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The conscious act of nurturing habits of working with full and complex thoughts can affect the unfoldment of the transformation of society at a global level. Our modes of thinking and doing in the early 21st century remain inadequate faced with a heightened level of complexity previously unknown in a global social, economic, political and physical environment. Yet there is a general social trend towards reducing complex conceptions of social reality and social change to simple slogans, twitter messages and PowerPoint thinking. Robust conversations end abruptly as false dichotomies are imposed on topics that could be seen as a cohesive whole. We have become pre-occupied with short-term, media-friendly, Twitter-friendly activities that focus exclusively on isolated events in a knee-jerk, reactionary way rather than on broader, evolutionary processes and commitment to long term goals.

These ideas emerge in conversations among Baha’is and like-minded friends who are willing to re-think thinking, judgement and social action.

Hannah Arendt (1906—1975) “one of the most original, challenging and influential political [philosophers] of the 20th century (Yar 2005).”

“[…] Arendt attempted to connect the activity of thinking to our capacity to judge. To be sure, this connection of thinking and judging seems to operate only in emergencies, in those exceptional moments where individuals, faced with the collapse of traditional standards, must come up with new ones and judge according to their own autonomous values. There is, however, a second, more elaborated view of judgment which does not restrict it to moments of crisis, but which identifies it with the capacity to think representatively, that is, from the standpoint of everyone else. Arendt called this capacity to think representatively an “enlarged mentality,” adopting the same terms that Kant employed in his Third Critique to characterize aesthetic judgment. It is to this work that we must now turn our attention, since Arendt based her theory of political judgment on Kant’s aesthetics rather than on his moral philosophy Passerin d’Entreves, Maurizio 2006).”

In his chapter entitled Of Taste as a kind of sensus communis in Kritik der Urteilskraft (1790 trans. Critique of Judgement [1892] ) Kant described,

“We often give to the Judgement, if we are considering the result rather than the act of its reflection, the name of a sense, and we speak of a sense of truth, or of a sense of decorum, of justice, etc. And yet we know, or at least we ought to know, that these concepts cannot have their place in Sense, and further, that Sense has not the least capacity for expressing universal rules; but that no representation of truth, fitness, beauty, or justice, and so forth, could come into our thoughts if we could not rise beyond Sense to higher faculties of cognition. The common Understanding of men, which, as the mere sound (not yet cultivated) Understanding, we regard as the least to be expected from any one claiming the name of man, has therefore the doubtful honour of being given the name of common sense (sensus communis); and in such a way that by the name common (not merely in our language, where the word actually has a double signification, but in many others) we understand vulgar, that which is everywhere met with, the possession of which indicates absolutely no merit or superiority.

But under the sensus communis we must include the Idea of a communal sense, i.e. of a faculty of judgement, which in its reflection takes account (a priori) of the mode of representation of all other men in thought; in order as it were to compare its judgement with the collective Reason of humanity, and thus to escape the illusion arising from the private conditions that could be so easily taken for objective, which would injuriously affect the judgement. This is done by comparing our judgement with the possible rather than the actual judgements of others, and by putting ourselves in the place of any other man, by abstracting from the limitations which contingently attach to our own judgement. This, again, is brought about by leaving aside as much as possible the matter of our representative state, i.e. sensation, and simply having respect to the formal peculiarities of our representation or representative state. Now this operation of reflection seems perhaps too artificial to be attributed to the faculty called common sense; but it only appears so, when expressed in abstract formulae. In itself there is nothing more natural than to abstract from charm or emotion if we are seeking a judgement that is to serve as a universal rule.

The following Maxims of common human Understanding do not properly come in here, as parts of the Critique of Taste; but yet they may serve to elucidate its fundamental propositions. They are: 1° to think for oneself; 2° to put ourselves in thought in the place of every one else; 3° always to think consistently. The first is the maxim of unprejudiced thought; the second of enlarged thought; the third of consecutive thought.1 The first is the maxim of a Reason never passive. The tendency to such passivity, and therefore to heteronomy of the Reason, is called prejudice; and the greatest prejudice of all is to represent nature as not subject to the rules that the Understanding places at its basis by means of its own essential law, i.e. is superstition. Deliverance from superstition is called enlightenment;2 because although this name belongs to deliverance from prejudices in general, yet superstition specially (in sensu eminenti) deserves to be called a prejudice. For the blindness in which superstition places us, which it even imposes on us as an obligation, makes the need of being guided by others, and the consequent passive state of our Reason, peculiarly noticeable. As regards the second maxim of the mind, we are otherwise wont to call him limited (borné, the opposite of enlarged) whose talents attain to no great use (especially as regards intensity). But here we are not speaking of the faculty of cognition, but of the mode of thought which makes a purposive use thereof. However small may be the area or the degree to which a man’s natural gifts reach, yet it indicates a man of enlarged thought if he disregards the subjective private conditions of his own judgement, by which so many others are confined, and reflects upon it from a universal standpoint (which he can only determine by placing himself at the standpoint of others). The third maxim, viz. that of consecutive thought, is the most difficult to attain, and can only be attained by the combination of both the former, and after the constant observance of them has grown into a habit. We may say that the first of these maxims is the maxim of Understanding, the second of Judgement, and the third of Reason.

