Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the Stud

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the Stud

Postby admin » Wed May 29, 2019 3:22 am

Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the Study of Social Policy/SRI International
edited by O. W. Markley, Project Director and Willis W. Harman, Project Supervisor
© 1982 O.W. Markley
[With very few changes, the Pergamon edition is essentially the same as Changing Images of Man, Research Report No. 4, issued May 1974 by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, SRI International. For those who want to compare the Pergamon edition with the SRI report, specific changes (other than minor editing) are (1) the reordering of materials in Chapter 1, adding back in a section on the role of myth in society by Joseph Campbell that was contained in the original draft but not in the final version of the report; (2) the modification of Chapter 2, page 23 to reflect Sir Geoffrey Vickers' comments regarding the Christian Image of Mankind as a brotherhood, members one of another; (3) the addition of a short section in Chapter 2, page 30 in response to Carl Rogers' urging that the contribution of humanistic psychology be acknowledged as having positive characteristics needed by the future image of mankind, and finally (4) the addition of a cartoon at the end of each chapter.]




General Editor: Ervin Laszlo

Explorations of World Order

The Diminishing Returns of Technology: an Essay on the Crisis in Economic Growth
The Inner Limits of Mankind: Heretical Reflections of Today's Values, Culture and Politics
Goals in a Global Community
Vol. 1: Studies on the Conceptual Foundations
Vol. 2: The International Values and Goals Studies
Changing Images of Man
The New International Economic Order: Changing Priorities on the International Agenda
Poverty: Wealth of Mankind

Innovations in Systems Science
Stability and Flexibility: An Analysis of Natural Systems
Alienation and General Systems Theory
The Self-organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution
Systems Anthropology. Selected Papers by Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Changing Images of Man
By the following staff of and consultants to
Joseph Cambell, Duane Elgin, Willis Harman, Arthur Hastings, O. W. Markley, Floyd Matson, Brendan O'Regan and Leslie Schneider

I do not wish to seem overdramatic but I can only conclude from the information that is available to me as Secretary-General that the Members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to defuse the population explosion, and to supply the required momentum to development efforts. If such a global partnership is not forged within the next decade, then I very much fear that the problems I have mentioned will have reached such staggering proportions that they will be beyond our capacity to control.

-- U Thant (1969)

Awareness of ideal values is the first step in the conscious creation of images of the future and therefore the creation of culture, for a value is by definition that which guides toward a "valued" future. Any student of the rise and fall of cultures cannot fail to be impressed by the role in this historical succession by the image of the future. The rise and fall of images of the future precedes or accompanies the rise and fall of cultures. In the end, the future may well be decided by the image which carries the greatest spiritual power.

-- Fred Polak (1973)

Much advance, both in biological evolution and in psychosocial evolution, including advance in science, is of course obtained by adding minute particulars, but at intervals something like crystalization from a supersaturated solution occurs, as when science arrives at an entirely new concept, which then unifies an enormous amount of factual data and ideas, as with Newton or Darwin. Major advances occur in a series of large steps, from one form of organization to another. In our psychosocial evolution I believe we are now in a position to make a new major advance.

-- Sir Julian Huxley (1968)

Table of Contents:

o Images and social policy
o A working definition of "image of man"
o The relevance of images to modern society
o Selected historical and modern images of man
o Early images of man
o The human as separate from God and Nature — early Near-Eastern views
o The Knower — Gnostic view
o The individual — Greek views
o Empire and Christianity — the Roman catalyst
o The age of faith — and contention
o Man over things — the New Empire
o The human as beast — the Darwinian, Freudian, and ethological views
o The human as mechanism — the view of modern behaviorism
o The human as person — the view of humanism and humanistic psychology
o The human as evolving holon — the view of modern systems theory
o The human as spirit — the view of the perennial philosophy
o "The American Creed"
o Underlying issues and dimensions
o Sources of the economic image of man
o The image of economic man in the contemporary setting
o The poverty of our abundance
o The present mismatch between premises and societal realities
o Going beyond: in search of image/society resolution
o The power of the industrial state
o The control of the industrial state
o The growing impotence of the economic image
o Conclusion — prospects for the future
o Characteristics and limitations of classical science . .
o Paradigms in transmutation
o Limitations of the scientific process itself
o Crucial frontiers in scientific inquiry
o Modern physics and cosmology
o Other physical sciences
o Consciousness research
o Parapsychology and psychic research
o General systems theory and cybernetics
o Sources and characteristics of a possible new paradigm
o Interactions between science and society
o Characteristics of a possibly emergent paradigm
o A holistic sense of perspective
o Ecological ethic
o Self-realization ethic
o Multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and integrative
o Balancing and coordinating satisfactions along many dimensions
o Experimental and open-ended
o Conceptual feasibility of a new image of man
o Elements of a new image
o The gradient
o The self
o Examining the new image for conceptual feasibility
o Operational feasibility of a new image of man
o Evolutionary transformation in response to crisis
o Cultural transformations
o Conceptual revolutions in science
o Similarities between scientific and cultural revitalization
o Mythic transformations
o Personal transformations
o Synthesis and inference
o Institutional and personal change
o Imagining makes it so
o New paradigms from old
o Considerations of operational feasibility
o Contrasting future trends and images
o Societal consequences of a technological extrapolationist image
o Societal consequences of an evolutionary transformationalist image
o Individual and social goals
o Institutions
o Summary
o Some premises for the present discussion
o Comparison of basic strategies
o Salient characteristics of the transformation
o Nature of the fundamental anomaly
o Essential conditions for resolution of the fundamental anomaly
o Difficulty of achieving a non-disruptive transition
o Elements of a strategy for a non-catastrophic transition
o A. An alternative view of history, the spiritual dimension of the human person, and a third alternative image of humanness (Elise Boulding)
o B. Information systems and social ethics (Geoffrey Vickers)
o C. A view of modified reductionism (Henry Margenau)
o D. Scientific images of man and the man in the street (Rene Dubos and David Cahoon)
o E. Some projects suited to government or foundation support
o F. The basic paradigm of a future socio-cultural system (Virginia H. Hine)

List of Illustrations

• 1. Hypothesized time/phase relationship between images and social/cultural development
• 2. The growth of human numbers
• 3. Urbanization in the United States
• 4. Selected world population, wealth, and consumption trends
• 5. Depletion of world reserves of commercial grade ores if world population had U.S. living standard
• 6. Two contrasting epochs of human history
• 7. Levels of description useful in analyzing social change
• 8. Hypothesized interaction between the economic man and society
• 9. Complementarity of various images as they might fit in a proposed composite image of the person
• 10. Various aspects of consciousness/function in the personality
• 11. Stages of moral development
• 12. A metaphorical image of the personal and transpersonal aspects of consciousness
• 13. A personal-transpersonal mind/body model
• 14. Two of "N" possible dimensions of an integrative image of the person
• 15. Transcendent-immanent aspects added to the personal-transpersonal aspects of an integrative image of the person
• 16. Composite metaphor of an integrative, evolutionary image of the person for the future
• 17. U.S. one-dollar bill

List of Tables

• 1. Indications that perceptions and behavior are influenced by images
• 2. Selected successes and associated problems of the technological/industrial era
• 3. Dominant images of humankind throughout history
• 4. Attributes of the dominant image in contemporary United States
• 5. Elements of an historical analogy for exploring the feasibility of a new scientific paradigm
• 6. Three dimensions on a "gradient of awareness"
• 7. Stages of crisis resolution in myth, culture, science, psychotherapy, and essential creativity
• 8. Historical roots of the technological extrapolationist image
• 9. Historical roots of the evolutionary transformationalist image
• 10. Illustrative contrasts between alternative images


Elise Boulding
Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado
G. David Cahoon
Department of Secondary Education
California State University
San Francisco
Joseph Campbell
New York, New York
Rene Dubos * Rockefeller University
Edgar S. Dunn, Jr.
Resources for the Future, Inc.
Washington, D.C.
James Fadiman
Counseling Center
Stanford University
Roland Fischer
Maryland Psychiatric Research Center
Baltimore, Maryland
Luther Gerlach
Department of Anthropology
University of Minnesota
Charles Hampden-Turner  
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Stanley Krippner
Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York
Ervin Laszlo
Department of Philosophy
State University of New York
George C. Lodge
Graduate School of Business Administration
Harvard University
Henry Margenau*
Department of Physics
Yale University
Michael Marien
World Institute
New York, New York
Magoroh Maruyama
Department of Systems Science
Portland State University
Portland, Oregon
Margaret Mead *
American Museum of Natural History
New York, New York
Ralph Metzner
Los Angeles Star Center
Carl R. Rogers
Center for Studies of the Person
La Jolla, California
B. F. Skinner
Department of Psychology
Harvard University
Robert A. Smith, III
Huntsville, Alabama
Sir Geoffrey Vickers*
Reading, Berkshire, England
Anthony F. C. Wallace
Department of Anthropology
University of Pennsylvania
John White
Institute of Noetic Sciences
Palo Alto, California

* Institutional affiliations of Reviewers are as of 1973, many of which have now changed.
* Member of the Advisory Panel.
*Selected comments of Reviewers are included as footnotes and appendices to the text which follows.
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

Postby admin » Wed May 29, 2019 3:22 am


This study was administered by the Urban and Social Systems Division of Stanford Research Institute, Harvey L. Dixon, Executive Director. Willis W. Harman, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, provided overall guidance and O. W. Markley was Project Director.

An Advisory Panel to the project, which contributed especially helpful formative suggestions and constructive critiques, consisted of Rene Dubos, Henry Margenau, Margaret Mead, and Geoffrey Vickers. Similarly helpful advice was given by Kent Collins and Winston Franklin of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation.

The core research staff for the study were Duane Elgin, Willis Harman, Arthur Hastings, O. W. Markley, Dorothy McKinney, and Brendan O'Regan. Major contributions were made by Joseph Campbell and Floyd Matson, and less extensive ones by Magoroh Maruyama, Donald Michael, Leslie Schneider, Barbara Pillsbury, and John Piatt. The report was edited by Susan Taylor and Shirley Manning. Numerous key insights, acknowledged in the text, came from investigators at other centers. Although the project was essentially a team effort with various individuals contributing to all chapters of the report, specific chapters were principally written as follows: Chapter 2 — O. W. Markley, based on contributions from Joseph Campbell, Arthur Hastings and Floyd Matson; Chapter 3 — Duane Elgin; Chapter 4 — Brendan O'Regan; Chapter 5 — O. W. Markley and Willis Harman; Chapter 6 — O. W. Markley; Chapter 7 — Duane Elgin; Chapter 8 — Willis Harman.

Acknowledgment is gratefully given to the late John McHale (1970) for calling attention early on to the importance of the "image of man" as an area requiring study. His insights, combined with those our staff developed during an earlier study ("Contemporary Societal Problems," also funded by the Charles F. Kettering Foundation), led to the present study being undertaken.

A draft of this report was reviewed by selected experts to whom we are very grateful. They are listed on page xv. Final editorial responsibility, however, rests with the SRI staff; therefore no approval of the report by either the Advisory Panel or the other reviewers is implied beyond their statements which are contained herein.
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

Postby admin » Wed May 29, 2019 3:23 am

Introduction to the Pergamon Edition

Changing Images of Man is an unusual work, one that enthuses some, displeases others, and leaves few neutral.

It was undertaken for a specific purpose: to chart, insofar as possible, what changes in the conceptual premises underlying Western society would lead to a desirable future. Obviously a research objective containing many value-laden assumptions!

Thus it is perhaps not surprising that a number of questions about the background of this study have been asked by students in classes at the dozen or so colleges and universities that have used Changing Images of Man as a text.

The most common questions concern the study's origins. Why was it undertaken? Who supported it? What kinds of researchers wrote it? Additionally, most have wanted to know how it is viewed now, some 7 years later, by the researchers who wrote it. And what it may have led to by way of social change.  

The purpose of this introduction to the Pergamon edition is to answer some of these questions.

In 1968 the U.S. Office of Education launched two research centers in an ambitious undertaking to "investigate alternative future possibilities for the society and their implications for educational policy." One of these Educational Policy Research Centers, or EPRCs as they were called, was established at Syracuse University, the other at SRI International (then known as the Stanford Research Institute). The SRI center, after assessing available methodologies, chose to develop a totally new approach. First, we attempted to identify and assess the plausibility of a truly vast number of future possibilities for society. We next followed a method of analysis that determined which sequences of possible futures (that is, which "alternate future histories") appeared to be most plausible in light of human history and to most usefully serve the needs of policy research and development. Lastly, we derived a variety of policy implications, some of which dealt with how best to continue this type of inquiry (Harman, Markley, and Rhyne, 1973; Rhyne, 1974).

From this exercise a surprising — and very sobering — conclusion emerged. Of some fifty highly plausible future histories, only a handful were by usual standards at all desirable (Harman, 1969). The reasons why this was so are now, a decade later, familar to serious students of the future. (They involve the interconnected issues and problems of population growth, resource depletion, pollution, and so forth, variously termed "the world macro-problem," "le problematique," or "the crises of crises.") Other investigators soon came to similar conclusions using different methodological approaches (see, for example, Meadows et ai, 1972; or Salk, 1973).

In the research on the "world macro-problem" that followed, a second sobering conclusion emerged: that an essential requirement for realizing any of the more desirable alternative future paths would likely require fundamental changes in the way our industrial culture is organized. Laws, attitudes, ethics — even the very way we conceptualize the nature of humankind — may require reform if they are to "fit with" and appropriately guide the complex interrelated political and social systems that have come to dominate modern life (Markley, Curry and Rink, 1971). As the inimitable Pogo said in the comics, "We have met the enemy and he is us!

Finding it difficult to apply the implications of findings such as these, the Office of Education in 1972 shifted the mission of the EPRCs toward inquiry into educational-policy problems having more immediate concern to them, such as on education for the disadvantaged, competency-based teacher education and so forth. In order to continue the long-range implications of the line of inquiry we had begun, we created a second research activity at SRI — the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

In choosing the research agenda of the new center, we reasoned that the job of alerting society to the world macro-problem ahead was well underway. The policy-research task that now (in 1972) seemed most in need of doing (although perhaps least susceptible to conventional research methods) was the development of a plausible vision of the future in which democratic methods survive, major problems are managed successfully if not resolved, and the unfolding of the human potential continues to expand. In other words, the postulation of a "desirable future" including feasible paths to its realization — the world macro-problem notwithstanding.

About this same time the Charles F. Kettering Foundation was looking for "high leverage" ideas — possibly risky approaches to social policy research and development in which a relatively small amount of support might, if successful, lead to a beneficial effect on society that is relatively large. In discussion with Winston O. Franklin and Kent Collins at Kettering about the implications of a study they had earlier commissioned us to do on contemporary societal problems, we considered a variety of ways in which further research on desirable future paths involving transformation of fundamental cultural characteristics might be usefully done. Although it was tempting, we decided that it would be premature to immediately attempt analysis and description of the "transformed future" we had by this time come to believe was urgently needing to be envisioned. Rather it seemed a more appropriate task to assess insofar as feasible, the conceptual foundations of thinking and doing that might support a benign transition to such a future, choosing as our research focus to concentrate on "images of nature of man in relationship with the universe;" how past images have led to our present industrialized society with its crisis-level problems; and what types of images appear to be needed as we move into a post-industrial future. The rest of the rationale underlying the study is set forth in the "Introduction to the SRI Report" that follows.

The research study leading to this book was done by a multidisciplinary team, most of whom had not worked together before, in about 8 months. The researchers came from a variety of backgrounds ranging from the humanities and social sciences to engineering and physics. Most had proficiency in at least two specialized disciplines as well as having a generalist orientation — a definite advantage in an interdisciplinary inquiry such as this — and all brought with them a deep appreciation for the profound ways in which myths and images affect the perceptions and actions of humankind in the universe where we now find ourselves.

From the outset, all of us involved in the project realized that the subject of our inquiry — the societal consequences of changing images of humankind — was a sensitive one; further, that no study of this type would seem adequate, certainly not one done in the short time we had available, and that it would not be possible to cover all the topics and points of view that we would like. Nevertheless, we agreed that due to the subject-matter involved, we should follow where the inquiry led, even if it meant getting into areas that are unconventional, allowing feedback from our advisory panel and from other reviewers to serve as a check on our results.

As to how its authors now view Changing Images of Man and as to what the study has led, several generalizations will have to suffice. Although the authors are still in fundamental agreement with what we wrote almost a decade ago, there are several ways in that in retrospect we would like to have done it differently. One change would be to present our analysis and findings in a more objective way. Although we continue to believe that inquiries of this sort should avoid the appearance of "value neutrality," much of the study has a certain tone of preaching that although representative of the earnestness in which the research was undertaken, we now find less than desirable in a research report. Another change would have been to explore more deeply the enormous significance that emerging changes in psychosexual norms and premises have for the future society.

It is difficult — perhaps even inappropriate — to assess the direct impact that the research report Changing Images of Man may have had on society. One reason is that the study was not published promptly, hence it did not enter the standard bibliographic reference systems that can be used for such assessments. (Interestingly, until Ervin Laszlo and Pergamon Press initiated their Explorations of World Order Series, the study was judged unsuitable for commercial publication because it did not fall into any of the marketing categories that publishers conventionally use.) A second, and more significant, obstacle to assessing the impact of the book stems from an increasing recognition since it was first released — that the emerging transformation of society seems to be proceeding by way of a diffuse network of interrelated influences, no one of which seeks to be a "central project" (see, for example, the article "The Basic Paradigm of a Future Socio-cultural System" by Virginia Hine included here as Appendix F). Certainly many of the ideas contained in Changing Images of Man are being debated and extended in a variety of settings throughout the society. Two recent books, New Age Politics (Satin, 1978) and the Aquarian Conspiracy (Ferguson, 1980), describe much of this activity from a proponent's point of view.

With very few changes, the Pergamon edition is essentially the same as Changing Images of Man, Research Report No. 4, issued May 1974 by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, SRI International. For those who want to compare the Pergamon edition with the SRI report, specific changes (other than minor editing) are (1) the reordering of materials in Chapter 1, adding back in a section on the role of myth in society by Joseph Campbell that was contained in the original draft but not in the final version of the report; (2) the modification of Chapter 2, page 23 to reflect Sir Geoffrey Vickers' comments regarding the Christian Image of Mankind as a brotherhood, members one of another; (3) the addition of a short section in Chapter 2, page 30 in response to Carl Rogers' urging that the contribution of humanistic psychology be acknowledged as having positive characteristics needed by the future image of mankind, and finally (4) the addition of a cartoon at the end of each chapter.

The glossary and the index are also additions of the Pergamon report.

O. W. Markley
Studies of the Future Program
University of Houston at Clear Lake City

Willis W. Harman
Institute of Noetic Sciences
and SRI International
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

Postby admin » Wed May 29, 2019 3:23 am

Introduction to the SRI Report

How does one study a priori conceptions which, by definition, are fundamental to and lie beyond the rules of inquiry of any particular discipline? There is a principle that is made explicit in Gestalt psychology which states that "without contrast, there can be no perception; without perceived similarity, there can be no common meaning."

In this study we attempt to discern fundamental and usually unrecognized influences on our societal problems, on our social policies, and on our hopes for the future. Since our aim is to break out of set patterns of thinking (and hence recognize useful new ways of thinking and imaging), we have not attempted to follow the research methods associated with any particular academic or applied methodology. Rather we have tried to follow the course of inquiry wherever it would lead — within definite limitation of time, resources, and the nature of conclusions which were required of the study — contrasting different conceptions held at different times in different places, recognizing patterns and similarities between divergent modes of thought, and seeking creative syntheses wherever possible.

The approach used in this study is perhaps best described by the anthropologist Levi-Strauss's term "bricolage."

This is a work for which we have no proper English equivalent. The "bricoleur" is a do-it-yourself man, who draws on a stock of miscellaneous materials and whatever tools come to hand to do his odd jobs. He is not the meticulous craftsman who insists on the precise tool for the precise job.

-- Dorothy Emmet, 1969, p. 47

In Levi-Strauss' conception, bricolage thinking conveys a message, but the message is not so much the conclusion of a story (though a story, as with myths, is generally being told); rather bricolage thinking is primarily to exhibit relationships which are important to recognize, although it is necessary to make recourse to the level of metaphor in order to do so.[ i]

Images and fundamental conceptions of human nature and potentialities can have enormous power in shaping the values and actions in a society. We have attempted in this study to:

1. Illuminate ways our present society, its citizens, and institutions have been shaped by the underlying myths and images of the past and present.

2. Explore the deficiencies of currently held images of humankind and to identify needed characteristics of future images.

3. Identify high-leverage activities that could facilitate the emergence of new images and new policy approaches to the resolution of key problems in society.

In seeking to fulfill the above three objectives within the practical constraints of the study, we chose to focus on the challenges and opportunities facing Western man, and particularly American man. While we tried to view the American situation in a planetary context, it was not possible to deal adequately with the very different situations facing different peoples of the modern world. Also we had to omit a number of important and relevant topics. Most notable are modern art, literature, theology, and mass movements as activities which will continue to influence strongly the image human beings hold of themselves and their world.[ii] We have instead chosen to focus on those aspects most involved in the rise and potential transformation of industrialism as the dominant way of life in modern Western culture. In particular we focus on the limitations of current economics and science, and on the potential that an integrative and evolutionary image of man might have to reunite what C. P. Snow termed "the two cultures" (the sciences and the humanities) in order to forge a more appropriate policy paradigm for our society.

In addition to the three main goals above, this project is also a somewhat informal experiment in "network development," the purpose of which is to demonstrate the relevance and interrelatedness of conclusions reached by workers in different areas of specialized research vis-a-vis these goals; and also to foster an increase in interdisciplinary communication between these workers, agency staffs which support such research, and other members of the public.

Thus, as noted in the Acknowledgments, a discussion draft of this report was circulated to a wide variety of learned and expert persons for their critique and original contributions. Their briefer comments are presented in footnotes throughout the report, and several, more inclusive statements are presented in the appendices. In general, comments of praise from such reviewers are not presented in this report unless they happen to balance related, but less happy remarks.


In Chapter 1 we survey the role of images in contemporary society. Any image of humankind implies normative values and goals, which are turned by the society into operating rules for social policies. This "conversion" is illustrated throughout Chapter 2 which is a selective historical survey of images and societies that have particular relevance to the current and possible future images held by our society.

Chapter 3 then explores in detail the development of "economic man," an image that has prevailed throughout the industrial era but now must be questioned in terms of its inadequacies for a society passing beyond that era.

In Chapter 4, our particular concern is with the conceptual-empirical input from scientific research and its influence on our images of humankind. At various times in history, man's image of himself was shaped by mythology, philosophy, and religion. In our contemporary culture, science has added a dominant formative contribution to our conception of the nature of the human being — through biology and life sciences, physics, psychology, brain research, evolutionary theory, and the growing investigation of consciousness states and parapsychological phenomena.[iii]

The heart of the study is to be found in Chapter 5 — "Characteristics of an Adequate Image of Humankind." Whether these characteristics prove to be attractive or as adequate as we believe them to be and whether they (or others like them) emerge in our culture remains to be seen. At this time, we can only explore the feasibility (Chapter 6) of the integrative, evolutionary image of humankind that we postulate as an adequate image.

In Chapter 7, we explore some of the possible methods, stresses, and consequences of changing images as our society moves into the post-industrial era. This chapter concludes that:

We can either involve ourselves in the recreative self- and societal-discovery of an image of humankind appropriate for our future, with attendant societal and personal consequences, or we can choose not to make any choice, and, instead, adapt to whatever fate, and the choices of others, bring along.

Finally, in Chapter 8, we attempt to derive guidelines for action by foundations, corporations, government agencies, and voluntary associations. These guidelines are predicated on the desirability of the transformation defined in preceding portions of the report, which involves both the dominant image of man in the society, and major social institutions.

Appendices present longer comments from reviewers and more specific project suggestions.



"I find the bricolage approach very useful . . . necessary to get out of the mode-lock our thinking usually falls within. However it seems to me that your report is more analogical than metaphorical, seeking (and finding) useful isomorphic relationships between diverse areas of knowledge which somehow need to be brought together — although, as you  suggest, the task in its initial stages cannot be very precise."

— Luther Gerlach

"The only thing I miss in the document is a recognition of the possible role of the arts, not simply as agents 'depicting a positive future,' but as openers of the way to delight and a sense of fulfillment, not in some future, but now. I don't recall that we ever talked about the arts except in terms of the history of art. Their role in the enrichment and harmonization of life, and the part that they might play, in this role in the enrichment and harmonization of life, and the part that they might play, in this role, in  the structuring of any future civilization, is a topic, I think, that could be given  consideration."

— Joseph Campbell

In retrospect, we also overlooked the enormous implications that the modern feminist movement has for a new, and hopefully less sexist image of humankind.  
iii. Rene Dubos does not agree that the images of man have been profoundly influenced  by science. See his comment in Appendix D.
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

Postby admin » Wed May 29, 2019 4:08 am

CHAPTER 1: Images of Man in a Changing Society

Man is a symbol-forming organism. He has constant need of a meaningful inner formulation of self and world in which his own actions, and even his impulses, have some kind of "fit" with the "outside" as he perceives it.

-- Robert Jay Lifton, in The Development and Acquisition of Values (1968)

Symbolic thinking is not the exclusive privilege of the child, of the poet or of the unbalanced mind; it is consubstantial with human existence, it comes before language and discursive reason. The symbol reveals certain aspects of reality — the deepest aspects — which defy any other means of knowledge. Images, symbols, and myths are not irresponsible creations of the psyche; they respond to a need and fulfill a function, that of bringing to light the most hidden modalities of being. Consequently, the study of them enables us to reach a better understanding of man.

