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Publisher's Summary

This fresh perspective on crucial questions of history identifies the root metaphors that cultures have used to construct meaning in their world. It offers a glimpse into the minds of a vast range of different peoples: early hunter-gatherers and farmers, ancient Egyptians, traditional Chinese sages, the founders of Christianity, trailblazers of the Scientific Revolution, and those who constructed our modern consumer society.

Taking the listener on an archaeological exploration of the mind, the author, an entrepreneur and sustainability leader, uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today's cultural norms. Uprooting the tired clichés of the science-religion debate, he shows how medieval Christian rationalism acted as an incubator for scientific thought, which, in turn, shaped our modern vision of the conquest of nature. The author probes our current crisis of unsustainability and argues that it is not an inevitable result of human nature, but is culturally driven: a product of particular mental patterns that could conceivably be reshaped. By shining a light on our possible futures, the book foresees a coming struggle between two contrasting views of humanity: one driving to a technological endgame of artificially enhanced humans, the other enabling a sustainable future arising from our intrinsic connectedness with each other and the natural world. This struggle, it concludes, is one in which each of us will play a role through the meaning we choose to forge from the lives we lead.

©2017 Jeremy Lent and Fritjof Capra (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Patterning Instinct

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Wonderful book! Changes your perspective on the human race and where we might be going.

I really enjoyed this book, to the point where I had to go out and buy a hard copy. Having been very depressed about the state of our nation and the world in general, reading this book has shifted my perspective, given me a sense of something to work towards, and a deeper understanding of

5 people found this helpful

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Best science and philosophy read ever.

This is by far the most thought provoking book of its kind of which I heard. The historical, scientific, phylosophycal, and theological aspects brought to light are boundless. I am on my third listen and am continuing to enjoy the concepts presented.
Anyone that wonders about the history of great ideas involving the evolution of thought throughout history will be entertained for hours.
This audiobook should be required listen for all secondary science teachers as well as history teachers.

4 people found this helpful

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Perfect Combo of History & Philosophy

Really well done, this was a perfect combo of history & philosophy. Very education on a wide range of topics, but was still very well organized.

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learning to see

great review of world history and the history of religions. it's helpful in sorting out the different threads that have brought us to this moment of Truth.

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Good but grossly reductionistic

From my perspective, The patterning instinct is a good book which (for all its effort), fails to be great. The main reason for this is the author's highly selective retelling of history to help bolster his preference for ancient eastern patterns of thought. For instance, Lent focuses heavily on the failures of western society while merely skimming over the otrocities of Eastern (think Chinese) civilization. While he waxes poetically on the marvels and achievements of ancient Chinese culture, he very rarely mentions the seeds of altruistic humanism embedded in ancient helenistic philosophies, which later flowered in judeo-christian beliefs. I would have given this book a higher rating if it were not for the author's failure to recognize the good which flowed from systems of civilizations which he obviously distains. This lopsided presentation caused me to doubt the authors objectivity on matters and topics which I am not as acquainted with. For all that, the book has flashes of greatness. I enjoyed listening to it and will most likely listen a second time. Yet, let the listener beware that the author's preferences for eastern patterns of thought skew his ability to remain objective in his presentation of history. To tell a half truth is (at best) to distort reality...at worst...its down right manipulation.

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Like Sapiens, but better.

We humans give far too little attention to meaning making. This sweeping cognitive history is a critical contribution to the task of the 21st Century: fashioning better quality meaning.

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Delightfully thought provoking

A different "version" of "a short history of everything, looking at reality, culture and history, from some unexpected and insightful point of views

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A Must-Read for Understanding Humanity

This is such an excellent book! It's a truly impressive review of the broad history of human beliefs, ideas, values, and behaviors. It also provides we modern humans with a view of our own underlying values and beliefs that many of us may be unaware of. For anyone who's interested in such things, this book is a must-read!

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Well written, informative, important & challenging

The most important book you may ever read. Humanity must change its priorities. This book does an amazing job of explaining the origins and development of our collective perspectives, priorities, and world views and why they got us where we are today, as well as options for our future that require a different cultural and philosophical reality.

The audio narrator was great and spot on in tone and pace.

The originization and quality of the authors information, analysis, and discussion was well thought out and made for a informative, challenging, and IMO exellent listen/read.

P. S. The only unfortunate and certainly unforeseeable part of the book was a Lewis CK anecdote that hasn't aged well in a few short years. History, perspective and all that.

