Excerpts from Introduction to Third Phase Transition: Solving The Anthropocene Crisis

On socio-natural co-evolution

“‘Phase’ is here utilised as a concept for determining separate forms of human-ecological metabolism, at a planetary range, and at a timescale of socio-natural co-evolution. ‘Phase transition’ refers to socio-natural critical conditions leading from one metabolic phase, which had depleted its potential, into the achievement and stabilisation of an entirely new and different phase, proving its sustainability in a natural as well as a social historic meaning.”

“Together, the first two metabolic phases have expressed a natural historic evolutionary process of human cooperation, the distinguishing survival fitness of our species. However, they mark entirely separate rates in developing means of cooperation. These, in turn, correspond to separate levels of human association. Such qualitative distinctions are of course also applicable to a possible third phase of human metabolism.

In fact, with modern humans, it has not been genetically driven development of the species, but rather the dialectics between changes in the earth system and homo sapiens’s social evolution of combined responses, that has led its advancement in socio-natural co-evolution.

The phase concept here proposed should not be understood as a straight line within social history. The simplification of linear historiography has been devastating, denying intercultural cross-fertilisation, the prime force of human cooperative evolution. The linear conception of history is also hierarchic. This feature reflects class society’s outlook on mankind, today representing the chief obstacle to seeing the solution of the Anthropocene crisis. Intercultural cross-fertilisation between remaining unevenness in social evolution will be transformed into a decisive asset of crisis solution.

The phase concept should not be interpreted mechanically (determinism). Nor as something predetermined (teleology). It should be determined as a tool for evaluating the uneven and combined results within the earth system of human speciation, and of the natural historic shifts in human cooperation produced under pressure of environmental feedback. The present state within humanity and within the earth system – the Anthropocene crisis – necessitates a phase concept in such a natural historic meaning.”

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