Subliming according to Wikipedia is a process that allows a civilization to transfer the consciousness of its individual members (biological and/or artificial) from the material universe that we experience to another plane of existence.
The bald facts are that Iain Banks was a Scottish socialist and atheist and (in my opinion at least) one of the finest writers and thinkers of our age. Would he be horrified to see his concept of “sublimation” extended to the almost universal desire throughout human history for the divine? Yes, I think he probably would but he must have been aware of the parallels. I can do no better than observe: “the sublimed species seem to utilise immense power over the material universe, to the point where sublimed species can be thought of as close to godlike”.
The Culture is undoubtedly a Utopia but a far from dystopian one. It is a universe where beneficent “Minds” embodied in vast travelling spaceships can and do almost everything. They are undoubtedly godlike. They look after the universe and try to improve the lot of those they encounter. They are good. They are wise. They are bold and well nigh invincible. They are everything we ourselves would like to aspire to.
And in this age of almost overwhelming technological optimism we may hope to become “Minds” ourselves in the (supposedly) coming singularity.
Yet beyond the Minds there was another universe, another plane – a non physical one. The Minds were still bound to metal; in Descartian terms they were minds but also bodies. Do some of us still think in these terms? Do some still believe that we are more than the sum of our parts and can thus aspire to a post physical world?
I hope so.