Emphatic Civilization

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  • Book: The Emphatic Civilization. Jeremy Rifkin.


Edward Berge:

(Berge says chapt. 16 of the Zero Marginal Cost Society is a recap of the theses of this earlier book here)

"Chapter 16 [A Biosphere Lifestyle] is a recap of the historical eras. In forager/hunter societies our empathic drive was limited to one's family and tribe in mythological consciousness. We then moved into agricultural civilization where empathy was extended to one's religious family in theological consciousness. Next up was a steam-powered civilization that extended our empathy to those in our nation states and an ideological consciousness. Next was mass electrification and an extension of empathy to larger associations based on cultural, professional and technical affiliation via psychological consciousness. And now we are entering the commons via the internet and emerging IoT, our empathy extending to all humanity as well as the environment via biospheric consciousness.

He notes that all of the above still exist in each of us with different emphases as well as culturally is various degrees depending on context. There are also regressions and progressions depending on a variety of factors. But overall there is an unmistakable trajectory of greater empathetic embrace. And this is not some transcendent, ever-more abstract worldview detached from our basic empathetic connections. Empathy is what keeps us grounded in this body and this world as we acknowledge that this life is finite and we all die.

Somewhere around the shift from ideological to psychological consciousness we realized this via our existential crises. As we move into biospheric consciousness we use death to remind us of how precious and fragile life is in all its manifestations and take responsibility for better stewardship of that life knowing it will end. Whatever relative immortality there is lies in our contributions to a progressive biospheric culture in which we participate. And if that shift reaches enough of us in enough time then that culture just might survive the environmental devastation wrought by capitalist consciousness. That of course remains uncertain. The path ahead is being laid and it's now up to us to walk the talk, or more than just individuals will die." (http://www.integralworld.net/berge7.html)