A Neuro-Philosophy of History: “Sustainable History”; with Dignity, and without Directionality

Philosophies of history tend to assume one form or another of directionality. For an important number of philosophers, History has been understood to have a definite trajectory, moving forward to some specified end-state. These end-states have varied, from idealized conceptions of social and political harmony to dystopian visions of anarchism. The remarkable fact is that many such theories shared a common assumption: the seeds of future stages of history already existed in the present arrangement of things, and with the right “science” of history, we could predict “off the page” what comes next. When this prediction fails to manifest, “historical determinism” is strongly criticized. These reactions leave out two important points. First, any deterministic characterization of history is at odds with effective human agency. Second, and partly for these reasons, the idea of historical determinism denies the crucial role of dignity in History—a central tenet of what I have elsewhere defined as Sustainable History. The quest for dignity in public life can lead to seismic changes in national and global politics, overturning established regimes, sometimes more rapidly than expected. Dignity very often underlies the call for political change. When a directional interpretation of history is abandoned, greater clarity emerges with regard to the relationship between individual dignity and political stability.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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