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What are the cornerstones of civilisation?

Based on the recommendation by a fascinating author Erik Wargo (time loops, pre-cognition, paranormal), I watched the 2016 film Arrival based on a short story by Ted Chang - an equally fascinating science fiction writer.

For Wargo, the film uniquely captures the true nature of how non-human contact, non-linearity of time and pre-cognition come together.

One quick comment here however, is that early in the film the two main stars refer to their respective assertions as to what is the cornerstone of civilisation. The first, Amy Adams, says it is language (her role in the film is as a language specialist, helping in how to communicate with the aliens), the second, Jeremy Renner, says it is science (who happens to play the role as the leading scientific advisor to the alien contact operations).

It immediately struck me that they are both right, yet missing one other dimension....and that is imagination as a cornerstone to civilisation, and what distinguishes humans from the animal kingdom.

Associated to my reflection, was the correspondence to the universal philosophical Triad as to how we can perceive the universe (from Kant through Wilber) through the lenses of the Good (We), the True (It), and the Beautiful (I).

These can be equally mapped to the Real, the Symbolic and the Imaginary (from a French psychiatrist / psychologist's book that I'm reading currently, called 'Le Gout de Vivre', by Edouard Zarifian).

  • Science is a cornerstone as the True or Real;

  • Language as the Good or Symbolic;

  • AND...the Imagination as the Beautiful, the "I" personal subjective

As a closing thought, the imaginal is a capacity that anthropologists have argued distinguishes us from primates and the animal kingdom, in that we have the unique ability to hold nested abtract systems - which I posit is linked to our capacities of imagination.

Do these associations hold? What do you think?

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