I take up again the threads interrupted by this digression, and I say that Taste can be called sensus communis with more justice than sound Understanding can; and that the aesthetical Judgement rather than the intellectual may bear the name of a communal sense,1 if we are willing to use the word “sense” of an effect of mere reflection upon the mind: for then we understand by sense the feeling of pleasure. We could even define Taste as the faculty of judging of that which makes universally communicable, without the mediation of a concept, our feeling in a given representation.

The skill that men have in communicating their thoughts requires also a relation between the Imagination and the Understanding in order to associate intuitions with concepts, and concepts again with those concepts, which then combine in a cognition. But in that case the agreement of the two mental powers is according to law, under the constraint of definite concepts. Only where the Imagination in its freedom awakens the Understanding, and is put by it into regular play without the aid of concepts, does the representation communicate itself not as a thought but as an internal feeling of a purposive state of the mind.

Taste is then the faculty of judging a priori of the communicability of feelings that are bound up with a given representation (without the mediation of a concept).

If we could assume that the mere universal communicability of a feeling must carry in itself an interest for us with it (which, however, we are not justified in concluding from the character of a merely reflective Judgement), we should be able to explain why the feeling in the judgement of taste comes to be imputed to every one, so to speak, as a duty (Kant 1790).

“Arendt bemoans the “world alienation” that characterizes the modern era, the destruction of a stable institutional and experiential world that could provide a stable context in which humans could organize their collective existence. Moreover, it will be recalled that in human action Arendt recognizes (for good or ill) the capacity to bring the new, unexpected, and unanticipated into the world. This quality of action means that it constantly threatens to defy or exceed our existing categories of understanding or judgement; precedents and rules cannot help us judge properly what is unprecedented and new. So for Arendt, our categories and standards of thought are always beset by their potential inadequacy with respect to that which they are called upon to judge. However, this aporia of judgement reaches a crisis point in the 20th century under the repeated impact of its monstrous and unprecedented events. The mass destruction of two World Wars, the development of technologies which threaten global annihilation, the rise of totalitarianism, and the murder of millions in the Nazi death camps and Stalin’s purges have effectively exploded our existing standards for moral and political judgement. Tradition lies in shattered fragments around us and “the very framework within which understanding and judging could arise is gone.” The shared bases of understanding, handed down to us in our tradition, seem irretrievably lost. Arendt confronts the question: on what basis can one judge the unprecedented, the incredible, the monstrous which defies our established understandings and experiences? If we are to judge at all, it must now be “without preconceived categories and…without the set of customary rules which is morality;” it must be “thinking without a banister.” In order to secure the possibility of such judgement Arendt must establish that there in fact exists “an independent human faculty, unsupported by law and public opinion, that judges anew in full spontaneity every deed and intent whenever the occasion arises.” This for Arendt comes to represent “one of the central moral questions of all time, namely…the nature and function of human judgement.” It is with this goal and this question in mind that the work of Arendt’s final years converges on the “unwritten political philosophy” of Kant’s Critique of Judgement (Yar 2005).”