-- Mircea Eliade, in Myths and Symbols (1952)


In this study we attempt to identify and assess the "images of man" that are fundamental organizing principles of (1) our society and/or (2) of key civilizations that have contributed to it. All public and private policy decisions necessarily embody some view (or compromise of views) about the nature of man, society, and universe. The kinds of educational systems and goals a society sets up, the ways in which it approaches the problems of material distribution (poverty and wealth), how it treats the welfare of its citizens, the priorities it gives to various human needs — all these aspects and many more are affected by the image of humankind that dominates the society. Precisely how we cannot say with detailed accuracy — which is why metaphors, myths, allegories, theories (all of which attempt to express an image) are useful. But in a very real way, all policy issues are issues relating to fundamental assumptions about the nature of man and his concerns:[ i]

• If we see ourselves as separate from or superior to nature, then an exploitation ethic can be fostered more easily.
• If we see ourselves as a part of or one with nature, then an ecological ethic can be fostered more easily.
• If we view human beings (e.g. in medicine, employment, architecture) as animated machines of physical parts, then non-physical aspects of our existence are likely to be ignored.
If we view humans as solely spiritual rather than physical beings, then material aspects of our existence are likely to be ignored, e.g. in public health, employment opportunities, housing.
• If human nature is seen as complete and fixed, then our task is to adapt ourselves and our institutions to enhance that development.


We use "image of man" (or of humankind-in-the-universe) to refer to the set of assumptions held about the human being's origin, nature, abilities and characteristics, relationships with others, and place in the universe. A coherent image might be held by any individual or group, a political system, a church, or a civilization. It would consist of beliefs as to whether we are basically good or evil, whether our will is free or is determined by external forces, whether we are cooperative or competitive, whether we are essentially equal, and so on. It includes both what man (woman) "is" and what he (she) "ought to be."[iii] Most societies have a reasonably coherent image of what it means to be "human," defining, for example, the ideal social nature of a person. But different societies may assume exactly opposite social characteristics. Hopi culture, for instance, sees people as ideally cooperative while "mainstream" American culture usually sees competitive achievement as the ideal. If the successful or ideal adult is assumed to be competitive, then children as they grow up are encouraged to be competitive, games are based on competition, success in competition is rewarded, and competition becomes a dominant motive, thus validating the assumption contained in the image. The same is true, in a similar manner, if a society's image defines the ideal person as cooperative, as independent, or as having any other of the many possible social attitudes.

An "image of (the nature of) man" is thus a Gestalt perception of humankind, both individual and collective, in relation to the self, others, society, and the cosmos. It may contain many levels and face contradictions and paradoxes — as does the living human being — and still be experienced as an organic whole.

However, any image is necessarily selective, not only as to what categories of human attributes are included, but also as to the facts which are asserted to be true of them. Some images are narrow, ignoring many possibilities; others are more comprehensive, embracing more of the person's potential being. Each, however, selects which attributes and qualities are to be considered real and which are to be developed, admired, accepted, despised or otherwise attended to.

These images are held at varying degrees of an awareness by persons and by societies. For some (e.g. the "True Believers" described by Eric Hoffer, 1951), images are likely to be in the forefront of awareness, seen as reality and used consciously in perceiving the world and in making decisions. For most, however, assumptions about the nature of human beings are held beneath the conscious level of awareness. Only when these hidden assumptions are recognized and brought into awareness is an "image of man" discovered and/or constructed. Then the image can be examined carefully and with perspective, to be retained, discarded, or changed.

Furthermore, no one knows the total potentiality of humankind. Our awareness of human "nature" is selective, shaped by our symbolic and presymbolic images. From the total possibilities — nature, abilities, and characteristics that make up the human potential — our images of humankind reflect those aspects we are "in touch" with, or that are defined as real by the knowledge, social norms, cultural assumptions, and myths.


The power of an image to bring about change is not easily demonstrated for two reasons: first, because of the intangibility of images themselves and, second, because the prevailing views in science have not yet readily accepted the evidence suggesting the power of images. However, there are numerous indications that a person's or a society's images can strongly affect perceptions, and therefore actions (see Table 1).

While it is obviously important that our underlying images and beliefs be good maps of the reality in which we live, we probably do well not to pay them overmuch attention as long as the continuing welfare of society and its citizens seems secure. Many of our present images appear to have become dangerously obsolescent, however.

An image may be appropriate for one phase in the development of a society, but once that stage is accomplished, the use of the image as a continuing guide to action will likely create more problems than it solves. (Figure 1 illustrates, in a highly simplified way that will be further developed in Chapter 3, the interaction between "changing images of man" and a changing society.) While earlier societies' most difficult problems arose from natural disasters such as pestilence, famine, and floods (due to an inability to manipulate the human's environment and ourselves in unprecedented ways, and from our failure to ensure wise exercising of these "Faustian" powers — as Spengler termed the term).


• Clinical data from psychotherapy indicating the life-shaping effect of an individual's self-image
• Anecdotal data relating to behavior changes induced by self-image change following plastic surgery
• Studies of effects of experimenter expectations in research with both animal and human subjects
• Studies of effects of teacher expectations on student performance
• Research on expectancy set, experimenter beliefs, and placebo effect in studies of hypnotic phenomena, psychotropic drugs, sensory deprivation, etc.
• Anthropological studies indicating that perceptions of self, others, and the environment are highly influenced by cultural images and expectations
• Research on visual perception indicating the extent to which what is perceived depends on past orderings of perceptions (e.g. the Ames demonstrations), on felt needs, on expectations, and on the influence of important others (e.g. the Asch experiments)
• Studies of authoritarianism and prejudice, indicating the extent to which other persons are seen in terms of stereotypes
• Examples from the history of science indicating how new conceptualizations have resulted in new ways of perceiving the world
• Research on the role of self-expectations in limiting academic achievement of underperforming children
Hypnosis research demonstrating the influence of suggestion-induced images and expectations
• Athletic coaching practices utilizing deliberate alteration of expectations and self-image
• Expectation-performance relationships in studies of conquered peoples, prison-camp populations, etc.
• Anecdotal data from executive development courses based on the alteration of self-image and self-expectations through autosuggestion
• The sociological theorem of W. I. Thomas: "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."
• Research of the Nancy school of psychology (Emile Coue, C. Baudouin, C. H. Brooks et al.) on the power of imagining
Esoteric religious teachings, East and West, on the power of belief, images, and prayer, e.g. Matthew 17:20: "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move hence to another place,' and it will move."

Fig. 1. Hypothesized time/phase relationship between images and social/cultural development.

When images "lead" social development they are anticipatory, and provide direction for social change. When images are in this relation to society they exert what Polak (1973) has termed a "magnetic pull" toward the future. By their attractiveness and meaning they reinforce each movement which takes the society toward them, and thus they influence the social decisions which will bring them to realization.

As society moves toward achievement of the goals inherent in the image, the congruence increases between the image and the development of man and society: the promise of the image is explored, needs are satisfied. Then, as with paradigms and myths, there may come a period in which the evolution of the society goes beyond the adequacies of the image. Policies based on the dominant image then become consequently faulty, even counterproductive, precipitating a period of frustration, cultural disruption, or social crisis and the stage is set for basic changes in either the image of man or the organization of society.

Science, technology, and economics have made possible really significant strides toward achieving such basic human goals as physical safety and security, material comfort, and better health. But as Table 2 illustrates, many of these successes have brought with them problems of being "too successful" — problems that themselves seem insoluble within the set of societal value premises that led to their emergence.[iv] Improved health, for example, has caused population increases which exacerbate problems of social organization, food distribution, and resource depletion. Our highly developed system of technology leads to a higher vulnerability to breakdowns. Indeed, the range and inter-connected impact of societal problems that are now emerging pose a serious threat to our civilization.


Successes / Problems resulting from being "too successful"

Reducing infant and adult mortality rates / Regional overpopulation; problems of the aged

Highly developed science and technology / Hazard of mass destruction through nuclear and biological weapons; vulnerability of specialization; threats to privacy and freedoms (e.g. surveillance technology, bioengineering)

Machine replacement of manual and routine labor / Exacerbated unemployment

Advances in communication and transportation / Increasing air, noise, and land pollution; "information overload;" vulnerability of a complex society to breakdown; disruption of human biological rhythms

Efficient production systems / Dehumanization of ordinary work

Affluence, material growth / Increased per capita consumption of energy and goods, leading to pollution and depletion of the earth's resources

Satisfaction of basic needs / Worldwide revolutions of "rising expectations;" rebellion against non meaningful work

Expanded power of human choice / Unanticipated consequence of technological applications; management breakdown as regards control of these

Expanded wealth of developed nations; pockets of affluence / Increasing gap between "have" and "have-not" nations; frustration of the revolutions of rising expectations; exploitation; pockets of poverty

Additionally, it appears that although some of our images and needs have come to be served most adequately by what we now term the industrial state, others have fared more poorly. From studies of mythology and past civilizations done by Joseph Campbell, at least five functions stand out as needing to somehow be fulfilled by images, rituals, and institutions of a society. They are the mystical, the cosmological, the sociological, the pedagogical or psychological, and the editorial functions.

The mystical function inspires in the individual a sense of the mystery, the profound meaning of the universe and of his own existence in it. What are the origins and the density of humankind? How is existence maintained and why? These are questions whose answers — however adequate they may or may not be — as experientially realized by an individual serve the mystical function.

The cosmological function is to form and present images of the universe and world in accord with local knowledge and experience. The structure of the universe is described and the forces of nature identified, such that humans may more adequately picture what their world is like.

The sociological function is to validate, support, and enforce the local social order, representing it as in accord with the sensed nature of the universe. For example, myths, rituals, and social structure from hunting cultures emphasize men as the bearers of power whereas those from planter cultures usually emphasize women as bearers of life. Medieval European culture emphasized the central importance of the Church, and our own, the legitimacy of the modified free-market economy and pluralistic body-politic.

The pedagogical or psychological function is that of guiding each member of the culture through the stages of life, teaching ways of understanding oneself and others, and presenting desirable responses to life's challenges and trials. Rites of passage, councils of elders, psychotherapy, and education all serve this function.

In its editorial function, the myths and images of a culture define some aspects of reality as important and credible, hence to be attended to, while other aspects are seen as unimportant or incredible, hence to be ignored and culturally not seen. For example, the anthropologist Malinowski reported that the Trobriand Islanders believe that a child inherits his physical characteristics only from his father. Hence, the Trobriands simply do not observe or notice any resemblance between the child and his mother, although to Malinowski, such similarities were quite evident.

Two additional functions — the political and the magical — are also noteworthy. The political, as distinct from the strictly sociological, function appears wherever a myth or institution of society is deliberately employed to represent the claim to privilege and authority of some special person, race, social class, nation or civilization; and the magical, wherever prayers, rituals or other "extraordinary" techniques are used for special benefit, such as for rain, good crops, war-winning.

How well do our current "myths" fulfill these functions which stand out in importance from the perspective of history? Mythology, at least among most "educated" people, is now relegated to the status of mere superstition, as is anything that sounds "mystical." The mystical function of inspiring in the individual a sense of the profound meaning of the universe has been neglected almost entirely, as synagogues and churches, the traditional servants of this role, have become increasingly concerned with social justice. Science now performs the cosmological function, but its successes in this regard have become so complex that the average person has little comprehension of how scientific knowledge defines the world, other than by consuming the products that science and technology have made possible. Bureaucrats and other civil servants, who make no claim to understanding or even seeking any larger picture of reality, now carry out the sociological function of enforcing the local social order. The pedagogical function of guiding each individual through life's stages has been — except for those who can afford psychotherapy — taken over by an institution of education which (at least until very recently) deals almost solely with preparation for work in an industrialized society. The editorial function in Western Culture was dominated first by the Church (which emphasized a very specific image of man and associated ideology) and more recently by science (which emphasizes another limited image). It appears now in the process of being taken over by the funding agencies (government legislatures and departments of program planning, foundations, and so forth) who also represent special interests in the selection of which aspects of reality should be collectively ignored and which attended to.

Furthermore, there is no indication that our society, operating under its currently dominant guiding images and values premises, will not continue to create vexing problems at an increasing rate. Researchers at the Hudson Institute have identified what they call "The Basic Long-term Multifold Trend of Western Culture" that represents a cluster of social forces similar to those causing the "successes" noted in Table 2. The Multifold Trend includes developments such as:

1. Increasing sensate (empirical, this-worldly, secular, humanistic, pragmatic, manipulative, explicitly rational, utilitarian, contractual, empicurean, hedonistic, etc.) cultures.

2. Bourgeois, bureaucratic, and meritocratic elites.

3. Centralization and concentration of economic and political power.

4. Accumulation of scientific and technical knowledge.

5. Institutionalization of technological change, especially research, development, innovation, and diffusion.

6. Increasing military capability.

7. Westernization, modernization, and industrialization.

8. Increasing affluence and (recently) leisure.

9. Population growth.

10. Urbanization, recently suburbanization and "urban sprawl" — soon the growth of megalopolises.

11. Decreasing importance of primary and (recently) secondary and tertiary occupations; increasing importance of tertiary and (recently) quaternary occupations.

12. Increasing literacy and education and (recently) "knowledge industry" and increasing role of intellectuals.

13. Innovative and manipulative social engineering — i.e. rationality increasingly applied to social, political, cultural, and economic worlds as well as to shaping and exploiting the material world — increasing problems of ritualistic, incomplete, or pseudo rationality.

14. Increasingly universality of the multifold trend.

15. Increasing tempo of change in all the above. (Kahn and Bruce-Briggs, 1972)

The impact and likely consequences (for better and for worse) of continuing with this societal trajectory can be inferred from a study of Fig. 2 through 5. If such projections of the future prove correct, we can expect the problems associated with the multifold trend will become more serious, more universal, and occur much more rapidly than will growth of the trend itself.[v]

Fig. 2. The growth of human numbers. (Source: McHale, 1972.)

Fig. 3. Urbanization in the United States. (Source: McHale, 1972.)

But the multifold trend (essentially, rampant industrialization and consumption), with all its associated problems, need not prove to be the dominant characteristic of our future society. As Fig. 2 through 5 imply, for most of human history the growth of man's population was slow and its impact on Earth ecology relatively small. Humans lived close to the soil in widely dispersed communities, such that the actions of one community had relatively little impact on most others not near by. But now society grows ever more complex, specialized and interconnected, and the production and distribution of essential goods and services is increasingly dependent on the continued integrity of human institutional systems. Human systems, however, depend on trust, agreement, and political law rather than on unchanging "natural" law, hence they are inherently less stable in times of rapid cultural change than are "natural" systems. They are particularly sensitive to breakdowns caused by war, terrorism and simplistic attempts at societal reform.
Fig. 4. Selected world population, wealth, and consumption trends. (Source: McHale, 1972.)

Salk (1973) has suggested a simple graphical way of comprehending these changes and the corresponding level of changes that need to take place during the decades to come. As portrayed on Fig. 6, the past and future history of mankind can be represented as comprising two phases. Salk calls the first phase, which includes all mankind's past history, Epoch A — an epoch in which (for the above reasons) the survival of the human species depended on essentially individual actions, on the survival of the fittest, and on successful competition with other life forms. He calls the second phase, which must characterize any desirable future, Epoch B — a future in which humankind limits the growth of those activities that undermine the welfare of the ecology; hence where the survival of the species will depend more on the behavior of the whole species than of its individuals, on cooperation rather than competition, and emphasizing the survival, not of the physically fittest, but of the wisest.

Fig. 5. Depletion of world reserves of commercial grade ores if world population had U.S. living standard. (Source: Gough and Eastland, 1969, based on data from U.S. Bureau of Mines.)

Fig. 6. Two contrasting epochs of human history (Jonas Salk).

While it is perhaps unrealistic to expect that the United States and other industrial nations would voluntarily limit their own consumption of physical resources and share their wealth more equitably with less affluent nations, it may be equally unrealistic to think that we will not be forced into making just that choice. With only 6 percent of the world's population, the United States currently uses about half of the world's resource output. And this standard of living that we enjoy is the growth goal of most developing nations — most of whose citizens are undernourished and undereducated.

As the late Prime Minister of Canada, Lester Pearson, observed,

No planet can survive half slave, half free; half engulfed in misery, half careening along toward the supposed joys of an almost unlimited consumption. Neither ecology nor our morality could survive such contrasts ....

While not all researchers agree that such an epochal transition is facing mankind, most agree that the developed nations of Earth now face a series of fundamental dilemmas. By more adequately understanding the nature of these dilemmas, how they have emerged, and how they might be resolved, it should be possible to see new possibilities for a better future. As a concise statement of why the role of images is crucial to such an understanding, four different types or "levels" of societal problems are delineated below (Markley et al., 1971):

1. Substantive problems lie at an applied or operational level, and are usually identified as immediate targets for corrective attention or increased allocation of money or other resources.

2. Process (or Procedural) problems are those that impede the process of collectively setting priorities and strategies to solve the substantive problems.

3. Normative problems concern the appropriateness and effectiveness of a people's values, preferences, goals, and so forth, that are the basis of planning and priority setting.

4. Conceptual problems are difficulties that seem to be intrinsic to the way we think, the words we use — in short, to the particular vision or understanding of reality that is dominant in a culture — thus affecting our ways of perceiving and doing, and also affecting the formation of our normative values. These four categories can be thought of as referring to four levels of (1) the state of society, (2) behavior, (3) motivations, and (4) basic values and perceptions (see Fig. 7).

Fig. 7. Levels of description useful in analyzing social change.

The importance of distinguishing the above four aspects is evidenced by the fact that most informed persons agree on what the crucial substantive problems of our time are: inflation, unemployment, pollutions, world hunger, threat of war, and so forth. Most of the visible disagreement — at least in the United States — occurs at the process level, in the assignment of priorities and in the choice of strategies: for example, in the supposed tradeoff between "environment and jobs," or in the choice whether to develop social policies that are future-oriented rather than those that are politically expedient, but short-sighted. But the third and fourth categories, normative and conceptual social problems, have been almost totally ignored to date.[vi] With the extensive changes brought by the accelerating "manifold trend" discussed earlier, however, obsolescent values and inappropriate conceptions may be precisely that which keeps us from finding satisfactory resolutions to the gripping social problems that increasingly confront us.

Our image of ourself and our universe has become fragmented and we have lost the guiding "sense of the whole" that earlier civilizations seem to have had. At present our society goes from crisis to crisis, with piecemeal responses being made to ameliorate each, and with the measures taken to relieve one crisis invariably making another problem worse, so interwoven is our social system. There has been little effort, and less success, in searching out deeper strata of social forces — the basic images of our nature and our future, and the associated premises which underlie the behaviors that lead to societal problems. Might it be possible that a more adequate image of humankind could lead to a renewed sense of wholeness and to better behavior — both individual and collective?

By addressing ourselves to such questions we hope to help elevate the level of debate regarding the future of our nation and future of humankind generally, thereby creating new understandings through which societal problems that previously looked irresolvable may become increasingly tractable.

Reproduced by permission of Newspaper Enterprises Association, Inc., New York.



"All policy issues are also issues relating to fundamental assumptions about the nature of man's institutions and how they interact with man."

— Michael Marien

"By using 'man, mankind, men, he, and his' all through, you unconsciously convey the old image of the noble masterful male once more out to rescue the human race ....  Here is the vocabulary you must use if the new image of man is not to be sexist as the  old: 'humankind, humanity, human being, humans, persons, individuals', etc. For this  century, at least, until our thought habits have been reformed, the use of 'man' as an  inclusive term is out .... You can't stick in a sentence on women's lib and adequately transform the concept 'human' thereby."
— Elise Boulding

In the present version of this report, we have followed Dr. Boulding's advice with which we fully agree, whenever the structure of the phrase and thought allow it, only adding  "we" or "our" to her suggested vocabulary, and putting the phrase "image of man" in quotes where its use seemed not feasible to avoid.
iii. What we mean by "image of man" or by the preferable but more awkward phrase "image of humankind in the universe" is something that by definition lies at the boundary between the conscious, and unconscious part of our minds. Because such imagery exists at a preverbal level of consciousness, it is hard to define satisfactorily. Readers who still feel uncertain or confused what we mean by those (and related) phrases after reading this section may want to read the glossary and page 69 (starting with paragraph 3) before continuing.
"I strongly disagree with the last four societal premises in this greatly over-simplified table. We are moving from an era of perceived affluence to an era of scarcity. When the quality of goods is considered, in addition to the costs that we do not include in our GNP calculations, we are not as affluent as we think. Moreover, basic needs have not been satisfied for some, and this problem may worsen very soon. The expanded power of human choice is problematic, as is the expanded wealth of developed nations — it  simply depends on definition."
 — Michael Marien

"It should be noted that those (1972) figures reflect trends that preceded the OPEC oil blockade, energy price increases, and the host of trend-changing events that have since occurred. These figures are included in this 1980 edition, both for historical reasons (since they led to studies like this one) and since they still illustrate the policy implications of the traditional images and premises of Western Culture."
— O. W.  Markley

"During the eight years since the first release of this report in 1973, a small, but increasing amount of attention has been and continues to be focused on normative and conceptual concerns. For example, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation have jointly sponsored a continuing extramural research program on  'Values in Science and Technology'; a major research institute, the Hastings Center has  been established to examine questions involving social ethics; and a variety of books and reports are appearing that examine the possibility of conceptual and organizational transformation in various levels of society."
— O. W. Markley

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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

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Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER 2: Some Formative Images of Man-in-the-Universe[ i]

As intercultural commerce, warfare, "forced conversion," and other modes of cultural diffusion have operated through the millennia of human history, an incredible variety of images on man have developed — some remaining relatively pure, most blending with others. We do not attempt an exhaustive survey of this diversity, but rather focus only on a select few of the relatively "purer" types of image that fulfill one or more of the following three criteria:

1. It shows how the image of humankind — in relation to other forces — can influence the way in which a culture develops.

2. The image has significantly shaped or affected the development of our culture in directions that need reexamination.

3. It offers unrealized potential for moderating the problems that are unique to our time.

This brief survey should therefore not be read as a complete history of human images. Certainly most of the images portrayed are necessarily oversimplified, but they may nevertheless provide useful insights for our time. These images are summarized in Table 3.

After the brief survey we note some underlying dimensions along which the various images of humankind can be compared. We then estimate what images seem currently dominant in the United States, and portray what the "center of gravity" or composite image of man in this country seems to be.


Early Images of Man

It is significant that we have come to equate the rise of civilization in the Old World with the emergence of the first literate societies in which small elitist groups hold the keys to a kind of esoteric knowledge which gave them power over their fellow men. As far as we know, this first occurred in the Mesopotamian valley about 3500 B.C.  


Source period / Approximate date / Dominant image / Cultures in which image is at present active / Significance for post-industrial era

Middle Paleolithic / 250,000-40,000 B.C / The hunter, focus of the male-dominated culture field of the "Great Hunt" / Few cultures in its pure form; most in its militaristic equivalent / Jeopardizes cross-cultural peace; may be necessary for police operations, however

Upper Paleolithic / 30,000-15,000 B.C. / Including sense of spiritual affinity between beasts and man, of which totemism is an expression / Various American Indian cultures with traditions intact / Has relevance for a renewed sense of partnership with other life forms on the planet

Neolithic / After 9000 B.C. / The planter, the child of the Goddess; woman the giver of life / Hindu and certain other cultures / Has possible relevance for balancing male-emphasis of Western culture

Sumerian / 3500 B.C. / The human civilized through submission to seasonal variations and ruling elites / Most cultures / Has relevance as historical analogy: shows "political function" of new images

Semite / 2350 B.C. / The human as a mere creature fashioned of clay to serve the gods, or some god, as a slave; but superior to and having dominion over nature. Notion of "chosen people" / Orthodox Jewish, Christian, Islamic faiths / Stands in its present form as an obstacle to emergence of new ecological understandings

Zoroastrian / 1200 B.C. / The human having free will, having to choose between good and evil, mythology of individual salvation / All Western cultures, in a secular form / Presents a basic polarity needing to be dialectically transcended-synthesized

Age of the Polis / 500 B.C. / India: one deluded by maya; the Buddha representing the absolute fulfillment of the Indian image of man as yogi released from the wheel of karma, death and rebirth. Intrinsic divinity of humankind realizable through own efforts / Hindu/Buddhist / Could contribute to a new "self-realization ethic" for our culture

Age of the Polis / 500 B.C. / China: Confucius and the paradigm of the "superior man" as politically and socially concerned sage / Oriental cultures / Could contribute to a new "ecological ethic" for our culture if incorporated into a larger synthesis

Age of the Polis / 500 B.C. / Levant: as a slave, submissive to God in the image of a despot / Some forms of Islam, Christianity / Possible to see ecological requirements in this light

Age of the Polis / 500 B.C. / Greece: Aeschylus and image of human as tragic hero / Most Western cultures to some degree / Could provide a guiding image for personal-societal transformation in time of crisis

Age of the Polis / 500 B.C. / Greece: Mystery religions, the person becomes so attached to the material things of this world that he/she has lost touch with his/her own true nature which is not of these things, but of spirit — himself the very being and model of that Spirit of which each is but a particle / All cultures, but never very visible / Could contribute to deemphasizing material overconsumption and ecological understanding

Age of the Polis / 500 B.C. / Greece: science and objective knowledge as aesthetic rather than utilitarian activity; naturalistic emphasis in science, art, and philosophy / None in which dominant / Has relevance to counterbalancing the "technological ethic"

Early Christian / 100 A.D. (and Muslim) 622 A.D. / Two contrary images/(1) following the Semite and Zoroastrian traditions, God's servant — obey or be dammed; (2) that of the Gnostics similar to the image of the Greek mystery religions, the person "saved" by self-knowledge / (1) Traditional (1) Judeo/Christian/ Muslim cultures; (2) Most cultures as an underground view / (1) A dominant image that needs to be incorporated into a larger synthesis; (2) Could contribute to a new "self-realization ethic" for our culture if incorporated into a larger synthesis

Industrial Revolution-Enlightenment / 1500 A.D. / "Economic man" — individualistic, materialistic, rationalistic; objective knowledge, utilitarian / economic values coming into dominance / Most modern industrial nations / Likely inappropriate for transition to post-industrial era

Modern Social Science / 1900 A.D. / Human as "beast" — instinctual drives predominant, a "creature of evolution" whose survival depends on competitive adaptation and/or suppression of base instincts / Most modern industrial nations / An image needing to be incorporated into a larger synthesis  

Modern Behavioral Science / 1913 A.D. / Human as "mechanism" — to be understood in ways found successful by nineteenth-century physics / Primarily United States / Promoted as providing the most appropriate basis for man's next era, perhaps now itself needing to be incorporated into larger synthesis  

Modern Transdisciplinary Science / 1945 A.D. / Human as a "goal-directed, adaptive learning system" / Image has not yet reached "takeoff point" / Provides a possible conceptual basis for integrating most other images of man in an evolutionary frame of reference

Various times and places from circa 1500 B.C. to the present / -- / Human as "Spirit" — the "philosophia perennis" view of man and the universe as essentially consciousness in manifest form / Most cultures, in various degrees of purity / Could contribute to needed synthesis of "opposing" images as it sees apparent opposites as differing aspects of the same underlying reality

From their observations of repeated heavenly movements which were correlated with times of planting, reaping, etc., a professional priesthood discovered the arts of precise astronomical observation, mathematical reckoning, and writing. The priestly watchers of the skies had become aware of something most remarkable and exciting, completely unknown before, namely, the mathematical regularity, precisely measurable, of the passages of the moon, the sun, and the five visible planets. With that discovery came a completely new conception of the universe and of the human place within it. No longer were the determinants of the image of one's self in the world to be the animals which one hunted or the plants of a lush environment self-renewed through death, but an ever-increasing factual knowledge of the natural order of the universe. Moreover — and possibly because this new type of knowledge could not be extended to the entire community — there developed abruptly at this time a clear distinction between governing and governed classes.

