Selected Talks on the Geopolitics of Global Peace, Security and Sustainable Development by Prof Jeffrey Sachs (2023)

Jeffrey Sachs is a world-renowned economics professor, bestselling author, and global leader in sustainable development. Sachs serves as the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he holds the rank of University Professor. Sachs was the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University from 2002 to 2016. Prior to Columbia, Sachs spent over twenty years as a professor at Harvard University, including as the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade. Sachs has authored and edited numerous books, including three New York Times bestsellers: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011). He is the recipient of several international prizes and has advised several governments across the globe. Prof Sachs has also served as the Special Advisor to UN Secretaries-General Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon, and António Guterres.

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THE EVOLUTIONARY EMERGENT OF UNIQUE SELF: A New Chapter in Integral Theory | Marc Gafni (2011)

ABSTRACT This article outlines the basic teachings of a new chapter in Integral Theory: the post-metaphysical evolutionary emergence of Unique Self. The article begins by contextualizing the Unique Self conversation within a larger discussion on individuality and traces the emergence of the Unique Self teachings through the life and writings of the author. The core Western understanding of individuality and its affirmation of the dignity of the separate self is contrasted with the Eastern teaching of dissolution of the small self, before both are integrated into a higher integral embrace through a new understanding of Unique Self. This article elucidates how the teachings of Unique Self fundamentally change the classical enlightenment paradigm through the assertion that enlightenment has a unique perspective, which might be termed the “personal face of essence.” Perspective taking, which emerges from enlightened consciousness, is rooted in the ontological pluralism that lies at the core of the Hebrew textual tradition. The new enlightenment teaching of Unique Self therefore rests on a series of integral discernments between separateness and uniqueness, ego and Unique Self, and personal and impersonal man. The Unique Self teaching suggests a new understanding of enlightenment through intersubjective love; the Unique Self perception is then set within an evolutionary context of being and becoming, in which it is seen to express one’s response to the personal address of the evolutionary God impulse itself. In this sense, Unique Self is understood to be an essential chapter in the emergence of a truly evolutionary mysticism.

KEY WORDS consciousness; ego; enlightenment; Integral Theory; Unique Self

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Economies of Life: Patterns of Health and Wealth | Bill Sharpe (2010)

Economies of Life argues cogently that there is a ‘default assumption that there is only one economy in our lives – the economy which is the one based on money. Our position is that there are many economies, of which the one based on money is just one, and that they all contribute to the health and sustainability of our shared lives’. To extend this thinking, money is the currency of trade, and art is the currency of experience.

In his collection of five essays, Bill Sharpe uses the principles of ecological thinking to redefine our hitherto narrow understanding of terms like economy and value. The essays consider – with poetic sensitivity and intellectual clarity – what keeps each economy healthy, what sort of wealth each one accumulates and what sort of policies are most supportive of innovation and sustainability in a changing world.

Bill Sharpe and a small group of other IFF members, working with the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol, took as the starting point for their inquiry the question ‘Can we help people who fund the arts develop better policies if we use ecological thinking to understand how the arts work in society and in the economy?’

The insights resulting from Economies of Life offer an ecologically informed and dynamic framework for understanding creativity, the arts and how the arts should be funded into the future.

The Five Essays

  • Homo ecologicus, Homo economicus, Homo poeticus
  • Patterns of Shared Life
  • Art is the Currency of Experience
  • Economies of Life
  • Producing the Future

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Ontology of Observing: The Biological Foundations of Self-Consciousness and of The Physical Domain of Existence | Humberto R. Maturana (1988)

My purpose in this essay is to explain cognition as a biological phenomenon, and to show, in the process, how language arises and gives origin to self consciousness, revealing the ontological foundations of the physical domain of existence as a limiting cognitive domain. In order to do this I shall start from two unavoidable experiential conditions that are at the same time my problems and my explanatory instruments, namely: a) that cognition, as is apparent in the fact that any alteration of the biology of our nervous system alters our cognitive capacities, is a biological phenomenon that must be explained as such; and b) that we, as is apparent in this very same essay, exist as human beings in language using language for our explanations. These two experiential conditions are my starting point because I must be in them in any explanatory attempt; they are my problems because I choose to explain them; and they are my unavoidable instruments because I must use cognition and language in order to explain cognition and language.

