Utopian studies and learning about and creating ideal communities and worlds


#1

Share your experiences, thoughts, and resources with the community. The goal here should be to learn enough from each other and resources about how people are thinking about how ideal communities should be and how to create them.


#2

Hi @envisioneer,

I think your post is a bit vague and confusing.

“Utopian stuies”

  • Is this a new course you are creating?

“learning about and creating ideal communities and worlds

  • What are you referring to here when you say “worlds”?
  • Experiences and thoughts about what?
  • What sort of resources are you asking us to share?
  • Learn enough for what?
  • Ideal communities: With such a vague concept, you are opening yourself up for a lot of philosophical debate. Take a look at systems theory, specifically emergence and second-order cybernetics.

I think that if you want people to give you serious and insightful answers to your question you will need to provide a lot more context to your question, reduce the vague broadness, and be a lot more specific about what you are looking for and what your intentions are.

Regards,
Ralfe


#3

Thanks for your responses and the suggestions.
My ultimate goal is to design and create the most ideal social system imaginable.
I might not reach the goal within my lifetime but would like to be more certain that the future will be a lot better for the future generations so that someday society will become most ideal.
see next post too…

I might create the course once I have learned enough about the subject to be able to create a course on it.

When I say worlds I mean all the possible configurations of the universe in the future. I could also say more simply potential future social systems.
I mean I want people to share their thoughts and experiences about the subject and goal of creating ideal social systems.
Resources can include writings, websites, discussion forums, communities, and theories.

I am in the research, planning, and dreaming stage of this project of understanding and creating better social systems. I am vague because I do not know how to be specific about this goal of improving social systems. I will probably be in this stage of theory and speculation until I really understand how social systems function and that could take years. I am trying to define the ideal world now and it is a work in progress. I can upload my work if people will review it. Also a lot of my older work is on my blog. It is here: Envisioning the Future for the World : http://envisioningthefuturefortheworld.blogspot.com/
Also I created this collaborative page today, it is a place to curate all the resources people find and share with me: Here is the link to the “Utopian and Ideal world development resources” page:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-W7jNRT0SO0Jz56TAtVtXWddS_4PGR7hxgy7RBkwinQ/edit?usp=sharing


#4

There are utopian studies courses at some universities. Take the Ralahine center for utopian studies for example: http://www3.ul.ie/ralahinecentre/ and here is their syllabus, probably from the most qualified people in the subject of Utopian studies, from university of Limerick I downloaded and uploaded to skydrive for online viewing here “CU6012 UTOPIAN THEORY AND TEXTS”: http://sdrv.ms/18PqZAA


#5

Hi @envisioneer,

Here are my thoughts:

That seems like quite an impossibly ambitious project. For the past two years I headed up a project funded by the Developmental Bank of Southern Africa where I was asked to come up with a model and strategic plan for creating a “Deaf economy”, whereby entrepreneurship can be fostered within the Deaf community, as well as improving the degree to which the Deaf are involved in the larger economy.

Whilst very different from your goal, it helped me understand certain societal problems. What I can tell you is that you cannot begin to think of solutions before you truly understand the problem(s). I might be biased in my approach, due to my background in psychology, but I believe that you need to understand the psychologies of society, on both an individual as well as a collective level, when thinking about the problem(s). I am not sure what your background is, but I would recommend starting with the work of Freud and Jung, and moving into first and second order cybernetics theory, then take a look at Lacan.

Also, the kind of problem you seem to want to solve is on a scale that borders on the religious. Interestingly, the Bible predicts that what you are trying to achieve is impossible without a theocracy. Take a look at Jeremiah 10:23, and Ecclesiastes 8:9.

Personally, from all that I have experienced and learned, I do not think we are able to create idealistic societies. Throughout history humans have tried all sorts of governmental structures, from democracy, to communism, totalitarianism, monarchies, patriarchies, isolated communes, and many more. None of them work. Why? Because of the human condition. Unless something drastically changes which takes away that which makes us human, I doubt very much that utopia will be achieved by us.

However, having said this, I do see the value in pursuing Utopian studies, as this is a very interesting way of assessing, critiquing, and thinking about social problems.

