While today’s systems are built on and designed around greed (capitalism) and segregation (modernism), we need societies of empathy and integration to survive. And this can be designed, and should be a vital part of permaculture design.
This video relates to a book I recently read, Det Biologiske Mennesket, by Terje Bongard and Eivin Røskaft. Unfortunately it’s still only to be found in Scandinavian language, but if a publisher reads this please release it on the international market. Here Bongard sketches up how we can design a society built upon in-groups, for economy and democracy, housing, production and education. This way empathy can thrive, and we can benefit from the strong evolutionary powers of “the handicap principle,” first described by the Israeli scientist Amotz Zahavi in 1975, after he had studied the social thrush Arabian Babbler for a long time. More than ever is it time to go to the Arabian Babbler to become wise!
An in-group is about 25 people, plus or minus. If it’s much bigger the benefits of social control and the powers of “the handicap principle” will break down. It is really fascinating that Christopher Alexander must instinctively have realized this fact already in the beginning of the 70s, before this was a science.
When Alexander created pattern 37, House Cluster, he made it up of 8 – 12 households. This is exactly the size of a well functioning in-group!
Also take a look at the RSA Animate below - The Empathic Civilisation.
This lecture is aimed at a general audience and focuses on deep social changes accompagnying the networked society, in particular the shift to sharing, in particular on how it affects daily life and habits.
- Are We Predisposed To Give Back? New Studies Examine Why We Help Others
- Young Children Choose to Share Prizes After Working Together
- Anthropologists Link Human Uniqueness to Hunter-Gatherer Group Structure
- Towards emphatic education
- Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary (book)
- E.O. Wilson's Theory of Altruism Shakes Up Understanding of Evolution
- E. O. Wilson against Hamiltonian inclusive fitness
This article is published at The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia on December 7, 2010.