The phrase “paradigm shift” employed to describe relatively big changes in configurations or patterns of thought and perception (theory) originated in Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It’s a very good book (I’ve read it already five times myself). The term hasn’t always been understood or used appropriately as Kuhn intended, but the term is useful and relevant for describing what we mean by “chaotic transition”, and for understanding the seeming epidemic of the crazies that appears presently to afflict much of the globe.
Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Yuval Noah Harari, allegedly one of the most popular and best-selling contemporary public intellectuals (or “celebrity gurus” if you prefer). Harari and his book Homo Deus came in for some criticism in Mark Vernon’s and Rupert Sheldrake’s podcast on “The Jordan Peterson Effect“. I guess I move in the wrong circles.
Harari is an historian who has a side gig as a fortune-teller and futurist, and not having heard of his book Homo Deus until recently, I decided to look up a few reviews, most of which found Harari’s book unpleasant reading (The Oxonian Review, The New York Times, and The Guardian as a selection). Harari’s thesis is that some human beings are on their way to godhood thanks to technology and the Megamachine.
I think not. I think Harari has confused what Algis Mikunas calls “technocratic shamanism” (magic, essentially) with the meaning of divinity and epiphany.
I’ld like to follow up on a comment I posted earlier to the previous post on “The Great Irony of Our Times” after having come across a review of Marshall Berman’s book All That is Solid Melts Into Air. The review in The New York Times cites a passage from Berman’s book that I find very meaningful as the central theme of The Chrysalis as well: “everything is pregnant with its contrary”.
This is the great insight of our times — in fact, it even is the reason why we speak of “times” in the plural at all, or why we refer to this as an Age of Paradox or why I describe it as an age of great ironies and of “ironic reversals” (or what some call “the Great Unravelling”). It is even essential to understanding “chaotic transition” and the meaning of Jean Gebser’s “double-movement”. “Everything is pregnant with its contrary” is just another way of understanding the Hermetic principle of the coincidence of opposites (coincidentia oppositorum) or the conjunction of the contraries (conjunctio oppositorum), or even the meaning of Blake’s “marriage of Heaven and Hell”.
If also offers a way to understanding what Gebser means in saying that everything — the fate of the Earth and of life — hinges on our knowing when to let happen, and when to make happen, for that is the expertise of mid-wifery. That is, in a sense, what Gebser is summoning us to become during chaotic transition.