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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 26, Issue 1/2, Spring/Fall 2020

Charles Harvey
Pages 69-89

Insatiable: Why Everything is not Enough

In this essay, I argue that the deepest roots of Homo sapiens’ propensity towards excessive consumption lie in the emptiness of human awareness, itself possibly rooted in brain plasticity. I attempt to demonstrate how this insight emerged and appeared repeatedly throughout the history of philosophy and religious thought and how industrialized capitalism and consumer culture led to the current domination and envelopment of our lives by the “commodity canopy.” In the final section of the paper, I envision one way that contemporary humanity might use the history of insights about empty, restless awareness and brain plasticity to develop cultures that focus more on doing than having, more on events than on objects.