The following is excerpted from One World Renaissance by Glen T. Martin, PhD, published by Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
We are living during a time of fundamental paradigm-shift from fragmentation to holism. The great question of our time is whether the shift to holism will happen in time to save humanity from self-extinction. Will the human project be terminated through some forms of climate collapse or nuclear holocaust? Or will we transform our relationships with one another to the point where we create a holistic, just, loving, and sustainable planetary civilization? My new book, One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation Through a Global Social Contract, from which this article draws, explores these issues at some depth.
Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology. It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole.
This discovery has overthrown the early-modern Newtonian paradigm in the sciences, which was predicated on atomism, causal determinism, mechanism, and a materialism that was discerned, it was thought, by a narrow empiricism. The holism of the ancient and medieval thinkers was superseded by this early-modern Newtonian paradigm in the 16th and 17th centuries. This development generated a host of assumptions about the world and human beings that became determinate for the basic world view that most people and institutions continue to hold today.
For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos. Human beings are microcosms of that holism and must seek ways to allow it to emerge within their lives and cultures. The early-modern paradigm reversed this holism and saw the world in atomistic and mechanistic terms. Human beings were not microcosms but rather the human mind, consciousness, and our needs for love and solidarity were seen as merely subjective epiphenomena not deeply related to the “cold, hard facts” supposedly discovered by science.