Systems and Values


We need to see the forest as well as the trees.

The industrial world-view is a dualistic either/or approach. It often fails to understand that individual organisms, persons, and societies are to a significant degree constituted through their relations with others. It emphasizes parts over wholes and quantities over qualities.

Because values such as love, truth, faith and beauty cannot be measured, they are not given much weight by decision makers. As a result industrial civilization knows more about destructive weapons than constructive relationships, more about wealth than happiness, and more about illness than wellness.

A sustainable global system will only be able to function if it is based on a global systems world-view. This integral perspective is a multirelational both/and approach. It enables us to understand dynamic processes as well as the interrelationships between parts and wholes and between quantities and qualities. It sees both the trees and the forest.


Image Graphic PresentationThe BEST Model

The BEST Model identifies the paradigm-changing factors that must be present before a complete societal transformation can take place. Because these factors are now present, we know that the evolutionary transformation of the industrial system has already begun. Our model also explains why the world system is now unsustainable, the dynamics of global change, and the requirements of a holistic civilization.


Image ArticleSystems Thinking: The Key to Survival

The survival of our species is now at stake. This threat has the potential to unite humanity around a common task -- developing a sustainable culture and economy. Our challenge is to explain clearly the global emergency and provide alternative pathways to a viable future. If we  recognize that a systems-based world-view is the key to the organization of a sustainaable society, we can help develop congruent social structures and technologies. Once a new system attractor has evolved, rapid structural transformation will be possible.


Image Article:   Designing the Future: An Introduction to Rurban Design, Part 1

Given the challenge of sustaining 9 billion people in a world with diminishing energy reserves, we are unlikely to do better than accept the well-tested principles that living systems convey. Doing so will have transformative implications for the design of our urban and rural environments, our economic and governance systems, and our education systems. In this light, Richard Mochelle advcoates "rurban design". The starting point of rurban design is the water catchment area, water being the most vital element in sustaining human life.


Image ArticleAnimal Rights, Human Needs

The emergence of an ecological consciousness is not in itself enough to resolve the issue of our treatment of non-human creatures. Arguably, a key ethical principle of a non-exploitative, sustainable civilization is the right of all sentient beings to exercise their natural powers in pursuit of their flourishing as individuals. To this end, this essay articulates the “vital-needs rights view” as a philosophical basis for reconciling animal rights with the satisfaction of human vital needs. The vital-needs rights view supports a defensible environmental ethic.


Image ArticleInhaling All the Forces of Nature: William Morris's Socialist Biophilia

Despite the lasting appeal of his art, William Morris has received little attention from the environmental movement. This is unfortunate, since in his writings and lectures, Morris sought to describe the connections among capitalism, daily work, and environmental degradation. His key insight was that the project of improving human life through conquering nature is incoherent because human well-being cannot be divorced from the well-being of the environment. Appreciating what he called "the natural fairness of the earth" is a vital need, one that can be fully satisfied only with the dismantling of industrial civilization.


Image Background ArticleThe Nature of History

In the 20th century, dialectical materialism and general systems theory attempted, each in its own way, to understand human societies as components of a hierarchy of systems processing energy and evolving according to laws of nature. While the two philosophies of nature have much in common, general systems theory is essentially a philosophy of evolution, while dialectical materialism is one in which evolution is the complementary aspect of revolution, or radical system transformation.


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