John Cobb's Radical Ideas
It's radical to think that philosophy might really matter.
My conviction is that a very important part of radical thinking is philosophical. That is, we need to examine the worldview or cosmology that underlies our present actions and also supports most of the new proposals emanating from universities and corporations. Without that sort of re-examination, we’ll never go to the root of things sufficiently – that is, we’ll never be as deeply radical as the times demand.
It's radical to think that we can adopt a more organic worldview.
Our present worldview encourages ever increasing use of resources and pollution. It encourages ignoring relationships and focusing on problems in isolation. My conviction is that a much better worldview is available. To consider the possibility of adopting a better worldview requires radical thinking.
It's radical to think that everything is interconnected; that everything is alive in one way or another; and that the 'really real' things are momentary events rather than substances which endure over time.
Those who follow Whitehead adopt the latter alternative. To begin with, he proposes that we shift away from supposing that reality consists most fundamentally of things that endure through long periods of time. This is the idea of material substances. We actually have no idea what these can be, and philosophers have pointed out that they are posited as a convenience but with no actual evidence. Another approach is to imagine that the world is made up of events. There are great big events like wars or elections. These can be analyzed into many, many smaller events, ultimately into moments of animal experience, on the one side, and quantum events, on the other. These are examples of the indivisible events out of which the big ones are composed.
It's radical to think that education can be in service to wisdom.
I have discussed what it would mean to make wisdom the most fundamental goal of education only at the level of higher education. But this form of higher education should not be an abrupt break with earlier education. Reflection about the condition of the biosphere and the prospect for humanity in this context is important for younger adolescents as well. They, too, are capable of a measure of wisdom, if society encourages them in that direction.
It's radical to think that economics can be in service to a healthy biosphere.
The present global economy is collapsing. Rather than trying to stave off this collapse, we can use the occasion to build local economies that serve their communities well. This will be a profound reversal of long-term trends. It may include state and municipal banks and local currencies that free the community from subservience to the international banks. Local economies can encourage frugality and sustainability instead of growth. They need not look to growth to solve the problems of the poor. Instead, the local community will accept responsibility for providing work for all who want it and for meeting the essential needs also of those who cannot work. We may exchange the “high” standard of living measured by the surfeit of goods for a secure place in a healthy human community in a healthy ecological context.
It's radical to think that we can transcend anthropocentrism and think biophilically.
We need to expand the ideal of benevolence to all human beings to biophilia. Children have biophilic tendencies. These can be encouraged, whereas they are now taught to think of them as merely sentimental. A biophilic civilization can be a sustainable one.
It's radical to recognize that indigenous peoples have more wisdom than "civilized" people.
There are, after all, sometimes radical reasons for holding on to established patterns. Sometimes the most radical thinking leads to the effort to renew ancient practices long discarded. Today, affirming the wisdom of indigenous people is based on radical reappraisal of what we have called “civilization.”
It's radical to think that Jesus would occupy Wall Street
To this question there is a simple answer: Yes. By that I mean that this is the kind of thing that Jesus in fact did. He drove the money changers out of the temple. He proclaimed the nearness of the basileia theou, which was the other world that is possible, the world organized for the benefit of the 99% (and even, in ways they don't want, of the 1% as well).
It's radical to be opposed to violence while in favor of drastic change.
I lean toward radicalism in the sense of making changes, because I think that without drastic change humanity will continue the process of making the Earth less and less hospitable to human life. But I am opposed to the use of violence and I care very much about the kinds of change we work for.
It's radical to think that the world can become a community of communities of communities.
The now developing global crisis can lead to fresh reflection that will make people aware of the importance of community. If it does so, this will express itself most clearly at the local level. Confronted by acute shared problems, we may hope that people will agree that they need to work together for their solution and to build a new life. The preceding sections have sketched, in the most hopeful way, what will be possible.
On Being Radical