Although the ideas and forms of a literate civilization probably took root in India and China as early as 2500 B.C. and 1500 B.C. respectively, their impact on these societies, and hence on the "image of man" in relation to the universe, took a very different form from the developments west of the Indus Valley. Perhaps as a result of their geographical isolation both from each other and the rest of the civilized world, they retained undamaged the old Bronze Age image of an impersonal principle or power immanent in a universe of forms ever disappearing and returning through measured cycles of infinite time. According to this image, nothing is to be gained, either for the universe or for man, through individual originality and effort. The individual, rather, is to play the role into which he has been born — as do the sun and the moon, the various plant and animal species, the waters, rocks and stars. Also, he should try to order his mind so as to identify its consciousness with the inhabiting principle of the whole. In India this aspiration came to be symbolized by the mystic seer, Yogi, who above all else practiced the discipline of renunciation from the "maya" — illusory entrapment — of worldly concern; in China, a different view developed with the Confucian symbol of the politically engaged wise sage, who seeks to act in accord with the Tao, both inwardly and outwardly.[ii]

Although both India and China are today well into differing modes of modernization, and have each at least partially overthrown their traditional images of humankind (China apparently more than India), these images hold potential relevance for the ethical needs of our present culture. Aspects of the image of the sage and Taoistic philosophy generally could greatly contribute to an "ecological ethic;" the yogi image and philosophy of Vendanta could equally contribute to a "self-realization ethic," as these are set forth in Chapter 5. Both would bring a welcome contrast to the exploitative tendencies of a civilization driven by the profit motive.

The Human as Separate from God and Nature — Early Near-Eastern Views

From the Near-East came two systems of thought — those of the Semites and the Zoroastrians — whose images of man-in-the-universe have significantly shaped this culture.

The first distinguishing characteristic of Semitic mythology, which arose after 3000 B.C., was its radical separation of Man from God, the first step of a "mythic dissociation" that has perhaps been completed only with the full flowering of objective science in modern times. The Semitic God was seen as a male Being "out there," an image that closes the inward way of mysticism, since what is to be found within oneself is not divinity (as in India and the Far East) but only one's "soul," which may or may not be found in a proper relationship to God. A proper relationship can be achieved only by obedience to God's commandments and membership in God's favored tribe. Not as a free individual, but only as a member of the High God's "chosen race" (or church, in later versions) is one effectively in God's care. In this view the human was seen as a servant, created to serve the One God by having dominion over all other forms of earthly creation.

If all humankind was the servant of the One God, so also, according to Semitic mythology, was one race the servant of the others. Genesis, chapter 9, recounts the story of Ham, the son of Noah and father of Canaan, who because he had seen his father's nakedness and left him uncovered was cursed by Noah:

Cursed by Canaan — a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers. . . . Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem — and Canaan shall be their servant. (Genesis 9: 25-27)

Traditional interpretation of these scriptures sees the descendants of Ham as comprising of black peoples of African nations to the south of Egypt. Thus the racist image of peoples of color being the "proper" servants of other ironically arose from the mythology of the Jews — one of the most persecuted peoples of history.

Complementing the master/servant aspects of the Semitic image of humankind was the notion of "man as the brother of other men" by virtue of their common creation; as required and able, by this created nature to carry responsibility for each other.

This image of brotherhood was a key element in the later Christian image of persons as "members one of another" — a metaphysical reality that will later be elaborated as being an image needing to be revitalized rather than scrapped.

We know next to nothing of the life of Zarathustra (Greek form, Zoroaster) whose teachings of the great Lord of Truth and Light, Ahura Mazda, mark the beginning of a completely new direction in Occidental religion and the associated imagery of humankind. The novelty of his teaching lay in its treatment in purely ethical terms of the ultimate nature and destiny of both the world and humankind; it attributed absolute values to the contrary principles of Good and Evil, personified as two contending universal gods — Ahura Mazda, "first father of the Righteous Order," and Angra Mainyu, the Deceiver, Antagonist, and principle of the Lie. In this teaching, time was imagined not as an ever-cycling round (as in most of the conceptions before approximately 1200 B.C.), but as a linear trend to victory, which was to culminate in a season of prodigious wars and the appearance, finally, of a second Savior, Saoshyant, through whom the Lord of the Lie and all his works were to be annihilated. The dead were then to be resurrected and all would dwell forever in light and truth.

Another innovation of this doctrine, setting it apart especially from neighboring India, is the responsibility it placed on every individual to choose of his own free will whether and how to stand for the Truth and Light, in thought, word, and deed. Finally, the Zoroastrian view holds that engagement in the battle for salvation is the ultimate goal of "man," a view diametrically opposed to the Indian image of yogic self-release. Judged evil, the world could nevertheless be saved.

The Knower — Gnostic View

The influence of the Semitic and the Zoroastrian visions on both traditional and contemporary Jewish, Christian, and Islamic thought is obvious. It seems clear that both forms of apocalyptic messianism were incorporated, if not by Jesus himself, then at least by the Early Church. But the Gnostics, whose beliefs appear to have been a synthesis of Babylonian, Indian, and Egyptian, as well as Semitic and Zoroastrian thought, took another view. Agreeing with the Semitic belief in one Eternal and Supreme Being, and the Zoroastrian view of the World and its unredeemed citizens as savable, the Gnostics took as central "saving" power of gnosis — extraordinary and experientially intimate knowledge of the mysteries of existence.

The import of this view, as contrasted with the view which ultimately came to be the "official" one, is portrayed by the Gospel according to Thomas:

His disciples said to Him: When will the Kingdom come? Jesus said: It will not come by expectation; they will not say: "See there." But the Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and men do not see it.

-- Saying 113

This tension between the Gnostic understanding of apocalyptic symbolism and that of the Early Church which condemned it as heretical is the essence of what is sometimes called "the Judeo-Christian Problem." Is an apocalyptic Messiah to come (or come again) and thus grandly save the elect from evil, or is the "Kingdom of the Father" already here within us, within ourselves and our world — as is "Buddha-consciousness" and the "Mother Light" — only waiting to be recognized and fulfilled? The conundrum was inherited also by Islam, and supplied the whole sense of the contention between the Sufis of the mystic way and the orthodox Sunna of the law.

Because the Gnostic path was condemned as heretical, of necessity it went underground, and hence its influence on our culture is much less visible than are the effects of the orthodox views. It and views like it, however, have been kept alive by secret societies such as the Sufis, Freemasons, and Rosicrucians, whose influence on the founding of the United States is attested to by the symbolism of the Great Seal of the United States, on the back of the dollar bill. The Semitic/Zoroastrian/orthodox Christian image meanwhile came into dominance in Western Europe. This image of the "human as separate" laid the groundwork for the industrial revolution to come.

The Individual — Greek Views

The idealized image of the person in the classical phase of Greece provided the roots of the later European emphasis on individualism and individuality. The Greeks portrayed the Hero as one who acts from a secular sense of duty — not toward others but rather toward himself — striving after what we translate as "virtue" but which in Greek is arete, excellence. Significantly, Greek theology was formulated not by priests or even by prophets, but by artists, poets, and philosophers. The Greeks were probably the first culture to develop an image of the human not primarily as a member of this race of tribe or of that, but as an individual being. Furthermore, when the city-state emerged fully developed in the later period of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, laws and ethical rules were sought beyond individualism for the regulation of conduct; but it was not to any supernatural authority that the Greeks looked, but to nature, and specifically, human nature. They saw virtue as a natural property of the person, whose nature was not an instinctual one (as with the lower animals), but the perfection of divine intelligence (shared with the gods above — gods who were not the "creators" of mankind, but themselves, also, children of the mystery of creation, having come into the world as its governing powers). Their artistic images of humankind were thus naturalistic, as was their philosophy, and their politics.

(1) Biological naturalism, or more precisely, the biological form of ethical naturalism, is the theory that in spite of the fact that moral laws and the laws of states are arbitrary, there are some eternal unchanging laws of nature from which we can derive such norms. Food habits, i.e. the number of meals, and the kind of food taken, are an example of the arbitrariness of conventions, the biological naturalist may argue; yet there are undoubtedly certain natural laws in this field. For instance, a man will die if he takes either insufficient or too much food. Thus it seems that just as there are realities behind appearances, so behind our arbitrary conventions there are some unchanging natural laws and especially the laws of biology.

Biological naturalism has been used not only to defend equalitarianism, but also to defend the anti-equalitarian doctrine of the rule of the strong. One of the first to put forward this naturalism was the poet Pindar, who used it to support the theory that the strong should rule. He claimed [10] that it is a law, valid throughout nature, that the stronger does with the weaker whatever he likes. Thus laws which protect the weak are not merely arbitrary but artificial distortions of the true natural law that the strong should be free and the weak should be his slave. The view is discussed a good deal by Plato; it is attacked in the Gorgias, a dialogue which is still much influenced by Socrates; in the Republic, it is put in the mouth of Thrasymachus, and identified with ethical individualism (see the next chapter); in the Laws, Plato is less antagonistic to Pindar's view; but he still contrasts it with the rule of the wisest, which, he says, is a better principle, and just as much in accordance with nature (see also the quotation later in this chapter).

The first to put forward a humanitarian or equalitarian version of biological naturalism was the Sophist Antiphon. To him is due also the identification of nature with truth, and of convention with opinion (or 'delusive opinion' [11]). Antiphon is a radical naturalist. He believes that most norms are not merely arbitrary, but directly contrary to nature. Norms, he says, are imposed from outside, while the rules of nature are inevitable. It is disadvantageous and even dangerous to break man- imposed norms if the breach is observed by those who impose them; but there is no inner necessity attached to them, and nobody needs to be ashamed of breaking them; shame and punishment are only sanctions arbitrarily imposed from outside. On this criticism of conventional morals, Antiphon bases a utilitarian ethics. 'Of the actions here mentioned, one would find many to be contrary to nature. For they involve more suffering where there should be less, and less pleasure where there could be more, and injury where it is unnecessary.' [12] At the same time, he taught the need for self-control. His equalitarianism he formulates as follows: 'The nobly born we revere and adore; but not the lowly born. These are barbarous habits. For as to our natural gifts, we are all on an equal footing, on all points, whether we now happen to be Greeks or Barbarians . . . We all breathe the air through our mouths and nostrils.'

A similar equalitarianism was voiced by the Sophist Hippias, whom Plato represents as addressing his audience: 'Gentlemen, I believe that we are all kinsmen and friends and fellow-citizens; if not by conventional law, then by nature. For by nature, likeness is an expression of kinship; but conventional law, the tyrant of mankind, compels us to do much that is against nature.'— [13]This spirit was bound up with the Athenian movement against slavery (mentioned in chapter 4) to which Euripides gave expression: 'The name alone brings shame upon the slave who can be excellent in every way and truly equal to the free born man.' Elsewhere, he says: 'Man's law of nature is equality.' And Alcidamas, a disciple of Gorgias and a contemporary of Plato, wrote: 'God has made all men free; no man is a slave by nature.' Similar views are also expressed by Lycophron, another member of Gorgias' school: 'The splendour of noble birth is imaginary, and its prerogatives are based upon a mere word. '

Reacting against this great humanitarian movement — the movement of the 'Great Generation', as I shall call it later ( chapter 10 ) — Plato, and his disciple Aristotle, advanced the theory of the biological and moral inequality of man. Greeks and barbarians are unequal by nature; the opposition between them corresponds to that between natural masters and natural slaves. The natural inequality of men is one of the reasons for their living together, for their natural gifts are complementary. Social life begins with natural inequality, and it must continue upon that foundation....

(2) Ethical positivism shares with the biological form of ethical naturalism the belief that we must try to reduce norms to facts. But the facts are this time sociological facts, namely, the actual existing norms. Positivism maintains that there are no other norms but the laws which have actually been set up (or 'posited') and which have therefore a positive existence. Other standards are considered as unreal imaginations. The existing laws are the only possible standards of goodness: what is, is good. (Might is right.) According to some forms of this theory, it is a gross misunderstanding to believe that the individual can judge the norms of society; rather, it is society which provides the code by which the individual must be judged....

(3) Psychological or spiritual naturalism is in a way a combination of the two previous views, and it can best be explained by means of an argument against the one-sidedness of these views. The ethical positivist is right, this argument runs, if he emphasizes that all norms are conventional, i.e. a product of man, and of human society; but he overlooks the fact that they are therefore an expression of the psychological or spiritual nature of man, and of the nature of human society. The biological naturalist is right in assuming that there are certain natural aims or ends, from which we can derive natural norms; but he overlooks the fact that our natural aims are not necessarily such aims as health, pleasure, or food, shelter or propagation. Human nature is such that man, or at least some men, do not want to live by bread alone, that they seek higher aims, spiritual aims. We may thus derive man's true natural aims from his own true nature, which is spiritual, and social. And we may, further, derive the natural norms of life from his natural ends.

This plausible position was, I believe, first formulated by Plato, who was here under the influence of the Socratic doctrine of the soul, i.e. of Socrates' teaching that the spirit matters more than the flesh [15]. Its appeal to our sentiments is undoubtedly very much stronger than that of the other two positions. It can however be combined, like these, with any ethical decision; with a humanitarian attitude as well as with the worship of power. For we can, for instance, decide to treat all men as participating in this spiritual human nature; or we can insist like Heraclitus, that the many 'fill their bellies like the beasts', and are therefore of an inferior nature, and that only a few elect ones are worthy of the spiritual community of men. Accordingly, spiritual naturalism has been much used, and especially by Plato, to justify the natural prerogatives of the 'noble' or 'elect' or 'wise' or of the 'natural leader'....

Looking back at this brief survey, we may perhaps discern two main tendencies which stand in the way of adopting a critical dualism. The first is a general tendency towards monism [17], that is to say, towards the reduction of norms to facts. The second lies deeper, and it possibly forms the background of the first. It is based upon our fear of admitting to ourselves that the responsibility for our ethical decisions is entirely ours and cannot be shifted to anybody else; neither to God, nor to nature, nor to society, nor to history. All these ethical theories attempt to find somebody, or perhaps some argument, to take the burden from us [18]. But we cannot shirk this responsibility. Whatever authority we may accept, it is we who accept it. We only deceive ourselves if we do not realize this simple point.

We now turn to a more detailed analysis of Plato's naturalism and its relation to his historicism. Plato, of course, does not always use the term 'nature' in the same sense. The most important meaning which he attaches to it is, I believe, practically identical with that which he attaches to the term 'essence'. This way of using the term 'nature' still survives among essentialists even in our day; they still speak, for instance, of the nature of mathematics, or of the nature of inductive inference, or of the 'nature of happiness and misery' [19]. When used by Plato in this way, 'nature' means nearly the same as 'Form' or 'Idea'; for the Form or Idea of a thing, as shown above, is also its essence. The main difference between natures and Forms or Ideas seems to be this. The Form or Idea of a sensible thing is, as we have seen, not in that thing, but separated from it; it is its forefather, its primogenitor; but this Form or father passes something on to the sensible things which are its offspring or race, namely, their nature. This 'nature' is thus the inborn or original quality of a thing, and in so far, its inherent essence; it is the original power or disposition of a thing, and it determines those of its properties which are the basis of its resemblance to, or of its innate participation in, its Form or Idea.

'Natural' is, accordingly, what is innate or original or divine in a thing, while 'artificial' is that which has been later changed by man or added or imposed by him, through external compulsion. Plato frequently insists that all products of human 'art' at their best are only copies of 'natural' sensible things. But since these in turn are only copies of the divine Forms or Ideas, the products of art are only copies of copies, twice removed from reality, and therefore less good, less real, and less true [20] than even the (natural) things in flux. We see from this that Plato agrees with Antiphon [21] in at least one point, namely in assuming that the opposition between nature and convention or art corresponds to that between truth and falsehood, between reality and appearance, between primary or original and secondary or man-made things, and to that between the objects of rational knowledge and those of delusive opinion. The opposition corresponds also, according to Plato, to that between 'the offspring of divine workmanship' or 'the products of divine art', and 'what man makes out of them, i.e. the products of human art'. [22] All those things whose intrinsic value Plato wishes to emphasize he therefore claims to be natural as opposed to artificial. Thus he insists in the Laws that the soul has to be considered prior to all material things, and that it must therefore be said to exist by nature: 'Nearly everybody ... is ignorant of the power of the soul, and especially of her origin. They do not know that she is among the first of things, and prior to all bodies . . . In using the word "nature" one wants to describe the things that were created first; but if it turns out that it is the soul which is prior to other things (and not, perhaps, fire or air), . . . then the soul, beyond all others, may be asserted to exist by nature, in the truest sense of the word.' [23] (Plato here re-affirms his old theory that the soul is more closely akin to the Forms or Ideas than the body; a theory which is also the basis of his doctrine of immortality.)

But Plato not only teaches that the soul is prior to other things and therefore exists 'by nature'; he uses the term 'nature', if applied to man, frequently also as a name for spiritual powers or gifts or natural talents, so that we can say that a man's 'nature' is much the same as his 'soul'; it is the divine principle by which he participates in the Form or Idea, in the divine primogenitor of his race. And the term 'race', again, is frequently used in a very similar sense. Since a 'race' is united by being the offspring of the same primogenitor, it must also be united by a common nature. Thus the terms 'nature' and 'race' are frequently used by Plato as synonyms, for instance, when he speaks of the 'race of philosophers' and of those who have 'philosophic natures'; so that both these terms are closely akin to the terms 'essence' and 'soul'.

Plato's theory of 'nature' opens another approach to his historicist methodology. Since it seems to be the task of science in general to examine the true nature of its objects, it is the task of a social or political science to examine the nature of human society, and of the state. But the nature of a thing, according to Plato, is its origin; or at least it is determined by its origin. Thus the method of any science will be the investigation of the origin of things (of their 'causes'). This principle, when applied to the science of society and of politics, leads to the demand that the origin of society and of the state must be examined. History therefore is not studied for its own sake but serves as the method of the social sciences. This is the historicist methodology.

What is the nature of human society, of the state? According to historicist methods, this fundamental question of sociology must be reformulated in this way: what is the origin of society and of the state? The reply given by Plato in the Republic as well as in the Laws [24], agrees with the position described above as spiritual naturalism. The origin of society is a convention, a social contract. But it is not only that; it is, rather, a natural convention, i.e. a convention which is based upon human nature, and more precisely, upon the social nature of man.

This social nature of man has its origin in the imperfection of the human individual. In opposition to Socrates [25], Plato teaches that the human individual cannot be self-sufficient, owing to the limitations inherent in human nature. Although Plato insists that there are very different degrees of human perfection, it turns out that even the very few comparatively perfect men still depend upon others (who are less perfect); if for nothing else, then for having the dirty work, the manual work, done by them [26]. In this way, even the 'rare and uncommon natures' who approach perfection depend upon society, upon the state. They can reach perfection only through the state and in the state; the perfect state must offer them the proper 'social habitat', without which they must grow corrupt and degenerate. The state therefore must be placed higher than the individual since only the state can be self-sufficient ('autark'), perfect, and able to make good the necessary imperfection of the individual.

-- The Open Society and Its Enemies, by Karl R. Popper

It is necessary to recognize, however, that the dominant "image of man" was for the Greeks, as for so many other slave-based economies, a dichotomous one — the image of the citizen differing significantly from that of the slave. Thus, although the Greeks had by the second century B.C. developed the necessary knowledge to build a powerful science-based technology, they did not do so. For in the Greek view the acquisition of knowledge was mainly for aesthetic or spiritual enjoyment of the citizens, there being little motivation to utilize technology to make routine labor more efficient.

While it is commonly believed that science, or what we think of as the scientific method, originated in post-medieval Western Europe, this is not the case. The scholars of this period, searching for more adequate methods of inquiry than those "worn out" by medieval scholasticism, turned to translating manuscripts of distant times and places. Only when the Greek scientific writings were translated into a culture that would support a "technological ethic" (as would fifteenth-century Europe with its Semitic roots) did the widespread exploitation of these ideas come to fruition. Although the modern scholarship behind this finding is somewhat controversial, the delayed application of Greek science likely represents an instance where one image of humankind had a clear-cut influence on cultural development. We explore this phenomenon in Chapter 4 because it provides a suggestive historical analogy for the present-day application of Eastern thought in the development of a science of consciousness.

Empire and Christianity — the Roman Catalyst

In terms of the image of man, the Romans made two lasting contributions to the Western heritage. First, they codified the earlier Greek notions of law and extended them throughout the known world. Indeed, the legal systems of most European nations are still based on Roman law. The Greeks saw man as a political animal; to this the Romans added the concepts of universal organization and administration. For the first time in Western civilization, the rights of citizenship — even Saint Paul of Tarsus boasted, "cives Romanus sum" (I am a Roman Citizen) — extended beyond the bounds of a city state, race, color, or creed. Thus the Romans' unique contribution was that anyone (except, of course, a slave) could aspire to become a member of the body politic, which the Romans defined as a set of allegiances, laws, and responsibilities.

The second Roman contribution to the Western image of man was an inadvertent one. It may be too much to assert that the later Roman legates left behind them a "legacy" of Christianity — indeed, the missionaries sent out by the early popes may have played a greater role. The fact remains, however, that the Romans planted the seeds of Christianity which were kept alive in the monasteries of Western Europe throughout the "Dark Ages."

The Age of Faith — and Contention

Following the fall of Rome in the fifth century A.D., there ensued a period of intermittent chaos which lasted until about the eleventh century when the Roman Catholic Church emerged as the dominant force in Western Europe.

The history of the "Age of Faith" is one of contention between competing images of humankind. For example, the classic Judeo-Christian view of man as essentially master over nature was overlaid with the restrictive notions of the Medieval Church as to the "proper" pursuits of man in relation to nature. Similarly, the strivings of the Church for political hegemony over the temporal rulers of Western Europe clashed with its original spiritual mission and emphasis on the all-importance of the life hereafter.

Even at the height of the Church's power, disruptive forces — spiritual, intellectual, and socio-economic — were constantly at work. The crusades, for example, brought Europeans into contact with more advanced economies and created a demand for new goods which were met by an ever-expanding merchant class. The discovery, during the fifteenth century, of a sea route to India, followed by Columbus' discovery of the New World, opened up vast new possibilities for economic expansion and personal enrichment. Thus, despite the strictures of the Church, a new notion of "man" as an economic entity began to emerge.

Intellectually and spiritually too, the Western Church was losing ground toward the end of the fourteenth century, when the tide began to turn against it in its long battle against heresy. Over a century before Luther pinned his ninety-five theses to the church door at Wittenberg, in 1519, Wycliffe in England and Huss in Bohemia had already tried to bring about a reformation of the Church. At the same time, in the universities of Western Europe, Arab astronomy and mathematics, transmitted by Jewish scholars, were being studied side by side with Aquinas and Saint Augustine.

Thus, gradually, the strands of secularism were being woven into the Medieval fabric of life until by the beginning of the sixteenth century we can see them drawing together to form a new pattern from which emerged our own society.

Man Over Things — the New Empire [iii]

From the warp and woof of new and revived ideas fostered during the Renaissance and Reformation came notions of man as the individualist, the empiricist, and the rationalist. These notions gained irresistible power with the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo, and brought about an essentially new image of man and his role in the universe.

By the seventeenth century the image of man which emerged from scientific studies was that of man as mechanism (Newton). The great search for the order permeating the universe was summed up in Bacon's phrase "the empire of man over things." The fundamental realities were the human being and nature. Nature was regarded as an objective reality — apart from the human — observable in every aspect and unaffected by either observation or the observer. The primacy of the act of measurement meant that new rules predominated for making knowledge verifiable and public, and so knowledge became better suited to "make ourselves masters and possessors of nature" (Descartes).

Evolving out of man's changing image of himself and his relation to the external environment he sought to control came a new application of the old Zoroastrian concept of progress — now offering new hopes for human betterment while at the same time explaining and justifying the materialistic pursuits and excesses of industrial society. In fact, the idea of progress become indistinguishable from the idea of science itself. As the scientific pursuit became more objective and reductionistic, the images of mankind that it has fostered have also become more fragmented and out of touch with the mythic forces that the pre-scientific ceremonies, rites, and rituals helped man to experience.

The Human as Beast — the Darwinian, Freudian, and Ethological Views

In the next chapter we note the more salient characteristics of the economic image of human beings that has dominated the industrial era. Here, we discuss some of the other specialized images that are important today.

One such image is that of bestial man — man subject most fundamentally to his animal instincts. This image provides a unifying theme to the otherwise dissimilar scientific theories of Darwin and evolutionary thought, of Freud and psychoanalytic thought, and of Lorenz and other leading thinkers on the ethology of aggression. In each of these three schools there seem to be almost opposing emphases which reveal divergent images of the human being. On the one hand (usually dominant) is the image of Nature — human as well as animal — "red in fang and claw" — the human as man-beast, predator, and aggressor. On the other hand is the image of Nature as symbiotic, cooperative, and social — with an image of the human as having both aggressive and altruistic traits.

Darwin emphasized the competitive aspects of natural selection and the struggle for survival both in the animal and in the human world. Fifty years later the Russian Prince Kropotkin, with equally good scientific methodology, emphasized natural solidarity, intrinsic sociability, and tolerance — among animals as among humans. Similarly Freud emphasized the purely instinctual drives and in particular (in his later years) the "death instinct" (Thanatos). The neo-Freudians, on the other hand, emphasized the ego and man's sociability drives. Lorenz, Ardrey et al. have emphasized the "killer instinct" and the "territorial imperative." Crook and others, looking at other ethological findings, derive evidence for instinctually driven non-aggressive behavior and the importance of frustration and socialization in aggressive behavior.

