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Friday, November 27, 2009

Human Potential

Last week, I attended a workshop on Global Human Potential at Esalen. It was an educating workshop taught by three distinguished people:

1) Ralph Abraham: Chaos theory pioneer and mathematician
2) Mary Catherine Bateson: Cultural anthropologist and Margaret Mead's daughter
3) Jean Houston: Philosopher

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know. Following are a few interesting things I learned during the workshop:

The teachers are worried about the cultural crises we are in. Humans are facing multiple crises- Identity, Intimacy, Generative, etc. If we don't take an initiative to change things today, the civilization may end in 150 years.

Fractals, which are a fascinating phenomenon in nature i.e. a self repeating pattern which creates a shape that is like the self-repeating part, has a philosophical definition as well. In philosophy, fractal is a boundary between two regions. Humans repeat same patterns over and over and these patterns come to define who they are.

Grandmother Hypothesis is a theory which explains why menopause gave humans an evolutionary advantage. After the menopause, the grandmother does not have to worry about her own reproduction and can help raise kids of her offspring and pass on her motherhood skills to her offspring. Before menopause, women only worried about their own reproduction and usually died during childbirth which occurred late in life. According to to the Grandmother Hypothesis, an infant has higher chance of survival if its maternal grandmother is alive. Having a grandmother is rare in mammals.

The rules/norms of the society were designed (or emerged) when the average human life span was 30-40 years. Today the human average lifespan is ~80 years and we still live by the rules made for half that lifespan. We need to change the rules. Are we in the chaos from which the new rules will come out?

Everyone interprets things differently. To make anything real, you have to commit to an interpretation and communicate the commitment to all concerned. Furthermore, you must make the concept intelligible.

There is an emphasis in society to teach leadership. However, no one focuses on teaching participation. To be a good participant, one must observe the emerging pattern to give input. Good Improv artists are an excellent example of effective participation. They "listen" what others are doing and "see" the pattern before doing their part.

To engage in a ritual is to confirm solidarity with the group.

Humans are creative by nature. No one told us to be creative. One should be aware not to be so creative that one becomes unintelligible.

Everyone working in collective has a different experience.

People apply past assumptions to present situations.

There is no time in anyone's life when he is not dependent on others. Is independence an illusion?

There is a fundamental relationship between trust and courage. One must have the courage to trust.

We should contribute to the Millennium Goals. Have you?

Hope fools you to think that change can happen fast.

Power is an illusion.

It is easier to believe that you can not have an effect than believing that you can make a small effect that will work in mysterious ways to make a big difference. Try and make a little difference.

Value the means and not just the end.

One can not learn cooperation without access and participation.

Noosphere is the sphere of human thought. The center of this sphere is called Omega point. Noosphere is the third phase in earth development. First was Geopshere when the inanimate matter was developed. Second was Biosphere when biological life development.

Western mathematicians are conducting research jointly with researchers in India on existence of telepathy and precognition.

World Cultural History is a Complex Dynamical System (CDS) i.e. it moves according to rules. Like all CDS, World Cultural History works like the human mind and has Biological Neural Networks (BNN) and Artificial Neural Networks (ANN).

We use ANN in everyday life. For example, cellphones remove noise using ANN.

Neuroplasticity states that learning occurs throughout our life because with new experiences the connections between neurons change along with the networks they form. Neuroplasticity challenged the notion that brain functions are fixed to certain locations in the brain.

Connectionism states that the behavior can be changed just by changing the connections among the nodes and keeping the nodes themselves unchanged.

Turtles all they way down problem still exists.

The first wheel invented was a pottery wheel.

Phase transition is an emergent property. Benard Cells explain how it occurs in liquids.

Love is defined by connection, joy, and responsibility.