One of the purposes of the above brief historical account is to show that human freedom increases throughout this process and consequently does its influence on social development. In the past, physical and social determinants have had a much greater role, therefore the social processes were highly conditioned. However, this trend has been steadily decreasing, to be overtaken by choice. At present we are at the crucial point of the lowest determinism. Human beings are for the first time in a situation where they are able to create their own destiny, which greatly increases responsibility. Although this point was already reached some time ago (roughly around the 1960's) the final choice after which the inertia takes over has not yet been made. This means that the future is truly unpredictable. It is postulated that there are four possible directions.
Down: falling back into anachronic social structures, run by a religious or ideological oligarchy. It would be a step backwards that would postpone the real choice for some time, but not indefinitely.
Right: moving away from the Intent, which would end in a technocratic autocracy (a nightmarish world, often depicted in futuristic stories and films). This option is likely to eventually lead to destruction, possibly through an environmental disaster or a global war. So, the suffering and efforts of myriad life forms that contributed to our evolution and social development would be in vain. This would be a tragedy of unimaginable proportions, but it is not impossible.
Up: continuing in the same direction would lead to meaningless, apathetic reality, in which entropy would be constantly increasing, ending eventually in chaos and anarchy. This one is unlikely to destroy the world completely, simply because the means of destruction would malfunction too. However, it would result in a slow decline. To reverse this trend, a new conceptual framework (a new start) would be required.
Left: recognising and aligning the individual and social intentions and actions with the universal (discovering, or in the case of humanism, creating a common purpose).
These choices are shown in the following diagram:
It is impossible to predict which of them will prevail. What is certain is that they are all already germinated. The rise of religious fundamentalism, for example, in some parts of the Middle East and the USA indicates the down direction. Extreme materialism that started in the Reagan - Thatcher era, but is now slowly taking roots in newly developed countries, points towards the right; the post-modern secularism (in the liberal parts of the USA, most of continental Europe, Australia etc.) represents the tendency towards the up direction. Some movements, atheistic and theistic, show signs of the shift towards the left. These are a few examples: an increasing number of individuals and organisations (e.g. some NGOs or environmental agencies) dedicated to raise awareness and tackle global issues in politics; the growth of the so-called third sector (charities, ‘social enterprises') that are driven by contribution to community rather than profit in the business world; certain aspects of globalisation such as the internet that provides free and decentralised information and a vast knowledge base (regrettably not yet widely available); non-theistic spirituality based on the idea of self-generated systems (popularised, for example, by Laszlo or the Gaia movement); the emergence and fast spreading of grass-root spirituality (not aligned to any specific religious doctrine). Although this last choice may not prevail, it is the most interesting one, so considering its possibilities may be worthwhile.
It is proposed that the options on this route may be grouped into three broad categories. This diagram represents the possible trajectories:
a) Intuitionism (emphasising experience and often seen as an expression of the feminine principle) is likely to lead to a sharp turn towards the Intent. Its consequence could be approaching the Intent from a somewhat wrong angle, like a boat that tries to enter a river perpendicular to its flow, which would run the risk of being thrown back.
b) Rationalism (emphasising reason and usually identified with the masculine principle) is positioned in between the left and up direction and could lead to approaching the Intent very slowly or even moving in parallel to the Intent (because it is likely to be dominated by a non-theistic fourth stage). This direction could solve many practical problems (creating a society akin to a ‘Star-trek' type utopia), but the meaning would remain more or less elusive, and the search would continue indefinitely.
c) The synthesis of the feminine and masculine principles would facilitate an approach to the Intent from the correct angle and aligning with it. The question may be asked what would happen in such a case. Metaphorically speaking, a bridge will be created, and human beings will not be alone any more.
- . Their names are created as a convenience, and do not have any value or ideological connotation.
- . Some find returning even further, to a pre-industrial, child-like state, as a way to get rid of consumerist society, attractive. But children are, in fact, easily mesmerised with multi-coloured superstores, junk-food outlets and expensive but worthless toys. Similarly, adults from traditional pre-industrial societies seem to be even more fascinated by flashy cars, golden rings and watches, and other consumer products.
- . For further details, see Forman, 2004
- . They are of course not identified with genders. Every person (female or male) has the capacity for both principles, although there may be a preference (or bias) for one of them.