Here we have an illustration of how one guiding image of man-in-the-universe (which includes not only oneself as a human, but the physical, social and conceptual world one lives in) to a large extent determines one's behavior in the creation of a new "image of man. "To illustrate: Darwin comes upon the principle of natural selection and the struggle for survival, not so much from his meticulous observations and collections as from reading Malthus' Essay on Population, and from living amidst a society in which laissez-faire economics and the ethics of rugged individualism were being championed. (It is noteworthy that Darwin's competitor, Alfred Wallace, working independently, also happened upon the insight of natural selection-through-struggle through reading Malthus; and that the very phrase "survival of the fittest," which first appeared in the second edition of Origin of Species, was contributed by Herbert Spencer, the philosopher of social evolution via laissez-faire economic capitalism and rugged individualism.)

Prince Kropotkin, on the other hand, was a political and philosophical anarchist whose ideology undoubtedly intruded upon his observations and interpretations no less than had Darwin's.

Each of the above opposing image emphases (the human as intrinsically competitive and violent but also as intrinsically altruistic as well) are currently appealed to in the formation of social policies: witness the debate surrounding Ardrey's The Territorial Imperative (1966). The most relevant question to ask with regard to such issues is not "which view is most true?" but rather "what are the likely consequences of acting from one or the other view in active contention?" and "can a view be found which creatively synthesizes them into a larger conception?"

The Human as Mechanism — the View of Modern Behaviorism

Objective psychology became behaviorism in 1913 when John B. Watson led a break with the older tradition of introspection, a tradition that had brought about little agreement about the nature of consciousness. More important, from the utilitarian point of view that has typified American thought, the introspectionist approach could not lead to prediction and control of data as could nineteenth-century physics. Thus, for scientific reasons, consciousness came to be thought of as a "construct" whose study leads to no fruitful results — a "black box" whose unknown mechanisms (which would become known by physiology, biochemistry, etc.) should produce behaviors that would be regular and predictable if we but study them the right way.

Instinctivist thought (endless lists of instincts being proposed to explain man's behavior) came into scientific disrepute at about this same time; hence it was convenient for the behaviorist school to incorporate Locke's image of the newborn human as a tabula rasa on which is written the results of various processes of conditioning.

The branch of this school of thought which has proved most successful emphasizes the technique of operant conditioning, a term originated by B. F. Skinner to denote a systematic procedure whereby the actions of an organism are brought under control by giving it a reward if and only if it behaves in a specified manner. This technique has been successfully used — in education, psychotherapy, and in prisons to alter whole behavior patterns of individuals.

A rather different approach to understanding (and controlling) behavior, also of proven effectiveness, is through the implementation of remotely activated electrodes in the brain.

The "psycho-civilization of society" has been advocated by means of various techniques of behavior modification such as operant conditioning (Skinner, 1971), electrocranial stimulation (Delgado, 1969), and psychochemical drugs (Clark, 1971). Only if such mentalistic and pre-scientific concepts as will, freedom, consciousness, and so forth are cast off, Skinner asserts, does man have a chance to attain a truly peaceful, rational, and humane society in the future.[iv] Certainly, the techniques that have been developed within the view of "man as mechanism" are powerful and efficient. They work. Hence if integrated and reconciled with other views of man — views which have more adequate ethics and metaphysics (both terms that the behavioristic scientist insists are not part of his concern) on which to guide their application — this view and its products could conceivably be of great benefit to mankind.
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

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Part 2 of 2

The Human as Person — the View of Humanism and Humanistic Psychology [v]

Although its roots go back to Greek thinkers such as Socrates and Plato, the tradition known as humanism first flowered during the eighteenth-century period of Enlightenment. The central theme of humanism has always been the affirmation, perfection, and celebration of all that is thought to be uniquely human — especially the reflective and expressive qualities of humankind. This is in vivid contrast to the repressive qualities of the puritan ethic that so strongly influenced the economic image of humankind in industrialized societies.

More recently, humanism has surfaced in numerous forms, often as explicit alternatives to dehumanizing social forms. For example, the American Humanist Association arose in large part in order to offer an ethical (and legal) alternative to dogmatic religion, and the Association for Humanistic Psychology was created as a deliberate "third force" along side of the Freudian and behaviorist schools of thought in psychology. Although the leading proponents of modern humanism differ in a number of respects, they tend to agree on the importance of propositions such as the following, compiled by Klapp (1973, pp. 279 ff.):

• Man is one species; races and other biological subdivisions are relatively unimportant.
• If progress exists, it is to be measured by improvement in the life of all mankind.
• Killing one another for national or ideological reasons is not justified.
A world order representing all mankind should be created as soon as possible.
• Certain weapons and technologies should be prohibited if for no other reason than because they threaten the future of man on this earth.
• Every culture and style of life that does not destroy human rights should be preserved.
• Customs, taboos, beliefs, and institutions which cramp the development of human potential should be reformed or abandoned.
• Social systems which restrict free activity of writers, artists, thinkers, and scientists are suspect.
• The standards which govern man should come from man himself and be cut to his measure.
Concern for the well-being of man in this world should not be obscured by concern for the next.
• Much work is dehumanizing and should be changed to make it more satisfactory to the worker even at some loss of "efficiency" or profit.
• Many modern cities are unfit for human habitation.
• Many of the activities of the "counter-culture" today are an important part of experimentation to find a better life style for man.

The branch of explicitly humanistic thought currently making the most pronounced contributions to a more adequate image of humankind is undoubtedly that which is organizationally led by the Association for Humanistic Psychology and its ("fourth force") offspring, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. Both being part of the so-called "human potential movement," these organizations tend to put more trust in the intuitive wisdom and good will of persons than in the formalized theories and rules of organizations, believing that there is an innate tendency toward wholesome growth and goodness in all persons that will be actualized if not prematurely frustrated by societal limitations. Both groups are recently programming many of their activities with an explicit focus on the possible evolutionary transformation of humankind, much as is described in (and partially as a result of) this study. Thus, to a large extent their emerging image is that described in Chapter 5.

Transpersonal psychology is a sub-field or "school" of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology. It is also possible to define it as a "spiritual psychology". The transpersonal is defined as "experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos".[1] It has also been defined as "development beyond conventional, personal or individual levels".[2]

Issues considered in transpersonal psychology include spiritual self-development, self beyond the ego, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance, spiritual crises, spiritual evolution, religious conversion, altered states of consciousness, spiritual practices, and other sublime and/or unusually expanded experiences of living.
The discipline attempts to describe and integrate spiritual experience within modern psychological theory and to formulate new theory to encompass such experience.

-- Transpersonal Psychology, by Wikipedia

Humanistic psychology is a psychological perspective that rose to prominence in the mid-20th century in answer to the limitations of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory and B. F. Skinner's behaviorism.[1] With its roots running from Socrates through the Renaissance, this approach emphasizes individuals' inherent drive towards self-actualization, the process of realizing and expressing one's own capabilities and creativity.

This psychological perspective helps the client gain the belief that all people are inherently good.[2] It adopts a holistic approach to human existence and pays special attention to such phenomena as creativity, free will, and positive human potential. It encourages viewing ourselves as a "whole person" greater than the sum of our parts and encourages self exploration rather than the study of behavior in other people. Humanistic psychology acknowledges spiritual aspiration as an integral part of the psyche. It is linked to the emerging field of transpersonal psychology.[3][4]

Primarily, this type of therapy encourages a self-awareness and mindfulness that helps the client change their state of mind and behaviour from one set of reactions to a healthier one with more productive self-awareness and thoughtful actions. Essentially, this approach allows the merging of mindfulness and behavioural therapy, with positive social support.

-- Humanistic Psychology, by Wikipedia

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition. The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it.[1] The term was coined by theologian Friedrich Niethammer at the beginning of the 19th century to refer to a system of education based on the study of classical literature ("classical humanism"). Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress. It views humans as solely responsible for the promotion and development of individuals and emphasizes a concern for man in relation to the world.[2]

In modern times, humanist movements are typically non-religious movements aligned with secularism, and today humanism may refer to a nontheistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world.[3][4]

The word "humanism" is ultimately derived from the Latin concept humanitas. It entered English in the nineteenth century. However, historians agree that the concept predates the label invented to describe it, encompassing the various meanings ascribed to humanitas, which included both benevolence toward one's fellow humans and the values imparted by bonae litterae or humane learning (literally "good letters").....

Gellius says that in his day humanitas is commonly used as a synonym for philanthropy – or kindness and benevolence toward one's fellow human beings. Gellius maintains that this common usage is wrong, and that model writers of Latin, such as Cicero and others, used the word only to mean what we might call "humane" or "polite" learning, or the Greek equivalent Paideia.....Gellius implies that the trained mind is best equipped to handle the problems troubling society."[6]

Modern scholars, however, point out that Cicero (106 – 43 BCE), who was most responsible for defining and popularizing the term humanitas, in fact frequently used the word in both senses, as did his near contemporaries. For Cicero, a lawyer, what most distinguished humans from brutes was speech, which, allied to reason, could (and should) enable them to settle disputes and live together in concord and harmony under the rule of law.[9] Thus humanitas included two meanings from the outset and these continue in the modern derivative, humanism
, which even today can refer to both humanitarian benevolence and to a method of study and debate involving an accepted group of authors and a careful and accurate use of language.[10]

During the French Revolution, and soon after, in Germany (by the Left Hegelians), humanism began to refer to an ethical philosophy centered on humankind, without attention to the transcendent or supernatural.....

The first Humanist Manifesto was issued by a conference held at the University of Chicago in 1933.[12] Signatories included the philosopher John Dewey, but the majority were ministers (chiefly Unitarian) and theologians. They identified humanism as an ideology that espouses reason, ethics, and social and economic justice, and they called for science to replace dogma and the supernatural as the basis of morality and decision-making.[13][14]

-- Humanism, by Wikipedia

The Human as Evolving Holon — the View of Modern Systems Theory

Over the past three decades an amorphous discipline termed "systems theory" has arisen — partly as a protest to overly positivistic and reductionistic methods in the physical and biological sciences; partly as a way to apply to the study of humans such new advances as cybernetics, information and communication theory, and computer-based simulation models; and partly as a way to reconcile and integrate concepts, laws, and models from different disciplines into a unified understanding. For many of its proponents, however, general systems theory goes beyond these objectives. It provides an entire world view, from which an image of humankind can be inferred.

In this view, the world (and its many subsystems) is not just a collection of analyzable components, but an integrated whole of organized complexity, one step beyond the Newtonian view of organized simplicity, and two steps beyond the classical world view of divinely ordered or imaginatively envisaged complexity.

Although the concept of a general systems theory (Chapter 4) is by no means uncritically accepted in the scientific community, it nevertheless seems useful here to examine two ideas stemming from this approach because they have important implications in terms of the "images of man." These are (1) that all natural systems are open, not closed (that is, proper understanding of system function can only be obtained by making reference to interactions with other systems outside of the boundaries of the given system under study; (2) that all natural systems have a hierarchical structure (that is, the system is made up to coordinated "subsystems," and the system itself is part of, or coordinated by, other higher level "supersystems").[vi] The term "holon" (from the Greek holos — whole — with the suffix on suggesting a part) has been used to incorporate these system properties.[vii] By using ideas such as these, the systems approach allows study of the seemingly purposive aspects of living organisms without making recourse to vitalistic or mystical ideas.

The person is a special case in systems thinking because of his self-conscious awareness and use of symbolic-conceptual systems to guide his behavior; he is a goal-directed, "adaptive" learning system or "holon." The properties of general systems seem to apply even to man's conceptual activity. That is, owing to his social nature, his concepts must include the concepts held by others; and they must be "Janus-faced," incorporating more specialized concepts, just as they themselves are incorporated by more generalized ones.[viii]

The systems view thus attempts to incorporate the more specialized images of man (as mechanism, as beast, as mystic, etc.) and emphasizes how these different aspects fit together holistically to make the human being a complex, goal-oriented learning system. It also has recently been integrated with evolutionary theory to show how conceptual reformulations can take place which coordinated previously existing ideas at a higher level of order and complexity.

Thus these ideas have immediate relevance for a future image of humankind that could be more adequate than the industrial/economic image.

The Human as Spirit — the View of the Perennial Philosophy

Although most of the views of man we have surveyed have come into being during a particular era, often borrowing and adapting views of other cultures, there is one view that has remained surprisingly unchanged since it was first formulated in the Vedic era of India, about 1500 B.C. Although this view has always remained somewhat underground in most cultures, it has been visible, in almost unchanged form, as an identifiable image of humankind in so many times and places that Huxley has termed it the "Perennial Philosophy":

Philosophic Perennis — the phrase was coined by Leibniz; but the thing — the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being — the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. A version of this Highest Common Factor in all preceding and subsequent theologies was first committed to writing more than twenty-five centuries ago, and since that time the inexhaustible theme has been treated again and again, from the standpoint of every religious tradition and in all the principle languages of Asia and Europe. (Huxley, 1945, p. iv)

The central characteristics of this view may be summarized as follows.

1. Those who most seem to be living it have always insisted that it is not a philosophy or a metaphysic, not an ideology or a religious belief, although onlookers have typically considered it so. Rather it is an experience that is attested to, often in paradoxical form, because the experience is said to be one of oneness, such that it resolves the polarities of time and space, yet the reporter must tell of the experience in terms of time and space.

Behold but One in all things. (Kabir)

An invisible and subtle essence in the Spirit of the whole universe. That is Reality. That is Truth. Thou are that. (Upanishads)

True words always seem paradoxical but no other form of teaching can take their place. (Lao-Tse)

2. The basic nature of the universe is consciousness, and the human individual can participate in this "cosmic" consciousness. This is the Ground of Being. For the human it is a "superconscious" or divine aspect of one's being, and one's physical nature is a manifestation of universal consciousness.

3. Although the human can experience or participate in this cosmic consciousness, he or she usually chooses not to, going through life in a sort of hypnotic sleep, feeling that he is making decisions, having accidents occur to her, etc. If he begins to "wake up" and see more clearly, however, he becomes aware of the direction of the higher Self in this process.

4. Human potentiality is limitless. All knowledge, power and awareness are ultimately accessible to one's consciousness.

5. As a person becomes aware of this basic nature of reality, he or she is motivated toward development, creativity, and movement toward that "higher Self," and becomes increasingly directed by this higher consciousness. What is called "inspiration" or "creativity" is essentially a breaking through to ordinary awareness of these higher processes.

When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Oversoul")

6. Evolution occurs, physical and mental, and is directed by a higher consciousness and is characterized by purpose. As humankind increases its level of consciousness, it participates more fully in this evolutionary purpose.

R. M. Bucke (1901) has defined cosmic consciousness in detail:

The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as its name implies, a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe. . . . Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence — would make him almost a member of a new species. To this is added a state of moral exaltation, and indescribable feeling of elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral sense, which is fully striking and more important to the individual and to the race than is the enhanced intellectual power. With these come what may be called a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already.

This view of man, if it can be experienced by more than the small minority of persons who have apparently realized it through the centuries, would seem to provide the needed sense of direction and the holistic perception and understanding described which the following chapters show to be needed. [x]

"The American Creed"

We conclude this highly selective survey of important images of humankind by inquiring what image or images were most important in the formation of the United States. In his classic study of black-white relations in the United States, An American Dilemma, the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal (1945) was struck particularly by the near-unanimous national endorsement of a coherent body of beliefs and values, an image of humankind whose characteristics he termed "the American Creed."

America, compared to every other country in Western Civilization, large or small, has the most explicitly expressed system of general ideals in reference to human interrelations. This body of ideals is more widely understood and appreciated than similar ideals are anywhere else. (p. 3, emphasis in original)

The basic character and pervasive application of the "American Creed" were spelled out by Myrdal in one sweeping paragraph:

These ideas of the essential dignity of the individual human being, of the fundamental equality of all men, and of certain inalienable rights to freedom, justice, and a fair opportunity represent to the American people the essential meaning of the nation's early struggle for independence. In the clarity and intellectual boldness of the Enlightenment period these tenets were written into the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and into the constitutions of the several states. The ideals of the American Creed have thus become the highest law of the land. The Supreme Court pays its reverence to these general principles when it declares what is constitutional and what is not. They have been elaborated upon by all national leaders, thinkers and statesmen. America has had, throughout its history, a continuous discussion of the principles and implications of democracy, a discussion which, in every epoch, measured by any standard, remained high, not only quantitatively but qualitatively. The flow of learned treatises and popular tracts on the subject has not ebbed, nor is it likely to do so. In all wars, including the present one, the American Creed has been the ideological foundation of national morale, (pp. 4-5)

The keynote of the American Creed would seem to be that of emancipation — not just the emancipation of a people from the bondage of tyranny and poverty, but the emancipation of humankind from the bondage of history and heredity.

This creed was not born of a single image of the human being but, like so many events in the real world, was the result of a vast compromise. One view was that enunciated over time by Thrasymachus, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Hamilton — a pessimistic view that saw man as essentially irrational and irresponsible, subject to blind instinctual or environmental forces, whose life was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short," and who would live "in an implicit state of war of all against all" until he unequivocally surrendered his dreadful freedom to the sovereign of an authoritarian state. A contrasting, and eventually dominant, view was that enunciated by Socrates, Cicero, More, Erasmus, Locke, Rousseau, and Jefferson — who stressed the faculties of reason and purpose, the moral attributes of dignity and responsibility, and the existence of sovereign individual rights flowing from these qualities.

These contending views continue to press for supremacy in American public policy, the system of checks and balances being designed to prevent excesses on either side. This solution represented perhaps the first pluralistic image of man as in active confrontation with an explicit assumption of equality between contending images (as contrasted with the pluralistic images of man in India where detachment from active confrontation was the ideal). It defied the great tradition which had assumed that the regulation of conflicting interests and the capacity of interpreting the general will must lie either with an enlightened despot or with an enlightened elite. Although this grand experiment has not been without its moments of difficulty (and indeed, as this study attempts to show, we are likely now to be in the midst of this tradition's greatest challenge), nevertheless:

.... taking the broad historical view, the American Creed has triumphed. It has given the main direction to change in this country. America has had gifted conservative statesmen and national leaders, and they have often determined the course of public affairs. But with few exceptions, only the liberals have gone down in history as national heroes. America is . . . conservative in fundamental principles, and in much more than that . . . But the principles conserved are liberal and some, indeed, are radical. (Myrdal, 1945, p. 7, emphasis in original)


By identifying a number of underlying issues and dimensions along which the various images that have dominated human history have differed, we not only can better portray the dominant image of humankind in our society, but we can contrast that image with the images of other cultures. This may prove of vital importance in the coming "spaceship earth" era, for not only will various dissimilar cultures have to coexist more interactively, but there is an increased possibility for a creative synthesis of differences — to the extent that these differences are highlighted in an appropriate context.

Free Will.

Does the human have free will, or are his actions (including his choices) determined by various internal or external forces? Many, if not most, of the ancient images saw man as determined by magical, divine, or naturalistic forces, a theme that has returned via biological and behavioral science. Most modern images of man, however, see him as free, restrained only by the natural law of the universe and those arbitrary laws he has constructed for his own convenience.

Good versus Evil.

Is human nature essentially good or evil? Or is the human neither, being shaped for good or ill by his choices or by his environment? Although many cultures have not dealt with this issue, it was made explicit in the Near East and has significantly affected the development of Western culture, having become an essential part of the Judeo-Islamic-Christian tradition. Most Western images of humankind can therefore be clearly evaluated with respect to this question.

Man and Nature.

Is the human a competitor in a ruthless natural world, or is he an agent in a harmoniously balanced natural world? Or is he separate from and superior to nature, which he is to dominate for his own ends? Most cultures have assumed that the human being was intrinsically part of nature. The Semitic tradition was thus unique in setting him apart from nature. It was this tradition that has exerted the strongest influence on Western images of humankind and, indeed, may have been a necessary condition for the development of applied science as we know it today.

Mind versus Matter.

Are we essentially mind, consciousness, spirit? Or are we composed of physical matter alone, a construction in whom life and thought is but a characteristic of the state of organization of the material? Most cultures have seen the human as essentially spiritual; only with the rise of objective science has the materialistic emphasis developed.

Mortal versus Immortal.

Some images have death as the end of individual existence and experience. Others hold that the person has a soul or spirit which continues to exist consciously after physical death, either by reincarnation into another body or by moving onto some other non-material plane of existence. Virtually all images of man see him as somehow surviving physical death.

Divinity of Human Beings.

Are the divine and the human essentially distinct, or is God the human's experience of universal reality at a profound level? This is the issue which most clearly separates the images of the mystical core of most "high" religions from the images popularized in their traditional teachings.

Individual versus Society [xi]

Is the individual important for his own sake, or is he important primarily as a member of the group? Similarly, is he valued for his intrinsic uniqueness, or for his extrinsic qualities and skills? The images of man in most ancient and modern cultures have emphasized him as a member of a society and have valued him for his extrinsic qualities. Only in the history of Greek and European culture have individualism and individuality come to be valued. And only in the French and American Revolutions did individual identity come to be idealized as the source of the equal worth of persons.


Is there a positive future toward which man and society are moving? Or is the notion of progress absent, replaced by an image of the essential unchangeability of the world? Although the idea of linear progress appears to have originated with Zoroaster and from thence to have influenced Western thought generally, the notion of the continuing rise and fall on a human and cosmic scale predominates in other cultures, finding its most notable expression in the Vedas of India.

Morality, Ethics, and Regulation.

On what kind of ethical principles should human behavior be based? Naked power? Divine revelation? Traditional myths? Democratic agreements? Although the ethical aspects of various images of humankind have been based on all of these, there does seem to be an evolutionary ordering that takes place both in individuals and across cultures at differing states of development. This idea is explored further in Chapters 6 and 7.

Table 4 represents our estimate of the "center of gravity" or "mainstream" image dominant in the United States today. We offer this estimate not with any illusion that it is very accurate or that it is likely to please the holder of any particular image, but rather to get a sense of the dominant image of man held in the United States today which our future image of man will certainly have to incorporate if widespread chaos and disruption during a transition period are to be minimized.[xii]


Has freedom. The person is conscious and rational, having freedom of choice controlled only by natural law and social constraints.

Is good. People are basically good and have good intentions; there are some exceptions but these stem from an unfortunate situation in life; as unfortunate situations increase, it is reasonable to trust others less.

Separate from nature. The person is superior to nature. Nature is to serve him, in accordance with the designs that humans apply by means of technology. The human is the highest being (either of creation or evolution) and therefore has a right to dominate nature.

Material and mortal. The person is a physical being, composed of living matter. He has a body and a mind that are related, yet separate. Material concerns count for more than mental or spiritual ones. Existence may well continue after death, but we should not behave as if that were true.

Not divine. Although the highest being in creation, the human is not in any way the same as God; reported mystic experiences or relations with higher spiritual entities are viewed with suspicion or alarm.

Individualistic. Except in times of war or other national emergencies, the person has a right to individualistic pursuits but with some social obligations. The meaning of life is to be found in individual fulfillment, which includes one's family and children who represent one's own progress through time.

Pro-progress. Material progress is important; the individual's purpose is to be productive, to change the world for his benefit and in so doing, to learn more about himself and the world. Whether this progress does or should apply to man's nature, however, is much less clear.

Ethically individualist and pragmatic. Although there is a continuing concern for ethical progress and fulfillment of the highest ideals of the culture, "right" (in practical terms) is that which works to the advantage of the individual.

Precisely how the American Creed has fared since Myrdal's (1945) observations is difficult for us to see and hence say, living as we are in the midst of the forces for reformation and counter-reformation.

Public polls in which the principles of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were translated into attitude questions have repeatedly drawn such responses as "too liberal," "too much individual freedom." Yet movements like labor unionism in the early 1900s, civil rights (for minorities) in the 1960s, and women's liberation in the present decade typify the repeated emergence of collective attempts to make the American Creed more operational. Whether some sort of scientistic "psycho-civilization" of our society, or some sort of totalitarian control, or some new understanding of how democratic principles can function adequately will emerge in the years ahead — years that will likely bring increasingly severe challenges to our present system — is unclear. What does seem clear is that our nation is facing a crucial existential choice[xiii] — whether the American Creed is to remain viable during even the next 25 years. The image of humankind that develops is a fundamental part of that choice.[xiv]



Note A

"General systems theory purports to offer an entire world view; unfortunately, the Society for General Systems Research (SGSR) is a hundred or so individuals each offering their world view, without any interest or mechanism for synthesis.

"The 1954 data for modern transdisciplinary science [given in Table 2] is none other than the founding date of SGSR. Well, see my comments below. In any event, I am surprised that you have no speculation as to the possible periods of the future. A good candidate for this would be the 'Methodology of Pattern' proposed by Julius Stulman in Fields Within Fields, 5:1 (1972), which goes well beyond the linear scientist found in general systems thinking. Or see Oliver Reiser, Cosmic Humanism (Schenkman, 1966).

"Natural systems are open, but man-made systems (physical and social) are not necessarily so, despite well-intentioned but naive attempts to impose biological metaphors on them. Most people in general systems theory — including von Bertalanffy and Laszlo — do not have an adequate understanding of social systems. Contrast their simplistic attempts to impose uniformity with the work of Bertram M. Gross, e.g. The State of the Nation: Social Systems Accounting (available separately or as monograph in Bauer's Social Indicator, MIT, 1966).

"Your acceptance of the mindless conventional wisdom of general systems theory reinforces my contention that you are neglecting an entire scientific culture — another state of consciousness — social sciences, managerial sciences, decision sciences, policy sciences, or whatever." — Michael Marien

Note B

"Two important additional characteristics of this philosophy need to be emphasized: "(1) It is based, not on observation of external events, but on inner experiences, on observations of inner events, events taking place in consciousness. Thus it is based on direct preception and observation, just as is physical science, and in the same way, these observations and perceptions are subject to different interpretations. However, the perennial philosophy so-called, is essentially a distillation of the observations of thousands of gifted observers throughout the ages.

