Our Modern Crisis of Purpose—and How Humanity’s Needed “Growing Up” Becomes the Only Option Going Forward ( Long Form)

Modern realities frequently leave people feeling at best confused, at worst cynical and hopeless. In part, this is a reaction to specific concerns—job loss with globalization, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and the erosion of familiar moral assumptions to name just a few. But we also confront something more fundamental. More and more often today people describe themselves as feeling rudderless, adrift in an increasingly uncertain, contradictory and often absurd-seeming world. It is possible that the aimlessness that people feel is transitory, that if reflects but a blip in history. But I suspect it reflects something more basic—and important. I speak of this as our modern Crisis of Purpose.

I think of humanity’s Crisis of Purpose as our time’s most defining challenge. A good argument can be made that it plays a major role in many more specific crises—such as today’s drug and obesity epidemics, the frequency of mass shootings, growing suicide rates, and people’s diminishing faith in modern institutions. David Brooks put the situation this way in his New York Times column. Today “many [people] feel lost and overwhelmed. They feel a hunger to live meaningfully, but they don’t know the right questions to ask, the right vocabulary to use, the right place to look or even if there are ultimate answers at all.” (David Brooks, “What Is Your Purpose?” New York Times, May 5, 2015.)

This article examines ways our modern Crisis of Purpose may relate to the primary topic of this series—the needed, and increasingly possible, cultural “growing up” that I have described with the concept of Cultural Maturity. Previous articles in this series have addressed how Cultural Maturity’s changes relate to specific issues such as morality, war and peace, love, leadership, and death. Here we look at possible connections to a concern that encompasses culture—and human well-being—as a whole.

These reflections will be most obviously important because they help us make sense of today’s circumstances. Cultural Maturity’s changes help us understand why, in spite of the great progress we have made over recent centuries, we should now find ourselves feeling confused and directionless. I will describe other possible explanations, and these reflections will require that we think more complexly than is our custom. But I don’t know of other interpretations that provide the same depth of understanding—either with regard to why we might encounter these realities or what will be needed if we are to move forward effectively.

As important for our task with this series of articles will be ways our modern Crisis of Purpose provides big-picture evidence for the concept of Cultural Maturity. The fact that Cultural Maturity’s changes can help us understand both the causes and the potential consequences of today’s Crisis of Purpose supports the concept’s accuracy and also its importance. And there is a further particularly convincing piece of evidence. The concept of Cultural Maturity provides the only explanation I know of that is ultimately consistent with a positive future.

Here I will touch briefly on three Cultural Maturity–related dynamics that help tie Cultural Maturity’s changes to today’s Crisis of Purpose. The first is most basic and simply grasped. The second requires more theoretical nuance, but ultimately provides some of the most concrete and provocative argument. The third helps us make sense of many of the more absurd and disturbing phenomena we see in our time.

Beyond Culture As Parent

The first dynamic turns to the changes that give the concept of Cultural Maturity its name. In introducing Cultural Maturity’s changes, I described how culture has functioned historically like a parent to the lives of individuals. Cultural dictates have provided us with our rules to live by and, in the process, a sense of identity and connectedness with others. They have also protected us from truths that would have been beyond us to tolerate—the depths of life’s uncertainties, limits to what may actually be possible, and in general how complex things can be.

Understanding how Cultural Maturity’s changes might relate to our modern Crisis of Purpose starts with the recognition that culture is less and less serving this function. Truths that in modern times we have identified with and relied on—the American Dream, progress’s promise of ever onward-and-upward advancement, absolutist political ideologies, the beliefs of our various religious traditions—are failing to provide the same reliable guidance. This loss of traditional absolutes is no small matter.

In the most recent article in this series I described a related phenomena that adds considerably to the disorientation. Today we confront a crisis of confidence in leadership in most all parts of our lives (see How Change In What It Means to Lead are Redefining the Human Task). This is certainly the case with political leadership as partisan pettiness leaves us wondering if there are any adults at the top. But ultimately we find diminishing faith in authority of all sorts. We also find diminishing faith in modern institutions.

How do we best understand these easily unsettling circumstances? One possibility is that they reflect failures in leadership and thinking that has gone dangerously astray. If this is our interpretation, we are likely to reach one of two conclusions as far as what needs to be done. We might argue that we must get back to the truths of earlier, more easily understandable times. We could also conclude that in fact there is really nothing to do, that we are doomed to chaos. Neither conclusion provides much help if our interest is moving forward.

