Cover image for The patterning instinct : a cultural history of humanity's search for meaning
The patterning instinct : a cultural history of humanity's search for meaning
Lent, Jeremy R., 1960- author.
Publication Information:
Amherst, New York : Prometheus Books, 2017.
Physical Description:
569 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
"This fresh perspective on crucial questions of history identifies the root metaphors that cultures have used to construct meaning in their world. It offers a glimpse into the minds of a vast range of different peoples: early hunter-gatherers and farmers, ancient Egyptians, traditional Chinese sages, the founders of Christianity, trail-blazers of the Scientific Revolution, and those who constructed our modern consumer society. Taking the reader on an archaeological exploration of the mind, the author, an entrepreneur and sustainability leader, uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today's cultural norms. Uprooting the tired cliches of the science-religion debate, he shows how medieval Christian rationalism acted as an incubator for scientific thought, which in turn shaped our modern vision of the conquest of nature. The author probes our current crisis of unsustainability and argues that it is not an inevitable result of human nature, but is culturally driven: a product of particular mental patterns that could conceivably be reshaped. By shining a light on our possible futures, the book foresees a coming struggle between two contrasting views of humanity: one driving to a technological endgame of artificially enhanced humans, the other enabling a sustainable future arising from our intrinsic connectedness with each other and the natural world. This struggle, it concludes, is one in which each of us will play a role through the meaning we choose to forge from the lives we lead"--

"Explores key patterns of meaning underlying various cultures, from ancient times to the present, showing how values emerge from the ways in which cultures find meaning and how those values shape the future"--
Formatting conventions -- Foreword [written by Fritjof Capra, physicist] -- Preface : A cognitive history of humanity -- Introduction : Shaping our history -- Part 1. Everything is connected : How we became human -- The magical weave of language -- The rise of mythic consciousness -- The giving environment : the world of hunter-gatherers -- Part 2. Hierarchy of the Gods : Agriculture and anxiety -- Going their own way : early civilizations -- Part 3. The patterns diverge : Western pattern : split cosmos, split human ; Eastern patterm: harmonic web of life -- The birth of Dualism in Ancient Greece -- Dualism and divinity in Ancient India -- The search for harmony in Ancient China -- The cultural shaping of our minds -- Pathways to Monotheism in Israel and Alexandria -- Sinful nature : the dualistic cosmos of Christianity -- The scourge of Monotheistic intolerance -- Discovering the principles of nature in Song China -- Part 4. Conquest of nature : "To command the world": metaphors of nature -- Great rats : the story of power and exploitation -- The enigma of scientific revolution -- The language of God : the emergence of scientific cognition -- "Something far more deeply interfused" : the systems worldview -- Consuming the earth in the modern era -- Part 5. The web of meaning? Trajectories to our future.
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