*Visit me at* http://tinyurl.com/cindyopenhouse G+ community'The Empathic Civilization': Rethinking Human Nature in the Biosphere Era
Hi dear friends and followers. This entry is derived in part from a book written by Jeremy Rifkin. The Empathic Civilization. I have read in part some of his work several years ago and have found it to be interesting. I hope that you also enjoy reading this entry.
Purchasing power plummeted and the global economy collapsed. That was the earthquake that tore asunder the industrial age built on and propelled by fossil fuels. The failure of the financial markets two months later was merely the aftershock. The fossil fuel energies that make up the industrial way of life are sunsetting and the industrial infrastructure is now on life support.
In December 2009, world leaders from 192 countries assembled in Copenhagen to address the question of how to handle the accumulated entropy bill of the fossil fuel based industrial revolution-the spent C0₂ that is heating up the planet and careening the earth into a catastrophic shift in climate. After years of preparation, the negotiations broke down and world leaders were unable to reach a formal accord.
Neither the world's political or business leaders anticipated the economic debacle of July 2008, nor were they able to cobble together a sufficient plan for economic recovery in the months since. They were equally inept at addressing the issue of climate change, despite the fact that the scientific community warns that is poses the greatest threat to our species in its history, that we are running out of time, and that we may even be facing the prospect of our own extinction.
The problem runs deeper than the issue of finding new ways to regulate the market or imposing legally binding global green house gas emission reduction targets. The real crisis lies in the set of assumptions about human nature that governs the behavior of world leaders--assumptions that were spawned during the Enlightenment more than 200 years ago at the dawn of the modern market economy and the emergence of the nation state era.
The Enlightenment thinkers--John Locke, Adam Smith, Marquis de Condorcet et. al.--took umbrage with the Medieval Christian world view that saw human nature as fallen and depraved and that looked to salvation in the next world through God's grace. They preferred to cast their lot with the idea that human beings' essential nature is rational, detached, autonomous, acquisitive and utilitarian and argued that individual salvation lies in unlimited material progress here on Earth.
The Enlightenment notions about human nature were reflected in the newly minted nation-state whose raison d'être was to protect private property relations and stimulate market forces as well as act as a surrogate of the collective self-interest of the citizenry in the international arena. Like individuals, nation-states were considered to be autonomous agents embroiled in a relentless battle with other sovereign nations in the pursuit of material gains.
If human nature is as the Enlightenment philosophers claimed, then we are likely doomed. It is impossible to imagine how we might create a sustainable global economy and restore the biosphere to health if each and every one of us is, at the core of our biology, an autonomous agent and a self-centered and materialistic being.
Recent discoveries in brain science and child development, however, are forcing us to rethink these long-held shibboleths about human nature. Biologists and cognitive neuroscientists are discovering mirror-neurons--the so-called empathy neurons--that allow human beings and other species to feel and experience another's situation as if it were one's own. We are, it appears, the most social of animals and seek intimate participation and companionship with our fellows.
Social scientists, in turn, are beginning to reexamine human history from an empathic lens and, in the process, discovering previously hidden strands of the human narrative which suggests that human evolution is measured not only by the expansion of power over nature, but also by the intensification and extension of empathy to more diverse others across broader temporal and spatial domains. The growing scientific evidence that we are a fundamentally empathic species has profound and far-reaching consequences for society, and may well determine our fate as a species.
What is required now is nothing less than a leap to global empathic consciousness and in less than a generation if we are to resurrect the global economy and revitalize the biosphere. The question becomes this: what is the mechanism that allows empathic sensitivity to mature and consciousness to expand through history?
The pivotal turning points in human consciousness occur when new energy regimes converge with new communications revolutions, creating new economic eras. The new communications revolutions become the command and control mechanisms for structuring, organizing and managing more complex civilizations that the new energy regimes make possible. For example, in the early modern age, print communication became the means to organize and manage the technologies, organizations, and infrastructure of the coal, steam, and rail revolution. It would have been impossible to administer the first industrial revolution using script and codex.
Communication revolutions not only manage new, more complex energy regimes, but also change human consciousness in the process. Forager/hunter societies relied on oral communications and their consciousness was mythologically constructed. The great hydraulic agricultural civilizations were, for the most part, organized around script communication and steeped in theological consciousness. The first industrial revolution of the 19th century was managed by print communication and ushered in ideological consciousness. Electronic communication became the command and control mechanism for arranging the second industrial revolution in the 20th century and spawned psychological consciousness.
To be continued tomorrow
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✿ڰۣ❤In Loving Light from the Fairy Lady❤ڰۣ✿
✿ڰۣ❤In Loving Light from the Fairy Lady❤ڰۣ✿