“Arendt eschews “determinate judgement,” judgement that subsumes particulars under a universal or rule that already exists. Instead, she turns to Kant’s account of “reflective judgement,” the judgement of a particular for which no rule or precedent exists, but for which some judgement must nevertheless be arrived at. What Arendt finds so valuable in Kant’s account is that reflective judgement proceeds from the particular with which it is confronted, yet nevertheless has a universalizing moment – it proceeds from the operation of a capacity that is shared by all beings possessed of the faculties of reason and understanding. Kant requires us to judge from this common standpoint, on the basis of what we share with all others, by setting aside our own egocentric and private concerns or interests. The faculty of reflective judgement requires us to set aside considerations which are purely private (matters of personal liking and private interest) and instead judge from the perspective of what we share in common with others (i.e. must bedisinterested). Arendt places great weight upon this notion of a faculty of judgement that “thinks from the standpoint of everyone else.” This “broadened way of thinking” or “enlarged mentality” enables us to “compare our judgement not so much with the actual as rather with the merely possible judgement of others, and [thus] put ourselves in the position of everybody else…” For Arendt, this “representative thinking” is made possible by the exercise of the imagination – as Arendt beautifully puts it, “To think with an enlarged mentality means that one trains one’s imagination to go visiting.” “Going visiting” in this way enables us to make individual, particular acts of judgement which can nevertheless claim a public validity. In this faculty, Arendt find a basis upon which a disinterested and publicly-minded form of political judgement could subvene, yet be capable of tackling the unprecedented circumstances and choices that the modern era confronts us with (Yar 2005).”

Kant, Immanuel. 1790. Kritik der Urteilskraft.  Critique of Judgement, translated with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Bernard (2nd ed. revised) (London: Macmillan, 1914). Accessed from http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1217 on 2011-03-27

Passerin d’Entreves, Maurizio. 2006.“Hannah Arendt.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Yar, Majid. “Hannah Arendt.” 2005. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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1785 German philosopher Immanuel Kant () in his publication entitled “Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals” translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott

1839 According to Rifkin (EC 2009:346) it was the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer , (1788 – 1860) who was the first to clearly define the empathic process. In his paper entitled On the Basis of Morality (Über die Grundlage der Moral) submitted to the Royal Danish Society of Scientific Studies, Schopenhauer argued against Kant’s purely rational-based, prescriptive ethics and offered an opposing description of the source and foundation of morals. Schopenhauer made the controversial claim that compassion animated by feelings and emotions formed the basis of morality.

links
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/11945/pg11945.html

http://www.archive.org/stream/basisofmorality00schoiala/basisofmorality00schoiala_djvu.txt


The Romantics argued that at the core of being there is an authentic self that is pure in nature, although corruptible by society. What made the Romantic era unique within the context of the evolutionary history of empathic consciousness is the great stress placed on what Rousseau, and later Wordsworth and Whitman, called the “Sentiment of Being.”

1755 In “Discourse on the Origins and Foundations of Inequality among Men” Rousseau argued that the noble savage man, alienated from others was more authentic than the hypocritical, servile social man who tells people what they want to hear. Kant developed the concept of the “enlarged mentality” – the ability to exercise empathy, to “stand up in the mind of others”.

“the savage lives within himself; the social man lives always outside himself; he knows how to live only in the opinion of others, it is, so to speak from their judgment along that he derives the sense of his own existence.”

The social man is someone who cares only about appearances. Rousseau abandoned Paris (and the modern age) for rural isolation claiming that even the politeness of the city promoted corruption. He concluded that,

“We have only a deceptive and frivolous outward appearance, honour without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness. It suffices for me to to have proved that this is not the original state of man, and that it is only the spirit of society and the inequality it engenders which thus transform and corrupt all our natural inclinations.”

Rousseau sees human history as beginning with the struggle for mutual recognition that Hegel analyzed as the master-slave dialectic. Rousseau’s Sentiment of Being.”

1762 Rousseau’s self-help book on proper parenting entitled Emile was published.

1790s Rousseau’s self-help book on proper parenting entitled Emile rose in popularity at the dawn of the Romantic period. Romantics were attracted to Rousseau’s emphasis on nurturing the child’s natural instincts in direct opposition to John Locke’s assertion that children are born a tabula rasa, a blank slate. Rousseau argued that children who are naturally inclined towards the good and that childhood is a time for parents to honour and nurture their children so their naturally good instincts will develop (See Rifkin EC:354).

1790s Jane Austin introduced the two sisters Elinor and Marianne in her satire of dominant currents of the later 18th century entitled Sense and Sensibility (published in 1811). The reliable, predictable Elinor, who is the voice of reason, has a deep sense of responsibility, keeps her emotions in check, fulfills her social responsibilities but ultimately finds happiness when she discovers her inner sensibility and finally marries her true love. The overly emotional, romantic, Marianne is spontaneous to the point of being irresponsible represents the bleeding heart liberal governed entirely by passions and desires. She finds happiness when she balances her exercises more sense and reason in her decision-making and actions. keywords: ideological thinking. See Rifkin (EC:320).