Another kind of interpretation—most commonly found in academic circles— might seem more promising. In recent decades, “postmodern” thinkers have effectively chronicled our time’s loss of traditional truths. But while postmodern thought takes us an important first step, even at its best it helps us much less than we might think. In the end, it stops short both with regard to explanation and what it suggests for the future.

Most postmodern thinkers are non-comital when it comes to explaining why we see today’s loss of traditional belief. Sometimes particular explanations are put forward—most often globalization or technological advancement—but when they are, rarely do explanations address more than limited aspects of what we see. Previous articles in this series support this observation. With the changes I described reordering the realities of morality, war and peace, love, leadership, and death, neither globalization nor technological advancement played a significant role. (At the end of this article, I will add a further essential insight to this critique. I will argue that we can’t effectively understand either globalization or technological advancement without bringing Cultural Maturity’s changes into the conversation.)

As far as the future, the conclusions of postmodern thinkers can vary widely depending on who is doing the interpreting. Like with people who assume that what we see reflects human failure, it is not uncommon for postmodern thinkers to reach less than encouraging conclusions. But we also see more positive interpretations. The emphasis then tends to be on how the changes we see liberate us from past constricting beliefs—as they indeed do.

But even then postmodern interpretation tends to leave us short. The critical missing piece with even the best of postmodern thought is that it offers little to replace what it insightfully observes has been taken away. Postmodern thinkers accurately observe that going forward will require taking greater responsibility for the truths we apply. But they pretty much stop there. As a result, the postmodern prescription tends to reduce to empty relativism—different-strokes-for-different-folks conclusions that obscure as much as they enlighten. Anything-goes thinking provides no real answer either to personal aimlessness or to the broader question of what the future will require (see What Cultural Maturity is Not: Postmodern Pseudo-significance).

The concept of Cultural Maturity offers explanation that more effectively addresses both what we see and what is needed. As far as why today we might experience a loss of traditional guideposts, its explanation has two related parts. The first is most obvious. With the leaving behind of culture’s past parental status (and, with it, leadership’s past parental status) that comes with Cultural Maturity’s ”growing up” as a species, shared cultural absolutes lose their traditional authority.

The second part turns more specifically to the cognitive reordering that produces culturally mature perspective. I’ve emphasized how Cultural Maturity is a product not just of new ideas, but specific cognitive changes (see Integrative Meta-perspective: Cultural Maturity’s Cognitive Reordering ). For here, it is enough to observe that these changes produce thinking that is more encompassing—that better includes all that may be involved.

Creative Systems Theory describes how beliefs become ideological when we take particular aspects of larger systemic truths and treat them as if they are the whole of truth. The more systemic picture that results from Cultural Maturity’s cognitive reordering challenges more specific ideological beliefs of all sorts—whether political, religious, philosophical, or even scientific.

Both of these change mechanisms require us to leave behind truths that before we have relied on. Combine them and past defining assumptions in all parts of our lives necessarily fail us. If in fact they are playing a significant role in our time, it is appropriate that today we should experience a disturbing loss of familiar certainties.

Let’s turn to how the first of our three dynamics may relate to the future. It is also appropriate—at least if we can step up to Cultural Maturity’s considerable challenge—that we should expect these changes to open the door to new options. And we should expect those new options to reflect more that just a postmodern emancipation from past constraints. I’ve described how Cultural Maturity’s cognitive changes make possible new human capacities and more encompassing ways of understanding.

Each of these “post-postmodern” results has critical importance. I’ve described how culturally mature capacities will be essential if we are to avoid overwhelm and effectively address concerns as diverse as love, leadership, and death. And the future’s needed sophistication of perspective—and wisdom—will require that we draw on more nuanced and systemic ways of understanding. I’ve gone so far as to describe how Cultural Maturity’s changes invite the possibility of new, more mature stages in the evolution of social institutions.

As important as understanding what Cultural Maturity’s changes accomplish, is appreciating what they don’t. They don’t provide new absolutes to replace those that are being lost. At the very least, much in Cultural Maturity’s new picture may be a long time in coming. But limits noted, what they do accomplish could not be more significant. Most specifically with regard to today’s Crisis of Purpose, they provide a new—and newly compelling—guiding story. Importantly, it is a story consistent hope, and not just some idealized hope, but a down to earth kind of hope rooted in what it means to be human. Culturally mature perspective doesn’t provide final answers, but it does provide direction that can help us effectively make our way in the uncertainties and complexities ahead.

