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From Disconnection to Connectedness
A worldview based on disconnection
Our global civilization is on an unsustainable course because the meaning we’ve derived from the world has historically been based on disconnection.
Beginning with the dualistic conception of human being and cosmos in ancient Greece, Western civilization (more recently becoming global civilization) has followed a path of cognitive separation. By valuing reason over emotion, splitting human existence into mind and body, and then defining humanity only by its mind, we set the cognitive foundation for the scientific and industrial revolutions that transformed the world.
In our relationship to the external world, we pursued a similar path of disconnection, finding meaning in transcendence while desacralizing the earth, creating root metaphors of nature as an enemy to be conquered and a machine to be engineered. Since then, we’ve been busy developing technologies designed to turn those metaphors into fact.
By continuing to see humans as essentially separate from nature and from each other, we’ve found ourselves on a path either to collapse or a bifurcation of humanity.
What is ultimately required is a shift towards a new way of finding meaning from our existence – a new global consciousness, based on an underlying and all-infusing sense of connectedness.
Finding meaning through connection
The meaning we derive from our existence must arise from our connectedness if we are to succeed in sustaining our civilization into the distant future: connectedness within ourselves, to other humans, and to the entire natural world.
A new global consciousness could allow our society to undergo a Great Transformation in values and behavior towards a sustainable and flourishing civilization. It would need to be founded on a worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth into the future.
In place of root metaphors such as nature as a machine and conquering nature, the new worldview would be based on the emerging systems view of life, recognizing the intrinsic interconnectedness between all forms of life on earth, and seeing humanity as embedded integrally within the natural world.
In contrast to the dualistic framework of meaning that has structured two and half millennia of Western thought, the systems way of thinking – integrated with the insights of traditional wisdom – leads to the possibility of finding meaning ultimately through connectedness within ourselves, to each other, and to the natural world.
This way of thinking, seeing the cosmos as a web of meaning, has the potential to offer a robust framework for the Great Transformation values emphasizing the quality of life, our shared humanity and the flourishing of nature.