Bestselling author, political adviser and ‘social and ethical prophet’ Jeremy Rifkin visits the RSA to investigate the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.
Today we face unparalleled challenges in an energy-intensive and interconnected world that will demand an unprecedented level of mutual understanding among diverse peoples and nations. Do we have the capacity and collective will to come together in a way that will enable us to cope with the great challenges of our time? Rifkin argues that at the very core of the human story is the paradoxical relationship between empathy and entropy. At various times in history new energy regimes have converged with new communication revolutions, creating ever more complex societies that heightened empathic sensitivity and expanded human consciousness. But these increasingly complicated milieus require extensive energy use and speed us toward resource depletion.
The irony is that our growing empathic awareness has been made possible by an ever-greater consumption of the Earth’s resources, resulting in a dramatic deterioration of the health of the planet.
Rifkin challenges us to address what may be the most important question facing humanity today: Can we achieve global empathy in time to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the planet?
One of the most popular social thinkers of our time, Jeremy Rifkin is the bestselling author of The European Dream, The Hydrogen Economy¸ The End of Work, The Biotech Century, and The Age of Access. He is the president and founder of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C.
Chair: Matthew Taylor, chief executive, RSA
Suggested hashtag for Twitter users: #rsaempathy