The belief that humanity makes moral progress depends upon a wilful ignorance of history. It also depends upon a wilful ignorance of oneself – a refusal to recognise the extent to which selfishness and calculation reside in the heart even of our most generous emotions, awaiting their chance. Those who invest their hopes in the moral improvement of humankind are therefore in a precarious position: at any moment the veil of illusion might be swept away, revealing the bare truth of the human condition. Either they defend themselves against this possibility with artful intellectual ploys, or they give way, in the moment of truth, to a paroxysm of disappointment and misanthropy. Both of these do violence to our nature. The first condemns us to the life of unreason; the second to the life of contempt.
- Roger Scruton -- author of The Uses of Pessimism
Figure 1: There is something deep in human nature which resists reformation of the human spirit and of human morality (Source Al Fin Blogspot)
While technology has gotten more and more sophisticated with time, authentic human wisdom (as opposed to intellectual knowledge) behavior, and therefore culture has remained stubbornly static. As technological development continues to outpace neurological, psychological, moral and ethical progress, the increasing separation between technological advances and our unchanging base instincts puts us in an increasingly precarious position in the world. Yesterday, the consequences of negative emotion meant one or two might get hurt. Today, it could mean millions can be harmed, due to the amplifying nature of technology – weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, biological weapons, etc…
Author and thought leader Charles Eisenstein’s book The Ascent of Humanity is a rare book. Charles walks his talk. He talks about the coming gift economy and he practices this by offering his book for free on his website.
Charles Eisenstein has been trying to make sense of this world for a long time and this book distills his journey to come to terms with these turbulent times. He writes to spread the word of the coming revolution, an inescapable transition, whether brought on voluntarily or, most likely involuntarily through painful crisis, it is going to cause a shift in human civilization more profound than anything in history.
There is no self except in relationship to the other. The economic man, the rational actor, the Cartesian “I am” is a delusion that cuts us off from most of what we are, leaving us lonely and small.
Stephen Buhner calls this cleavage the “interior wound” of separation. Because it is woven into our very self-definition, it is inescapable except through temporary distraction, during which it festers inside, awaiting the opportunity to burst into consciousness. The wound of separation expresses itself in many guises, ranging from petty but persistent dissatisfactions that, when resolved, quickly morph into other, equally petty dissatisfactions in an endless treadmill of discontent, to the devastating phthisis of hopelessness and despair that quite literally consumes the spirit.
- Charles Eisenstein