Mon January 25, 2010
"The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On our show today, we present an interesting chat with the noted social thinker and futurist Jeremy Rifkin, whom the Utne Reader has called "one of the leading big-picture thinkers of our day." Rifkin is the bestselling author of "The European Dream," "The Hydrogen Economy," "The Age of Access," "The Biotech Century," and other works --- he's also a fellow at the Wharton School and an adviser to several European Union heads of state. He joins us to talk about his new book, "The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis." In this far-reaching, deeply knowledgeable work, Rifkin points out that the world is rapidly being converted by humanity into a global space --- witness social media, globalization, and so on --- yet our existing modes of consciousness are structured for earlier eras of history. Humanity thus finds itself on the cusp of its greatest experiment to date: refashioning our very consciousness so that we can mutually live and flourish in the new globalizing society. As one critic, writing for Publishers Weekly, has noted of this book: "For author and social thinker Rifkin . . . the central paradox of human existence is, and has always been, the conflict between empathy and entropy: while globalization brings together diverse people, the very good --- a rise in 'empathic awareness' --- is counterbalanced by the very bad --- 'dramatic deterioration of the health of the planet,' by way of the technology that drives progress. Though wordy, Rifkin provides a thorough, lucid overview of mankind's history along the 'empathy/entropy' spectrum: Spencer's mischaracterization of 'nature red in tooth and claw,' replaced by a more sensitive understanding of the biological and sociological evolution; the progression of socio-economic communities-civilizations --- from the Neolithic to the 'Modern Market Economy' [to the] the current 'Age of Empathy,' in which the dominance of one language (English), 'backyard' energies (wind, solar, etc.), the biosphere education in classrooms, and other developments shine the way forward. . . . This is the kind of reading fans of Jared Diamond and Richard Dawkins can sink their teeth into, with a contagious sense of urgency over whether we can 'reach biosphere consciousness and global empathy in time to avert planetary collapse.'"