Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Josheph VorosDr Joseph Voros began his career as a physicist?he holds a PhD in theoretical physics, during which he worked on mathematical extensions to the General Theory of Relativity - followed by several years in Internet-related companies, including a stint at Netscape Communications Corporation, before becoming a professional futurist and strategic foresight analyst. He is a Senior Lecturer, Strategy & Strategic Foresight at Swinburne University, Australia.

Two Conference Presentations on
Big History and
Integral Theory

Joseph Voros

Current models of Big History usually consider [only] the observed increases over cosmic time-scales of material-energetic complexity as a foundational concept.

Futurist Joseph Voros contributed an essay for Integral World back in 2002, Reframing Environmental Scanning, in which he introduced Ken Wilber (and Don Beck) into the world of future studies. As Board Member of the International Big History Association he's also deeply involved in the subject of Big History. Here as well, he introduces the dimension of interiority, to complement the common emphasis on growth of complexity.

In my essay Integral Theory and the Big History Approach I compared the two worlds of inqury, concluding among other things that Integral Theory needs a better grounding in science, but Big History needs to take a closer look at the interior and cultural dimensions of (at least the human part of) history.

Contacting Joseph Voros about possible contributions for Integral World related to these fields of study, he kindly suggested to link to his two recent conference presentations below. They can be read in PDF format.


MACRO-PROSPECTION: thinking about the future using macro- and Big History, Paper presented at the Global Future 2045 International Congress, Moscow, Russia, 17-20 February 2012, Source: Swinburne Research Bank.

Global Future 2045 International Congress

Abstract Thinking about the future relies on the use of frameworks of understanding upon which to base different modes of futures thinking. These frameworks are often implicit and thereby not usually subject to being critically examined. The development of a 'generic foresight process' framework has allowed the critical selection of distinct and appropriate frameworks of understanding for use in foresight work and futures research matched to context and scope. As part of this work, a generalised framework for 'layered methodology' has also been developed, in which the 'deepest' level of interpretive inquiry is the 'historical' level, in which the scope---in both space and time---could involve just one society, a number of societies or civilizations, or, on the grandest of all scales, might encompass cosmology and Universal

Thus, by using historical and macrohistorical models, theories and perspectives---of increasing scope and time-frame---we may look for insights about potential futures at a very deep level and thereby undertake profoundly 'deep' futures thinking. Perhaps the grandest model currently available for use in this way is the scenario of Cosmic Evolution, which includes the specific case of how that evolution has played out here on Planet Earth, namely, what has come to be known as 'Big History'. This paper will: introduce the elements of the generic foresight process framework; examine a variety of different types of futures thinking; 'locate' the use of macrohistorical models within the broader foresight thinking process; examine some key aspects of the Big History perspective; and use this perspective to conduct 'macro-prospection'; i.e., to think systematically about the future, informed by Big-Historical thinking. From this will emerge a thumbnail sketch of some of the issues we may need to confront at the civilizational, planetary, and even species level as we navigate our way into the future. It is hoped that the activity of generating such a sketch---as well as demonstrating the processes of thinking that lead to it---will help contribute to the successful navigation by humanity into the rapidly emerging and increasingly dangerous future.


COMPLEXITY + CONSCIOUSNESS: a model of Big History based on self-organising complexity, incorporating consciousness, Paper presented at 'Teaching and researching Big History: exploring a new scholarly field', the Inaugural International Big History Association Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, 02-05 August 2012, Swinburne Research Bank, 2012, Source: Swinburne Research Bank.

Teaching and researching Big History: exploring a new scholarly field

Abstract Current models of Big History usually consider the observed increases over cosmic time-scales of material-energetic complexity as a foundational concept, but do not have as clear a way to also consider the observed increases in the complexity of human cognitive experiences ('interiority') over the time-frame that we have been able to observe it. A model of Big History is presented which seeks to unify the material-energetic-complexity view of Big History, founded on the physical sciences, especially physics and chemistry, based on the seminal work of Erich Jantsch, with an 'increasing complexity of interiority' view, which has recently emerged from the humanities, especially psychology and anthropology, drawn from the synthesising theoretical work of Ken Wilber. Such a unified view can do justice to the enduring insights and truths from the sciences while also incorporating the emerging insights and theoretical advances which have come to light over the last century or so of research into human psychology and culture. This high-level model of 'orienting generalisations' is useful as a way to organise the various knowledge domains that need to be drawn upon in Big History, and it also provides a useful framework for thinking about the future of our civilisation, species, and planet, from a 'macro' perspective commensurate with the scope and perspective of Big History.

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