The Next Copernican Revolution

As you know, Copernicus paved the way for the scientific revolution by convincingly showing that the Earth is not the center of the universe.  This challenged the prevailing authority structures, understanding of God and the purpose of humans, and supported the development of scientific process. 

Lewis Mumford wrote that there have only been four or five such total societal transformations in the course of human history.  Willis Harman in Global Mind Change makes the argument (arrogant as it may be) that we could very well be in the midst of such a far-reaching global change in our time, "when society goes through a more fundamental kind of change involving all its institutions and even more basic aspects of its culture."

Harman goes on to say that "every society ever known rests on some set of largely tacit basic assumptions about who we are, what kind of universe we are in and what is ultimately important to us." [Italics his]

In our times, our understanding of the universe, Earth's natural environment and our place in it is certainly different from the prevailing ideas of the generations immediately preceding us.  We see the withdrawal of legitimacy of powerful people and institutions to make decisions for us, whether in business, religion, or government.  Our means of exchange, information sharing and value creation have become much more distributed.  Even the concept of family seems to be undergoing new definition.

Whether Harman is right or wrong, we might do well to consider our times to be important to the trajectory of history, so that we make wise choices “think[ing] about the issues in the context of the future environment in which the consequences of [our] decisions would manifest.”

As we all adapt our basic assumptions about who we are, what kind of universe we are in and what is ultimately important to us, our work, and how and why we do it, will change. It will be a lot easier on us if we try to make these shifts consciously.


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