Rational-Economic-Man has been the dominant marketplace paradigm since the dawn of the industrial age. It describes men (no women) who, given the circumstances of their times, make choices that optimize their chances to obtain precisely what they desire in the way of wealth.
And it's true that economic systems have emerged out of this paradigm to create more wealth for more people than any previous idea or image in history.
But no human construct is eternal. Regardless of its creative power and, as with all paradigms, rational-economic-man has reached a limit and must be transcended.
So what must be transcended? And what is the power and promise of what we are calling the Whole-Economic-Human?
To transcend does not mean to abandon or sever all ties with what has been. It means to preserve what continues to work, to jettison what doesn't, and to open to the discovery waiting in the future. When a paradigm reaches its generative limit, it begins to turn in on itself leaving behind a path of destruction where there formerly had been genuine creative inspiration.
With regard to the rational-economic-man metaphor-
and perhaps the most damaging result of this paradigm is the emotional and spiritual distance it brought into being, the disconnection it fostered between human beings in the day-to-day commerce that we all must engage in to keep well and alive.
How is the Whole-Economic-Human metaphor different?
It is all about intimacy-the intimacy of interconnectedness and interdependence.
Just as all the organs of a human body are intimately dependent upon each other so that when one malfunctions or becomes diseased the others are unavoidably affected, so it is with how we conduct our commercial transactions.
For example, when Bernard Maddoff recently created his ponzi scheme worth billions his impact was not isolated to those who have been directly damaged by his deceit. His reach extended well beyond those immediately involved. He created fear, and rage, and cynicism, and paranoia. He impacted the emotional life of the community, which in this case the community is most of Western Civilization, decreasing the trust in and value of the economic system among people at large, and most especially among those who are suspicious of wealth and are ready to opt for conspiracies that render them victims of power.
The Whole-Economic-Human makes choices from an alert consciousness-with awareness of the co-creative life that joins us all together-as well as from a sincere conscience-reflecting the care and respect for the feeling-filled human beings with whom he or she transacts business.
Co-creativity, care, consideration, and community are among the meaningful qualities that are at the foundation of an ethical commerce, a commerce that is dedicated to advancing the well-being of the whole human-feminine, masculine, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and non-rational.
As we said in yesterday's post, being alive as a Whole-Economic-Human integrates mindspace, heartspace, bodyspace, soulspace, and co-creativespace a mutli-dimensional economic person who strives to fulfill his or her self-interest only as it is situated within the intimacy of community-without which no self-interest could ever survive let alone thrive.