The Critical Catalyst: A “New Story”

 In The Enlightenment of the 1700s, the crucial factor, the catalyst that finally upended the old worldview and jumpstarts the paradigm flip, appears to have been the writings of the author Voltaire.  Although known primarily as satirist and essayist, Voltaire was also an historian and scholar. 

His books on science and the past popularized not only the Copernican Revolution and the significance of Newton’s achievements, his true history of the French royalty gave a historical center to the new worldview, it gave the new paradigm a “Story”. 

Every worldview is based on its Story of who we are, how we got here and where we are going—it must answer those three essential questions.  Voltaire explained to his time a New Story, how the king, rather than a divine being, is just a man driven by the lust for power—thus we should have a democracy in which the people have the power.   Voltaire declared that Laws of Nature caused events here on Earth, not God.  Science should thus guide us rather than religion.   He made the concept of progress a common one, focusing attention on science and the future in a whole new way and giving the multiple revolutions to come a powerful image of what they could be. 

It was this New Story of Voltaire, this re-answering of the three essential questions, that allowed the new Copernican paradigm to finally transcend the cultish control the old Medieval powers had on the population.  Once it was realized that the divine rights of the king and nobility were just made up to enrich the few, that control evaporated very quickly.

By the 1760s, the rulers Louis XV of France and George III of England were suddenly faced with a large part of the population that despised them and wanted deep change, especially for George III in the American colonies.  Their personal mistakes concerning foreign policy and ruinous tax structures ended up discrediting the whole Medieval worldview.  It was a time very similar to our own.

Old paradigms disguise themselves with partial, glorified histories and lots of Public Relations.  One’s view of history guides opinions about everything from politics to religion, so a history based on a new paradigm changes opinions like nothing else.  In fact, no new history, no New Story, no paradigm flip, no new future.  The re-telling of the Story is the catalyst to the whole process of the new transcending the old.  Once the old was transcended, the new worldview grabbed power and reinvented the world. 

The first step then toward a new world is to realize a new history.  Beyond the evolution of species is the story of human consciousness and how it evolved.  This is what I will be bringing to Storyfield.

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