1805 In The Prelude begun in his twenties by Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850)’s semi-autobiographical poem of his lifelong spiritual journey. early years spiritual autobiography, he associated the experience of beauty as transcending rational thought: Wordsworth’s “Sentiment of Being.” See Trilling 1972 Sincerity and Authenticity.

The song would speak
          Of that interminable building reared
          By observation of affinities
          In objects where no brotherhood exists
          To passive minds. My seventeenth year was come
          And, whether from this habit rooted now
          So deeply in my mind, or from excess
          In the great social principle of life
          Coercing all things into sympathy,                         390
          To unorganic natures were transferred
          My own enjoyments; or the power of truth
          Coming in revelation, did converse
          With things that really are; I, at this time,
          Saw blessings spread around me like a sea.
          Thus while the days flew by, and years passed on,
          From Nature and her overflowing soul,
          I had received so much, that all my thoughts
          Were steeped in feeling; I was only then
          Contented, when with bliss ineffable                       400
          I felt the sentiment of Being spread
          O'er all that moves and all that seemeth still;
          O'er all that, lost beyond the reach of thought
          And human knowledge, to the human eye
          Invisible, yet liveth to the heart;
          O'er all that leaps and runs, and shouts and sings,
          Or beats the gladsome air; o'er all that glides
          Beneath the wave, yea, in the wave itself,
          And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not
          If high the transport, great the joy I felt,               410
          Communing in this sort through earth and heaven
          With every form of creature, as it looked
          Towards the Uncreated with a countenance
          Of adoration, with an eye of love.
          One song they sang, and it was audible,
          Most audible, then, when the fleshly ear,
          O'ercome by humblest prelude of that strain
          Forgot her functions, and slept undisturbed.

Whitman “Sentiment of Being.”

1807 G.W.F. Hegel major philosophical work entitled  Phänomenologie des Geistes [Phenomenology of Mind, Phenomenology of Spirit] was published. Hegel traced the evolution of consciousness distinguishing between lower and higher levels of consciousness. In the section entitled “Self Consciousness > A: Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness > Lordship and Bondage” Hegel developed the Master-slave dialectic.

1870 In “St. Paul and Protestantism” Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) wrote,

Below the surface stream, shallow and light,
Of what we say and feel — below the stream,
As light, of what we think we feel, there flows
With noiseless current, strong, obscure and deep,
The central stream of what we feel indeed.

Trilling cited this in Sincerity and Authenticity (1972).

1968 Student uprisings at Columbia University, Trilling’s academic intellectuals community. The adversary culture, the cruder form of liberalism, asserted itself. Complex arena of mental struggles were forced into the arena of simple political struggles. Moral, psychological, social selves that we imagined ourselves possessing were split and fragmented and a “dissociation of sensibility” took over. Wordsworth and Rousseau are crucial to Trlling in Sincerity and Authenticity.

1972 Trilling, Lionel. 1969-70. Sincerity and Authenticity. Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard published in 1972. “It comprises a history of the elaborate development of mind and self since Shakespeare, a brief consideration of certain literary texts he sees as central, a polemical refutation of some prophets of our time, and an authorial credo that conceals hope about literature while it counsels stoic resignation about life. And as his last argument with the forceful reality of death, it is also Trilling’s attempt to discover a means by which estrangement of self from self might at last be resolved. Trilling’s authentic authenticity is perhaps best embodied in Conrad of Heart of Darkness. Lesser authenticities Chace, William M. Lionel Trilling, criticism and politics. Lionel Trilling makes the point that authenticity is not to be confused with sincerity, which is being true to one’s social self. Authenticity runs deeper-it is, in the words of Trilling, a “primitive” strength that is continually compromised by society. Maintaining one’s core authenticity, for Rousseau and the Romantics, required a life of personal suffering and constant attention and sympathy to the plight of others. Only the alientated could enter into this world (Rifkin EC:350).

Sartre, the French existential philosopher of the mid-twentieth century, defined the sentiment of being as the place where

“each of us finds himself as well as the others. The common place belongs to me; in me, it

 

 

1990 Kenneth D. Bailey defined social entropy  as “a measure of social system structure, having both theoretical and statistical interpretations, i.e. society (macrosocietal variables) measured in terms of how the individual functions in society (microsocietal variables); also related to social equilibrium” in his publication entitled Social Entropy Theory. (State University of New York Press).

1999 In their publication entitled A Primer of Jungian Psychology  , (New York: Meridian), Calvin S. Hall and J. Vernon described “psychological entropy as the distribution of energy in the psyche, which tends to seek equilibrium or balance among all the structures of the psyche.”