The Dilemma of Trajectory

Understanding the second of our three dynamics requires more conceptual detail—and more conceptual detail than has been needed with previous reflections of any sort in this series. But the effort is worth it. This second dynamic highlights some of the more baffling and contradictory-seeming aspects of what we see. It also provides some of the most concrete evidence for Cultural Maturity’s changes and why they are necessary. It makes the conclusion that Cultural Maturity may represent the only option consistent with a healthy—and perhaps survivable—future particularly hard to refute.

Here we need to step back and think very long-term. I’ve given greatest attention to how Cultural Maturity must be understood in relation to the long-term when addressing the future. I’ve emphasized that changes I’ve described may take many decades to become significantly manifest. But long-term perspective is ultimately just as important when it comes to the past. This second dynamic requires that we draw on such perspective in the extreme—extend our thinking to include the whole of history.

The concept of Cultural Maturity had its origins in Creative Systems Theory and its framework for understanding how human systems of all sorts grow and evolve. At a cultural level, Creative Systems Theory maps the evolution of shared beliefs and social structures—starting with our tribal beginnings. This way of thinking is more encompassing than many people are initially comfortable with. But with close examination, most people find Creative Systems Theory’s basic conclusions not just persuasive, but almost self-evident.

To fully grasp the implications of Cultural Maturity’s changes, we need to understand them in the context of Creative System’s Theory’s evolutionary picture. One particular Creative Systems Theory concept—what it calls the Dilemma of Trajectory—adds a further, and particularly provocative, layer of explanation for today’s Crisis of Purpose beyond the basic recognition that a loss of past absolutes would leave us feeling adrift. It also provides essential evidence for the concept of Cultural Maturity. It makes the kind of more integrative understanding Cultural Maturity’s cognitive changes makes possible obviously essential.

The following description from my book Hope and the Future—An Introduction to the Concept of Cultural Maturity presents the basic concept:

“To understand the notion, we need to put it in historical perspective. Over the course of history, human advancement has followed a generally understandable, if sometimes bumpy, “onward-and-upward” progression. With each past chapter in culture’s story we have witnessed increasing individual freedom, human authority, and technological prowess. Today, we tend to think of ourselves as having reached a pinnacle in this journey. We celebrate a perceived final realization of individual identity and free will, ultimate dominion over the irrational in ourselves and over the natural world, and ever-more wondrous invention as the solution to our problems.

“But however rich and powerfully significant the past’s onward-and-upward narrative has often been, continuing to cling to it presents fundamental problems. We confront contradictions that usual ways of thinking leave us unable to address. While what we have reaped, and will continue to reap, from culture’s evolution toward ever-greater individuality is profound, the future clearly as much cries out for a new appreciation of ways in which we are related—for a fresh understanding of caring, community, and the common good. And while our ever-greater human authority—over nature, over our own bodies, over life’s deep mysteries—has similarly had immense significance, in a related way today, its opposite is arguably as much part of what is needed—a new humility to what we cannot control, a new sensitivity to when we should be listening as opposed to directing (whether the voice needing attention is the natural world, our tissues, or the unfathomable). And while ever more complex and wondrous inventions and technologies will certainly play a major role in shaping our human future, in parallel with these other observations, just as important for our well-being will be greater appreciation for the limits of technology as a human solution and an ever-deeper commitment to assuring that what we create serves ultimate good.

“On confronting such apparent contradiction, a person could equally conclude that culture’s job is to go forward and that its job is to go back. Indeed, the ideas of many well-intentioned people can suggest that going back is the answer. But neither going forward nor going back as we usually think of them provide a solution. That we might feel at least confused is understandable.”

A couple of themes that Creative Systems Theory draws on in describing how cultural systems evolve—the role of polarity in how we think and the fact of multiple intelligences—provide more specific ways to think about the Dilemma of Trajectory. Each points toward how continuing forward as we have would sever us from much of what most makes us human. As far as our modern Crisis of Purpose, this result would be expected to create not just confusion, but feelings of aimlessness and alienation. Each of these themes also points directly toward how Cultural Maturity’s changes offer an antidote to these consequences.