"2. The teaching that man is a microcosmic replica of the macrocosmic creation of God. Hermetic philosophy summarized this in the saying — 'as above, so below.' The Vedanta in the expression — 'Thou are that.' Jesus in the saying — 'The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.' The conclusion is that by observing energy-events in consciousness, within the nature, one can attain to an understanding equal to or greater than that which can be gained by external observations — which from this point of view, look at surface manifestations only." — Ralph Metzner

Note C

"[Here you have] a lost opportunity: You failed to consider images of woman, or to put it differently, you failed to consider the image of man, as contrasted with woman. [For example], the Association for Humanistic Psychology and its sympathizers suffer from being designated an 'effeminate' organization. We are soft instead of hard, tender instead of tough, cooperative instead of competitive, intuitive instead of cognitive, concerned with process instead of analysis, expressive rather than instrumental, etc.

"The problem is not that our society fails to acknowledge the more humane ideals, but rather that it feminizes and domesticates these ideals and consigns them to home, church, school, and suburb. In the meantime men fight all the more ferociously in order to protect with their 'realism' this 'sweet idealism.' In Nixon's famous 'I see a child' speech, he adds:

I see a gentle Quaker mother, with a passionate concern for peace, quietly weeping when he went to war, but understood why he had to go. . . .

"You see, weeping and passion and peace and understanding are all for women. In fact it is the function of Nixon's mother and other women to provide sufficient emotional support so that he can 'make it' in a political, commercial, legal, and international jungle, from which feminized ideals have been excluded.

"Actually both 'male' and 'female' images suffer through this 'schizogenesis.' Cooperation and passion are trivialized and sentimentalized by restricting them to the nuclear family and the garden suburb. In the meantime the worlds of politics and commerce grow brutal for lack of (falsely feminized) virtues." — Charles Hampden-Turner

Note D

"The idea of man as a student of life, or a seeker of wisdom, is one that has the greatest relevance to the transitions of society that we are involved in. The contemporary American ideal, while it has a place for the role of student, tends to think of it as temporary. By contrast the Perennial Philosophy thinks of man as always a student of life, or of Tao, or of Reality, or of the 'Actual Design' as we call it in Actualism. Laotse, one of the greatest of the Chinese sages, said 'The wise man seventy years of age, in tune with Tao, does not hesitate to ask a child of seven and learn from it.'

"The seeker, or student of life, seeks to gain insight and understanding by (1) exploring his own consciousness and (2) studying man as a microcosmic creation. He may also, under certain circumstances, study in a school, often referred to in ancient times as a 'Mystery School,' or with a teacher or guide. In such a school he does not study academic subjects; rather he studies himself, in order to expand his awareness, sensitize his perception, and enhance the capability for expressing his creative self in action.

Most important, the central doctrine of nazism, that the Jew was evil and had to be exterminated, had its origin in the Gnostic position that there were two worlds, one good and one evil, one dark and one light, one materialistic and one spiritual.... The mystical teachings of Guido von List, Lanz von Liebenfels, and Rudolf von Sebottendorff were modern restatements of Gnosticism.

When the apocalyptic promise of Christ's resurrection was broken, the Gnostics sought to return men to God by another route, more Oriental than Hellenist. They devised a dualistic cosmology to set against the teachings of the early Christian Church, which, they claimed, were only common deceptions, unsuited for the wise. The truth was esoteric. Only the properly initiated could appreciate it. It belonged to a secret tradition which had come down through certain mystery schools. The truth was, God could never become man. There were two separate realms -- one spiritual, the other material. The spiritual realm, created by God, was all good; the material realm, created by the demiurge, all evil. Man needed to be saved, not from Original Sin, but from enslavement to matter. For this, he had to learn the mystical arts. Thus Gnosticism became a source for the occult tradition.

A famous medieval Gnostic sect, the Cathars, came to identify the Old Testament god, Jehovah, with the demiurge, the creator of the material world and therefore the equivalent of Satan. Within Gnosticism, then, existed the idea that the Jewish god was really the devil, responsible for all the evil in the world. He was opposed to the New Testament God. The Cathars tried to eliminate the Old Testament from Church theology and condemned Judaism as a work of Satan's, whose aim was to tempt men away from the spirit. Jehovah, they said, was the god of an earth "waste and void," with darkness "upon the face of the deep." Was he not cruel and capricious? They quoted Scripture to prove it. The New Testament God, on the other hand, was light. He declared that "there is neither male nor female," for everyone was united in Christ. These two gods, obviously, had nothing in common.

The synagogue was regarded as profane by Christians. The Cathars -- themselves considered heretical by the Church -- castigated Catholics for refusing to purge themselves of Jewish sources; Church members often blamed the [Cathar] Christian heresy on Jewish mysticism, which was considered an inspiration for Gnostic sorcery.

But Gnostic cosmology, though officially branded "false," pervaded the thinking of the Church. The Jews were widely thought to be magicians. It was believed that they could cause rain, and when there was a drought, they were encouraged to do so. Despite the displeasure of the Roman Popes, Christians, when they were in straitened circumstances, practiced Jewish customs, even frequenting synagogues.

This sheds light on an otherwise incomprehensible recurring theme within Nazi literature, as, for example, "The Earth-Centered Jew Lacks a Soul," by one of the chief architects of Nazi dogma, Alfred Rosenberg, who held that whereas other people believe in a Hereafter and in immortality, the Jew affirms the world and will not allow it to perish. The Gnostic secret is that the spirit is trapped in matter, and to free it, the world must be rejected. Thus, in his total lack of world-denial, the Jew is snuffing out the inner light, and preventing the millennium:

Where the idea of the immortal dwells, the longing for the journey or the withdrawal from temporality must always emerge again; hence, a denial of the world will always reappear. And this is the meaning of the non-Jewish peoples: they are the custodians of world-negation, of the idea of the Hereafter, even if they maintain it in the poorest way. Hence, one or another of them can quietly go under, but what really matters lives on in their descendants. If, however, the Jewish people were to perish, no nation would be left which would hold world-affirmation in high esteem -- the end of all time would be here.

... the Jew, the only consistent and consequently the only viable yea-sayer to the world, must be found wherever other men bear in themselves ... a compulsion to overcome the world.... On the other hand, if the Jew were continually to stifle us, we would never be able to fulfill our mission, which is the salvation of the world, but would, to be frank, succumb to insanity, for pure world-affirmation, the unrestrained will for a vain existence, leads to no other goal. It would literally lead to a void, to the destruction not only of the illusory earthly world but also of the truly existent, the spiritual. Considered in himself the Jew represents nothing else but this blind will for destruction, the insanity of mankind. It is known that Jewish people are especially prone to mental disease. "Dominated by delusions," said Schopenhauer about the Jew.

... To strip the world of its soul, that and nothing else is what Judaism wants. This, however, would be tantamount to the world's destruction.

This remarkable statement, seemingly the rantings of a lunatic, expresses the Gnostic theme that the spirit of man, essentially divine, is imprisoned in an evil world. The way out of this world is through rejection of it. But the Jew alone stands in the way. Behind all the talk about "the earth-centered Jew" who "lacks a soul"; about the demonic Jew who will despoil the Aryan maiden; about the cabalistic work of the devil in Jewish finance; about the sinister revolutionary Jewish plot to take over the world and cause the decline of civilization, there is the shadow of ancient Gnosticism.

-- Gods & Beasts: The Nazis & the Occult, by Dusty Sklar

"The idea of man as a student of life also suggests a remedy for some of the deficiencies produced by our ideas of happiness as being equivalent to economic production and consumption. Then we have the degrading spectacle of men and women in their fifties and sixties, no longer economic producers, being left to vegetate in retirement communities. By contrast, there existed in India, until not too long ago, the concept of the householder, who after discharging his obligations to society and family, having raised his children to adulthood, retired from his business or profession and entered a meditation training center or ashram, or worked with a guru, to devote the rest of his life to the study of consciousness and self-understanding.

"Based on this concept one can envision older people revitalizing their life-goals and attitudes into a spiritually oriented, creative new direction, that would allow the traditional 'wisdom of old age' to be re-integrated into the communal life in a constructive manner.

"The image of man as a seeker or student of life fills all the characteristics of an adequate future image, as postulated in Chapter 5. It emphasizes the cooperative approach to nature and to other human beings rather than the competitive, exploitative, thus the ecological perspective. And it focuses human potential, thus the evolutionary perspective. And it undercuts the arrogance of dogmatism, whether scientific or religious, which shuts off awareness of the aspects of life outside the current theories and belief systems." — Ralph Metzner

i. A much more scholarly and complete survey of the images that have shaped Western civilization (especially of Judeo-Christian contributions) is contained in Fred Polak's classic treatise Die Teokomst Is Verledon Tijd (W. Haan, 1958). Translated from the Dutch into English by Elise Boulding as The Image of the Future, it is available both in a two-volume unabridged version (Oceana Publications, 1961) and an abridged volume  (Elsevier, 1973). Both are currently out of print, but can often be borrowed through an inter-library loan.
"The unspoken assumption here seems to be that 'spiritual' is opposed to 'physical' and 'material'; and furthermore, to be 'spiritual' means a denial of the flesh, a flight from social activities and engagement in social affairs, practice of painful austerities, etc. . . . The really revered religious teachers and enlightened masters — Jesus, Buddha,  etc. . . . were deeply involved in the affairs of the world ... I think that the alleged opposition between 'spiritual' and 'material' is a false dichotomy — not the view held by those spiritual masters to whom you tacitly refer."
— John White (cont. on p. 22)

The contrast here is not between "spiritual" and "material" but rather between two "ideal types" which have been extensively explored in the past. In the last section of Chapter 4 and in Chapter 6 we try to show how these two may be usefully synthesized in our own cultural matrix.
iii. In the next few sections the generic term "man" was not changed to "humankind" for purposes of contrast and emphasis.
"I am just completing a book on Behaviorism in which I answer a number of mistaken views about it. I am not sure that I really 'cast off' concepts such as will, freedom, and consciousness. I certainly reinterpret the data."
— B. F. Skinner

This section was written for the 1981 Pergamon Edition in response to Carl Rogers's suggestion that by jumping from the Freudian to the behavioristic to the systems theory view of man, the original SRI report gives unduly short shrift to humanistic psychology.
— O. W. Markley

The anthropologist and systems theorist Magoroh Maruyama has recently criticized the hierarchical tendency of general systems thinking as being an unnecessary and unthinking application of the dominant Western image of man — preferring what he calls a  "mutualistic paradigm."
 — O. W. Markley

vii. See further description of this concept in Chapter 4.
viii. Appendix B represents comments by Sir Geoffrey Vickers on information systems and social ethics — comments very pertinent here and in later sections of this report.
ix. See Note A, p. 40.
x. See Note B, p. 41.
"This should be a trichotomy rather than a dichotomy — individual versus institution versus society."
— Michael Marien

xii.  See Note C, p. 41.
The difficulty with the 'Our nation is facing — ' rhetoric is that 95% of the nation is not aware of this choice — or is it 99%?"
— Michael Marien

xiv. See Note D, p. 41.  

"The way I look at it, there's a price tag on everything. You want a high standard of living, you settle for a low quality of life."
-- Reproduced by permission of J. B. Handelsman.
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

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CHAPTER 3: Economic Man: Servant to Industrial Metaphors

The imperatives of technology and organization, not the images of ideology, are what determine the shape of economic society. ... I am led to the conclusion that we are the servants in thought, as in action, of the machines we have created to serve us.

-- J. K. Galbraith (1967)

Technology . . . has become the prime source of material change and so determines the pattern of the total social fabric.

-- R. J. Forbes (1968)

The above quotations reflect a prevailing sense that technological and economic developments have had a dominant influence upon the pattern of our total societal fabric. Indeed, industrialism is one of the most potent and widely spread cultural/societal systems in human history. In America, no modern institution has escaped its influence: the school, the family, the community and city, the church, all have been influenced by this primary driving force of the modern era (Miller and Form, 1967). Thus, the industrial revolution in modern times refers to more than machines and markets; it refers also to the people and institutions locked into a network of relationships dominated by economic and technological forces. The pervasiveness of economic forces suggests that we cannot anticipate the images of humankind that might emerge without giving consideration to the tugs and pulls of economic and technological influences.


The social effects of the Industrial Revolution markedly transformed the lives and actions of individuals in Europe, especially by the mid-nineteenth century. For example, the emergence of the concept of "factors of production" (land, labor, and capital) had revolutionary implications for the Western image of humankind. Humans (the labor component) were no longer a part of the organic whole of society; rather, the person, the laborer, became an objectified and standardized component of the production process. The tendency to see people as mere units in the production process, bought in an impersonal marketplace and forced to submit to the dictates of the factory in order to survive, was reinforced by the post-mercantilist socio-economic ideology of laissez-faire, which discouraged government intervention in economic activities. The image inherent in this setting could reasonably be described as "economic man":

• rationalistic (able to calculate what was in his own self-interest),
• mechanistic (a factor of production),
• individualistic (with great responsibility to take care of himself),
• materialistic (with economic forces acting as primary if not exclusive reward and control mechanisms).

In addition to the changes in economic structure that laid the groundwork for a market economy and factory-dominated society, we also can identify some of the basic value premises that emerged during the period of the Renaissance. This is important since many elements of the dominant images of humankind currently held by our society have their origins in the Renaissance and its aftermath, and can be inferred from the value premises of that era. These value premises are discussed briefly below.


Reason was elevated to a pinnacle in the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment: "Reason would discover the natural laws regulating existence, thereby insuring the progress of the human race" (Brinton et al., 1955, p. 47). A number of threads formed the intellectual fabric of rationalism. First, there was the rejection of revelation as a source of truth. Truth was no longer something that was found through a religious intermediary and divine revelation; rather, truth was discoverable through empirical observation of the world. Second, there developed an invidious distinction between reason and emotion. The rational mode of perception became dominant since that was the mode most useful in dealing with a physical world. "The way was paved for the increasing preoccupation in modern times with phenomena that were susceptible to mathematical and mechanical treatment, and for the increasing suppression of non-mechanical and so-called 'irrational experience'" (May, 1966, p. 59). This suppression of the non-mechanical went hand-in-hand with the industrializing process, for that which could be calculated and measured had practical utility in the industrial world and what was irrational did not.


In earlier societies, humans perceived themselves as inseparable components of the seamless web of being which extended throughout their natural and social environments (Lovejoy, 1939). For example,

To the Greek, the city-state was not merely a legal structure; it was a way of life. Every aspect of daily existence was intimately connected with it. The individual derived his importance from his relation to the state; he was viewed as a citizen who depends on the state and who can contribute to its welfare. But it is the state that is omnipotent.

-- Rima, 1967, p. 4

Man also had a collectivist image of the person during the Middle Ages: "Each citizen, serf or priest or knight, knew his place in the hierarchy of church and feudalism; and all emotions were channeled in community and religious ceremonies" (May, 1966, p. 57). With the Renaissance and Reformation came a new belief in the power and dignity of the individual. There arose a new confidence that a person could overcome problems and forge a life by his or her own efforts and by following the promptings of one's own conscience.

Secular Progress.

As the emphasis shifted from collectivism to individualism, so the focus of attention to life on earth and attainments in the here and now, rather than rewards in life hereafter. People came to see their future in an optimistic perspective. No longer was happiness something to be gained in an afterlife — happiness could be found in this life. This optimism was grounded in a faith that the future would prove to be congenial or at least neutral to the strivings of the individual (Heilbroner, 1959, p. 27). This corresponded with a faith in the power of science.

Natural Law.

There developed a belief in a pre-established harmony in the universe, a natural law of existence. In its economic, form, this was the belief that if every person pursued their own self-interest for material gain, then the well-being of society as a whole would be enhanced.

Man as Master [ i].

 Man came to think of himself as uniquely apart from nature so that it was his destiny to master the natural environment. The roots of this concept of man's relationship to his environment can be traced, in part, to Judeo-Christian traditions. "Especially in its Western form, Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen. Christianity . . . not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends" (White, 1967, p. 1205). With the industrial period came the convergence of operational images of man and technological means whereby man could master his environment.


In this period, the satisfaction of the individual's material wants became not only a necessary activity but a desirable one as well. Where, in the past, the acquisition of wealth had been disdainfully regarded, at least theoretically, it now was strongly favored. Calvinism, as it came to be applied, suggested that one's life here on earth might hint at one's ultimate destination in the afterlife — to be "called" to one's work and be diligent in worldly endeavors while maintaining a spirit of rectitude was outward evidence of dedication to a religious life. Thus, "the energetic merchant was, in Calvinist eyes, a Godly man, not an ungodly one; and from this identification of work with worth, it was not long before the notion grew up that the more successful a man, the more worthy he was" (Heilbroner, 1968, p. 60). Although the role of the "Protestant Ethic" in the industrializing process should not be overly emphasized, "it is striking that without exception it was the Protestant countries with their 'Puritan streak' of work and thrift which forged ahead in the economic race" (Heilbroner, ibid.).

The compatibility among these value premises is striking and it is suggestive of the extent to which these premises collectively formed an image of man as possessor of a tremendous dynamism for altering the conditions of human existence. This is well summarized by Woodruff (1966) who examines the impact of European ideas upon the world and concludes:

No civilization prior to the European had occasion to believe in the systematic material progress of the whole human race; no civilization placed such stress upon the quantity rather than the quality of life; no civilization drove itself so relentlessly to an ever-receding goal; no civilization was so passion-charged to replace what is with what could be; no civilization had striven as the West has done to direct the world according to its will; no civilization has known so few moments of peace and tranquility, (p. 16)

Although these value premises did not specify the exact form of society that would evolve, they did articulate the ground rules, so to speak, from which it would emerge. And in this function they formed a resilient, potent, and enduring base for the advent of the modern industrial era. But as the industrial system gives way to its socio-economic successor, so should the images of humankind, the values, and the conceptual milieu yield to the offspring they have helped create.


Fig. 8. Hypothesized interaction between the economic man and society. [ii]

Our society seems to have reached that point in American history where our dominant image of economic man no longer fits the physical reality. Until recently, the basic value premises of individualism, secular progress, materialism, and so on, have been commonplace in American society and gave support to societal change in the form of the industrial system. Further, these image components, growing out of the Renaissance, were sufficiently embracing in their interpretation and flexible in their adaptation to encompass a wide range of societal changes without themselves fundamentally changing — for example, theoretical notions of the essential equality of all humankind, which have only very recently, and still not fully, been incorporated into society as a practical reality. But in the process of historical evolution, merely a slight difference in rates of change can eventually create a significant disparity between images and societal experience. This "lead-lag" phenomenon — shown in its general version earlier as Fig. 1 and related specifically to the economic image of man in Fig. 8 — takes on added significance when applied to the particular historical period since the Industrial Revolution.

In Fig. 8, a portrayal of this period, the economic image is at first anticipatory; in other words, it is operating as a set of "ground rules" providing direction to societal change as industrialism emerges. The gentle slope of image change in the later portions of the industrial period suggests that the economic image continues to change, but in a slow evolutionary way as it is articulated to a degree through interaction with the changing living environment. Also during this stage, the living environment is gradually, and then with increasing momentum, being altered so as to conform with the rationale of the anticipatory, economic image of man. Then follows a "short" period of relative congruence or match between this image and the living environment. The period of congruence does not last for long since the economic image of man, which has become firmly embedded in the whole societal framework, provides a base for further changes in the living environment. Among these changes are increasing urbanization, increasing material abundance, growing energy utilization, and expanding transportation and communication networks. Changes in this living environment then proceed rapidly in accord with an internal dynamic that can "overshoot" the image base from which the initial momentum derived. In this later phase, the economic image of man must increasingly adapt itself to the realities of the altered living environment if it is to be a supportive image. However, such change in the underlying image of man is difficult to secure since the image is so basic to the society's "world view" that it changes only very slowly and with great effort; thus, the image increasingly lags behind societal changes and a gap or mismatch grows. When this mismatch between the image and the realities of the environment becomes too great, there is societal disruption — arising from a severe loss of meaning, purpose, and direction. This, in turn, sets the stage for basic readjustment between the image of humankind and the societal context.[iii]

The Poverty of Our Abundance

There are two useful ways of assessing whether the foregoing analysis is relevant to changing images in our era. First, we can note that the economic image was born at a time when scarcity and abject poverty were facts of life. The question emerges, are they still such dominant facts of life that the image retains appropriateness for organizing our collective and individual behavior? Second, we can note the operational value premises that accrue from this image — premises that are inferred from the way in which people behave rather than what they say. These premises, in turn, can be related to the present societal environment and their continued appropriateness for organizing and directing our behavior can be evaluated. These points are discussed below.

John Maynard Keynes (1930) anticipated the profound disorientation and loss of meaning that might occur when a society achieved a condition of relative affluence but continued to deal with it as if there were continuing scarcity.

The economic problem, the struggle for subsistence, always has been hitherto the primary, most pressing problem of the human race. Thus we have been expressly evolved by nature — with all our impulses and deepest instincts — for the purpose of solving the economic problem. If the economic problem is solved, humankind will be deprived of its traditional purpose. Thus for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem — how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares. . . . There is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread. For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy, (p. 211)

That we are rapidly approaching this point in America is dramatically illustrated by data which show changes in poverty levels and median family income levels over the last 40 years. There has been a veritable revolution in affluence — both in magnitude and in the rapidity with which it was acquired. In roughly the space of half a lifetime, from 1929 to 1969, the proportion of the total U.S. population in poverty fell from 60 percent to 12 percent (Allen, 1952; Census Bureau, 1970). Median family incomes rose, in 1969 dollars, from $2100 (estimated) in 1939 to $9433 in 1969 and will rise to an estimated $22,000 by the year 2000 (Census Bureau, 1970; Population Commission, 1972). There can be no doubt that this unprecedented material wealth, acquired so rapidly, represents a quantum departure from past conditions. From this evidence alone, it is clear that one could expect a disjunction between the functional role of our traditional images of humankind and the new material reality they confront. In the words of the social psychologist, Kenneth Keniston (1965):

With the age-old goal of universal prosperity within sight, we must question whether the methods — technological values and virtues, the instrumental goals of our affluent society — that help us approach this goal will serve to take us beyond it. (p. 428)

Obviously, the foregoing data and comments should not be interpreted as a suggestion that there are no longer serious problems of poverty in our society. This cannot be the case when 12 percent of the U.S. population in poverty translates as 25 million people. What can be questioned is whether a continuation of scarcity notions will help people get out of poverty. In many respects, the societal reforms necessary to cope with poverty (e.g. redistribution of income) have much in common with the reforms necessary to cope with the problems of affluence. Therefore, these are more complementary than competing concerns.

For those who now exist in relative affluence, scarcity premises may still seem appropriate for psychological rather than material reasons. The nature of this perennial scarcity is discussed by Easterlin (1973) in his article, "Does money buy happiness?":

Each person acts on the assumption that more money will bring more happiness; and, indeed, if he does get more money, and others do not (or get less), his happiness increases. But when everyone acts on this assumption and incomes generally increase, no one, on the average, feels better off. Yet each person goes on, generation after generation, unaware of the self-defeating process in which he is caught up. (p. 10)

Thus, the purchase of happiness is an illusory phenomenon, "a distant, urgently sought, but never attained goal" (Easterlin, 1973, p. 10).

Despite the contemporary success in creating scarcity which is increasingly psychological, there are reasons to believe that "manufactured want" will not long endure in our society. First, we are destined to run, sooner or later, against the limits of world resources. For example, we are seeing these limits reached in food and energy shortages. Second, our material abundance seems to have been accompanied by a disturbing spiritual, personal, and social poverty. Etzioni suggests that the hedonistic thrust of the more recent period of industrialism arises when "old patterns of meaning erode without being replaced by a new set" (1972, p. 6). Thus, we have found only ephemeral and transient meaning through our consumption behavior. However, human needs are hierarchically ordered such that higher needs emerge when lower needs are satisfied (Maslow, 1962; Graves, 1967). This implies that as we become relatively satiated materially, other needs will arise — friendship, love, self-actualization, community with others — to assume a place of primary importance in people's lives. In turn, this suggests that profound disorientation may occur when our underlying image of economic man continues to exhort us to behave and find meaning in a way of life that is inimical to the fulfillment of these newly emergent needs.

The Present Mismatch between Premises and Societal Realities

There are a number of inferable value premises that characterize the workings of our society. They may never have been declared as guiding premises, but the behaviors and policies during the industrial period suggest that they, or their close relatives, must have been at work. Below we list a number of such premises which seem possibly obsolescent. Since these are too many to discuss in any detail, seven that have particular relevance to the image of economic man are amplified in the discussion.


(1) That progress is synonymous with growth of GNP, that quality of life is furthered by a system of economics based on ever-increasing consumption.

(2) That the individual should be free to make his own choice of "the good," and that the choices he makes in pursuit of self-interest will somehow add up to desirable overall societal choices.

That people are essentially separate, so that little intrinsic responsibility is felt for the effect of present actions on remote individuals or future generations.

(3) That humankind is separate from nature, and hence it is our destiny to master nature.

(4) The "technological imperative" that any technology that can be developed, and any knowledge that can be applied, should be.

That the search for knowledge is appropriately dominated by utilitarian values — science supported to the extent that it promises new manipulative technologies. That the aggregate knowledge of specialized experts constitutes wisdom. That both societal growth and protection of one's own interests are best served by competitive aggressive behaviors.

(5) That man is rational and that reductionism in positivistic scientific thinking is the approach to knowledge most to be trusted.

(6) That individual identity is to be equated with material possessions acquired and/or occupational status achieved.

(7) That there is freedom in affluence, that it is possible for people to earn "enough" money, and simultaneously have full freedom of choice.

That the future of the planet can safely be left to autonomous nation-states, operating essentially independently.

The "political premise" that "what ought to be" is not a meaningful concept because it is not achievable.

That economic efficiency should be pursued indefinitely through the organization and division of labor and the replacement of humans by machines.

Premise One: that progress is synonymous with growth of GNP and that growth is inherently good. It is now well accepted that gross measures of growth such as GNP do not tell us a great deal about our society's welfare. For example, the level of pollution is correlated with the level of GNP: the question arises, what is growing — pollution or social well-being? Given the destructive as well as benevolent potential of our powerful economy, we can no longer afford blindly to accept the premise that "bigger is better" and "growth is good." The momentum of such an ideology may be suicidal.

