Applying Wisdom When Civilization Is at a Crossroads

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Whether we are talking about the ongoing climate crisis, the global wave of street protests, the plastic in our bodies, food, and water, or the near world financial meltdowns that seem to occur with increasing frequency, it appears for many a coming apocalypse is a real possibility. Journalist and author Jean-Baptiste Malet (2019, 16) reports, “Prophesying the end of the world is now fashionable.” In current parlance apocalyptic talk is called collapsology. Of course, there is nothing new about collapsology. After all, there was the Flood, the plagues in Egypt, and Christians have been predicting the Rapture or Second Coming for more than a millennium. If, however, civilization is on the road to collapse and wisdom is the quality of being able to make thoughtful decisions that affect the common good during times of catastrophe, a natural question is: What’s the wise thing to do now?1 Historian Geoffrey Parker (Global Crisis) and Professor of Finance William Goetzmann (Money Changes Everything) advance works that trace fundamental difficulties in harnessing wisdom when nations are in crisis. They track neglected forces that influence our mental lives, addressing the difficulty of grounding practical judgment on more than appetites, urges, or desires (Parker 2013; Goetzmann 2016, 675 & 370).

Original languageAmerican English
JournalDefault journal
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Comparative Literature
  • History
  • International and Area Studies
  • Political Science
  • Sociology

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