Module 4: Toward an Holistic Paradigm – the final module of the World 1 course.
You will be asked to reflect on the following questions throughout this module: What dynamics characterize societal transformation? What characteristics, benefits, and consequences do you think are most associated with each of the four worldviews presented in this module? Which worldview is most needed vis-à-vis the current global challenges faced by humanity?
In this Module, you will learn about these four paradigms: Mythos, Theos, Logos and Holos. You will most likely notice some similarities between these frameworks and the ones you explored in Module 3 when you reviewed the development of consciousness from tribal communities to global communities. Indeed, they build on each other.
Each of us comes into the world with a certain biological composition - our inherited genetic DNA. Each of us is born into a specific cultural mix to which we belong. Accepting its beliefs and stipulated values is a matter of survival and therefore is generally not questioned, giving rise to the “DNA of our culture” – called memetic DNA – which is learned, rather than inherited (although some scholars believe that culture is passed from one generation to the next through our genes). Each of us is subject to life circumstances and lessons learned as our individual and collective lives unfold. These three developmental forces – genetic DNA, memetic DNA (culture), and life circumstances – shape what we can perceive and, eventually, what we believe about ourselves, about others, and about the world, leading to what has been called a worldview (held individually and collectively through a particular matching mindset).
When a worldview is broadly shared -- for instance, by people across several cultures -- it becomes a cultural paradigm. Once worldviews are built and paradigms constructed, they become invisible, leading to non-examined ways for HOW the world works. From there, participating societies construct interdependent socio-cultural, socio-economic, socio-political, socio-technological, and ecological frameworks for interpreting and enacting their reality. Worldviews and paradigms are systems that allow us to make sense of our individual and collective experiences. It is important to remember that theses systems are socially constructed by humans, and are therefore always accessible to human intension, no matter how complex and dynamic they may become. Worldviews and paradigms shift when significant events change how we think, work, engage with each other, and experience ourselves. As a result, the nature of the relationships between the active parts changes — resulting in more or less dramatic shifts in society. It is reasonable to consider that these shifts happen on a learning curve that humanity is mastering stage by stage, and that we can influence these shifts. Indeed, it is to this very proposition that the GBG University is dedicated. Here in Module 4 of World 1, you are learn to distinguish between four such continuously evolving paradigms: Mythos, Theos, Logos, Holos — all of which are active in the world at this point in time — with Holos playing a crucial role in humanity's current opportunity to shift to our next stage on the evolutionary learning curve.
Since the world changes when paradigms shift, and since paradigms are constructed from shared worldviews, you might be wondering whether changes in the world starts with the individual. And you’re absolutely right – they do! This is because worldviews are constructed and maintained on the individual level, and for a shift from one worldview to another to occur, the individual must have the capicity and willingness to change his or her core beliefs. In order for each of us to do this, we need to examine our own beliefs and values in the context of our lived experience. So we invite you to try to situate yourself in each of the paradigms presented in this module. Doing so will help you find which one is most your “home” worldview. You may, in fact, find that your are in more than one! But first, take a look at how change takes place society …
When enough individual small changes occur together, they can amount to a transformational shift in society. The transformation of society is not a chance-ridden haphazardous process; the sciences of complexity reveal that it follows a recognizable pattern. Typically, the transformation manifests four major phases: The Trigger Phase, The Accumulation Phase, The Decision-Window, and The Chaos Point.
In the trigger phase, innovations in “hard” technologies (tools, machines, operating systems) bring about greater efficiency in the manipulation of nature for human ends.
Hard technology innovations change social and environmental relations and have the following types of impacts: Higher levels of resource depletion Faster growth of populations Increased societal complexity Increased impact on the carrying capacity of our planet Increased stress on social and geo-political climates
Changed social and environmental conditions put pressure on the stability of the way things currently are, calling into question time-honored values and worldviews and, consequently, the ethics and ambitions associated with them. Society becomes unstable and supersensitive to even minor fluctuations in stability. It is possible for a system to be more easily influenced in this phase; in fact, it turns out that changes in consciousness of a critical mass of people around the world influences the course of humanity — that means that YOU might be part of this significant shift! Think about that…
At this point, the system becomes critically unstable. The status quo becomes unsustainable and the evolutionary path vears in one direction or another: either toward devolution or toward evolution .
When a society at the chaos point devolves (which can also be thought of as evolution toward breakdown), it usually means that the values, worldviews, and ethics of a critical mass of people have become inflexible and entrenched, and that they may not change quickly enough for timely transformation. Inequity and conflict, coupled with an impoverished environment, often create untenable stresses. In such cases, the social order degenerates into conflict and violence.