In other words, I propose not to take cognition and language as given unexplainable properties, but to take them as phenomena of our human domain of experiences that arise in the praxis of our living, and that as such deserve explanation as biological phenomena. At the same time, it is my purpose to use our condition of existing in language to show how the physical domain of existence arises in language as a cognitive domain. That is, I intend to show that the observer and observing, as biological phenomena, are ontologically primary with respect to the object and the physical domain of existence.

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Two recent articles (Dell, 1985; Held & Pols, 1985a) have explored the problems created for the field of family therapy by a failure to use the term “epistemology” correctly – a failure that has produced a confusion between epistemology and ontology. The major problem is the contradiction of insisting, on the one hand, on the epistemological doctrine that there is no independent reality available to the knower and making, on the other hand, (ontological) claims about how the world really is (e.g., that the world operates by way of circular causality). This article examines Dell’s (1985) attempt, by appealing to Maturana’s doctrine of structure determinism, to resolve a version of this contradiction.

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The attempts to clarify (purify) the conceptual foundations of family therapy by means of “epistemology” have bred excitement, boredom, irritation and confu­sion. In the belief that at least the confusion can be alleviated, the present paper is offered as a study guide and something of a Rosetta Stone for translating the work of Gregory Bateson and Humberto R. Maturana. The paper demonstrates that Maturana’s work is highly compatible with that of Bateson. In addition, several major points of contrast are argued: (1) Maturana’s concept of structure determinism is an explicit ontological claim which directly implies an episte­mology, whereas Bateson delineated an epistemology, but never clearly developed a corresponding ontology; (2) structure determinism is a more general concept than Bateson’s concept of “mind” (i.e., cybernetic epistemology); (3) structure determinism deletes the remnants of objectivity from Bateson’s theory (i.e., “the difference that makes a difference”); and (4) Maturana’s concept of instructive interaction is a more general, nonsystemic version of what Bateson meant when he used the term “epistemological error.” Finally, it is claimed that the emphasis on epistemology has distracted proponents and detractors alike from the essential message of Bateson and Maturana: social systems and all human endeavor must be understood in light of our existence as biological entities that are coupled to a medium. The biological ontology implicit in Bateson’s writings and explicitly delineated in Maturana’s may (at long last) provide a sound foundation for the social and behavioral sciences.

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Social Philosophy and Oncology | G. Baruchello and E. Hjörleifsdóttir (2014)

McMurtry’s work offers a contribution to the understanding, as well as to development of standards for the measurement, of human well-being, so that progress and regress may be interpreted in ways that mainstream economic criteria neglect or fail to ascertain, both in theory and in practice. The importance of determining novel standards and indicators is considerable, and widely acknowledged by many academics and politicians (for example, the 2008–2009 Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission created by the French Government), but above all it is important to reconceptualise economic phenomena so as to re-orient them in line with life-based criteria.

First, it has already been highlighted that the type of ‘growth’ conceptualised and pursued in today’s global market has had systemic negative effects upon life at many levels, to the point of making possible the explanation of said implications by means of a cancer-based explanatory model. ‘Real capital’ as ‘life capital’ is both unseen and harmed by standard economic thought (CSC2013, p. 12).

Second, in the wake of the current economic crisis, the same global market has been proven equally unable to attain ‘growth’ on its own life-blind terms, that is, in terms of pecuniary aggrandisement for money investors and/or managers (cf. Crotty, 2000). ‘Real capital’ as sheer ‘money’ is not there either, especially if one considers that the vast meltdowns of the last few decades have been caused by speculative bubbles in exponentially ‘leveraged’ masses of currency without any ‘grounding’ in ‘a medium of exchange and capital’ such as ‘gold, labour, or livestock’ (CSC2013, p. 12).

The system’s inherent rationality, which economics textbooks presuppose, is to be seriously questioned, and that is what McMurtry’s work does, consistent with Castoriadis’ (2005a, p. 129) poignant characterisation of the Socratic role that philosophers are expected to play in genuinely democratic societies: the possibility and the ability to call established institutions and significations into question. Whether he will be listened to, we do not know. However, responding to a cancer diagnosis by avoiding what alone can work is fatal.

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