In this second, revised edition of his highly acclaimed book, Dirk Dunbar focuses the parameters of New-Paradigm Theory and sheds light on the prospects of a monumental shift to an Ecocentric Age. Besides synthesizing the cultural transformation theories of scholars ranging from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Jung and Alan Watts, to Theodore Roszak and Charlene Spretnak, he adds to them in new and profound ways.
While surveying the scholarship and focusing the message of what Dunbar calls the ecocentric paradigm, this study shows how the West’s valorization of reason, dominion, and progress forced the awareness of nature’s balance, as exhibited in Earth wisdom, underground for over two millennia, until the spiritual revolution of the 1960s initiated an extensive attempt to reintegrate it. Divided into three sections, the first surveys the three periods of the ecocentric tradition, demonstrating how, despite the unique perspectives, a common aim grounds their work: to define the ways in which the balance of nature’s polarities is relevant to the evolution of human consciousness and culture and the future viability of our species. Drawing from the balance exhibited in Earth wisdom, including the yin and yang of Daoism, the Native American reverence of nature’s cycles, and the symmetry of ancient Hindu and Greek earth and sky gods, these scholars provide models for the reintegration of instinct, intuition, ecstasy, and the body into our predominantly reason, intellect, control, and spirit oriented value system.
The second section elucidates the theories of specific scholars in terms of politics, spirituality, psychology, science, and religion. By synthesizing their messages into a cohesive treatise and tradition, Dunbar merges environmental and spiritual principles by connecting core ideas of animal rights theorists, ecofeminists, deep ecologists, social ecologists, and ecotheologians. The third section focuses on the revitalization of nature’s balance in contemporary culture and frames the ecocentric paradigm by re-assessing gender, human, and environmental relations in the context of civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, the Green Party, Beat and hippie culture, and Rock music. The goals of the book are summarized in the conclusion, “The Dynamics of Balance as a New-Paradigm Solution to the West’s Present Spiritual Crisis”; including steps that we all can take to, as Gandhi put it, “be the change we want to see in the world.” The book does not rehash old material, but grounds the most valuable aspects of new-paradigm theory by offering authentic depictions of ancient traditions, evaluating passions of the Western mind, and establishing the potentials of ecocentrism. Distinguishing features include unique insights into the philosophical implications of the 1960s revolution and the blending of vast historical data and scholarly theories into a readable and relevant treatise.