A Tutorial on Cultural Evolution
with Jim Kenney
This pre-recorded tutorial series explores how: First, we’re living in a period of accelerating cultural evolution – the progressive movement of many of our most basic values toward a closer fit with reality…toward peace, justice, and ecological sustainability. And second, we’re witnessing an enormous, but necessarily temporary backlash against that progressive shift. These two dynamics inform almost every major theme in the news today.
TWO WAVES. We need to understand the phenomenon of Cultural Evolution in terms of Two Waves... 1) a declining wave representing older “top-down” cultural values, assumptions, predispositions, ways of seeing, and behavior; 2) a rising wave, representing a new, emerging, “bottom up” values, ways of seeing, and behaviors.
THREE BENCHMARKS. How can we identify and understand genuine “new wave” value-shifts? Those who come to the idea of accelerated cultural-evolutionary value shift (“sea change”) for the first time often have difficulty distinguishing between real new wave patterns and other phenomena, including declining older wave dynamics and eddies.
In a time of major evolutionary culture change, when prevailing patterns are challenged and disrupted, the life experience of individuals and groups is disturbed in a deeply felt “emptying” of the familiar and “filling” with the new. If the perturbation affects a sufficient number of persons or groups or challenges significant concentrations of power, a major counterflow can form. In culture, as in nature, there is no change without resistance. Cultural Evolution does not mean throwing away older values but realizing them more fully, in a way that contributes to ever-evolving social norms.
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