The first theme draws on how it has been in our human natures to think in the language of polarity (see Maturity and Polarity). Creative Systems Theory delineates how polar juxtapositons have evolved in consistent and predictable ways through each previous chapter in culture’s story (see Patterning in Time). A defining characteristic of this evolutionary progression helps us understand the Dilemma of Trajectory. With each step to this point we find increasing distinction between polar opposites—for example, between humankind and nature, between mind and body, and between the individual and the collective. We confront the Dilemma of Trajectory in how this direction of change really can’t continue. Always before it has benefited us. Indeed it has been key to all of culture’s great advances. But a further distancing of ourselves from nature, our bodies, or the collective would have dire consequences.

The second theme turns to the workings of intelligence. Creative Systems Theory emphasizes how intelligence has multiple aspects. It describes how our cognitive processes necessarily draw not just on the rational parts of understanding in which we take appropriate pride, but also on other aspects, some more emotional or imaginal, others more sensory. It also describes how the fact that intelligence is multiple is key to who we are, how it is essential to our audacious tool-making, meaning-making natures (see Multiple Intelligences). No Creative Systems Theory concept can be fully understood without drawing on all aspects of intelligence.

Making sense of this second way of understanding the Dilemma of Trajectory starts with recognizing that how we relate to the various aspects of intelligence has also evolved over time. For example, body and imaginal intelligences played the larger role with culture’s more tribal and mythic beginnings. With our Modern Age, we find Enlightenment thought with its grand goal of bringing the whole of understanding not just into the light, but into the light of pure reason. The rational—in combination with a lesser, essentially decorative contribution from more subjective sensibilities—came to define not just intelligence, but truth.

But again, going further in this direction really can’t work. At the least, doing so would leaves us short of the sophistication of thought required for times ahead. Future understanding must provide not just knowledge—which rationality does well—but also wisdom. And there is a related more dramatically consequential reason why continuing forward as we have is really not an option. It would eventually disconnect us from essential aspects of intelligence. We would not do well without the emotional sensitivities essential to relationship, the power of imagination that lies at the heart of art, or the more primitive aspects of human sensibility so central to a pleasurable and healthy existence.

While the Dilemma of Trajectory requires more detailed theoretical perspective than the simple notion that familiar cultural absolutes are abandoning us, in an even more striking and irrefutable way, it makes the fact that we might experience a Crisis of Purpose understandable. Not only does the Dilemma of Trajectory undermine usual ways of thinking (as going forward or going back equally fail us, we are left in a double bind), it threatens to leave us alienated from ourselves in a quite ultimate way.

Let’s turn again to implications for the future. As important as recognizing how the Dilemma of Trajectory may contribute to our modern Crisis of Purpose is appreciating how Cultural Maturity’s changes provide something that might seem impossible—an answer to the Dilemma of Trajectory’s double-bind quandary. Creative Systems Theory describes how a related quandary confronts us with individual development as we approach the second half of our personal lives (and with any human developmental process at an analogous point). Human development addresses it by turning to a whole new kind of developmental process. The developmental tasks of life’s second half are specifically integrative. Maturity—and wisdom—in our individual lives is about learning to consciously hold the whole of ourselves as individual beings in a way that previous to that point in our lives would not have made sense to us.

I’ve described how the cognitive reordering that produces culturally mature perspective is similarly integrative. Cultural Maturity’s cognitive changes in a related way challenge us to hold the whole of experience—here at a cultural level—more expansively and inclusively than before has been possible. We become newly capable of getting our minds around the polarized assumptions of times past. We also find ourselves able to think in ways that more consciously draw on all the multiple aspects of intelligence. Needed new capacities and new more dynamic and sophisticated ways of thinking follow from these results.

Another things that follows from these results is Cultural Maturity’s new guiding story. I’ve written extensively about how it is very specifically an integrative story. It challenges us to understand what it means to be human in more encompassing ways. It also challenges us to redefine wealth and progress in ways that better reflect the whole of who we are and the whole of what matters to us (see Redefining Wealth and Progress).

Transitional Absurdity

Do these first two dynamics—the loss of past absolutes and the double-bind circumstance presented by the Dilemma of Trajectory—adequately explain today’s Crisis of Purpose? I am comfortable asserting that if they don’t explain what we see today, certainly we will need to confront these dynamics eventually. But there is one last factor that could be contributing to some of the most unsettling aspects our modern Crisis of Purpose.