When we combine our growth ethic with a passion for hard, numerical evidence of growth, we find that we tend to maximize most what we can measure best: the GNP, the rate of employment, years of education received, the number of cars produced, and so on. While these indices of success are useful, they tend to relegate more subjective measures of success (aesthetic maturity, capacity for love, environmental quality) to an inferior status. Further, "hard" measures of growth such as GNP give a false sense of security, as long as they are going up, because they sidestep the crucial question: abundance for what?

Premise Two: that there is a natural law of beneficial self-interest which assures us that when persons act in their own competitive, material self-interest, the public good is well served. In its economic form, this belief in a harmony between individual self-interest and the welfare of society as a whole was the essence of the laissez-faire concept.

There are several problems with this premise. A different description of this "natural" law is that: if we set up a social framework in which people are encouraged to be generous, most of them will rise to the occasion; set up one which encourages them to be selfish, and most will sink to that level. Thus, the assumption that humankind is motivated only by immediate self-interest may well be another of the self-fulfilling hypotheses of society. Having helped create a world in which human relationships are increasingly forced into the marketplace, we find superb confirmation of the initial dogma, that humankind is governed by marketplace motives (Claiborne, 1971). The incompatibility of this motivation with human actualization is summarized by Melvin Tumin (1964):

. . . one may fairly say that what business stands for, ideologically insists upon and tries to get adopted as general principles of conduct, run directly against and reduce the chances of evoking affection and love as principles of relationship ... in promoting themes quite inimical to identification, affection, and significant membership, business thereby and to that extent tends to bring out, standardize, and reward the most unsocial impulses in man. (p. 130)

Not only does this diminished conception of persons exist in the realm of business practice, it is supported by economic theory which has "still an unmistakable aura of eighteenth-century pleasure-pain psychology ..." (Rima, 1967).

Premise Three: that humankind is separate from nature and it is its obligation to conquer nature. Humankind, so long subservient to nature, now finds itself in an increasingly powerful role as the creator of its own environmental context. However, given the highly interdependent links in the ecological chain, our capacity for manipulation of the environment must give way to an enlarged sense of symbiotic responsibility.

Premise Four: that the technological imperative, the increasing ability and hence requirement to shape and control the environment, including people, is an unqualified good. This is related to the utilitarian bias in the search for knowledge, so that only that knowledge is pursued which promises new manipulative technologies. The "technological imperative" — that any technology which is possible is, ipso facto, necessary and desirable to apply — is now conflicting on occasion with what may become "social imperatives." For example, because the SST was possible it was presented to the American public as necessary and desirable. The public, however, decided that it was neither, and after an extended national furor, the project had to be abandoned. We are beginning to weigh the social, psychological, and environmental costs against the worth of such products of technology.  

Premise Five: that we are first and foremost rational beings and feeling should be subordinated as an inferior aspect of our nature. This is an understandable premise in that it supported development of the cognitive skills needed in the industrializing process. However, this empirical view relegates the speculative world of art, music, poetry, and religion to a position of lesser reality. How then are we to give meaning to life in an affluent society if the "higher" pursuits of people must be subordinated as "lower" in order to produce that affluence? We must realize the dehumanizing influence in the suppression of the non-rational human potentials.

Premise Six: that individual identity and success in life are to be measured by material possessions acquired and/or occupational status achieved. The biblical injunction against this kind of thinking is to inquire what it profits a person to gain the world but to lose his soul. However, one's soul has become redundant in a world secularized by affluence; "the most effective way to establish [identify] distinctions is through styles of consumption" (Downs, p. 64). Fortune magazine recently reported that in the consumer market of the 1970s there is

an increasing insistence by the customers on using consumption to express themselves, to help in fashioning their own identities. . . . For increasing numbers of Americans, the clothes they wear are not simply material objects; on the contrary, they are viewed ... as the most basic expression of life style, indeed of identity itself.

-- Silberman, 1971

Premise Seven: that there is freedom in affluence. We have traditionally assumed that if people can simultaneously earn "enough" money and be given "freedom" of choice, they can take care of themselves. The fallacy of this view lies in believing there is no conflict between earning the money and the freedom of choice that is then available. The very act of earning "enough" money constrains the number of social, psychological, political, and physical choices that one can make. Margaret Mead has pointed out that to introduce cloth garments (effectively) into a grass- or bark-clad population, one must simultaneously introduce closets, soap, sewing, and furniture. Cloth is part of a complex cultural pattern that includes storing, cleaning, mending, and protecting (Slater, 1970). Imagine, then, the cultural constraints implicit in our society which is so laden with goods and services. Thus, the real philosophy underlying "freedom in affluence" is that once you have enough money to be free from want, then all further income gives you the freedom to want — as long as you want only more material goods and services. This premise runs afoul if wants arise that cannot be largely satisfied by material means.

The preceding discussion is only suggestive of the potential mismatch between our inferable value premises and the societal context in which they are operable. This lack of congruence calls into question, at a deeper level, the utility and desirability of the economic "image of man." It is difficult to tell when and how congruence — and thereby meaning and direction — will be reestablished in our social order. There are, however, several forces for resolution that will likely be involved as a higher level of reintegration emerges.


There are two distinguishable methods by which congruence might be reestablished:

1. The trajectory of the industrial state dynamic may be sustained and the image of humankind adapted to fit that dynamic.

2. The industrial state dynamic may be either self-limiting or limited by society so as to conform to the guiding influence of a newly emergent image of man.

In either event, the economic image is hypothesized to require change; however, the nature of that change is quite different for the two responses. Although these two alternatives are an oversimplification of the interdependent process of societal evolution which inevitably implies the dialectical interaction between images and environment, nonetheless they do alert us to the following questions:

• How powerful is the industrial dynamic?
• Can we control that power?
• Do we have emerging images of man to direct it?

The Power of the Industrial State

Technological change has an unquestioned primacy in virtually every area of our collective existence. It provides the motor for the continual social change to which we must somehow adapt (Keniston, 1965). During the industrial period, the forces of economic/technological change were unleashed but the agencies for the control or guidance of technology were still rudimentary (Heilbroner, 1967). Thus technological advance became a near-autonomous driving force, bringing about major changes in the total social fabric. The society is under pressure to revise its underlying "metaphors of meaning" or images of man so as to conform to the new conditions technology has created.

The powerful structuring influence of economic forces upon developed societies is dramatically illustrated by the fact that industrialism creates standardized societal forms which are strong enough to transcend traditionally distinctive cultural boundaries and differences. Alex Inkeles, who has done extensive and detailed cross-cultural studies of this phenomenon, writes that:

There is substantial evidence, over a wide attitudinal and experimental range, that perceptions, opinions and values are systematically ordered in modern societies. . . . Modern society ... is more or less unique in the extent to which it produces standardized contexts of experience.

-- Inkeles, 1969, p. 2

Other extensive cross-cultural studies have reached similar conclusions. Adelman and Morris (1967), in a study of economic growth and socio-political change in seventy-four countries, state that:

During this process of successive differentiation [which accompanies economic development], the economic aspects of the society become increasingly more important and more explicit until, at the fully developed stage, economic considerations have become a powerful force in shaping national behavior, (p. 267)

Thus, it does seem plausible to conclude that economic processes and products are creating an interlocking network of values, institutions, incentives, physical structures, and social structures that exact conformity as the price for inhabiting this societal environment. Once we have created a living environment, we are destined to be products of that which we have created. We cannot start afresh. Rene Dubos makes the point that:

The environment men create through their wants becomes a mirror that reflects their civilization; more importantly it also constitutes a book in which is written the formula of life that they communicate to others and transmit to succeeding generations. The characteristics of the environment are therefore of importance not only because they affect the comfort and quality of present-day life, but even more because they condition the development of young people and thereby of society.

-- Dubos, 1968, pp. 170-171

Although it is clear that the "imprinting" force of the industrial state is strong, it seems by no means certain that the industrial dynamic is sustainable. The industrial dynamic may be self-limiting as it runs up against the limits of world resources, as it no longer provides people with a sense of self-identity and meaning, as its structure reaches a point of increasing instability and vulnerability.

The self-limiting character may already be reflected in our apparent need to make major modification of our economic institutions. It might seem quite unrealistic to think of drastic change in the massive and powerful business organizations were it not for a historical parallel. Probably it would have seemed quite preposterous in the mid-eighteenth century to imagine that, over major portions of the globe, governments would soon be considered legitimate only if they derived "their just powers from the consent of the governed," if they became "governments of the people, by the people, and for the people." The social power of granting or withholding legitimacy, though its mechanisms are subtle and little understood, has impressive force — as monarchies and colonial powers came to realize.

An analogous challenge to legitimacy appears to be building up with respect to business institutions. The legitimacy which in the past was granted on the basis of ownership and managerial expertise is being attacked. Consumers, environmentalists, civil-rights groups, and modern feminists are placing new requirements on business for social responsibility. Workers are demanding not only a voice in the policy-making and decision processes hitherto reserved for management, but also improved work environments and "meaningful work." The emergence of huge multinational corporations with economic powers comparable to those of nations has brought awareness that these private-sector institutions have impacts on human lives comparable to the impacts of political governments, and hence should be subject to the demand made of governments to assume responsibility for the welfare of those over whom they wield power.

The Control of the Industrial State

Although the industrializing process has a very powerful impact upon the rest of society, it is itself largely dependent upon technological change, which tends to be an uncontrolled and undirected process. The reasoning behind this contention is as follows:

• Economic growth depends largely upon technological change — economic studies typically attribute between 60 percent and 90 percent of economic growth to the forces of technological change (Hollander, 1965; Kuznets, 1966).

• The direction of technological change in the short run depends largely upon profit potentials and, therefore, technological change occurs as an unplanned and un- governed process in the unrelated profit pursuits of many independent firms (Schmookler, 1966; Rogers, 1962).

• The direction of technological change in the long run depends largely upon the state of scientific knowledge, which develops haphazardly through the accretion of many small bits of knowledge from many independent sources (Mesthene, 1970).

In both the long and short runs, the regulation of technological change is peculiarly difficult owing to systemic shortcomings. Control over its direction requires a great deal of expertise; however, the demands for specialization inherent in the development of expertise necessarily narrow the focus of regulating agencies at the same time that the consequences of our technologies are having an increasingly broad impact. Therefore, from a systemic perspective, the possibility of effective regulation of technological change would seem to be declining at the same time that the need for guidance is increasing.

There are forces beyond the rather accidental convergence and impact of technology which reinforce the feeling that "the course of social change is quite beyond our capacity to control or even influence" (Keniston, 1965). For example, the market mechanism largely reacts to short-term profit potentials and substantially discounts the dysfunctional consequences that might accrue from decisions based upon short-time horizons. Also, the result of using such criteria as net profits, units produced, and attendance levels as measures of societal progress is that:

. . . each sub-component of society tends to define its values and goals, not in terms of quality, inner satisfactions or fulfillments, but with respect to position relative to other like components within the competitive context, irrespective of the state or direction of movement of that context.

-- Wilson, 1970, p. 21

In addition, there may be fundamental, systemic "control deficiencies" that inevitably emerge as a society becomes highly developed (e.g. with increasing urbanization, growth of the economy, growth of political institutions, interlocked transportation and communications networks, and so on). It appears that "industrial man" has created an interdependent societal environment of such proportions that it has inadvertently reached a critical, systemic mass which is beyond his direct control. We have aggregated what were comprehensible smaller systems into larger and oftentimes incomprehensible supersystems:

[there is a] . . . growing reliance on supersystems that were perhaps designed to help people make analyses and decisions, but which have since surpassed the understanding of their users while at the same time becoming indispensable to them. . . .

-- Weizenbaum, 1972

The simultaneous need for and lack of control over societal changes at the macro-systemic level can be visualized as follows:

Industrialization implies

This schematic suggests that as a society becomes increasingly developed, a logical consequence is for the system to become increasingly complex and interdependent. An increasingly complex system — given biological, learning, and mechanical limitations to human decision-making capacity — implies the need for division of labor and increasing specialization, i.e. the need for expertise. Further, an increasingly interdependent system requires increasing regulation to insure smooth functioning and to prevent damaging perturbations. Several conclusions follow from these characteristics of large societal systems:

• Increasing interdependence implies increasing vulnerability of the system: one hijacker can take over a multimillion dollar airliner; a localized power grid failure can plunge the whole U.S. eastern seaboard into darkness; the shutdown of a brake plant can stop production at major auto assembly plants and also at "upstream" plants. The entire system, then, is no stronger than its weakest or most vulnerable component. This weakness, which becomes more pronounced as interdependence increases, necessitates increasing predictability, order, control, and regulation of societal processes (human and mechanical). As Donald Michael has pointed out, this weakness is further aggravated by the fact that as the size of the population increases, "even if the percent of disturbing events that occur doesn't increase, the number of events that occur will increase" (1968). Further, as more people and processes are grouped together, the number of linkages (vulnerability points) increases more than proportionately — perhaps exponentially.

• Increasing complexity requires increasing expertise in order to cope with that complexity. However, this trend may seriously compromise our much prized democratic processes. If people do not have the capacity to make informed decisions, they may feel obliged to defer to the expert. We see evidence of this in the common belief that "the President has all the facts and knows many things that we do not — therefore, trust in his decisions." Another way of stating this is that the viability of a democracy depends upon the informed decision-making capacity of its citizenry, i.e. the "relative political maturity" of the people must at least maintain parity with the complexity of the issues confronting the public. If the acquisition of relevant knowledge does not proceed at about the same pace at which the decisions become complex, then relative political maturity will decline. This may have two consequences: (1) increasing reliance placed upon the "expert" to maintain order and control, with a resulting compromise of our democratic processes, or (2) reluctance to give control to the "expert" but, with an increasing inability to make informed decisions, the result is that the system may truly go "out of control."

• Increasing interdependence requires that the whole system be guided — to allow any element to exist outside of the domain of guidance is to threaten the entire, intertwined network. An increasing scope of control, in turn, implies governance by that body whose powers extend over the entire system — the national government. Thus, a predictable consequence of economic growth (with its systemic concomitants) is an increasingly broad focus of federal involvement. Increasing expertise, on the other hand, implies an increasingly narrow focus of specialization and division of labor (whether intellectual or physical). A disturbing thought arises: Who is the overall expert with overall control? Can we expect any single person, such as the President, or group, such as the Domestic Council, to have the human capacity to aggregate all relevant expertise and maintain their own relative political maturity? Are they not subject to the same human limitations that have necessitated the demise of the "Renaissance man" for the sake of developing many narrow if deeper extensions of knowledge?

In earlier times, when our society was comprised of many small and virtually self-sufficient units, a wrong decision usually had very limited consequences. Today, an inappropriate decision can have vast consequences for the entire societal system. While the interdependence, vulnerability, and need for effective control of the system are increasing, the means of control may be decreasing.

Even this cursory analysis suggests that we cannot attain a post-industrial society with industrial-era means of regulating human and institutional conduct. There is the further suggestion that our societal system may become increasingly destabilized and vulnerable to chaotic disruptions. Thus, the "undirected" power of the industrial system has contrasting implications. On the one hand, it could be extremely difficult to redirect our society in any direction other than where the natural momentum seems to be taking it. On the other hand, this natural momentum may be strongly self-limiting when a critical mass of systemic complexity and interdependence is reached. The latter point suggests that out of the ensuing disorganization may come a sufficient freeing-up of the system to allow the injection of fresh images and corresponding institutional structures in such a way as to give us a new burst of momentum into the post-industrial era.

The Growing Impotence of the Economic Image

While our economic image has become less and less capable of guiding the societal context created by technological change, there has also been a decline of constructive Utopian thinking. Indeed, the words "utopian" and "myth" currently connote impracticality, fantasy, and irrelevance to everyday concerns. When we label something Utopian it is often to dismiss it out of hand. When we speak of myth it is often to characterize something as false. These pejorative connotations suggest that we live today without the benefit of positive anticipatory myths, symbols, images:

... as thinkers, Americans rarely if ever now attempt to construct an imaginary society better than that in which they live; and at the same time, the faith that our society is in some sense a Utopia has surely disappeared. . . . But if we define Utopia as any attempt to make imaginatively concrete the possibilities of the future, Utopias have not in our own day ceased to exist, but have merely been transvalued. . . . Our visions of the future have shifted from images of hope to vistas of despair; Utopias have become warnings, not beacons. Huxley's Brave New World, Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, Young's The Rise of the Meritocracy, and ironically even Skinner's Walden Two — the vast majority of our serious visions of the future are negative visions, extensions of the most pernicious trends of the present.

-- Keniston, 1965, p. 327

This wave of negative visions of the future suggests that the image of humankind which proved so powerful in the Industrial Revolution is increasingly impotent as an organizing metaphor. Rather than being pulled by an anticipatory image of a positive future and pushed by the momentum of a realized past, we are now only being pushed by the momentum of our realized past without the attraction of a magnetic image of the future. To the extent that this is true, it would seem that our society is out of control, with guiding images virtually non-existent and the system operating on its own complex of micro-decisions. This loss of guidance via positive images might be tolerable if the internal dynamic of the industrial system were sufficiently organized that the numerous individual decisions yielded a desirable result. But our experience and present situation make all too clear how haphazard is the internal dynamic. We are thus doubly disadvantaged: we have no guiding images to impose upon the industrial system and the system itself seems to have no internal macro-guiding processes.

Thus the industrial state at this point has immense drive but no direction, marvelous capacity to get there but no idea of where it is going. Somehow the breakdown of the old images has seemed to lead more to despair than to a search for new images.


The material abundance associated with the industrial era has not been acquired without tremendous costs. Accompanying industrialism was an erosion of Western man's sense of a cosmological order:

Contemporary man no longer "naturally" sees himself as a useful and necessary member of a social whole geared into a meaningful plan of existence within the totality of a cosmic or divine order.

-- Luckman, 1970, p. 584

A meaningful existence is largely derived from the existence of, and congruence between, the human being's relationships to self, society, and universe. Although profitable, the industrial period has thus been very costly as it has left us alienated, to varying degrees, from these sources of meaning. Mysteries of the cosmos have seemingly been displaced by the cold rationality of science. A sense of community has been displaced by an incomprehensible urban existence. Social pressures have created an "other-directed" mentality such that many are alienated even from themselves. This would suggest that the next phase of our societal evolution should be the reintegration of man with his sources of meaning — to find the deep roots of significance among the ephemeral artifacts of our society. The continued extension of the industrial state seems poorly suited to this task. We are challenged now to look beyond the technological and material frontier to a new American frontier which is essentially that of man searching for himself.

To summarize: The interrelationship between the power of the industrial state, the control of the industrial dynamic and the lead-lag relationship of images can be woven into two distinct societal fabrics which could plausibly emerge out of the present. Stripped of all refinement, the skeletal outlines of two responses to the current image-society mismatch might be:

1. A "technological extrapolationist" response. This hypothesized response assumes that: (a) the industrial dynamic would be sustained, (b) it would continue to be relatively "uncontrolled," and (c) the economic image of man would continue to lag and be forced to make adaptive changes in accordance with the dictates of the evolving industrial dynamic.

2. An "evolutionary transformationalist" response. This hypothesized response assumes that: (a) the industrial dynamic is either self-limiting or else will be limited by society, (b) the dynamism of the "American Creed" will regain control (a greater degree of societal direction in response to the will of the people) over our societal system and subsystems, and (c) a new humanistic image of humankind will emerge which will guide us into a post-industrial era.

Despite the seeming clarity of these two responses, we are still faced with a dilemma. To the extent that modern people and their images are being shaped by the urban-industrial environment, it would seem fruitless to try to change "the image" without changing the environment which demands certain patterns of behavior. On the other hand, it would seem equally fruitless to try to change the powerful dynamic of industrialism without the help of a potent image of humankind to guide us toward a different societal trajectory. One alternative is to attempt to do both. The other alternative is to accept — and some would suggest suffer — the consequences of the working out of the logical extensions of the industrial-state paradigm. What is implied by both of these alternatives is considered in greater detail in Chapter 7, where they are developed at greater length.



i. For purposes of emphasis, the generic term "man" was not changed to "humankind”  as in other sections.
"You have made superb use of Polak, and your diagrams have added significantly to  his own conceptualizations of the process and ingredients of image change."
— Elise  Boulding

"This diagram is too simplistic."
— Margaret Mead

iii. Readers may want to refer back to Table 2 (page 6) for additional illustrations of  "overshoot."  

[Albert] I resolves we'll go right on with our fight against pollution!
[Little Alligators] Right on! Wooy. Yow! Immediately!
[Albert] Bravely! Right after lunch at Pogo's place ____?
[Mouse] Here's to each and all; Bless 'em!
[Turtle] Hear! Hear!
[Animal] C'mon Albert, Toast up!
[Albert] I'm still broodin' about pollution! All them characters what dumps anything anywhere ... they is enemies of the people!
[Animal] Albert!
[Animal] We have met the enemy and he is us.
[Cigar in the lemonade]
Reproduced by permission of Simon & Schuster, a Division of Gulf and Western Corporation, © 1970, Walt Kelly.
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

Postby admin » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:07 pm

Part 1 of 3

CHAPTER 4: Influence of Science on the "Image of Man"

Let us suppose for a moment that we are back in the year 1600, concerned with forecasting probable future trends. In retrospect it is clear that one of the most significant events in progress was what came later to be called the Copernican revolution. . . What was the essence of this remarkable transformation that started with the brash suggestions of Nicholas Copernicus and Giordano Bruno and led to consequences as diverse as a tremendous acceleration in physical science and a decline in the political power of the Church? One useful interpretation is that a group of questions relating to the position of the Earth in the universe, and the nature and significance of the heavenly bodies passed out of the realm of the theological and philosophical and into the realm of empirical inquiry. No longer were these questions to be settled by referring to this or that ecclesiastical or scholarly authority; rather they were to be subjected to illumination by systematic observation and experiments.

-- Willis Harman in "The New Copernican Revolution" (1969)

The explosion of science and the kind of knowledge about man and his universe that came as a result of this shift in authority structure has transformed science into one of the most powerful influences on our image and conception of humankind today. As we shall see, however, science now stands at the threshold of yet another series of changes whose consequences may be even more far-reaching than those which emerged from the Copernican, Newtonian, Darwinian, and Freudian revolutions. Questions regarding consciousness, awareness, subjective and transpersonal experience, the roots of fundamental value postulates, and related matters constitute a set of concerns that may, like earlier questions regarding the physical universe, be passing from the realm of theological and philosophical and into the realm of systematic empirical inquiry.

This chapter is organized in three parts. The first is a general discussion of the characteristics and inherent limitations of science, including brief mention of areas in which the old mechanistic metaphors and deterministic assumptions have proven inadequate and yielded to probabilistic laws of causality and weird models quite foreign to anything in ordinary experience.

The second part comprises a cursory examination of a number of scientific frontier areas where anomalies are showing up or data do not fit comfortably into the old paradigms. These are the challenges which may in the end result in a shift, to a new, expanded scientific paradigm when the strain of patching up the old or suppressing the offending data becomes too great.

The third part of the chapter examines some of the sources and characteristics of a possible new scientific paradigm. Throughout, the interaction is emphasized between scientific paradigms and cultural images of man.


Science is ideally a search for knowledge and enlightenment carried out with an objective and pragmatically defined attitude. The spirit of science is that of open, unbiased inquiry into whatever interests the investigator. The classical view of science is essentially based on the following axioms (Conant, 1951):

• Reason is the supreme tool of humankind.

• Knowledge, acquired through the use of reason, will free mankind from ignorance and will lead to a better future.

• The universe is inherently orderly and physical.

• This order can be discovered by science and objectively expressed.

• Only science deals in empirically verifiable truth.

• Observation and experimentation are the only valid means of discovering scientific truth, which is always independent of the observer.

As we shall see, recent developments in a variety of frontiers of scientific inquiry make us progressively less sure that we know what these axioms mean, or should mean.

Paradigms in Transmutation

The scientific inquiry is not something that can be examined apart from the society in which it is embedded. An active dynamic process exists among the developing scientific knowledge, its technological applications, and the surrounding cultural context. As the new knowledge generates new technologies and these are applied to influence the physical and social environment, the cultural context is affected. But this in turn affects the kind, form, and application of new knowledge. In a way similar to that portrayed by Fig. 8 (page 49), conflict grows between societal ends and the consequences of technological applications, and this brings challenges to the basic axioms of the scientific activity.

The commitment of science to verifiable knowledge renders it naturally Promethean. The mythical bold explorer Prometheus stole fire from the Gods and thereby gave man control of his own destiny. Prometheus' brother Epimetheus liked to play with his brothers' discoveries, not always with due regard for the consequences. The Gods, angry over Prometheus' theft, gained their revenge by sending Epimetheus a wife, Pandora, with her proverbial box which upon being opened released all mankind's ills and troubles. Only Hope remained inside, to preserve man's sanity in the face of his new misfortune. As de Ropp (1972) points out:

Our age, the age of the new Prometheans, illustrates as does no other age, the depth of the Promethean myth. Never before have the Prometheans been so daring. Never before have the Epimetheans been so rash and never has Pandora's box been so crammed with menace.

This Promethean-Epimethean conflict between science and civilization is one, perhaps the dominant, force presently modifying the patterns of scientific conceptualization and experiment. Emergence of a "new transcendentalism" in the culture is a second. And new developments in certain scientific frontier areas form a third.

The goals of society, influenced by the cultural image of man-in-the-universe, help to define the research territory of science. Thus the content of science is affected by the prevailing image of man. Then the act of scientific inquiry involves another set of image processes involving models of the problem to be investigated. Many scientists have stressed the importance of proper imaging in scientific investigation; one nuclear physicist, Martin Deutsch, has remarked (1959):

In my own work, I have been puzzled by the striking degree to which an experimenter's preconceived image of the process he is investigating determines the outcome of his observations. (Emphasis added)

The prevailing image of man-in-the-universe also enters into the interpretation of observed phenomena. The scientist almost inevitably refers back to the model of causality contained within the more basic image to decide on an acceptable interpretation of his data and findings. The myths and images of the culture influence perception of what seems possible in the universe and is therefore acceptable — scientifically or otherwise.

