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In this sweeping new interpretation of the history of civilization,bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin looks at the evolution of empathyand the profound ways that it has shaped our development-and islikely to determine our fate as a species. Today we face unparalleled challenges in an energy-intensive andinterconnected world that will demand an unprecedented level ofmutual understanding among diverse peoples and nations. Do we havethe capacity and collective will to come together in a way thatwill enable us to cope with the great challenges of our time? In this remarkable book Jeremy Rifkin tells the dramatic storyof the extension of human empathy from the rise of the first greattheological civilizations, to the ideological age that dominatedthe 18th and 19th centuries, the psychological era thatcharacterized much of the 20th century and the emergingdramaturgical period of the 21st century. The result is a newsocial tapestry-The Empathic Civilization-woven from a wide rangeof fields. Rifkin argues that at the very core of the human story is theparadoxical relationship between empathy and entropy. At varioustimes in history new energy regimes have converged with newcommunication revolutions, creating ever more complex societiesthat heightened empathic sensitivity and expanded humanconsciousness. But these increasingly complicated milieus requireextensive energy use and speed us toward resource depletion. The irony is that our growing empathic awareness has been madepossible by an ever-greater consumption of the Earth's resources,resulting in a dramatic deterioration of the health of the planet.If we are to avert a catastrophic destruction of the Earth'secosystems, the collapse of the global economy and the possibleextinction of the human race, we will need to change humanconsciousness itself-and in less than a generation. Rifkin challenges us to address what may be the most importantquestion facing humanity today: Can we achieve global empathy intime to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the planet? One of the most popular social thinkers of our time, JeremyRifkin is the bestselling author of The European Dream, TheHydrogen Economy ̧ The End of Work, The Biotech Century, andThe Age of Access. He is the president of the Foundation onEconomic Trends in Washington, D.C.