False Authenticity

“The Stone,” the NYTimes forum on philosophy, ran a [piece](http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/29/the-gospel-according-to-me/) today of much interest to me. Entitled, “The Gospel According to ‘Me’,” the main theme was the current fad of seeking one’s authentic self. > The booming self-help industry, not to mention the cash cow of New Age spirituality, has one message: be authentic! Charming as American optimism may be, its 21st-century incarnation as the search for authenticity deserves pause. The power of this new version of the American dream can be felt through the stridency of its imperatives: Live fully! Realize yourself! Be connected! Achieve well-being! This move to find heaven on Earth, while lessening the relationship to the… Read More

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Green Consumerism Is No Solution

The header for this blog is a headline from an [article](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/american-anthropological-association/green-consumerism-is-no-solution_b_3437457.html) published by the American Anthropological Association, by Richard Wilk. I read it in the Green blog of the Huffington Post. I saw Wilk just a few days before this at a conference sponsored by SCORAI (Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative). I was one of the group that established SCORAI. Here’s the beginning of what Wilk wrote. > Greenwashing is not just for corporations anymore — it has gone personal. Instead of feeling guilty about the huge gaps between wealthy and poor, the ways consumerism causes global warming, or how our daily pleasures cause rainforest destruction and despoil the… Read More

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Consciousness and Care

As a followup to the last post, I want to discuss the relationship between consciousness and care, in particular to understand why care is a uniquely human process. Antonio Damasio, whom I referred to in the last blog post, spoke about consciousness early in the book I also cited, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. > Consciousness is, in effect, the key to a life examined, for better or worse, our beginner’s permit into knowing about the hunger, the thirst, the sex, the tears, the laughter, the kicks, the punches, the flow of images we call thought, the feelings, the words, the stories,… Read More

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Happiness Is Not Much Better than GDP

Since the beginning of my work with sustainability, several questions have been nagging at me and those who read my work. The trickiest is what do I mean by care. Since this is one of the two basic constitutive concepts of flourishing, it’s very important to get it both right and clear. The other is complexity as a description of the world. I find it one much easier and won’t discuss it today. In the last few weeks, I have had two encounters related to this topic that have cleared up much dither for me, so this post is my attempt at passing my new clarity along to you. The… Read More

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Flourishing

Today I am off to my 60th college reunion. It’s hard to believe, but there it is. And tomorrow Andy Hoffman and I are throwing a book party to celebrate our combined efforts in writing, *Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability*. With a few hitches here and there, I can say I am flourishing in real life. Without being smug, I can say, that at any moment, I feel complete and satisfied that I am taking care of myself, others, and the world. A little shy in the spiritual domain, but I will be spending more time on the water where I do get a sense of connection and care.… Read More

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Buying One’s Identity

David Brooks has it right today. He still hasn’t got the language straight, but that’s OK. He [writes](http://www.johnehrenfeld.com/human-life-value.jpg) about what it is to be and what it takes to flourish without using either term. There are two threads today. One is a story of how we get to be the person we think we are; the second is that transactions are not the same as actions. Writing about an MIT graduate student who has figured the best way to do “good.” Splitting his time between his studies and a hedge fund, he uses his “ample salary” to fund charitable actions. In typical MIT fashion (I should know having studied and… Read More

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