The empathic civilisation

Two genes from the early human population in Africa are common to everyone on the planet - we are all related.

Early communities were just that, communities or tribes, based largely around family ties but as civilisations evolved and communities came together, ideological differences became entrenched on the basis of language, religion, skin colour, physiognomy and culture. In time the artificial construct of nationhood was established.

Hat tip to Arvind for this

Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society. Taken from a lecture given by Jeremy Rifkin as part of the RSA's free public events programme. 

Watch the full lecture here:

We are genetically disposed to collaborate - it is the political and economic framework which fosters competition and aggression. Remove the incentives which reinforce and accentuate self interest and a global, co-operative, collaborative community becomes a reality. Technology has now given us unprecedented ability to communicate globally and hold simultaneous conversations across time zones.

Ryan sent this next video to Daily Pickings a year ago. It shows how our current worldview has evolved through the power of advertising, celebrity and media culture. Our egocentric, Darwinian, "survival of the fittest" view of the world has led to a highly competitive "dog eat dog" culture where status is accorded to those who accumulate the most.

But contemporary biology has discovered the extent to which all organisms are interconnected and interdependent while behaviour and attributes are shaped by environment. In other words while the Darwinian theory of evolution remains intact, the missing element is the degree to which cooperation among cells, organisms and species, secures their development.

The thrust of this powerful film is that we're in a period of transition and our choice is to adapt or fail as an evolutionary misstep in the development of the universe. The cause for optimism is that we know cooperation is the key to emerge from the chrysalis of decline into the butterfly civilisation of the future.

Please register to post comments