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contains a varied perspective

Struggled a little to read it in couple of points, but supper interesting, very deep approach, enthusiastic in connecting view points of history, social, philosophical, religious, industrial, economic fields .If you have interest in any of those field you will be intertained by the interwoven plot of meaning in between them!

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  • Nathaniel
  • 01-10-18

Broad and Focused

What did you like most about The Patterning Instinct?

It provides a comprehensive learning experience through the history of man and presents a compelling argument for the routing of understanding and being. It's written expansively, sympathetically, transparently, compassionately and with a focus and pacing that impels one to continue on.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

As someone quite new to reading deeply into the human condition and its developments, this book further motivated me to continue my learning. It taught me much and opened my mind to many new discoveries and yet many new questions.

Any additional comments?

I can highly recommend this book. The narration is strong and intelligent and Jeremy Lent's effort here is to be seriously considered and pondered upon. I will surely look into his future work, of which I hope there is much.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Russell Beard
  • 08-11-18

little bit dissapointing

not sure about this one .. seemed a bit ironic that while he is saying language and culture form our societies.. and new ideas could take us in new directions (so far so good) and his stated intention is to help nudge humanity toward a more humane and sustainable future with higher quality of life while reducing the negative impact on the planet etc... and yet there are no new ideas in the book!.. it reads like a series of book reviews.. its basically a compendium of cultural histories and insights from other writers ..loosely stiched together with a tenuous "patterning" theme.. and finishes with a pretty weak conclusion.. bit dissapointing .. well read though and an entertaining overview for people not allready familiar with the topics discussed..

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-27-21

options and understanding for the future

loved it so much truth in this book its hard to put down a real winner

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-04-21

Incredibly interesting, well written and wonderfully narrated

This book was brilliant and is a must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of human thought. Packed with information and interesting insights into portions of history we often hear little about. He makes it easy to understand why we’ve ended up here, why our society is structured as it is, what possible futures might look like, and how we could build on the principles of systems thinking to reimagine a better future.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-05-20

Wide-ranging and thought-provoking

incredibly well researched, the book pulls together a multitude of strands from across all human history, cultures, religions and geographies to shine a light on the human psyche and explain the role it has played in how humanity got into its current parlous state, addicted to consumption and seemingly unwilling to respond meaningfully to the climate crisis that threatens the future of us all.

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  • clay
  • 10-01-20

comprehensive alternative take on global history.

accessible and easy read, well researched and fascinating at times. perfectly narrated.

word word word

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  • DisplayName
  • 01-28-20

Essential book

This is a deep-laid examination of the ideas humanity has come up with in response to development from prehistoric times through to the modern age (and beyond), ideas which have in turn fostered change.

Are we on a path where the destruction of the climate and familiar life is inevitable or do we still have the ability to change course?

There is no bigger question and this book extends some hope.

I very much valued reading it as an audiobook. The human voice helps you through the hard stuff. Ultimately that in a way is its message. The more we connect with each other, with ourselves, and with the natural world, the better our chance of saving things.

Who do I recommend it to? Everyone. No exceptions. One key fact presented in the book is that once 3.5% of the population engages actively in a protest movement, change is unstoppable. So I recommend this book to at least 3.5% of you.

I found it through an article by George Monbiot in the Guardian. Thank you to him if he ever reads this review.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-14-20

Fantastic book

!!! One listen / read is not enough...very inspiring and thought provoking - Much thought went into this book - a great torch to bring light into the dark... Greatly recommended

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  • MR A I LEWANDOWSKI
  • 06-05-19

amazing book

I loved this book from the beginning til the end.
Let's do the job of today's!

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  • Alexa Forbes
  • 07-09-18

Wonderful, gripping, sweeping work

I absolutely loved this book. It covers where we as humans have come from and where we are headed. It provided for me an essential context for my thinking about the future and why we as humans have such huge difficulty navigating the issues that are right before us. A must read for those like me who have only a hazy understanding of global history and culture but are keen to understand these things so to understand the future. And Jeremy's writing style is utterly gripping, plus the book is beautifully read. I couldn't put it down.

1 person found this helpful

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  • wendy
  • 10-15-20

A Book for All to Read!

An amazing book! both factual aswell as offering deep insites and meaning into our modern lifes through the understanding of where humanity has come from.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-08-19

All of humanity should read this

A more profound read than the simarlyencompassing Sapians. With a hint of optimism for how we might mitigate the climate and ecological disaster we find ourselves in and which will only worsen if world views don't shift towards those described in this book.