Regards,
Ralfe


#6

It might be easier to read and respond to my comments on this google document, I allowed anyone to edit when they have the link below, no sign on required, or you can just add your comments there too if you prefer:

Quotes are from @ralfe.
Thanks again for responding thoughtfully. Thank you for your service to the world’s development.

My logic is that to motivate people enough to contribute to some goal, they and myself must understand what exactly is the end product of my work, and if people know that their work means something and fits into the grand scheme of things then they will be more likely to contribute. I think we should start defining first what it is we want our system to become before we continue to work towards very shallow and meaningless goals in the grand scheme of things. I want to live in a social system where everyone is contributing towards realizing something amazing that is impossible to do as individuals separate from each other. I have been inspired by many influential people and world changers, but my biggest inspiration comes from biological systems of individual cells working together to be part of something more amazing than themselves apart from the system. All my organs and body cells would not survive long if they were not part of a functioning system where every cell does its part and makes its contribution. The same should be with any system of living beings. Further inspiration comes from the most prophetic and persuasive dream experiences in my sleep that have given me confidence that we are meant to be part of a greater living holon or system that is greater than ourselves and is itself part of an even greater holon or system. Basically i have seen a vision of what is possible if we work together and evolve faster.

“That seems like quite an impossibly ambitious project. For the past two years I headed up a project funded by the Developmental Bank of Southern Africa where I was asked to come up with a model and strategic plan for creating a “Deaf economy”, whereby entrepreneurship can be fostered within the Deaf community, as well as improving the degree to which the Deaf are involved in the larger economy.
Whilst very different from your goal, it helped me understand certain societal problems. What I can tell you is that you cannot begin to think of solutions before you truly understand the problem(s). “
I agree, think that part of the problem is the lack of a definition of what exactly we are striving to become as a society and social system. I know that it is wise to understand what is wrong with a system, but the ultimate goal should be what should it become. This more valuable goal is often neglected in the problem solving process. I suggest that we define what we should be and then figure out how to realize this vision of the ideal system.

“I might be biased in my approach, due to my background in psychology, but I believe that you need to understand the psychologies of society, on both an individual as well as a collective level, when thinking about the problem(s). I am not sure what your background is, but I would recommend starting with the work of Freud and Jung, and moving into first and second order cybernetics theory, then take a look at Lacan.”
This is wise advice. I believe understanding social psychology is part of understanding the system. My greatest understanding comes from studying philosophy extensively at my own initiative mostly. I have some basic familiarity with psychology but nothing really in depth. Psychology is a more specific field of study and inquiry thann the broader perspective of philosophy. Both are important to understanding the problems we face. I have a high interest into understanding what people believe and how they think and how those mental qualities affect how they live and act in the world.

“Also, the kind of problem you seem to want to solve is on a scale that borders on the religious. Interestingly, the Bible predicts that what you are trying to achieve is impossible without a theocracy. Take a look at Jeremiah 10:23, and Ecclesiastes 8:9.”
Solomon seems to me to be quite enlightened relative to his time. I looked at the texts you referred to. Saying that it is God’s responsibility to lead us is not a good philosophy to follow as the implications are severe. Believing that some entity that you have no control over has complete control over everything will leave you as a powerless person who would be better off dead than alive. Believing that an unchanging document can possibly be relevant/useful to the world after the world transforms as it ages, seems to me to be very illogical and naive to believe. Sorry if I am implying that your reference to such a document means that I think your reference is illogical. You are probably a very logical person in most aspects of your life. I do not want to get into an analysis of why you would make such a reference right now, because I should focus on more urgent/important things. You are a valuable person who probably can teach me more about the world so I do not want to risk offending your way of life, since I am suspecting your use of such a reference could mean you are a user of faith.

“Personally, from all that I have experienced and learned, I do not think we are able to create idealistic societies. Throughout history humans have tried all sorts of governmental structures, from democracy, to communism, totalitarianism, monarchies, patriarchies, isolated communes, and many more. None of them work. Why? Because of the human condition. Unless something drastically changes which takes away that which makes us human, I doubt very much that utopia will be achieved by us.
However, having said this, I do see the value in pursuing Utopian studies, as this is a very interesting way of assessing, critiquing, and thinking about social problems.”