Creative Systems Theory calls this third dynamic Transitional Absurdity. It turns out that a great deal that we can find most ludicrous in today’s world can be understood as an expected reaction to the demands that come with transition from modern age realities into the needed, more mature chapter in culture’s development.

Some Transitional Absurdities are products of overshooting the mark. Overshooting the mark is pretty much how things work at any major cultural change point. We carry perspectives that have served us past their timeliness. When we do, they become amplified and distorted, producing beliefs and actions that are at the least not helpful—and, frequently quite crazy and dangerous.

Other Transitional Absurdity’s are regressive responses to how disorienting Cultural Maturity’s changes themselves can be. With regression we resort to assumptions from earlier times. Sometimes we see not just two steps forward and one step back—but two, three, or four steps back. The results can be just as disturbing, and just as much put us as risk.

Transitional Absurdity is a nuanced concept and well warrants a lengthy article of its own. A recent post on the Cultural Maturity blog goes into greater detail and chronicles some of the more potentially consequential examples (see Transitional Absurdity: How the Ludicrous Can Be Consistent With Hope). Here are a few of the Transitional Absurdities that the piece examines (along with links to posts that go into greater detail with each):

Today’s ludicrous degree of political polarization—and at the worst in the political arena, a vulnerability to authoritarianism and xenophobia (see The U.S Presidential Election: Reflections From the Perspective of Cultural Maturity).

How materialism today trumps values of every other sort (see Money as Ideology).

“Entertainment” where artificial stimulation masquerades as meaning (as we see, for example, when shootings, car crashes, and explosions eclypse real content—something we commonly find today with movies, television, and in particular with video games (see The Digital Revolution and Cultural Maturity: Synergies and Traps)

Techno-utopian beliefs and the silly—and often dangerous—conclusions they can produce (see What Cultural Maturity is Not #1: Techno-utopian Delusions).

Climate change denial in the face of overwhelming evidence—and the simple fact that the most rudimentary understanding of risk assessment would advise deep concern with evidence that was half as convincing (see Climate Change and Culture’s Big Picture)

And the growing prevalence of the kind of simple-minded relativism I noted in reflecting on postmodernism’s limits (see What Cultural Maturity is Not #2: Postmodern Pseudo-significance).

The concept of Transitional Absurdity requires care if it is not to be misused. It can become a handy repository for beliefs we disagree with. But if applied with appropriate attention, it provides powerful perspective. It is hard to ignore that much that goes on in our times seems not at all sane. And we must not ignore it—we pay a high price when we do. But we also pay a price if we misconstrue the implications of assertions that are ultimately ludicrous. We can become overwhelmed and cynical, hide in denial, or retreat into protective easy-answer thinking. At the least, we can let what we encounter distract us from what our times ultimately ask of us.

Perhaps surprisingly, the concept of Transitional Absurdity ultimately supports hope. Given that many of the phenomena it explains could be our undoing, the only alternative to the concept of Transitional Absurdity’s interpretation may well be that they portend the end of us. The fact that such phenomena are consistent with what we would expect to find if the concept of Cultural Maturity is correct supports the possibility that outcomes might ultimately be positive. Understood deeply, the fact that we find Transitional Absurdities not only supports hope, it helps confirm the sophistication of thought and action needed if we are to have a healthy and fulfilling future.

Stepping Back—Today’s Crisis of Purpose, Cultural Maturity, and the Big Picture

Just how much the interplay of these various big-picture dynamics contributes to current circumstances can be debated. I’ve emphasized that multiple factors are involved. And because Cultural Maturity’s changes extend as much as a century into the past, and should extend even further into the future, it is not possible to be sure just how they impact events at any one point in time.

Legitimate debate acknowledged, here I’ve endeavored to make clear how the current contribution could in fact be considerable. I’ve also tried to provide the perspective needed to address such dynamics in effective ways whenever and wherever we might encounter them. Hopefully I have also made understandable how today’s Crisis of Purpose provides a particularly encompassing and persuasive kind of argument for the concept of Cultural Maturity.

I promised earlier to return briefly to factors such as globalization and technological advancement that are more often cited as the cause of today’s disruptive changes. In part I have not given them greater attention because, as I’ve observed, these more recognized factors are not sufficient to fully explain much that is most important in what we see. But I’ve also not focused on them because of an important sense in which they themselves can’t be effectively understood without an appreciation for Cultural Maturity’s evolutionary picture.

