--a matter-energy
system in the universe." However, the human mind is not simply
the subjective side of a mind-body entity; rather, it is the multi-
faceted "seat" of feelings, emotions, imagination, intuition, value,
as well as abstract thought.

The Mind "knows that it is knowing it." It's not only aware of its
environment, but can describe its sensations. For Laszlo the
Mind is a highly sophisticated entity--a special system that, too,
is prone to *error.* As Laszlo puts it: "Error is the price paid for

And now we are getting to the core of Laszlo's thinking, when
it comes to an evolving Noosphere. The human mind has led
to the creation of more technologically sophisticated socieites,
advanced societies that have somewhat freed themselves from
the basic sphere of survival. In turn, an advanced society--more
free from the raw struggle of survival--propagates culture. Of
course this is true for individuals too! Such advancement allows
both persons and socieities to pursue "higher needs" such as
aesthetics, intellectual pursuits, and the quest for ultimate meaning.

Laszlo ponders further, wondering that maybe this entity we call
"Mind" is really a vaster collective consciousness--the fount of *all*
consciousness. Considering a self-aware universe, Laszlo believes
that such a Cosmic Entity would be subject to conservation as a
"dynamic energy" phenomenon just as are all other phenomena
in the physical universe. Energy is conserved according to the law
of physics. "It is only transformed from one form to another, so that
nothing is lost in the universe."

For Laszlo there is the possibility of what he terms a "psi field," a
psychic field. Comparing this psi field to gravitational and electro-
magnetic fields, etc., it is here in which all individual experience
could be accumulated and deposited at the universal level. Laszlo
stresses that such a psi field would have to possess a "mental
dimension." In essence, this special "psi field" would represent
the "mental dimension of the universe."