Robinson, Jeffrey Cane. The current of romantic passion.


Social scientist, social historian, philosopher, economic and political advisor, and activist, Jeremy Rifkin has written over a dozen best-selling books on the ontology, as well as the global ecological and ethical implications and exigencies of socio-economic trends (with a focus on the 1975 onwards in the United States and Europe). His explorations of social reality transcend reporting. He abandoned hard-core activism using his in-depth knowledge from experience in Europe and the United States to call for change from the inner sanctum of the offices of CEO’s. His invitation to investigate social reality extends to everyone he can reach as he observes with increasing concern the impact of the epidemic of unfettered consumption on a fragile physical and moral ecosystem.

I do not adopt everything he suggests but I hope to be reading his past and present publications and their critical reviews over the next months. I hope to produce a timeline of significant events with their references so that high school students and concerned adults can follow through on their own. If we wish to engage in more robust and elevated conversations devoid of false dichotomies about complex societies we need to spend less time talking about what we purchased or hope to purchase and the myriad of ways we procrastinate and escape from reality, and spend more time nurturing habits of working with full and complex thoughts.

Keywords and potent phrases

conversation with people of varied backgrounds and interests, exploration of reality, shared understanding of the exigencies of this period in human history, means for addressing them

homo empathicus, paradoxical relationship between empathy and entropy, avert destruction of ecosystems, collapse of global economy, extinction of human race, change human consciousness itself, social thinker, interconnected world, mutual understanding among diverse peoples, new social tapestry, new communication revolutions,  complex societies, heightened empathic sensitivity, expanded human consciousness, evolution: human consciousness,

Selected Timeline of Events Referred to or Relating to Rifkin’s oeuvre (in progress)

1900 The term “consumption” referred to tuberculosis (Rifkin ED 2004:379).

1957 Owen Barfield described his his theory of the evolution of consciousness in his publication entitled Saving the Appearances, A Study in Idolatry. Rifkin referred to Barfield’s third state of consciousness. More

1975 onwards In America consumer choice acheived a hallowed status replacing representative democracy as the ultimate expression of human freedom (Rifkin ED 2004:379).

1989 “Everything is efficient. We’re so skewed toward efficiency that we’ve lost our sense of humanity. What we need to do is to bring back a sense of the sacred (Jeremy Rifkin in Thompson, Dick. 1989-12-04. “The Most Hated Man In Science: Jeremy Rifkin.” Time).

2002 The 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project was chaired by Madeleine K. Albright. Summer 2002 Survey Data Download44-Nation Survey Conducted July 2 – October 31, 2002 Reports based on this data include (12.19.02 “Among Wealthy Nations … U.S. Stands Alone In Its Embrace of Religion”), (12.04.02 What the World Thinks in 2002) (How Global Publics View: Their Lives, Their Countries, The World, America)

“In 44 national surveys, based on interviews with more than 38,000 people, weexplore public views about the rapid pace of change in modern life; global interconnectedness through trade, foreign investment and immigration; and people’s attitudes toward democracy and governance. The surveys’ themes range from economic globalization and the reach of multinational corporations to terrorism and the U.S.response. The results illuminate international attitudes toward the United States and showwhere U.S. and foreign opinions align and collide.”

2002 Solid majorities in every European country say they “believe it is more important for government to ensure that no one is in need, than it is for individuals to be free to pursue goals without government interference (PEW. 2002-09-29. “View of a Changing World.” The Pew Global Attitudes Project. The Pew Research center for the People and the Press. p. 105) (Rifkin ED 2004:379)</a> .”

2002 Of all the world’s wealthy nations it was only in the United States that the majority (58%) claimed that cared more about personal freedom to pursue goals without government interference than play an active role in society so as to guarantee that nobody is in need? (Rifkin ED 2004:379) .”  The 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project was chaired by Madeleine K. Albright and the exact PEW question was:

Q34 Turning to another subject, what’s more important in (survey country) society – that everyone be free to pursue their life’s goals without interference from the (state/government) or

that the(state/government) play an active role in society so as to guarantee that nobody is in need?