Alternatively, when a society at the chaos point moves to breakthrough (rather than breakdown), the mindset of a critical mass of people evolves in time to meet the challenges upon them, shifting the development of society toward a more adapted mode of being and becoming. As these changes take hold, the improved order—governed by more adapted values, worldviews, and ethics—establishes itself. The economic, political, and ecological dimensions of society stabilize around non-conflictual and sustainable norms.
You may be getting a powerful set of insights from considering these four phases of systems transformation: something about how, in society, fundamental change is triggered by technological innovations that, on the one hand, destabilize established structures and institutions, and on the other, create greater connection among people and between people and the living environments in which they seek to thrive. This comes from the realization that adaptive structures and institutions require the surfacing of a more flexible mindset in the bulk of the population in order for them to take hold. The decider, however, is not more technology, but evolution in the thinking—in the values and perceptions—of a critical mass of people in society. We are at just such a point in human history – right now. The possibility for us to evolve toward an holistic paradigm based on systemic thinking and sensing rests on the extent to which each of us are willing and able to shift our values and perceptions toward more conscious and inclusive modes of being. This is our current chaos point – how will you navigate through these times?
In the third course of this certificate, World 3, you will learn HOW to envision and co-create holistic ways of being and becoming. You explore ways in which to shift your evolutionary pathway, in co-creation with an emerging multitude of like-minded and like-hearted evolutionary change agents, in the direction of thrivable futures. But for now, your task is to examine four distinct ways in which our societies have evolved to make sense of the world: mythos, theos, logos, holos. This framework will allow you to explore how civilizations transform from one paradigm to the next, gaining complexity at each stage.
Maintained by traditional cultures of the past and present, the Mythos worldview involves deep knowledge of and appreciation for nature, based on a lived experience of interrelationship with Earth, all its creatures, and the cosmos. It is an animalistic, spiritualistic, mythic, cosmic system where the sacred nature of life is fully integrated in all dimensions of experience, holistically. Time also tends to be fluid and not so linear. Mythos was dominant in paleolithic food-gathering and hunting-fishing societies, and was marked by organizational processes that sought to move from chaos to order. At the onset of the agriculture-based Neolithic stage, the transformation of social life began when tribes grew into villages, which in turn became urban centers, and eventually formally organized regions and empires. Each of these changes were characterized by progressively greater levels of hierarchy in the social order. This dynamic represents a change in worldviews and values that favored male-dominant societies with socio-economic stratification and the subordination of Mother Earth by celestial gods. Power resided in supreme beings or deities, and people began to look to the heavens for guidance rather than to Earth and nature. Kings and emperors claimed their descendence from these gods, and social systems of theocracy were established.
In theocratic societies, kings rule by divine fiat (heavenly mandate) and embody celestial power. Cosmic godship and earthly kingship unite in the intent to maintain an embracing order where the hierarchy of the heavens mirrors the social structures on earth — as above, so below . In such societies, the supreme aim was the maintenance of the essential balance of the universe through a social order rooted in cosmic principles. This arrangement, with but local variations, appeared in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China, as well as in Mesoamerica. Each of these societies, in their own way, consolidated the centuries-long transformation from the Stone Age of Mythos to a world oriented toward the search for divine order: the world of Theos. In Ancient Greece, the pioneers of the new worldview were the great nature philosophers. They replaced mythical concepts and theocratic organizing principles with theories based on observation and elaborated by reasoning. The Socratic belief in understanding the world through the rational mind was carried forward most clearly by Plato and Aristotle. Logos—a term that originally meant “word” but came to mean rational discourse and even rationality itself—became the central concept, at the heart of philosophy as well as of religion. Together with the concept of quantitative measure, metron, it provided Western civilization with the intellectual foundation on which it was to build for nearly two and a half millennia. Although this history focuses primarily on Europe, and there were similar paradigm shifts that took place in other parts of the world at other times, the importance of these shifts lies in the fact that the Western worldview has become dominant throughout the world and therefore bears examining.
In the next phase of development of human civilization, logos (in combination with metron, meaning measure, and arete , meaning special worth or virtue) constituted a worldview, an ethic, and a system of values that was altogether different from the Theos-based civilization of the archaic empires it superceded. Man was seen to be the measure of all things, and the unfolding of human potentials was the objective of existence. This basic notion found application in the organization of Greek city-states, and many of its elements carried over into Roman civilization, which was built on the powerful maintenance of order through the regulated exercise of power. After the fall of the Western (Roman) Empire and the founding of the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire in the year 476 c.e., a further shift occurred and the rise of Christianity modified the classical culture of Logos. Christianity added to the traditional concepts of Logos a divine source held to be the world's creator, prime mover, as well as its ultimate judge. Logos came to be embodied in the Holy Trinity and incarnated in man, God's finest creation.
