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David Bollier: Reintegrating Mind, Life and Matter

June 3, 2010

Why has the international community been unable to bring the full range of commons issues and their representatives into strategic discussions? James Quilligan tackles this question in the spring/summer 2010 issue of Kosmos magazine, “the journal for world citizens creating the new civilization.”

Quilligan is an international development expert who is also Chairman for the Secretariat of Global Commons Trust and Chairman for Global Commons Affairs of the international Renewable Energy Organization. His lengthy essay is a challenging but rewarding look at the commons in its broadest sweep in human history and global politics, culture and nature.

A core problem of our time, Quilligan asserts, is that the noosphere (consciousness) has been dissociated from the biosphere (life, nature, biology) and the physiosphere (physical matter). “This imbalance did not emanate from the biophysical world, but in the human mind,” he writes, continuing:

“In earlier times, value emerged from the biological resources, physical utilities and human labor of a community, and living close to these sources of life and sustenance created social trust, stability and cohesion. In recent centuries, as industrial civilization was forged by extracting and burning up these assets, biophysical value has gradually become a mental abstraction, a rational coefficient. Through the economic growth imperative which fuels the conversion of finite sources into money and commodities, the collective mind is repressing its own organic and material roots, decoupling the economy from its underlying sources of resilience and survival and creating countless side-effects that threaten human and animal life and the greater health of the planet…The extraction and production of commodity and monetary value from the Earth and from social labor have effectively separated human consciousness, community and culture from nature and matter.”

You can download an eight-page pdf of James Quilligan’s essay here.

You may also wish to check out Kosmos for its ambitious explorations of global problems and consciousness.

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