In this episode, our deep dive into the Axial Age meets the podcast theme of the importance of scale. The themes of thinking at different time scales, our effort of following a “thoughtline” through changing historical scales, is provided its psychological underpinning: scaling up is an identity-project undertaken by the human ego. To shift away from operating at global industrial scale, which operates above all through a consumptive appeal to the ego, towards instead thinking, living, and investing in our local communities, requires massive political reorienting premised on a deep economic transformation away from consumption. Beneath these massive changes, is a correspondingly powerful spiritual and psychological challenge to deny ourselves – a challenge which makes the inward turn of spiritual practice and its transformative potential indispensable.


Alternative economic models were mentioned, Schumacher’s “Small is beautiful” explicitly:

Schumacher, E. F. (1973) Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered.

A contemporary proposal is Kate Raworth’s “doughnut economics”:

Samuel Alexander has done a great amount of work on “degrowth” and “sufficiency economy”:

Helena Norbert-Hodge has articulated a powerful defense of “local futures” and a focus on the “economics of happiness” (along with a 2011 film of that name)

“Voluntary simplicity” is a theme that interweaves all of the above; see the 1981 book of the same name by Duane Elgin.

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