Webliography

Books Written by Rifkin

1973,  How to Commit Revolution American Style, with John Rossen, Lyle Stuart Inc., ISBN 0-8184-0041-2

1975, Common Sense II: The case against corporate tyranny, Bantam Books, OCLC 123151709

1977, Own Your Own Job: Economic Democracy for Working Americans, ISBN 978-0-553-10487-5

1977, Who Should Play God? The Artificial Creation of Life and What it Means for the Future of the Human, with Ted Howard, Dell Publishing Co., ISBN 0-440-19504-7

1978, The North Will Rise Again: Pensions, Politics and Power in the 1980s, with Randy Barber, Beacon Press, ISBN 0-8070-4787-2

1979, The Emerging Order: God in the Age of Scarcity, with Ted Howard, Putnam, ISBN 978-0-399-12319-1 Read FOET summary

1980, Entropy: A New World View, with Ted Howard (afterword by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen), Viking Press, ISBN 0-670-29717-8

1983, Algeny: A New Word—A New World, in collaboration with Nicanor Perlas, Viking Press, ISBN 0-670-10885-5

1985, Declaration of a Heretic, Routledge & Kegan Paul Books, Ltd, ISBN 0-7102-0709-3

1987, Time Wars: The Primary Conflict In Human History, Henry Holt & Co, ISBN 0-8050-0377-0

1990, The Green Lifestyle Handbook: 1001 Ways to Heal the Earth (edited by Rifkin), Henry Holt & Co, ISBN 0-8050-1369-5

1991, Biosphere Politics: A New Consciousness for a New Century, Crown, ISBN 0-517-57746-1

1992, Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, E. P. Dutton, ISBN 0-525-93420-0

1992, Voting Green: Your Complete Environmental Guide to Making Political Choices In The 90s, with Carol Grunewald Rifkin, Main Street Books, ISBN 0-385-41917-1

1995, The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era, Putnam Publishing Group, ISBN 0-87477-779-8

1998, The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World, J P Tarcher, ISBN 0-87477-909-X

2000, The Age Of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism, Where All of Life is a Paid-For Experience, Putnam Publishing Group, ISBN 1-58542-018-2

2002, The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the Worldwide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth, Jeremy P. Tarcher, ISBN 1-58542-193-6

2004, The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, Jeremy P. Tarcher, ISBN 1-58542-345-9

2010, The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness In a World In Crisis, Jeremy P. Tarcher, ISBN 1-58542-765-9

Articles, books about Rifkin

Thompson, Dick. 1989-12-04. “The Most Hated Man In Science: Jeremy Rifkin.” Time.

Links

Office of Jeremy Rifkin

Foundation of Economic Trends

http://www.foet.org/europe.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-EbjHBLxss

Fragments to be integrated

Rifkin, Jeremy. 2009. “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis.” Polity Press.
“The evening of December 24, 1914, Flanders. The first world war in history was entering into its fifth month. Millions of soldiers were bedded down in makeshift trenches latticed across the European countryside. In many places the opposing armies were dug in within thirty to fifty yards of each other and within shouting distance. The conditions were hellish. The bitter-cold winter air chilled to the bone. The trenches were water logged. Soldiers shared their quarters with rats and vermin. Lacking adequate latrines, the stench of human excrement was everywhere. The men slept upright to avoid the muck and sludge of their makeshift arrangements. Dead soldiers littered the no-man’s-land between opposing forces, the bodies left to rot and decompose within yards of their still-living comrades who were unable to collect them for burial. As dusk fell over the battlefields, something extraordinary happened. The Germans began lighting candles on the thousands of small Christmas trees that had been sent to the front to lend some comfort to the men. The German soldiers then began to sing Christmas carols-first “Silent Night,” then a stream of other songs followed. The English soldiers were stunned. One soldier, gazing in disbelief at the enemylines, said the blazed trenches looked “like the footlights of a theater.”‘The English soldiers responded with applause, at first tentatively, then with exuberance. They began to sing Christmas carols back to their German foes to equally robust applause. A few men from both sides crawled out of their trenches and beganto walk across the no-man’s-land toward each other. Soon hundreds followed. As word spread across the front, thousands of men poured outof their trenches. They shook hands, exchanged cigarettes and cakes and showed photos of their families. They talked about where they hailed from, reminisced about Christmases past, and joked about the absurdity of war.The next morning, as the Christmas sun rose over the battlefield of Europe, tens of thousands of men some estimates put the number as high as 100,000 soldiers talked quietly with one another? Enemies just twenty-four hours earlier, they found themselves helping each other bury their dead comrades. More than a few pickup soccer matches were reported. Even officers at the front participated, although when the news filtered back to the high command in the rear, the generals took a less enthusiastic view of the affair. Worried that the truce might undermine military morale, the generals quickly took measures to rein in their troops. The surreal “Christmas truce” ended as abruptly as it began- all in all, a small blip in a war that would end in November 1918 with 8.5 million military deaths in the greatest episode of human carnage in the annals of history until that time.” For a few short hours, no more than a day, tens of thousands of human beings broke ranks, not only from their commands but from their allegiances to country, to show their common humanity (Rifkin 2009).”