For example, as far as globalization, in the earlier piece on conflict I proposed that the extent of globalization we currently see would have been impossible without at least a beginning ability to get beyond the “chosen people/evil other assumptions of times past (see An End to War as We Know It). And while much in modern technological advancement can be adequately thought of as a simple extension of Industrial Age thought, emerging technologies increasingly draw on more complex and less easily predetermined systemic processes that push the bounds of Industrial Age assumptions.

I’ve emphasized the importance of systemic perspective in the sense of including all of the factors involved. These observations add the recognition that effective systemic analysis with regard to today’s changes also requires that we understand all the factors involved in relation to Cultural Maturity’s encompassing changes.

We can also take this kind of observation an additional step that makes including Cultural Maturity’s changes in our thinking even more inescapably important. I’ve emphasized how culturally mature perspective becomes especially critical if we are to fully appreciate how answers exist to questions before us. It turns out that with both globalization and technological advancement culturally mature capacities will be needed if we are to effectively address the challenges it presents.

Globalization necessarily brings increasing contact between cultures whose world views reflect different stages in culture’s evolution. That it does potentially enriches our lives and invites insights that help engender culturally mature capacities. But it also creates problems. I’ve identified this circumstance as the primary cause of international terrorism (see Confronting Terrorism: What We Too Often Miss). We see Cultural Maturity’s necessary role in how understanding the implications of cultural stage differences at all deeply requires culturally mature perspective. Such understanding will be essential if modern circumstances are not to devolve into a clash of civilizations. Given ever more available weapons of mass destruction, the consequences could be calamitous. Globalization makes the need for culturally mature leadership inescapable. (see Beyond War as We Have Known It).

With regard to emerging technologies, we confront how invention is always a two-edged sword. Certainly we will see future technological achievements that contribute wonderfully—and profoundly. But those of techno-utopian bent can miss the bigger picture. Especially with the new kinds of inventions I just made reference to, we need to always keep in mind that technologies are tools that can benefit us or do harm depending on how we use them. Many of the best thinkers in technology have warned that advances of the future could also be our species’ undoing. Most often they cite how digital technologies today not only outthink us, they promise to outlearn us as well. An example that I listed as a Transitional Absurdity could ultimately present as great a danger—addiction to the artificial stimulation that digital technologies can so powerfully and artfully produce. If as tool-makers our future tools are to effectively add to human possibility, we must bring to our choices new levels of responsibility—and wisdom. This greater moral sophistication is hard to imagine without Cultural Maturity’s changes (see The Future of Morality: How Future Moral Questions Will Require Capacities New to Us As a Species).

Cultural Maturity not only provides an answer to today’s Crisis of Purpose, its changes become necessary if we are to effectively address questions of most every sort. With this series of articles I’ve attempted to argue that it provides the only real option going forward. This is a deeply demanding recognition. I’ve emphasized how great a stretch the needed new maturity of perspective necessarily is. I’ve also described how we reside in an awkward in-between time with regard to most of Cultural Maturity’s changes and how regression and “overshooting the mark” are to be expected. We will certainly encounter troubling events. And truly disastrous events are not out of the question.

But in recognizing just how demanding the challenge will be, it is important also to recognize factors that may make success in engaging it more in the cards than we might imagine. In the sense that these factors are inherent to how Cultural Maturity’s changes predictably work, they follow from the very same factors that make the challenge so great.

I’ve noted a couple in previous articles. I’ve observed how, at least as potential, Cultural Maturity’s changes are built into our natures as developmental beings. Thus we don’t have to invent them from whole cloth. There is also how Cultural Maturity works as a single solution to a multiplicity of concerns. I’ve described how culturally mature perspective lets us think in fundamentally new ways about questions as diverse as war, love, and leadership.

Put these two factors together and we get a result noted in earlier articles that at first can seem paradoxical, but which makes the possibility of addressing our modern Crisis of Purpose more within reach. Cultural Maturity’s changes offer that we might effectively address our time’s great complexity. And at once they offer a solution that while necessarily a stretch is ultimately straightforward—in the end common sense (see Common Sense 2.0). With regard to our modern Crisis of Purpose, we’ve seen how Cultural Maturity’s new common sense brings not just needed new capacities, but also a guiding story able to effectively take us forward. The task, while demanding, may be less ultimately about great complexity of thought, than about simple courage and attention in the face of changing circumstances.


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