The Future of Sustainability – a new logic for a new society
What has become widely referred to as ‘Western civilisation’ has brought great technological advancement and social change over the millennia. Its underpinning scientific-philosophy is now the dominant paradigm in most parts of our world, regarded by many as the only viable way ahead and a panacea for all our ills. The cultural belief has grown that, with enough time and money, all problems can be solved through this science and technology. One has only to be reminded of the great strides we have made in, for instance, computing, manufacturing, medicine and mass produced food to recognise the attraction of this creed.
Yet something is amiss. We seem to be facing increasingly insurmountable social, psychological, economic and environmental problems of epic proportions. Many are now recognising that these problems run deep and wide. These are pivotal times for humanity. And yet the regular reaction to our plethora of problems is to find scientific, monetary or technological fixes way downstream from the inherent problems themselves. All too often these downstream fixes actually exacerbate the underlying problems. As the scholar Joseph Milne notes, ‘There is a tendency in our age to rush to change the manifest effects of wrong actions without seriously considering the root causes’.
Far from our Western paradigm being the grand solution-provider to all our ills, many prominent thinkers in business, politics, education, society, the arts and sciences point to its role in actually fueling the multiple crises. For instance, the much admired award-winning former Chairman and CEO of Interface, Ray Anderson explained, ‘We have been, and still are, in the grips of a flawed view of reality – a flawed paradigm, a flawed world view – and it pervades our culture putting us on biological collision course with collapse.’ Christine Lagarde, Head of the International Monetary Fund points out that ‘we are currently subsidising the destruction of our planet on an enormous scale.’ Put bluntly, our prevalent way of attending is systemically anti-life, reaching far beyond the hot topic of climate change.
At deep and partly unconscious levels this flawed world view infects how we perceive, relate and attend to life. Dog-eat-dog competition is the ideology underpinning capitalist consumerism which we seem so hopelessly dependent on these days. This same ideology has hierarchic, monopolistic, hyper-competitive tendencies, which has become an ingrained tyranny, corrupting democracy, human evolution and the fabric of life on Earth. It is an ideology that is built upon incomplete assumptions about how the world works formed by the fragmenting reductionism of scientific positivism which objectifies the world we inhabit in to a collection of disparate ‘things’.
Influential thinkers such as Darwin, Freud and Bernays drew from great minds before them, such as Hobbes and Bacon, who viewed life as a ‘war of all against all’ where we either dominate or be dominated. Underpinning this is the philosophy of ‘rationalism’ – which sets things apart from each other using abstract logic, in so doing, creating an illusion of separation. The control-based logic of rationalism finds its roots in egotism, patriarchy, domination and separateness that became woven into our Western mind-set over the centuries. This logic winds up with rampant competitiveness and consumerism fueling today’s cultural infatuation with stuff, while undermining our potential for greatness with greed, envy and fear.
If we are to have a hope in hell of dealing with the root causes of our current crises, and their ever deepening and widening down-stream ramifications, we need to transform this flawed logic at source. In other words, we need a new philosophy, a new logic, a new way of understanding and relating with reality. Over the last century there have been profound developments in Western thought which point to life beyond the tidy, yet artificial, confines of objectified science: phenomenology, process philosophy, quantum reality, participatory consciousness, deep ecology and ecological psychology. All of these deeper perspectives of reality open us up to a fresh yet ancient wisdom – a way of living inspired by and in harmony with Nature.
Nature is not centralised, controlled, quantised or homogenised but distributed, diverse, locally attuning and co-creative – this wisdom leads us to a participatory way of living where co-inspiration across diverse local and global groups of interest interrelate through a common ground of being. Deep respect for ourselves, each other and Nature is not some luxury add-on which can be dispensed with in times of economic downturn, it is foundational to who we truly are; without it we become rudderless, tossed this way and that by inauthentic egotistic whims – distracted, dis-eased and deluded. There is no time like the present to breathe into this fresh yet ancient logic so we can experience and participate in life unhindered by the devastating illusion of separation.
A special for readers – a 20% discount code AF1014 when ordering the paperback here and the ebook here. Giles Hutchins will be speaking about this new paradigm at The Hub in Islington, London, UK on 10th December, to attend book here.
Giles applies twenty years business experience to the emergence of new business logic inspired and in harmony with nature, for a short video see here also the facebook community https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature and tweets @gileshutchins