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An Alternative Way of Seeing Everything

January 18, 2014

I just attended a planning meeting for a very exciting conference coming in 2015 called “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization”.

I want to do my small part in promoting this incredible conference.  Yes, it’s well over a year away (June 4-7, 2015) but pushing it now will help people, especially from distant locations, plan ahead toward being able to make it.  Besides, doing so will also publicize vital work, potentially life-as-we-know-it-saving work that has long been going on and is accelerating.

I refer to several lines of related work to guide the vision and the practical effects of how we see the world and all of “reality”.  These are lines of what is often called “process thought” (or process philosophy and process theology).  They have a lot to do with science as well as the more abstract aspects of human thought and endeavor.  Numerous “Process people” have, for years, put an emphasis on the application of a process way of seeing things to practical problems that lie at the core of maintaining quality of life both personally and as a species and a planet.

Rather than explain this in my words, I’ll share, in the quote box below, the words of introduction to the conference by Vern Visick, the lead organizer of the event.  This will also provide a good basic introduction to the importance of a way of seeing that recognizes the processes inherent in everything; how these cut across our creation of tidy compartments that tend to exclude other perspectives and foster unhealthy dualism.  And with that, how a process vision and resulting actions are vital to understanding and preserving our world.

Why This Conference?

Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization 

10th International Whitehead Conference

9th International Conference on Ecological Civilization

Thursday-Sunday, June 4-7, 2015

Claremont, CA, USA

By Vern Visick

According to Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr., co-author (with Herman Daly) of the seminal, award-winning book, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, we are living at the end of an era.

During the last century, the science, technology, and markets which characterize our era brought many benefits, especially in the West.  At the beginning of the 21st century, however, it has become increasingly clear that the resulting civilization we have created is unsustainable.  Our over-reliance on fossil fuels, carelessness in the management of our technology, and exploitation of the world’s natural resources cannot be continued indefinitely, and it cannot be wished for all people without threatening to destroy the conditions for life itself.

Like many concerned citizens around the world, the organizers of “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization” applaud and support the varied efforts to understand the crisis of our civilization and to respond to it–including the pragmatic, technically oriented efforts at reform so characteristic of the American and Chinese participants in this civilization.

It is the conviction of the organizers of this conference, however, that the problems we face are deeper than mere technical problem, and are rooted in a mechanistic, domineering world-view that must be changed if we are to survive and flourish beyond our current difficulties.

Furthermore, it is our conviction that a theoretical solution lies readily at hand in the organic, relational, non-dualistic philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, a British philosopher who worked at Harvard University during the 1920s and 1930s.

Alfred North Whitehead.jpg

Alfred North Whitehead 1861 – 1947

The Claremont conference will be structured around six plenaries taking place in the evenings and mornings at the Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, 11 topical sections, and over 60 reflective tracks.

The last section with a few of the conference specifics fails to convey how broad and influential these sections and tracks will be.  John Cobb (more the identifiable voice for process theology than any other single one) says that each track is a mini-conference in itself within the larger conference.

You can come with anything from no prior knowledge of process as an organized way of thinking about life and the world to an in-depth knowledge of it and be able to understand, benefit from, and contribute to the event.  The same with ecology.

For those interested in further information or in watching the development of ongoing detailed planning (all the major aspects are in place), there is a website “in process” at http://whitehead2015.wordpress.com that can provide answers and keep you up to date. 

If you are a blogger, I encourage you to consider helping promote the conference as well in whatever ways you are used to or can conceive.  And let us know of your interest in either the conference or the work and approaches of the many people involved.  

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