Thomas Kuhn (1962) 'used the term "scientific paradigm" to refer to the total pattern of perceiving, conceptualizing, acting, validating, and valuing associated with a particular image of reality that prevails in a science or branch of science. These theoretical models with their associated behavior patterns may operate successfully for a limited time, but in the dynamic processes of scientific development tend to rise, fall, and be replaced — often by an expanded paradigm that includes the earlier one as a special case. When a paradigm is more or less successful at accommodating the phenomena being perceived (and, we recall, what is perceived is affected by the form of the dominant paradigm), then we have what Kuhn terms "normal" science.[ i] Its central activity is the articulation and elaboration of the reigning paradigm.

However, when a sufficient amount of anomalous data has accumulated that does not fit the paradigm's terms of explanation, then one or more new candidate paradigms may emerge and there results a period of "crisis" science. Events during such a period can be highly complex, for as Polanyi (1958) remarks:

A hostile audience may in fact deliberately refuse to entertain novel conceptions such as those of Freud, Eddington, Rhine or Lysenko, precisely because its members fear that once they have accepted this framework they will be led to conclusions which they — rightly or wrongly — abhor.

Proponents of a new system can convince their audience only by first winning their intellectual sympathy for a doctrine they have not yet grasped. Those who listen sympathetically will discover for themselves what they would otherwise never have understood.

Changes in paradigm constitute the most critical moments in science, for they determine whether a new realm of reality is to be successfully incorporated into the operations of science. These are also the times when the dominant image of humankind becomes most crucial since the issues involved may include "abhorred" conclusions. This of course doe's not include every possible case; strong reaction to a theory does, however, often mean that a paradigmatic limitation has become involved.

The anomalies that appear near the beginning of a "crisis" period in science may, because of their prematurity, be ridiculed or ignored. Stent (1972) suggests that a discovery is premature "if its implications cannot be connected by a series of simple logical steps to canonical, or generally accepted knowledge." Science's encounter with prematurity is a basic problem. When it occurs, the ideal commitment of science always to examine the facts of a matter can weaken, and the facts may be either ignored or attacked. The significance of Mendel's discovery of the gene in 1865 was not understood until about 35 years later and was ignored until that time. Polanyi's 1916 model of the adsorption of gases onto solids was rejected out of hand as ridiculous until it was "rediscovered" as correct about 40 years later. However, when a new theory can be seen to involve immediate relevance to the dominant image, a new phenomenon may enter the field. Stent regards the subject of ESP as currently in the realm of prematurity, given the general reactions of the scientific community to the subject. Even as reported by Stent, however, it might be more proper to regard it not as being only premature but also as a taboo in science.

One could argue, as does Dubos (1972), that there are no taboo topics, since science is always willing to deal with all questions within its capabilities — and ultimately all problems are "scientific." In practice, however, history often speaks differently and echoes Kelvin's point (1970) that: "In principle we may say that the 'facts' speak for themselves; in practice they do so only when accompanied by a chorus of approval." Shaw remarked: "All great truths begin as blasphemies." We might well ask, what have been the great blasphemies in science?

On the level of the physical sciences, the classic case is that of Galileo. The Copernican theory that the earth circled the sun was tabooed by society, particularly by the Church. As Hanna Arendt (1958) explains, it was permissible for scientists of the day to use the Copernican theory in their mathematical calculations, but it was not permissible for Galileo to invent a telescope demonstrating it to be true. In the eighteenth century a controversy raged around the question of meteorites as rocks which fell from the sky. After the Lavoisier commission decided that rocks could not fall from the sky, museums threw away their collections of meteorites since they were no longer "real" (Morrisson, 1972). Unidentified flying objects are taboo today also, even though a significant percentage of the cases on record are acknowledged as unexplained (Hynek, 1972).

Taboos in biology have included Darwin's theory of evolution and at one time the study of anatomy, which was regarded as a violation of the "temple of the body." Contemporary taboos include the relation between genetics and IQ (Beale, 1971) and human sexuality (Shainess, 1973). To some extent the aura of taboo also hangs around B. F. Skinner's behaviorist theories.

In the psychological realm, where issues related to images of the human being are the most explicit, taboos have included: dreams, hypnosis, death, suicide, homosexuality, parapsychology, subliminal perception, and psychedelic drugs. Only some of these areas are now beginning to emerge from the stigma of taboo (Farberow, 1963; Dixon, 1971; Kleitman and Dement, 1957; Hilgard, 1965; Noyes, 1972). Of course, because a theory is tabooed, it does not necessarily contain truth (Krippner, 1973). The taboo problem in science arises when an investigation could be performed to answer a question, but is not for reasons that are political, ideological, or irrational.

Thus we can see that the issues of prematurity and taboo are powerful shaping influences on the content of scientific research. In cases where a topic involves both, it has even less chance of investigation. In many such cases the "holding factor" appears to be adherence to a particular image of humankind, sometimes on the part of scientists themselves, sometimes by society, and occasionally by both — in spite of the existence of significant data to the contrary.

Limitations of the Scientific Process Itself

The human activity basic to science is observation and the recording thereof. However, a science based on description has limits imposed on it by the epistemological limits inherent in the process of description. Goedel in 1931 showed that it is impossible to demonstrate the internal consistency of complex systems without resort to principles of inference outside the system. This means there is a class of problems that must remain formally undecidable. Similarly Tarski (1944) established that any theorem expressed within the terms of a given formal language can be proved true only by reference to another language richer than that expressing the theorem. As Margenau (1965) bluntly expresses it:

Science no longer contains absolute truths. We have begun to doubt such fundamental propositions as the principle of the conservations of energy, the principle of causality, and many other commitments which were held to be unshakeable and firm in the past.

Bremerman (1965) suggests a different kind of boundary with his theory defining an upper limit to the amount of information that can be held in any system — at least in terms of the current framework of analysis. This limit would prevent man from understanding his own brain if all he can use is the operations of the brain-as-system itself.

Another limitation which is at least equally difficult to deal with is the more or less exclusive orientation toward the analytic/rational mode of problem solving. In the West, the only alternative has always seemed to be illogical "irrationality," our language being ill-equipped to discuss what many great scientists have acknowledged as the source of their discoveries: intuition. Recent results in brain research (discussed in detail later) indicate that linguistic expression and analytic thought are associated with the left side of the brain whereas the right side deals with field-oriented, synthetic perceptual modes. Hence, "left-side" thinkers tend not to acknowledge "intuition."

A third limitation is specialization, which Bohm (1971) refers to as the natural fragmentation problem in science. Margenau (1973) points out that in large measure, specialization is simply a by-product of the increasing complexity of science. In this sense it has been a necessary and powerful tool. However, it has progressed to the point where our attention has been directed away from the somatic or general systems aspects of nature; and as Fuller (1973) has pointed out, any species that has overspecialized has always become extinct owing to a loss of adaptive ability.[ii] The impact of specialization in science is to reduce science's possible framework of explanations.

Closely allied to specialization is the limitation imposed by the reductionist method. This is the approach in science which proceeds to investigate systems by breaking them up into parts. As Ashby (1973) describes it:

Faced with a system, the scientist responded automatically by taking it to pieces. Animals were anatomized to organs, organs microscoped down to cells, cells studied as collections of molecules, and molecules smashed to component atoms. This method of analysis tended to become dogma; and, in fact, the reductionists tended to assert that all science was to be advanced in this way alone. "Get to know the properties of each part, and you have only to put the parts together again and you will know the whole."

This method, reduced to absurdity, tends to generate statements like "life is nothing but physics and chemistry." It also leads to the picture of the sciences (Schlegel, 1972) shown overleaf.


This model suggests that the kinds of procedures which physics and mathematics used in the nineteenth century should be applied to all other sciences, and leads to statements like: "biology depends on the judgment of the physicist" (Szent-Gyorgi, 1961). It is quite true that the reductionist method of analysis has brought about major progress, and the model would constitute a quite logical picture of the sciences as a whole if science were to be confined to the analysis of the kinds of systems addressed by nineteenth-century physics. These systems involved little or no interaction between the component parts: they were in fact "reducible" systems. For these systems, the information needed to describe the whole system (and therefore control it) is almost equivalent to the amount of information needed to describe the parts in isolation: the whole is equal to the sum of the parts.

There is, however, another class of systems involving rich interactions between the component parts. Biological and ecological systems are good examples. In these, synergy or the properties of the whole system created by the interactions of the parts operate to such an extent that reductionist analysis cannot achieve a theory capable of extension and prediction. Arbib (1972) points out that:

We found that we needed to modify Newtonian mechanics to get to relativity when we entered the domain of the very fast; and we needed to modify them again to get to the laws of quantum mechanics when we entered the domain of the very small. Thus we must not be unprepared to have to find new laws of physics when we enter the domain of the very complex.

The reductionist framework therefore contains inherent limitations when applied to highly complex systems, such as the brain or biological system as a whole, and new physical principles will have to be discovered before proper scientific description of these can be made. Perhaps a kind of periodic table of the principles governing systems of evolving complexity will be the next advance in scientific method.[iii]

Still one more characteristic of classical science is challenged by recent developments on numerous fronts, namely the idea that the objective world explored by the various scientific probes is essentially separate from and independent of the subjective experience of the investigator. The perturbation of the objective system by the act of observing shows up in particle physics as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It appears in biological and social science in the effects of experimenter expectations (Rosenthal, 1971; Orne, 1959) and in the Hawthorne effect (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1939). It is most clearly to be encountered in the area of psychic research since if the psychic phenomena have any reality at all, the mind of the observer is most surely an ineradicable component of the experiment.

Thus the limitations of science have had important consequences for the way in which the contents of science are defined. Only those aspects of reality that can slip through the various limitations end up included in the content of science. Science deals with a selected set of metaphors; other possible metaphors have in the past been excluded, whether because of reductionist bias or commitment to a peculiar concept of objectivity. The prevailing "image of man" intervenes in the scientific process by shaping the definition of both the research territory and interpretations of the results of scientific investigation. Contrariwise, the past orientation of science toward understanding of the physical world has contributed to a materialistic emphasis in the culture as a whole.

As we examine some of the contemporary scientific developments that challenge old scientific paradigms, it must be from the standpoint of this two-way interaction between the changing scientific paradigm and the societal image of man. It is not that either causes the other, but rather that they tend to move together.


Challenges to the past paradigms of science, some old and some recent, appear in such diverse research frontiers as physics, biology, psychology, and parapsychology. Following are brief mentions of some of the most important.

Modern Physics and Cosmology

The modern revolution in physics began quietly: on February 21, 1870 a 24-year-old named William Clifford suggested to the Cambridge Philosophical Society that a particle of matter was really nothing but a kind of hill in the geometry of space! In 1873, still believing in classical continuity, Maxwell published his equations describing the continuous nature of the electromagnetic field but later remarked, in a startling intuition of things to come:

The study of the singularities and instabilities, rather than the continuities of things . . . may tend to remove that prejudice in favor of determinism which seems to arise from assuming that the physical science of the future is a mere magnified image of that of the past.

The full meaning of that glimmer of the future began to erupt in 1900 when Planck showed that energy was not emitted in a continuous fashion, became stronger in 1905 when Einstein proved that light came in packages called "quanta," and reached its final breach from the continuous dream when Bohr incorporated the fundamental discontinuity in the universe into his model of the atom and eventually the Principle of Complementarity, suggesting that light could be both wave and particle. As John Wheeler succinctly put it (1971): "A sibyl seems to say, 'choose: paradox or nothing'."

Einstein then promised a kind of continuity with his theory of General Relativity, ending the dichotomy of time and space, and suggesting not only that matter and energy share the same equation, but that gravity can also be included into a unified field theory. Suddenly the universe was pure geometry. As Margenau (1963) describes it, matter simply dematerialized: "The hard and solid atom has become mostly empty space. Electrons . . . may indeed be points, mathematical singularities haunting space."

Suddenly the universe became personal again. Bronowski (1973) describes it well:

Einstein showed that the laws of physics are universal, that is, are formulated in the same terms by every observer, but only because he carries his own universe with him. Time as you measure it may be different from my time, mass as you measure it may be different from my mass, speed and momentum and energy may all be different; it is only the relations between them that remain the same for us both. Each of us rides his personal universe, his own travelling box of space and time, and all that they have in common is the same structure or coherence; when we formalize our experiences, they yield the same laws.

And so, as Jeans (1973) remarked, "The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine," or as Eddington (1928) had put it, "The stuff of the world is mind stuff."

At the forefront of physics today the real world recedes. As Eddington once remarked:

In the world of physics we watch a shadowgraph performance of familiar life. The shadow of my elbow rests on the shadowtable as the shadow-ink flows over the shadow paper. . . . The frank realization that physical science is concerned with a world of shadows is one of the most significant of recent advances.

Indeed everything has been found to be receding, for General Relativity predicted that the universe itself is expanding, and by 1929 Hubble had demonstrated it. Far from the limited Copernican vision, now we know that we are part of an immense galaxy of about 100,000 million stars, arranged in a disc-shaped spiral 100,000 light years in diameter, about three-fifths of the way out from the center of the disc, and moving further out at a mere 35 kilometers per second. The "edge" of the universe is now billions of light years away and full of strange wonders: quasars, pulsars, and black holes. And even stranger, though logical, postulates of antimatter, time flowing backwards, negative mass and particles travelling faster than the speed of light are part of the new tapestry.

It is a world full of logic stranger than dreams. Everett (1971) has suggested that just as in relativity where the passage of time is relative to the observer's frame of reference, in quantum mechanics, the visible outcome of an event is also relative to the observer. Thus all possible outcomes actually take place, but the observer can see only the one happening in his or her frame of reference. Physicist de Witt (1970) then argues:

Every quantum transition taking place on every star, in every galaxy, in every remote corner of the universe, is splitting the local world on earth into myriads of copies of itself.

Many physicists have objected strongly to the notion of a universe containing myriads of three-dimensional Xeroxes of themselves. The idea is not idle speculation, however, but arises from the urgent need in modern physics to somehow unite quantum theory with general relativity.[iv] Physicist and Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner (1961) has suggested a role for human consciousness at the deepest levels of quantum reality; is he correct? We must wait and see, and perhaps remember Jung's admonishment:

Space flights are merely an escape, a fleeing away from oneself, because it is easier to go to Mars or to the moon than it is to penetrate one's own being.

Modern physics and cosmology have placed the human in a universe inestimably more rich and extraordinary than the mechanical vision ever prepared him for. Indeed, as LeShan (1969) has argued, the cosmic man of modern physics bears strong resemblance to the image of "man-in-universe" of Eastern philosophies. For this person, too, reality is apparent, dynamic, and inhabited by both harmony and strangeness. And if the extension of science is technology, and today we have the technology of the hard and solid matter of the nineteenth century, then what can possibly be the technology of matter trans- formed into curvature in space-time.[v]

Other Physical Sciences

While several areas of the physical sciences impinge on questions relating to images, two of the strongest impacts come from thermodynamics and the computer sciences generally.

The concept of entropy emerged from the study of thermodynamics in the nineteenth century. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that isolated systems naturally tend toward a state of maximum disorder, and so the universe must inevitably "run down." Our ultimate fate then became invasion by chaos, and since this was a law of nature, there was nothing that could be done. The human being and life are therefore insignificant since there is no larger process toward which humankind can evolve if the physical universe is decaying.

The concept still holds sway, though it has been noticed that it is not applicable to living systems; Huxley (1963) and others suggested that life violated the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Now we know that living systems exist under different conditions. Entropy was defined for closed, equilibrium systems cut off from their surroundings and unperturbed by external forces. Living systems are open and far from equilibrium, exchanging material with their environments. Damnation by the Second Law is therefore not quite so total, and as the characteristics of complex systems become more apparent, the operation of the Second Law may be seen to be even more restricted. The present situation in physics, where absolute certainty is no longer possible, should warn us that total commitment to the scientific paradigm of knowledge can place us in the position of accepting a deprived concept of reality, which clearly has never been the intention of science.

Similarly, the earlier mechanistic view of cybernetics — that "the brain is merely a meat machine" — is rapidly giving way to the less restrictive notion of the computer as an extension of the human nervous system. McLuhan believes that computer systems will be used to "augment" human intellect, just as cultural forces augment the individual's abilities (Englebart, 1973). An example of this process is the use of the computer to open up new and creative possibilities in the modern arts, described by Youngblood (1970).

Chapanis (1970) stresses that the difficulties in harmonizing the man-machine interface, which used to be attributed to the limits of man, can just as well be regarded as the limited abilities of the machine. Though man's calculating rate is slow, subject to error and fatigue, machine systems have more difficulty correcting their mistakes, have very limited methods and choices of action, and are so far incapable of forming hypotheses. More and more effort is being directed toward making the computer accommodate to the man rather than the other way around.

Attempts to create "artificial intelligence," which Minsky (1968) describes as "the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence if done by men," have so far resulted in computers being taught to play chess, simulate proofs of mathematical theorems, and to "understand" simple English, though not yet in a fashion exceeding human capability (Newell, 1969). Present work at Stanford and MIT is focused on developing more sophisticated robots. Goedel's theorem, mentioned earlier (page 72), indicates, however, that machine systems can never be conscious of themselves except by reference to another machine. Human consciousness is conscious of itself as a unity and seems to have properties that can never be created artificially.

In 1923 J. B. S. Haldane predicted that although physics was then the major center of scientific interest, this century would be remembered as the century of biology. Surveys of the current trends in scientific literature (Garfield, 1972) now confirm Haldane's prediction.

Humans as Species.

Much of the early significant work in biology concerned the human as a species. While many of the old theories have been discarded or modified, there are a number of important new concepts which affect man's relationship to others of his species, to the environment as a whole, and this place in the evolutionary scheme.

In population biology, for example, extensive studies into the dynamics governing human population growth indicated that humankind is on the brink of discovering that it is also bound by the S-shaped sigmoid curve governing the growth characteristics of so many other species (Salk, 1973). As noted earlier (see Fig. 6), the values governing the first part of the curve where the survival of the species depends on the survival of the individual (competition, survival of the fittest) must be different from those governing the second part of the curve, where the survival of the species depends on the behavior of the whole species (cooperation, survival of the wisest). The complex questions surrounding the population problem have been discussed by many authors (e.g. Ehrlich, 1970; Commoner, 1971). Clearly the main impetus for these studies is the need for man to evolve to a systematic image of his being, considerate of the survival of the whole species.

Closely allied to these developments are ecological studies. The latter have radically changed the image of the human as conqueror of nature to a sense of being in cooperation with nature. The growth ethic has been challenged (Meadows, 1972); our attempts to dominate nature have been criticized (Commoner, 1971); our role as augmenter of nature has been stressed in several ways (Dubos, 1973; Salk, 1972; Fuller, 1969; Laszlo, 1972). Again the need for viable systems-oriented images is the main finding of these studies. Further, they have stressed the interdependence of humankind's existence and that of other species, as well as the environment as a whole. As Handler (1970) states it:

Undoubtedly more species than anyone now realizes are essential for man's survival and welfare. For both beneficial and harmful types, we need to know the physical and chemical conditions under which they can survive and reproduce, the extent to which they can adjust to change, the optimum conditions for survival and reproduction.

The need to protect the stability and diversity of all species of flora and fauna has emerged into heightened popular awareness as a result both of these studies and of the emergencies caused by industrial mismanagement globally.

Similarly, evolutionary theory has now developed to the point where it extends all the way from the realm of all species down to the molecular/atomic level. The interrelationship of all species as an evolving whole was first proposed by Darwin in 1859. Mendel's discovery of the gene allowed the elaboration of the mechanism of heredity, while the discovery of DNA as the carrier of information in the gene (Watson, 1953) extended our knowledge of the process into the domain of the very small.

These findings led to a renewed debate about the role of chance and determinism in evolution, since only statistical description of events at the atomic level is possible. As a result, some scientists concluded that genetic change can occur only by the mechanism of random mutation. "Chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere" (Monod, 1971). This image of the human species as the victim of mere chance places man in an absurd role — most scientists would see something more operative. Waddington (1969) explains that the inert gene, as it moves toward the process of becoming an organism, passes through a series of steps, many of which are influenced by both the molecular and organismic environment. Thus in the emergence of the organism, order is imposed on the initial randomness. Weiss (1969) shows how there exists "determinacy in the gross despite demonstrable interdeterminacy in the small."

Thus both chance and determinism are involved at least (perhaps consciousness as well) and the systems developed by evolution become the crucibles of a creative process (Dobzhansky, 1971). The trend of evolution is seen as being toward systems of ever greater complexity and sophistication. In our species, particularly, culture is an intervening factor (von Foerster, 1971):

Culture, as a manifestation of man's effective and symbolic behavior, is at the same time cause and effect of man's genetic constitution. As cause, it determines the mechanisms of natural selection in his self-made ecology; as effect, it is determined by the creative processes that can be mastered by his biological constitution.

Dubos (1967) points out that the human's biology is now basically stable while the human psyche may be said to be rapidly evolving,[vi] and as Huxley (1947) suggests:

Since in the process of evolution, values emerge, they must be taken into account by the scientist. We find values not merely emerging from the evolutionary process, but playing an active part in its latest phase.

von Foerster (1971) then suggests that "The superior survival value of brains exchanging experience and thought will favor the evolution of this organ." Earlier, Teilhard de Chardin (1959) had noted that "Evolution is an ascent towards consciousness." The human is regarded as being at the very forefront of this process, the growing tip as it were. Thus the forces and counterforces of chance and determinism become poised in a delicate balance, with our species as one of the "rare spearheads ... or trustees ... of advance in the cosmic process of evolution" (Huxley, 1963).

While it is still too early to say which of these hypotheses will prove most useful, it is clear that evolutionary theory is, and will probably remain, at the heart of humankind's image of itself.

Molecular Biology and Genetics.

The unfolding of the sciences of the human as a biological entity has created several major shifts in the image of humankind. Even if all the physical principles necessary for the complete description of the biological system are not yet with us (Elsasser, 1966), it now seems clear that the basic unit of life is the cell and that its information is largely, if not completely, carried in the DNA which makes up its genes. This totally physical description of the living system has threatened the "vitalist" philosophies which maintained that the living entity was possessed of some special non-physical component. As Hayes (1971) remarks:

There can be no doubt that this new vision of ourselves as merely the very complex, and perhaps even predictable, end-product of an exclusively macromolecular evolution will exert as profound an effect on our social, ethical and political attitudes as have the enlightenment of Darwin and Freud.

This gives rise to what Dubos (1968) terms "biological freudianism." However, perhaps there need be no conflict between the two notions, on the one hand that heredity determines the characteristics of the adult human being, and on the other, that the environmental experiences of early life exert a shaping influence — the nature versus nurture argument. The conflict is apparently resolved in the view that the genes provide potential which is modulated by environment. However, the persistence of the concept of karma in the doctrines of the East suggests that future scientific metaphors may include still other influences.

The notions of genetic "engineering," cloning, and the like have provided new impetus to the old visions of eugenics and the "improvement" of human stock. The relationship between genetics and "intelligence" is currently controversial but is not in itself a new idea. However, with genetic engineering, all of human nature would be in some sense apparently subject to human choice. This concept could potentially have a most profound impact on the human self-image.
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Re: Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the

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Part 2 of 3

Exobiology/ Origin of Life.

From studies of the origin of life and the principles of extraterrestrial biology (exobiology) come clear images of our cosmic origin, even though they are in terms of our physical being. The fusion of these two areas brings the first glimpse of a cosmological biology, as Bernal (1965) first outlined it:

A true biology in the full sense would be the study of the nature and activity of all organized objects wherever they were to be found on this planet and others in the solar system, in other galaxies and at all times future and past.

Studies of the self-organizing properties of elemental chemical systems by Miller (1963) and Fox (1970) have shown how the amino-acid building blocks of life form spontaneously in primordial mixtures and naturally give rise to more complex forms. The knowledge that between the planet's formation and the first emergence of simple life forms, meteors brought 335 million tons of these same amino acids to earth clearly lends substance to Oistraker's remark (1973): "Atoms in your body have been through several stars — they were ejected many times as gas from exploding stars."

Increased understanding of the origin of life can only augment our search for other kinds of life amongst the estimated hundreds of millions of inhabitable planets in our galaxy alone (Dole, 1964). Indeed, the beginnings of active research into the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence (Handler, 1970) suggest a new sense of continuity of life. Though the problems are formidable, the near future will see, if present trends continue, a significant increase in information on the origin of life which will be "of prime relevance to the most profound and ancient biological and philosophical questions of human civilization . . . partial answers (to which) . . . have given rise to various religious, philosophical and political systems" (Handler, 1970).

Brain Research.

Research in brain function is one of the most rapidly expanding frontiers of modern science. The tools of almost every major discipline are being used and the vital need for integration of the sciences may be realized through our attempts to study our own mental functions.

In contrast to other areas of biology, the early study of the brain had a strongly electrical orientation; by 1791 it was known that the brain was electrically excitable and by 1932 the well-organized motor effects and emotional responses in conscious animals had been created by electrical stimulation (Galvani, 1791; Fritsch, 1870; Hess, 1932). We know now that the brain possesses the most efficient signal-detection scheme known (Trehub, 1971). The work of Hess, Penfield, and Olds involving the implantation of electrodes to create signals internally has allowed the mapping of large portions of the brain. Control of psychological phenomena and stimulation of memory have resulted from this work. As Delgado (1969) describes it:

Autonomic and somatic functions, individual and social behavior, emotional and mental reactions may be evoked, maintained, modified or inhibited, both in animals and in man, by electrical stimulation of specific cerebral structures. Physical control of many brain functions is a demonstrated fact but the possibilities and limits of this control are still unknown.

Of no less importance has been the recent emergence of some detailed knowledge of the chemistry of brain function. Results have indicated that malnutrition can cause serious damage to the developing brain, and so many of the poor are doubly disadvantaged. Theories suggesting that chemical processes in the brain (RNA and protein synthesis) are involved in learning and memory have raised the possibility of chemically improving these functions in the human — though this is still controversial and definite conclusions have yet to emerge. Highly purified genetic strains of mice have been isolated and shown to have markedly different learning abilities for laboratory tasks, suggesting that at least some kinds of genetic differences can affect memory and learning. Many mind-altering substances have been discovered with effects ranging from hallucination to tranquillization and trance. Such developments led Kenneth Clark, as President of the American Psychological Association, to suggest in 1971:

We might be on the threshold of that type of scientific, biochemical intervention which could stabilize and make dominant the moral and ethical propensities of man and subordinate, if not eliminate, his negative and primitive tendencies.

