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Book The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning

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The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Jeremy Lent(Author)

    Book details


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.

PRAISE FOR THE WORK OF JEREMY LENT: ""Requiem of the Human Soul "is a gripping read that will keep readers up at night, slurping up the last few pages like a specialty juice from the future world's neighborhood Betelbar." -- "ForeWord Reviews"

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Book details

  • PDF | 540 pages
  • Jeremy Lent(Author)
  • Prometheus Books (23 May 2017)
  • English
  • 5
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy

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Review Text

  • By Pipistrel on 8 July 2017

    This is definitely the best account of the human story that I have ever read. Jeremy Lent describes his approach as cognitive history – tracing the ideas that underlie the development of different civilizations. He covers a huge canvas, starting with our ape ancestors, the development of stone technology, the invention of language and symbolic thought, hunter-gatherer culture and shamanism, the rise of agriculture, cities and empires, and the roots of modern culture. He makes a strong contrast between Chinese civilisation, which has a continuous history going back more than four thousand years, and Western civilisation, with its Iranian, Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek roots, relayed through changing languages to become the global civilisation of today. The Chinese never lost their original vision of humanity as an integral part of the natural world, and under the Song dynasty their philosophers achieved a satisfying synthesis of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist ideas, anticipating modern systems thinking. The West, in contrast, adopted the Platonic and then Christian concept of the soul as belonging to the eternal world of forms, imprisoned in flesh, governed by one god outside the cosmos. Descartes revised this into the secular distinction between mind and body, but still saw the mind as outside and above the world of flesh. With the scientific and industrial revolution, Westerners set out to achieve the control of nature by the rational mind. Christians sought the subjugation of non-Christian peoples. The search for the conquest of nature has led to the present crisis of mass extinction, resource depletion and climate change. Looking to the future, Lent considers visions inspired by the idea of the triumph of mind over matter - the genetic engineering of humans and our bifurcation into two species, or replacement of human by machine intelligence. He concludes by looking to the development of a new civilisation based on a new cognitive model, which he see sees foreshadowed by growing movements for empathy, compassion and sharing. The whole book is beautifully structured and balanced, clearly written and full of concrete examples and memorable quotations.

  • By Paul P. Mealing on 3 August 2017

    When one reads other reviews, it's obvious that this book has stimulated a lot of thought amongst its readers. To be honest, I didn't agree with all of the author's arguments, but I would still recommend it and give it 4 stars. I thought the last 2 chapters were especially important and relevant to the current human condition and our pivotal place in history. He effectively argues that we are at a crossroads and I have to admit I agree: the future of the planet and the future of humanity can't be considered as independent issues. At present, all our political and economic paradigms are premised, whether intentionally or not, on the assumption that progress can only be gained at the cost of ecological deterioration and species extinction. Common sense alone tells us that this is unsustainable and Jeremy Lent provides persuasive arguments that we need to change our policies at a political and global level. We can't save humanity without saving the planet - it's trite but it's true.

  • By John Varney on 20 September 2017

    This big thick history book surprised me by being so engaging that I didn’t want to put it down. It covers the whole history of human civilisation from the beginning of time until the present and then to somewhere in the uncertain future. In this journey we are enthralled, entertained, appalled and enchanted in turn. Filled with fascinating detail and challenging ideas the book is a romp through what has given meaning to life in different parts of the world at different times. It culminates with a glimpse of a potentially cataclysmic future – or alternatively one in which humanity might just possibly avert disaster and make a better world.The first three quarters of the book provide a commanding perspective of a well-researched and broad history of the major cultures that have existed around the world through the ages. In the last quarter we use this perspective to view our own western civilisation that currently dominates the world and seems to be leading us to disaster of one sort or another. In the closing chapters we look at alternative possibilities that might avert the worst aspects of such disasters and lead to the founding of a different and more harmonious kind of civilisation.The index, notes and further reading suggested, serve not only to support Lent’s scholarship but also to nudge the reader towards going more deeply into the arguments and, hopefully, coming to similar conclusions that might just result in collective action to save us from the worst excesses of modernity.I strongly recommend this book to everyone – whether or not you are in a leadership or management role, you are surely a responsible citizen of humanity. Read this and think! It will surely influence your own world and thereby change, and maybe even save, the world we share.

  • By Bumpa on 29 July 2017

    I enjoyed this book and by the end was fully convinced about the patterning instinct. Lent covers the historical story very well - bit light on the Buddhist area and I thought he would have mentioned the early 15th Century instruction to China not to be involved with overseas despite having a large shipping industry.So impressed I bought copies for my sons.


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