————–

“If . . . human beings are . . . social animals who seek companionship and use empathetic extension to transcend themselves and find meaning in relationship with others, how do we account for the incredible violence our species has inflicted on each other, our fellow creatures, and the earth we inhabit? No other creature has left a destructive footprint on the Earth. Cultural historian Elias Canetti once remarked that “[e]ach of us is a king in a field of corpses.” 19 Canetti said that if we reflected on the vast number of creatures and Earth’s resources each of us has expropriated and consumed in the course of our lifetime to perpetuate our own existence, we would likely be appalled by the carnage. Yet there may be a an explanation for this perplexing duality. There is, I believe, a grand paradox to human history. At the heart of the human saga is a catch-22 – a contradiction of extraordinary significance – that has accompanied our species, if not from the very beginning, then at least from the time our ancestors began their slow metamorphosis from archaic to civilized beings thousands of years before Christ (Rifkin 2009:21).”

—————

“underlying dialectic of human history is the continuous feedback loop between expanding empathy and increasing entropy. . (Rifkin 2009 26) . . energy is called “entropy,” a term coined by the German physicist Rudpolf Clausius in 1868. Clausius observed that in order for energy to be converted into work, there must be a difference in energy concentration (namely a difference in temperature) in different parts of the system. Work occurs when energy moves from a high level of concentration to a lower level (or a higher temperature to a lower temperature)(Rifkin 2009:28).”

key concepts, tags, rich phrases,
paradoxical relationship between empathy and entropyavert destruction of ecosystems, collapse of global economy, extinction of human race, change human consciousness itselfsocial thinkerinterconnected worldmutual understanding among diverse peoplesnew social tapestrynew communication revolutions complex societiesheightened empathic sensitivityexpanded human consciousness

Footnotes

“In his examination of the relationship between paranoia, megalomania and power, Elias Canetti (1984) conceives a figure representative of all three of these conditions: the survivor. For him, the survivor emerges at just about every point in the history of military, political and social power, and epitomizes the need to survive by destroying one’s enemies:

“The moment of survival is the moment of power. Horror at the sight of death turns to satisfaction that it is someone else dead.  The dead man lies on the ground while the survivor stands.  . . . In survival each man is the enemy of every other, and grief is insignificant measured against this elemental triumph. Whether the survivor is confronted by one dead man or by many, the essence of the situation is that he feels unique. He sees himself standing there alone and exults in it (Canetti 1984:227)”

“The characteristic trait of the survivor, then, is to assure his own threatened existence by killing others, or, in many cases, standing triumphantly before a comforting field of corpses. Moreover, the survivor, Canetti maintains, cannot exist without enemies. He is determined to save his people by defeating his enemies and, if need be, to sacrifice himself; he is the source of salvation and of survival for the masses. Schreber makes precisely this sort of claim when discussing his true mission: “I had to solve one of the most intricate problems ever set for man and. . . I had to fight a sacred battle for the greatest good of mankind.” (Schreber, p. 139)  But, in the end, this is just a ruse: “The deception is complete. It is the deception of all leaders. They pretend that they will be the first to die, but, in reality, they send their people to death, so that they themselves may stay alive longer(Canetti 1984:241).”

His own fear and fear mongering are the driving forces behind both the power and the strategy of the survivor. He spreads fear and a sense of danger, and, if he is in a position of command, fear spreads proportionately as his commands are carried out. His own fears are mitigated only by making an example of someone: “He will order an execution for its own sake, the guilt of the victim being almost irrelevant. He needs execution from time to time and, the more his fears increase, the more he needs them. His most dependable, one might say his truest, subjects are those he has sent to their deaths.” (Canetti 1984:232). The survivor’s personal fear also extends to the despot. The despot is his enemy, in that the despot is the projection of his own weaknesses and shortcomings. But, conversely, the survivor is the living example of the despot’s weaknesses: he survives, while despots consider survival their prerogative. In short, both are inimical to one another because both are the reflections of each other’s weakness, of their unfulfilled wishes, of their megalomaniacal pursuit of absolute power.