I do believe we can overcome our misbehavior, but this will not be easy. I like to learn about transhumanism which is the effort and goal to augment the human body and mind with tools and technologies that will improve our abilities.
Another solution includes the adaptation of the structure of society to accommodate our unideal human nature and limitations. I have thought of solutions like Rawls’s “Theory of justice” where people design society from a “veil of ignorance” or an ignorance of who you will be in society when you design it to include natural inequalities. I can share my solutions inspired by Rawls’s work as they were designed this week after listening to the new podcast/discussion about Rawls on the “Partially Examined life” philosophy podcast, so they have not been published yet to my blog.
I understand your ill expectations of the future of society, but I do not think you have learned much about the forecasts about the future and what technologies are being developed right now that will open up new possibilities. There is a TED talk about why we should be optimistic of the future, it helped me be more optimistic. I can find the video if you want me to share it with you.

Regards,
John


#7

Hi @envisioneer,

I think you have provided a more complete description of what you are trying to achieve. Perhaps this precise location is not the ideal place for this discussion. I would like to suggest you take a look at the structure of the Rhizomatic Learning course. It has not started as yet, but the structure might suite your pursuits well, through collaborative construction of ideas and content.

To end with, I’d like to respond to a few points you raised in your last post.

This is based on the assumption that people are motivated by altruism, whereas there is much evidence in support of the contrary for the majority of people. Perhaps it might be an interesting exercise to investigate positive reinforcement, and motivation theory, and build a modal of participation in a utopian society which is based on scientific research. I also urge you to read around the subject of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which will need to be fulfilled in a society for each participant before such altruistic participation can be considered.

There is a brilliant book you should read entitled Emergence: The connected lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software . It will help you better understand this collaboration which appeals to you in biological systems. Something else which might fascinate you from a theoretical and philosophical level is Conway’s Game of Life. I wrote an implementation of this in PHP last year, and found it fascinating how complex “organisms” can emerge from defining and tweaking simple rules. This is an example of emergence in its simplest form.

It is interesting that you will dismiss the concept of intelligent design, yet embrace self prophecy, despite obvious overlaps.

The problems with society are not due to infrastructure, economy, climate, ecology, technology nor government. The problems begin with human psychology. If you can alter mindsets and perceptions, then you will have the best chance of succeeding with your goals.

An alternate perspective is to see the concept of God as being the solution to the fundamental problem of Epistemology, where we cannot know truth about a system in which we exist. The problem is also found in cybernetics and ecosystemology, where a participant within a system cannot perceive of the system as the participant’s perception of the system is a function of the system. However, with the concept of a being which exists external to the system in which we exist and are trying to comprehend and improve, knowledge passed into the system from an external source is not subject to the limitations of truth and perception originating from within the system (us). Thus, information resulting from a source external to the system (universe/time-space continuum) would be absolute truth, and more valid than philosophies and attempts at truth which we could create.

If the document contains knowledge originating from external to the system (see above), then it is more logical to trust its wisdom, than information originating from within the system.

True. Such a debate in this context is not useful. However, I would like to suggest that discounting potential sources of information which could greatly assist you in your endeavours simply because of prejudices you might have is unwise, regardless of your religious persuasion. If you would like to continue such a discussion via email or some other medium, I am more than happy to defend my stance from a scientific, philosophical and practical basis.

Having read quite a lot about transhumanism, I have noticed that a commonly recurring theme is the problem of elitism which occurs as you introduce segregation between humans and transhumans. You might argue that if everyone is a transhuman then this segregation will not occur. However, it is impractical to think all humans can be converted into transhumans simultaneously. Have you considered how such segregation and elitism which promotes violence and other societal problems (see Social Comparison Theory) can be mitigated? In addition, you must consider future enhancements, inprovements and updates. How will these be rolled out to avoid haves-and-havenots segregation?

I have not come across this theory before. It sounds interesting. Do you have any links I can look at to find out more?

Yes please, I would appreciate that.

I wish you well with your endeavour.

Regards,
Ralfe