Clark proposed the development of chemically based "psychotechnologies" (primarily to bring control over the tendencies of national leaders, in an attempt to lower the possibility of nuclear war). Delgado has urged the development of a "psycho-civilized" society such that dangerous behavior in man can be modified by electrical stimulation of the brain. Thus certain areas of modern brain research clearly raise profound moral questions which, if unresolved, might propel civilization toward Brave New World and 1984. The issue has been raised, whether the control of the brain made possible by electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB) is essentially different from placing the individual in a prison, where the prison bars, instead of being iron rods, are a complex of metal electrodes wired into a computer. Delgado (1969) believes that such questions are still premature:

This Orwellian possibility may provide a good plot for a novel but fortunately it is beyond the theoretical and practical limits of ESB. By means of ESB we cannot substitute one personality for another, nor can we make a behaving robot of a human being. It is true that we can influence emotional reactivity and perhaps make a patient more aggressive or amorous, but in each case the details of behavioral expression are related to an individual history which cannot be created by ESB.

A completely different line of investigation is split-brain research.

The data indicate that the part of the brain which talks, uses language, engages in logical problem-solving, and reads this page is the left-hand side. Experiments have shown that split-brain patients who have lost the use of this left hemisphere have no verbal output and cannot express perceptions. The other side of the brain functions differently, being primarily responsible for our orientation in space, body image, recognition of faces; it processes information more diffusely and can integrate information more readily. If the left side is analytic and reductionist, then the right is more holistic and integrative. Bogen (1973) calls the left hemisphere the "propositional" mind and the right the "appositional" mind. He suggests that investigation of the "appositional" mind, or right hemisphere, may lead to the discovery of new forms of communication (which may not be language), better suited to dealing with both our evolutionary heritage and our on-going experience of the universe in holistic terms.

Sperry (1967) notes that this functional asymmetry of the brain is apparently unique to higher mammals and most emphasized in man. Bogen (1973) suggests that if the right hemisphere is dominant for certain higher functions, we may suppose there might be others, and that perhaps every higher function is distributed unequally between the hemispheres.[vii] In normal humans, the two are connected and some information is passed from one hemisphere to the other. Scientists are only beginning to explore the complex interrelationship of the two minds of man. Perhaps Einstein's term for creative thought — "combinatory play" — will prove prophetic of future research findings. Split-brain research is leading toward more understanding of what Polanyi (1964) terms "tacit knowledge:" Our tacit powers decide our adherence to a particular culture and sustain our intellectual, artistic, civic and religious deployment within its framework. By forming and assimilation of an articulate framework these tacit powers kindle a multitude of new intellectual passions.

Piatt (1970) reminds us that: "Perception is the first thing we experience and the last thing we understand. It is the beginning of knowledge and also, in some sense, the end of it." In the end, perception is a personal phenomenon and it may not be possible to "objectify" it without limit. Physicists investigating the physical universe found that beyond a certain point of refinement of matter, there is a limitation of relativity and uncertainty on the objective knowledge principle. Brain research today may be approaching a similar limit imposed by what Delgado (1969) terms "psychological relativity." The Newtonian concept of centers in the brain governing various activities ceases to be valid beyond a certain level of complexity in investigation. Beyond that point, and particularly when it comes to higher mental functions, the picture tends to blur.

The development of biofeedback techniques in the past decade (described later) has brought another important research tool into this same area. In the West it had been considered that those aspects of our bodily functions which could be brought under voluntary control were strictly delimited by the division between the sympathetic and autonomic nervous systems. This assumption was in sharp contrast to the Eastern view which held that any bodily function could be consciously modified at will. Miller (1971) and Kamiya (1969) have now shown that the latter view is largely correct; that the individual provided with feedback has the ability to become conscious of, and in a limited way modify, the activities of both his own brain and the rest of his body. This development represents an important shift away from the "robotomorphic" images presented by ESB research and the chemical domination of mind suggested by Clark.

Split-brain research has directly challenged the unitary mind concept, and we now know that the total number of possible states of the brain can be given only by a number of truly astronomical proportions — according to Anokhin (1971), a one followed by a line of zeros stretching out into space 24 times the distance from the earth to the moon! No wonder that to some, the brain has begun to look like an enormous hologram (Pribram, 1971). As physicist Weisskopf remarks (1972):

The deeper we penetrate into the complexity of living organisms, into the structure of matter, or into the vast expanses of the universe, the closer we get to the essential problems of Natural Philosophy. How does a growing organism develop its complex structure? What is the significance of the particles and subparticles of which matter is composed? What is the structure and history of the Universe?

Biological Rhythms and Bioelectric Fields.

Modern biology has developed an understanding of man centered largely around a chemical paradigm. In recent decades, however, more attention has been given to the complementary electrical aspect of biological functioning (Presman, 1970) and as a result, factors that were previously regarded as unimportant have been recognized as significant. For example, certain low-level radiation has now been found to affect adversely important parameters of human functioning such as reaction time, mood, and the rates of biological processes (Adey, 1972; Colquhoun, 1971; Krueger, 1973; Fischer, 1966). Becker (1963) has correlated frequency of admissions to mental hospitals with geomagnetic fluctuations.

The combined body of this work suggests that (1) the electrical environment of man is just as important as the chemical, (2) inattention to this environment adversely affects a significant (though undetermined) segment of the population, who may end up being treated as "mentally ill" when the problem may be an electrically imbalanced environment. It is only recently that some action has been taken to investigate this whole question of "electromagnetic pollution" and clearly, a vast amount of work remains to be done (Healer, 1970).

Research into the effects of various kinds of fields and electrical currents on biological organisms had led to improved rates of healing (Becker, 1971) and apparently more effective control of pain, as well as correlations between the electrical environment and the incidence of various diseases (Barnothy, 1971). Many of these field phenomena are rhythmic in nature, affecting and being affected by weather patterns for example, and there is a new surge of interest in the investigation of biological rhythms and their significance for the human being (Luce, 1971). As a result, the highly rhythmic nature of many aspects of human functioning is becoming clear and the combination of these two areas of research is beginning to present a view which more closely resembles that of the old astrologers, with their emphasis on the importance of the cosmic environment for human affairs, than the more conventional view wherein the immediate chemical environment of the organism is considered paramount.

On a larger scale, the strongly rhythmic patterns of many phases of societal phenomena, such as war and conflict, create the desire to understand causal factors for them on a much wider scale than previously considered reasonable. This suggests to some the Aristotelian image of the universe itself as a sort of organism — the "cosmobiological conception of nature." At the fringes of these developments lies the recent research into the old Eastern technique of acupuncture, based on such concepts as "energy flow" and a more field-oriented approach to the human organism. It may be that reorientation toward the "field approach" may serve to bring the biological view of humans more closely in line with the Eastern view, which holds that the individual is essentially part of the cosmic evolutionary process.

Consciousness Research

Science has been concerned with the relationship of things to one another and not to ourselves (Lonergan, 1957). However, it is our consciousness that perceives relationships, even when science has erected an interface of instruments between reality and the observer. The important anchor point of the observer has been often overlooked. Chaitanya (1972) notes that:

It was soon forgotten that to describe experience completely, one had to mention the consciousness looking out as well as the universe which was seen when it looked outward.

In Western science it has been generally assumed that the consciousness involved in scientific observation should only be of the kind that produces objective knowledge. In recent years, however, there has been increased scientific interest in consciousness as such, in the relations between physical states and consciousness, and in the ways altered states of awareness can affect perception, thinking, feelings, and behavior. Researchers from psychology, neurology, and many other disciplines are studying sleep and dreaming, meditation, brain-wave control, yoga, hypnosis, and other states of consciousness. These studies indicate that not only does man have rarely used potentials which can be learned, but that elements of these states are more common than previously thought and their influence on perception is such that the world seen by them differs in many respects from that characterizing "normal" consciousness. As the visible light band is a minute part of the total electromagnetic spectrum, so "normal" human consciousness is showing up to be a small portion of total human awareness.

It is becoming clear that many altered states of consciousness and other topics can be brought into the realm of scientific inquiry. Many of these subjective states or phenomena were originally classified as religious or mystical in nature, and hence excluded from scientific study as not being objective, physicalistic, or subject to general observation. These attitudes are changing, first because the breakdown of subjective-objective dichotomies is demonstrating the importance of consciousness, and second because technological developments have made it possible to discover physiological correlates of subjective states — dreams, for example, can now be detected and monitored through rapid eye movements (REM) and EEG recordings. As a result of such advances, these former topics of mysticism are moving into the domain of scientific verification and exploration.


Major scientific research into the nature and characteristics of hypnosis has increased rapidly in the last decade. The state of hypnosis is still not well understood, but it can be defined as a state of mind usually induced by another person, which involves control over attention and also communication with parts of the mind usually outside of awareness, such as memory, subconscious processes, and physical control of the body. The hypnotized person's usual structure of reality recedes, enabling him to have intense absorption in one facet of awareness.

Present research indicates that many affects are possible through suggestion in the hypnotic state: control of pain, enhanced memory and mental abilities, changes in motivation and emotion, changes in habits, increases in creativity, and control over physical processes, including blood flow and treatment of many diseases (Weitzenhoffer, 1953; Hilgard, 1965; Krippner, 1969).

It appears likely that most phenomena which can be evoked by a hypnotic suggestion from a hypnotist can also be done by an individual himself, through self-hypnosis and self-suggestion (Sparks, 1962). The technique is one which can be learned individually and in groups. An example of this is the technique called "autogenic training" developed by Schultz and Luthe (Luthe, 1969) which uses self-suggestion exercises for therapeutic medical treatments, e.g. relaxation, increasing blood flow to hands and feet, creating mental calmness.

Researchers are finding that deep states of hypnosis are not necessary for many of the affects to be produced, so it is likely that self-hypnosis and self-suggestion can be used by a great many persons in our society. The list of potential uses of hypnosis is extensive and impressive, and one may wonder why hypnosis is not used more extensively and more frequently.

One partial answer is that we do not have a paradigm, in medicine or in our culture, within which hypnosis can be understood and used consistently and responsibly. Our medicine is based on the manipulation of material processes through material means: drugs, surgical intervention, diagnostic tests. So strong is the preference for physical means of treatment that psychophysical processes are fringe areas: psychosomatic ills, the neuroses, and mental conditions and treated frequently with drugs, placebos, or psychosurgery, instead of through psychological methods. With a supportive psychological and experiential context, in which hypnosis is considered normal and useful, leading to autonomy and self-control, its potential would be more likely to be accepted, explored, and used.


Many of the results obtained through hypnosis — voluntary control of a wide variety of internal states — can also be achieved through biofeedback training (BFT). This is a technique of giving a person precise and immediate feedback on a particular physical process as it occurs. The most widely known BFT has been applied to the control of brain waves. In a procedure devised by Kamiya (1969), an electroencephalograph is used to monitor a person's brain waves and arranged to sound a tone whenever alpha frequencies (8-14 cps) occur in the brain. The subject is instructed to note how he is thinking when the tone sounds and to try to keep the tone sounding. With this feedback, many individuals learn to increase the proportion of alpha waves in their brain, often within a few hours.

As we noted earlier, this kind of control was always thought to be impossible in the West. The pioneering work of Kamiya (1969) and Miller (1971) changed this belief: the physical processes that have so far proved amenable to learned voluntary control include brain waves (alpha and theta frequencies), heart rate, blood pressure, body and skin temperature, muscle relaxation, and even the electrical activity of single cells in the spinal cord (Barber, 1971).

The consequences of this development for the individual's ability to learn the full range of controls that are possible over the activity of his own brain have been mentioned earlier. Some preliminary reports from this research indicate that such control is established through a different kind of conscious volition, a "passive volition." This may change the ways in which knowledge gained in these states can be processed or used.[viii] A less appreciated aspect of this new technology is that it can allow the person to become more specifically sensitive to the effects of changes in his environment, normally unnoticed and occurring as a result of changes emanating from remote locations, e.g. the effects of changes in the magnetic and electromagnetic environment on reaction time and the generation of hypertension (Presman, 1970). The psychosomatic basis for many diseases may also be explored in a more dispassionate way, allowing the patient to become aware of the full situation surrounding illness. This could have significant consequences in overall mental stability and the sense of self-responsibility in the individual.


This is the most common altered state of consciousness that people experience. Dreams have been a subject of interest from early times and have often been associated with precognitive experiences and creative experiences of all kinds. Freud concluded that dreams were images created by the subconscious to express emotions, desires, and feelings, chiefly as wish fulfillments (cf. Freud, 1950). Others have found that dreams present trial solutions to problems, show images and goals, and dramatize themes and patterns from waking life. Jung suggested that they represent contact with the basic archetypal images which are also expressed in myths.

About two decades ago researchers discovered that when a sleeping person dreams, his eyes move under his closed lids (Aserinsky and Kleitman, 1955). This discovery, simple though it was, made it possible to get recall of a person's dreams during the night by simply waking him or her during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, rather than relying on his spotty recall the morning after. Once the correlation was made, then a study of EEG patterns revealed that dreaming went in cycles through the night, with the length of dream time increasing toward morning. The conclusion is clear that although dreams occur to everyone, for some individuals they are not accessible to conscious memory in the morning.

Interest in dreams and dream consciousness cuts across several fields. Psychotherapists are exploring the meanings and uses of dreams for the individual's personality, life problems, and growth needs (Freud, 1950; Perls, 1969; Martin, 1955; Faraday, 1972). Researchers in neurology and psychophysiology are studying the mechanisms of dream production and the function of dreams for the mental health of the individual. The possibility of controlling or guiding dreams is being explored by researchers in consciousness (Tart, 1969, 1970; Witkin, 1969; Casteneda, 1972) and others have studied the relation of dreams to ESP (Dunne, 1939; Ullman and Krippner, 1970). The findings from this research suggest that humans have extensive and important dream lives, which contributes to their psychological, emotional, and physical health, and that their dreams can be used for their benefit in a number of ways:

• Dreaming is essential for mental health, and dream deprivation results in detrimental psychological effects.

• Actions, plots, and themes of dreams can to some extent be controlled.

• Solutions to personal or practical problems can be produced in dreams.

• Literary and artistic creations can be developed through dreams.

• Emotional conflicts and needs can be communicated through dreams.

• Different parts of the personality can communicate through dreams.

• Integrative and positive personality images can occur in dreams.

• Telepathic and precognitive information can be received and expressed in dreams.

• "Waking consciousness" can be maintained in some dreams.

• Telepathic, predictive, and other apparent ESP messages may occur in dreams. (See the later section in parapsychology.)


Though interest in meditational practices has increased markedly in the West during the past decade, some of the techniques themselves are thousands of years old, being drawn from classical traditions of mysticism, religious practices, and methods of self-understanding. There are two general types of meditation. In one, the individual gathers his attention on an object, a thought, a sound, or some other internal or external sensation, with the goal of merging with that object. In the second technique, the meditator clears his mind so that he is empty of thoughts, ideas, feelings, sensations, or "programs." Whichever technique is used it must be learned and practiced if it is to have any effect.

The limited amount of scientific research that has been done indicates that meditation results in lowered rates of metabolism, respiration, blood flow and oxygen consumption, increased alpha waves in the brain, and increased relaxation (Wallace, 1970). The psychological effects include a vast range of reported phenomena, such as: recall of experiences, abilities to shut out distractions, changes in color or shape of objects, and feelings of relaxation or peace (Deikman, 1963; Tart, 1969).

Also there is some evidence that different methods of meditation produce different results that are consistent with the goals of the practice. For example, EEG studies show that in Zen meditation, continual awareness of the external world is maintained (Kasamatsu and Hirai, 1966) while in Yoga meditation, external stimuli are ignored (Anand, Chhina, and Singh, 1961). Each of these is appropriate to the intention — to remain aware of the outside world in Zen, and to withdraw from it in Yoga.

Psychologically, some meditators experience the world transcendentally following meditation, seeing it as fresh, new, and often more brightly colored. This kind of transfiguration (reported in Deikman, 1963) is similar to reports of experiences by religious mystics, and indicates that meditation may give individual insights into parts of awareness which are deeper than normal everyday consciousness.

Psychedelic Drugs.

In the last 15 years there has been increased interest in chemical substances that change the quality and characteristics of normal everyday consciousness, particularly through such drugs as lysergic acid, mescaline, psilocybin, and others. These drugs, referred to as psychedelics, hallucinogens, or psychoactive chemicals, expand or contract the field of consciousness; they seem capable of enhancing perceptions and sensations, giving access to memories and past experiences, facilitating mental activity, and producing changes in the level of consciousness, including what are reported as transcendent experiences of a religious or cosmic nature (Masters and Houston, 1966).

Although uncontrolled and illegal drug use in the United States has hampered scientific research, psychoactive substances seem to have many potential uses if used under proper conditions[ix] (Masters and Houston, 1966; Aaronson and Osmond, 1970; Krippner in Tart, 1969).

• Psychotherapy using psychedelic chemicals has had remarkable success.

• Some studies have shown that creativity can be enhanced, at least in artists and creative workers.

• Therapeutic sessions using psychedelic drugs with patients suffering terminal diseases have resulted in less pain and apprehension regarding death.

• Transcendent, religious, or "cosmic" experiences occur to some.

• Hyperawareness of body states and physiological processes have been reported.

• Some evidence indicates that parapsychological abilities may be enhanced.

These potentials, as with those deriving from hypnosis, meditation, and other altered states of awareness, are subject to the conditions set by the individual through his personality and his expectations, the setting and context of the treatment, and the sophistication with which the particular drug is used. The potential of these techniques has not been fully explored, largely owing to a combination of the problems sometimes associated with their use in ill-suited conditions and an unfavorable societal attitude.

Unconscious Processes and Subliminal Stimulation.

The theory that parts of our thinking and mental processes are outside of our awareness is becoming accepted today. Initially called the subliminal self (Myers, 1903) or the unconscious (Freud, 1950), the suggestion of unconscious processes first seemed in conflict with the image of rational man, in which the individual was regarded as fully conscious and rationally in charge of his thoughts and behavior. Now there is general realization that many mental processes take place outside of awareness, and these influence our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings.

The notion that the senses could receive information below the normal thresholds for perception or awareness has also been the subject of controversy many times during this century. Laws prohibiting subliminal advertising were drawn up even when its actual existence was being questioned by psychologists. Dixon (1972) has recently reexamined the whole question in a critical light and found that as measured against eight different experimental criteria, the phenomenon is real and has been found to affect at least eight different aspects of perception and behavior.

The Superconscious.

Freud's concept of the unconscious mind emphasized a pool of negative, emotion-ridden conflicts, and this notion has come to characterize the unconscious. Currently there are indications that a concept of a superconscious aspect of mind is emerging. The superconscious is the name given to the creative, intuitive, inspiring aspects of mind, those which have positive and self-directing qualities (Assagioli, 1965; Aurobindo, 1971; Teilhard de Chardin, 1969). Like other mental activities that are outside of conscious awareness, it may be expressed in dreams, hunches, feelings, and intuitive "knowings." At present the idea of a superconscious is scattered among a number of philosophers, psychologists, and other investigators of consciousness. If the concept is a viable one, it may coalesce with as much force and effect as did the earlier idea of unconscious processes.

Toward a Science of Consciousness.

Besides the study of specific states of consciousness, researchers are beginning to develop explanatory and descriptive theories regarding consciousness. Lilly (1972) hypothesizes that the mind (and body) is a human biocomputer, with programs and metaprograms which can be analyzed and altered. Muses (1972), a mathematician, describes consciousness mathematically by hypernumbers. Tart (1971) considers states of consciousness as information-processing systems, with units such as memory, emotion, sense of identity, evaluation and decision, and awareness. Krippner (in White, 1972) has listed twenty states of consciousness, with criteria to distinguish each. Such theories require investigation and further development, but indicate that an investigation of consciousness and its alterations is scientifically feasible.

Here we can summarize as follows: the extension of the scientific method to the study of consciousness itself has resulted in the identification of an increasing number of distinct states of consciousness, each with distinct characteristics through which reality may be experienced or interpreted. Tart (1972) suggests that the rules of correspondence which exist between "normal" consciousness and the "external" world should also be discovered between other states of consciousness and the realities "external" to them. This extension of the scientific method could, he suggests, greatly enhance science and the usual assumption of science that "our ordinary, normal, so-called rational state of consciousness is the best one for surviving on this planet and understanding the universe" (Tart, 1973). The con- sequences could be profound not only for science, by extending greatly the meaning of generalization for example, but also for the image of humankind. The image stemming from this research as a whole is basically one which overlaps with the image from evolutionary theory, wherein the course of evolution moves toward increasing complexity on the physical level and increasing awareness in the arena of consciousness.

Parapsychology and Psychic Research

We come now to research on phenomena that violate the paradigms of physicality or causation, or that cannot be explained by the known laws of the universe.
The four major divisions of this kind of research to date are as follows:

• Telepathy. The perception of another person's on-going mental activities without the use of any sensory means of communication.

• Clairvoyance. The ability to know directly information or facts about events occurring in remote locations, without normal sensory means.

• Precognition. The ability to know of events or happenings in the future without sensory or inferential means of knowing.

• Psychokinesis (telekinesis). The movement of matter by non-physical means or direct mental influence over physical objects or systems.[x]

The first three are often referred to collectively as psi phenomena, or extrasensory perception (ESP); psychokinesis is sometimes referred to under the rubric of psycho-energetic phenomena. The main task chosen by early workers in these areas was proof of the actual existence of the phenomena; the seemingly sporadic nature of their occurrence meant that the only proof which could be sought at the time was statistical in nature (Rhine, 1961).

Margenau (1966) has suggested that the proper approach would be to attempt to find those conditions necessary to concentrate the phenomena sufficiently to ensure their reliable occurrence in a laboratory situation. There are many indications that this is now possible, as more and more reliable data from scientific investigation are emerging about the occurrence and characteristics of these phenomena. We survey these findings briefly:

• Altered states of consciousness, particularly those tending toward relaxation, facilitate receiving ESP information. This has been found for the states of dreaming (Ullman and Krippner, 1970), deep relaxation (Brand and Brand, 1973), alpha brain wave states (Honorton, 1969), and hypnotic suggestions (Krippner, 1967).

• Physical states and processes can be "induced" telepathically. In experiments with identical twins and also with unrelated persons, physical changes such as the rate of blood flow, electrical skin resistance, and brain wave patterns have been sent from one person to another (Dean, 1966; Tart in Ryzl, 1970; Duane and Behrendt, 1965).

• Telepathy is more likely between persons who have mutual liking, or who have physical or emotional bonds (Anderson and White, 1956; Duane and Behrendt, 1965).

• Emotions and emotional content can be transmitted telepathically. Moss (1969), for example, presented emotionally stimulating visual and musical sequences to senders, and percipients (the receivers) reported corresponding emotional feelings.

• High motivation enhances psi phenomena (Rhine and Pratt, 1957).

• Belief in extrasensory perception raises ESP scoring levels in laboratory experiments; disbelief lowers them (these are colloquially called sheep vs. goat experiments) (Schmeidler and McConnell, 1958; Palmer, 1971).

• Telepathic or other psi information is often received subliminally, and gains access to the conscious mind through hunches, dreams, intuitions, and feelings (L. E. Rhine, 1961).

• The information is often interpreted through the receiver's own frameworks of perception, rather than seen as it was sent. For example, the visual message of a boxing match may be translated into an image of an ocean with pounding waves; messages regarding street riots may be consciously perceived as relating to earthquakes (Moss, 1969).

• Scores on ESP tests have been correlated with several different personality characteristics (e.g. Kanthamani and Rao, 1973).

• Psychokinetic effects have been demonstrated in the laboratory to affect quantum processes, mechanical and electronic systems, and falling dice and other objects (Adamenko, 1972; L. E. Rhine, 1970; Green, 1973; Ostrander and Schroeder, 1970).

• Psychokinetic or paranormal physical effects are almost always small in laboratory experiments, but may be of large magnitude in real life situations, such as poltergeist phenomena — which may be caused in some cases by psychokinesis (L. E. Rhine, 1970; Roll, 1970).

• In experimental studies, the psychokinetic effect almost always shows a significant cyclic decline in strength over short time periods (L. E. Rhine, 1970).

These findings are still scattered pieces of information, and as yet the field awaits an integrating theory or set of principles which will reveal lawful patterns. Scientists from disciplines other than psychology are entering the investigations of psychic phenomena, and this has widened the variety of search criteria being brought to bear on the issue. Just as the chemist knows that certain conditions of temperature, pressure, timing and concentration of chemicals are necessary for a reaction to yield a given product, modern psychic research is piecing together the complex pattern of conditions likely to enhance the occurrence of telepathy or precognition.

Several new developments make these investigations more feasible now than they were in the past:

• It may be possible to train psychic abilities using techniques of immediate feedback to enhance the learning process (Targ and Hurt, 1972).

• Psychics have always referred to other modes of perception as part of their ability, e.g. the perception of "auras" or fields around the body as sources of information. Electronic instrumentation sensitive to minute changes in magnetic and other fields around the body can now be used in a biofeedback set-up to enhance these kinds of perception (Beal, 1973).

• Electronic instrumentation can further be used to detect and monitor psychophysiological states which are correlated with psychic functioning (ASPR Newsletter, 1972).

• The use of gifted psychics in laboratory research is increasing. Many of these persons apparently have voluntary control of various parapsychological abilities (Green, 1972; Stanford Research Institute, 1973).

• Certain aspects of physics that were thought to logically prohibit most psychic phenomena are no longer held so rigidly. The classical formulations of the principles of causality and conservation of energy are not holding up in certain situations in quantum physics (Margenau, 1965) and thus physical theory is making room for some of the kinds of causality involved in psychic phenomena.

• Theories of the phenomena based on quantum mechanics and physics have begun to emerge; in one of these, the theoretical curve for the distribution of psychic abilities in populations closely matches experimental data (Walker, 1973).

In psychic research, where the theoretical issues are in many cases identical with the limits of physics, it is understandable that many relevant general models will come from physics. For example, attempts are being made to relate "hidden variable" theory in quantum mechanics, concepts of hypernumber and hyperspace, and theories of sub-atomic particles to a description of the physical world in such a way that it includes, at least theoretically, the information that can be the basis for psychic perception (Walker, 1973; Muses, 1972-3; Kozyrev, 1968; Koestler, 1972).
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