Although the survivor comes in virtually all forms and character types and exists in all historical eras, one of the prime examples of this sort given by Canetti is President Schreber. Schreber, of course, was neither a powerful military leader nor a murderous warrior-king, killing others so that he may survive. But he was, in Canetti’s view, a classic paranoid, and paranoid delusions sometimes reflect fantasies characteristic of the survivor. The foremost paranoid fantasy consists of the, so to speak, spontaneous generation of enemies, packs of them: “The paranoiac feels surrounded by a pack of enemies who are all after him. . . .his terror becomes overwhelming.” (Canetti 1984:456). The enemies are purely transformable, assuming any shape the delusional mechanisms might engender.
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“and that each of us has grown strong on the bodies of innumerable animals. Here each of us is a king in a field of corpses. A conscientious investigation of power must ignore success. We must look for its attributes and their perversions wherever they appear . . . A madman, helpless, outcast, and despised . . . may, through the insights he procures us, prove more important than Hitler or Napoleon, illuminating for mankind its curse and its masters (Canetti 1984:448).”

References cited in footnotes, etc

Canetti, Elias. 1984. Crowds and Power. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. about Canetti ,

Roberts, Mark S. 2008. “Mere and Divine Madness: Bush, Schreber and the Contexts of Insanity.” Radical Psychology. Vol. 7.  see also

References cited in Rifkin Timeline

Annotation of European Dream

need to adopt a personal ethics of accountability (Rifkin ED 2004:379)

Barfield’s third state of consciousness

On Renaissance perspective

In his chapter entitled “Colonizing Nature” Jeremy Rifkins argued that Donatello, Uccello and Piero della Francesca with their radical new invention called perspective, contributed to a reconfiguration of the European relationship to the natural world and by extension to space and time. He described how the relational aspect of objects ruled by linear perspective, vanishing points and horizon lines produced a shift away from the a concept of space as a ladder stretching from earth to heaven. Modern science with its army of engineers measuring space and time and all that lay between and in so doing displaced the ladder with a secular science that birthed the modern world.

“Just imagine the change in consciousness that perspective brought. For early Christians, the world was thought of as just a temporary stage, a place to prepare for one’s eternal and everlasting salvation in the world to come. What counted was the community of believers, huddled together – as they are depicted in most medieval paintings – and awaiting the triumphant return of Christ the Lord. Perspective reconfigured human consciousness toward the horizontal world of the here and now and repositioned each human being to eventually become lord over his or her own earthly domain (Rifkin ED 2004:98).”

“Perspective migrated from the canvasses of the Renaissance artists to the writing tables of pre-Enlightenment philosphers, where it became the main conceptual tool for remaking the natural world in “man’s image.” Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, wrote his two most important works, The Novum Organum and The New Atlantis, in the early seventeenth century. The idea of perspective figured prominently in his rethinking of spatial relations and man’s role on earth (Rifkin ED 2004:98).”

ON Barfield’s third state of consciousness

1957 Owen Barfield described his his theory of the evolution of consciousness in his publication entitled Saving the Appearances, A Study in Idolatry. Rifkin referred to Barfield’s third state of consciousness.

“First, “original participation,” like human perception now, was largely unselfconscious, although the experience of it would necessarily be different from our present experience of perception (we live now, not then, in the wake of the “Cartesian experience”). Second, participation through poetic utterance corresponds to Barfield’s second stage, for it involves the individual’s self-conscious attempt to “reattach” to nature and to phenomena those extra-sensory qualities no longer intrinsically experienced; and it should not surprise anyone to discover that the growth of modern science in the 17th century would be the twin, or more properly the alter ego, to this second stage in the evolution of consciousness eventually brought to fruition and epitomized by the early 19th-century Romantic Movement in literature, a movement that produced Coleridge, among others. Lastly, final participation has not yet been achieved, although it may be foreshadowed in certain exceptional individuals. If the reader can think of these three levels of participation and the three stages of the evolution of consciousness as homologous, one might try momentarily borrowing from 19th-century biology the terms “ontogenetic” and “phylogenetic” development: hence the three levels of participation in an individual (the ontogenetic) could be said to “recapitulate” the three major stages in the evolution of human consciousness (the phylogenetic). At which point the same reader might well retort: “Wait a minute! That ontogenetic/phylogenetic recapitulating thesis is old, quasi-outmoded evolutionary jargon; this Barfield is supposed to be anti-Darwinian?” Indeed, he is. But he is not anti-evolution.” Read more of this review of Polyani and Barfield