A further shift occurred in Logos during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when a Medieval mindset became the hallmark of European civilization. This mindset lasted until the advent of the modern age. Building on the ideas of the Greeks and Romans, rationality was conserved in medieval fiefdoms and princedoms regardless of the addition of Christian elements. Outside of medieval monasteries, it found expression in the creation and use of mechanical devices such as clocks, windmills, water mills, animal-drawn agricultural implements, and horse-drawn carriages. In the seventeenth century, the mechanistic Logos of European cultures culminated in Galileo's concept of the world as a giant machine. Through mathematics, Newton demonstrated the universality of the laws of motion which seemed to confirm Galileo's concept and provided the basis for an embracing worldview that became the decisive feature of the modern world. The universe was understood to be a divinely designed clockwork, set in motion by a prime mover, and running harmoniously through all eternity, operating according to strict laws of nature. Knowledge of these laws was said to enable the rational mind to know all things past, present, and future. The place of God in this system was restricted to being its “prime mover.” As the French mathematician Pierre-Simone Laplace is reputed to have informed Napoleon, “God was a hypothesis for which there was no longer any need.”
At the time when the church and science first became dominant forces in the shaping of society, there was open conflict between the medieval theistic Logos imposed by the Church and the mechanistic and naturalistic Logos that emerged in lay society. But inquiry into the nature of the world independent of religious dogma soon took off, so Church and science learned to coexist. The Church claimed for itself the domain of “moral philosophy” (which embraced what later came to be called the social sciences and the humanities) and science had the field of “natural philosophy” (which corresponded to the contemporary concept of the hard sciences). In nineteenth-century Europe and America, the scientific worldview became the dominant feature of civilization. Darwin's theory of evolution completed the mechanistic worldview of Newtonian physics; it accounted for the evolution of life from simple origins through the mechanism of random mutations exposed to the test of natural selection. The worldview that emerged was believed to be objective: free of subjective and emotional elements. In the influential heritage of French philosopher René Descartes, human consciousness is held to be the sole indisputable reality (from his insight when he reasoned: dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum—I doubt therefore I think, I think therefore I am ). It follows from there that we humans, supposedly the sole entities endowed with mind and consciousness, are free to exploit the machinelike, mere extensions of the world around us for purposes of our own. In the words of Francis Bacon, we are free to wrest nature's secrets from her bosom for our benefit. This mechanistic-materialistic Logos spread in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from Europe to America, and in the twentieth century from America to the rest of the world.
What have you learned about these civilizational transformations? In terms of the different civilizational paradigms that emerged, you might note that each kind of civilization had its own kind of culture and consciousness. The age of Mythos was characterized by a mythical consciousness; The age of Theos by a theistic mindset – and the European Middle Ages by a theistically oriented Logos. The modern age, in turn, evolved a mechanistic and manipulative Logos. These cultures and mindsets were useful and functional in their time. Indeed, the more useful and functional they were, the longer they tended to persist. Of course, they did not arise everywhere and in all times: countless civilizations have failed to survive, succumbing to the changing conditions to which they were unable to adapt. But the civilizations that did survive built a new paradigm for themselves that organized their lives effectively. Einstein was right: the problems created by the prevalent way of thinking cannot be solved by the same way of thinking that gave rise to them. Without renewing our culture and our consciousness, we risk being unable to transform today's dominant civilization in ways that enable us to overcome the problems generated by contemporary trends toward self-centered mechanistic and manipulative thinking.
The road on which we find ourselves is about to split. We are now at a critical juncture when the evolution of our civilization will take a new direction. How can we make sure that it takes the direction of evolution rather than of devolution? Finding a positive direction for this transformation of civilization is a challenging but not an insurmountable task. We know that a viable new civilization must evolve a culture and consciousness very different from the mindset that characterized most of the twentieth century. Logos-inspired civilization was materialistic and manipulative; conquest- and consumption-oriented. The alternative to it is a civilization centered on human development, and the development of the communities and the environments in which humans live their lives. As a paradigm, holos is yet to be co-created, and therefore is still in a formative stage. We know that systemic thinking and sensing, an integration of rational and intuitive knowing, and an intimate relationship with nature are necessary for such a new civilization. In World 3 of this program, you will be invited to emerge ways for Holos to come into reality.
W1 module 4
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<ul><li>What dynamics characterize societal transformation? </li></ul><ul><li>What characteristics, benefits, and consequences do you think are most associated with each of the four worldviews presented in this module? </li></ul><ul><li>Which worldview is most needed vis-à-vis the current global challenges faced by humanity? </li></ul>Focus Questions
LEARNING UNIT 2 Theos LEARNING UNIT 3 Logos LEARNING UNIT 1 Mythos LEARNING UNIT 4 Holos Image: Earth III by ~Jsohpaul on deviantART Source: http://jsohpaul.deviantart.com/art/Earth-III-54276402