“A Whiteheadian Response to the Global Crisis”
Lecturer: John B. Cobb, Jr.
John B. Cobb, Jr. is an American philosopher, theologian, and environmentalist and is often cited as one of the most important North American theologians of the twentieth century. He is the preeminent scholar in the school of thought associated with the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. The author of more than fifty books, Cobb is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — one of the nation’s highest honors.
A unifying theme of Cobb’s work is his emphasis on ecological interdependence—the idea that every part of the ecosystem is reliant on all the other parts. Cobb has argued that humanity’s most urgent task is to preserve the world on which it lives and depends, an idea which his primary influence Alfred North Whitehead describes as “”world-loyalty.”
Cobb is well known for his transdisciplinary approach to knowledge, integrating insights from many different areas of study and bringing different specialized disciplines into fruitful communication. As a result, Cobb has been influential in a wide range of disciplines, including theology, ecology, economics, biology and social ethics.
In 1971, he wrote the first single-author book in environmental ethics, Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology, which argued for the relevance of religious thought in approaching the ecological crisis. In 1989, he co-authored with Herman Daly the book, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, Environment, and a Sustainable Future, which critiqued current global economic practice and advocated for a sustainable, ecology-based economics. He has written extensively on religious pluralism and interfaith dialogue, particularly between Buddhism and Christianity, as well as the need to reconcile religion and science.
Cobb has co-founded numerous initiatives over his long career, including the Center for Process Studies, the Institute for the Postmodern Development of China, Progressive Christians Uniting, and Pando Populus.
“During the seventies my sense of the theological vocation changed….I was persuaded that no problem could be more critical than that of a decent survival of a humanity that threatened to destroy itself by exhausting and polluting its natural context.”– John B. Cobb, Jr.
Postings from Seizing an Alternative
- Post-conference reflections by John Cobb: “Now that the Conference Is Over” (in JesusJazzBudhism.com).
John B. Cobb, Jr. is intellectual architect of conference events.
A unifying theme of Cobb’s work over more than six decades is his emphasis on ecological interdependence — the idea that every part of the ecosystem is reliant on all the other parts. Cobb has argued that humanity’s most urgent task is to preserve the world on which it lives and depends, an idea which his primary influence, philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead, describes as “world loyalty.”
Suggested Reading List
Links to books and media by the speaker include: