The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis
In this sweeping new interpretation of the history of civilization,
bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin looks at the evolution of empathy
and the profound ways that it has shaped our development-and is
likely to determine our fate as a species.
Today we face unparalleled challenges in an energy-intensive and
interconnected world that will demand an unprecedented level of
mutual understanding among diverse peoples and nations. Do we have
the capacity and collective will to come together in a way that
will enable us to cope with the great challenges of our time?
In this remarkable book Jeremy Rifkin tells the dramatic story
of the extension of human empathy from the rise of the first great
theological civilizations, to the ideological age that dominated
the 18th and 19th centuries, the psychological era that
characterized much of the 20th century and the emerging
dramaturgical period of the 21st century. The result is a new
social tapestry-The Empathic Civilization-woven from a wide range
Rifkin argues that at the very core of the human story is the
paradoxical relationship between empathy and entropy. At various
times in history new energy regimes have converged with new
communication revolutions, creating ever more complex societies
that heightened empathic sensitivity and expanded human
consciousness. But these increasingly complicated milieus require
extensive energy use and speed us toward resource depletion.
The irony is that our growing empathic awareness has been made
possible by an ever-greater consumption of the Earth's resources,
resulting in a dramatic deterioration of the health of the planet.
If we are to avert a catastrophic destruction of the Earth's
ecosystems, the collapse of the global economy and the possible
extinction of the human race, we will need to change human
consciousness itself-and in less than a generation.
Rifkin challenges us to address what may be the most important
question facing humanity today: Can we achieve global empathy in
time to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the planet?
One of the most popular social thinkers of our time, Jeremy
Rifkin is the bestselling author of The European Dream, The
Hydrogen Economy¸ The End of Work, The Biotech Century, and
The Age of Access. He is the president of the Foundation on
Economic Trends in Washington, D.C.