“What I am writing may seem very remote and abstract. However, it has one implication that can be sensed right away. If we talk about energy as being the most fundamental thing there is, and events as being the only units of reality we ultimately can know, we are immediately describing a world in which everything is related—even, we can say, a world which consists of relationships.

Energy is measured by the effect of one event on other events. Energy cannot exist apart from its relations with other energy events. In fact physics does not deal much, any more, with tiny bits of matter that are unaffected by their environments, as it once did. Physics largely focuses on energy events and fields of activity, with relativity (which is radical relationality), and with quantum events—none of which fit the models arising from the individualistic and materialistic assumptions of the past four hundred years. To understand that we live in a world in which relationships are more fundamental than tiny, individual bits of matter is revolutionary in its implications.

On a personal level, it means that I as an individual don’t enter into relationships; I am constituted by my relations. On a social and political level, it means that all the parts of a society participate in constituting all the other parts. For our understanding of the Earth, it means that “ecology” doesn’t exist in abstraction from human history or civilization. What happens at any moment in time is part of an interconnected fabric of existence—ecological and civilizational. There is no unit of reality that can be pulled out and isolated. As James and John and Martha, above, know, their NGO work is set in the context of a larger whole.” –John Cobb

John Cobb has a way of writing which is so feverishly erudite that when I read him I feel simultaneously challenged, spiritually enlightened, intellectually smarter, and aesthetically moved. The rest of the above essay is at Pando Populus.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *