Evolving Governance Across a Stressed Planet
12. A holoreflexive epoch in the making? The Modern epoch, as turbulent and innovative as any of the preceding epochs in human evolution, is rapidly coming to an end. Though technological innovation continues to stimulate the senses and the imagination, modernity appears to have reached the limits of its intellectual coherence and organisational efficacy. This is not to say that all, or indeed any, of modernity’s distinguishing characteristics have disappeared or will soon do so. On the contrary, many will remain for some time highly visible elements of the social and economic order. These include the value attached to science as a way of understanding the physical universe, the centrality accorded to technological change in economic and social organisation, the decisive role of the market in the organisation of economic activity, and the corollary of these tendencies, the rising volume, speed and intensity of cross-border flows. Nonetheless, the assumptions, attitudes and expectations that govern the interaction of science, technology and economy have been undergoing a sea change, with far-reaching implications for human governance. The current period of transition has yet to run its course. However, a number of discernible trends point to the emergence of what we have chosen to call the holoreflexive epoch – a stage in human evolution that is for the first time distinctly possible though by no means certain. Holoreflexivity, as we have intimated and will shortly elaborate, characterises and sustains several of the most significant normative, legal and institutional shifts to have emerged during this period...
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