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We’re not born to be selfish: Jeremy Rifkin

Posted on the April 23rd, 2010

Some friends have been talking about Jeremy Rifkin‘s latest book and praising it enthusiastically (“The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis” Dec 2009). So I went searching for information about it.

On his own webpage about the book, Rifkin has posted a brief video in which he talks about some of his principal ideas. He begins by asserting that civilization itself is at a “perilous turning point” in its history.

If we don’t relinquish longheld assumptions that human beings primarily are materialistic, self-interested, utilitarian, and pleasure-seeking, he says…

we’re doomed.

Our scientists are now beginning to realize that primates and especially human beings, were not born with a biological predisposition to be selfish or materialistic or utilitarian or pleasure-seeking. What they’re now finding in biology with the new discoveries on neurons and brain circuity is that primates and especially human beings are born to express empathic distress. We’re born as social animals. We’re born to seek intimacy and affection and companionship with our fellows…

In late January, Rifkin was a guest speaker at Google Talks (video below with subtitles). He talked at length about the ideas he explores in his book:

You can read an excerpt from Rifkin’s book here.

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