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An Ecocentric Second Age of Enlightenment

An Ecocentric Second Age of Enlightenment

Five Tenets for a Livable Future

The Age of Enlightenment, spanning the late 17th to the early 19th centuries, was a pivotal period in human history characterized by a profound transformation in thought, culture, and society. Intellectuals and philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, and John Locke championed reason, individualism, and empirical science, laying the groundwork for modern democratic societies, scientific advancements, and human rights. This era fostered a spirit of inquiry and skepticism, encouraging people to question established norms and authorities, ultimately leading to significant political and social revolutions, including the American and French Revolutions.

However, despite the monumental changes achieved during the first Age of Enlightenment, contemporary society faces unprecedented challenges that the Enlightenment thinkers could scarcely have imagined. The industrial civilization that emerged from Enlightenment principles has led to environmental degradation, social inequalities, and a disconnect from the natural world. These issues compel us to reconsider the Enlightenment’s legacy, integrating biocentrism, the rights of nature, bottom-up democratic self-organization, feminism, and a cooperative economy. This new Enlightenment would address the consequences of industrial civilization, offering a pathway towards a truly sustainable and just future for humanity and the planet.

This Second Age of Enlightenment, much like its predecessor, I believe is an ongoing process. Powerful thinkers have already began laying the groundwork, from indigenous writers, to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, to the amazing contemporaries to numerous to justly name here. Unfortunately this process may unfold over centuries. This slow progression poses a significant challenge given the urgency of ecological overshoot and the biodiversity crisis we currently face. Many consequences of our past actions are already irreversible, and we must acknowledge the gravity of future consequences not yet seen…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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