We all pretty much recognize that the world as we have known it is in trouble. The symptoms are everywhere – from climate change to failed and failing states to the emergence of jihadism to the weak recovery from the Great Recession and the current global economic fragility to the extreme income disparity between the very rich and the rest of humanity to the many more examples that we could list out.
At the same time our old philosophies and ideologies are having a very hard time making sense out of this world and providing coherent guidance for us, showing us what actions to take as individuals, as communities, as nations, and as a species.
We need to formulate new ways of thinking to guide us in evolving new ways of acting to address the intertwined crises that we face.
I’ve been working on this problem for most of my (by now pretty long) life. In my new essay, Toward a New Paradigm: An Essay in Philosophical Transformation, I’ve presented a brief summary of what I’ve found.
Consciousness: The essay starts out by looking at the philosophical problem at the heart of traditional science.
“The Scientific Method was designed to use precise observations to focus on the external world. But it’s hard to study the nature of consciousness that way. Yet, everything we know about any aspect of the Universe comes through our consciousness.
Research on how the brain works is exploding and it is extremely interesting, but all that knowledge comes through the consciousness of the brain researchers and comes to us through our consciousness.
Traditional Science attempts to explain various aspects of the mind by using the reductionist approach of describing brain cell operations that are correlated with those aspects of the mind. That’s like trying to explain the plot of a television program and the process by which the television program was created by more and more careful observations of how a TV sets works. The TV set is relevant. If it is not working, you won’t receive your program. If its images are distorted, your program’s images will be distorted. But explaining how the TV set works won’t tell you anything about the meaning of the TV program you are receiving and how the actors and the director and the technicians in a studio produced it.
Consciousness is required for the Scientific Method to operate, but the current application of the Scientific Method (with its mechanic deterministic/probabilistic metaphysics) based on objective observation of the external world, can’t directly study the consciousness that is central to its operation. Therefore, Science as currently practiced can’t really study the most basic thing we know about ourselves and the Universe—our consciousness.”
The New Paradigm: The essay goes on to provide a formulation of a new, post-traditional science paradigm that includes a recognition of the centrality of consciousness both to human existence and to universal reality and then applies this paradigm to offer an understanding of the moment we have arrived at right now as a species and as a planet.
“Let’s take seriously the possibility that the Earth is in a transition that could lead to a new, higher level of organization and “interiorization” (as Pierre de Chardin proposed in the Phenomenon of Man), producing a new emergent consciousness. This transition may be like what happened when collections of individual cells evolved to form insects and plants and animals and, eventually, humans. And, these individual insects and plants and animals and, eventually, humans came to have relatively coherent consciousnesses that could guide the—now unified—collections of cells.”
The essay concludes by using the new paradigm to offer some suggestions for what we need to do to move through the planetary crisis we face and bring about the global transformation that is necessary.
“I believe that we need a new, effective, practical philosophy, a Planetary Philosophy, guided by a set of simple, self-evident, powerful core principles that embed the paradigm of a Living Conscious Universe and an emerging Planetary Consciousness in them in a way that is so clear and so self-evident that it is virtually impossible for anyone to deny them. And these principles need to provide clear direction to help us understand what’s happening in the world now and decide how to take action and what action to take.”
I encourage you to take a look at my essay. At worst, you’ll find out what I’m thinking, which, I’ve been told, is pretty interesting. At best you’ll deepen your understanding a bit about what’s up right now and what we can do about it. In either case, I would love to hear what you think about the perspective presented in Toward a New Paradigm and have a conversation with you about it.