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The Ascent of Humanity

4.51 of 5 stars 4.51  ·  rating details  ·  212 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The Ascent of Humanity is a radical exploration of the history and future of civilization from a unique perspective: the human sense of self. Eisenstein traces all of the converging crises of our age to a common source, which he calls Separation. It is the ideology of the discrete and separate self that has generated these crises; therefore, he argues, nothing less than a ...more
Paperback, 604 pages
Published March 15th 2007 by Panenthea Productions
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The Ascent of Humanity falls into a selective category of books which has redefined my life simply by the process of reading it. Similar to the breath of fresh air I received when reading Krishnamurti or Arthur Koestler for the first time, Charles Eisenstein is the modern practical philosopher. But to call him a philosopher is to diminish the all-encompassing treatise that Ascent of Humanity is to the modern human.

The modern American culture has persuaded us that everything is ok, whether by fo
David Kano
I read Sacred Economics first. Skipped chapters where he describes his vision for a global shift of paradigms, as it felt like repeat of what he wrote in his other book, only more wordy. Repeats himself a lot in both books, a style I don't appreciate.

I went back and read the chapters I skipped. They did contain some new ideas and information that was worthwhile. If you are going to read one of his books I'd still recommend Sacred Economics over this one.

The biggest problem I have with his visio
Amanda Avery
An orchestrated deconstruction of our collective technology-as-dues ex machina wish fullfillment fantasies, weaving together strings of history, psychology, mythology, and physics, in a straightforward fashion simple enough for my comparatively simple brain. However, this is NOT a fast read. The result is an elegant culmination of disparate variables; events, myths, and obsessive fanatical scientism that offers an explain for our current human condition--notably a misguided Cartesian conception ...more
Alexi Caracotsios
Half of me wants to praise this book the other half wants to say it was a waste of time. When Eisenstein stays in the philosophical realm he does provide some thought provoking arguments that I believe would be beneficial for most people to think about. However, the thing that bugged me about this novel was that Eisenstein also made claims on subjects very scientific in nature in a way that was not scientific. These claims seemed iffy and ruined his credibility in some ways I believe. All in all ...more
I have given other books five stars, but reading this one makes me want to demote them to a mere three or four stars. My old favorite book (my favorite since I was 15 when I first read it), The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, has just been replaced by Mr. Eisenstein's thorough and articulate work. It illuminates for me why I so enjoyed The Silmarillion, which describes the wonderful world of Middle Earth (which Tolkien always described as our own world, but in a mythical time). In Middle Earth, ...more
T. P. Alexanders
Ready to take your mind for a walk. I have just the book. Eisenstein challenges your every belief. He pushes you to see your life and the world around you differently. Filled with current science the book jumps from fact to philosophy almost seamlessly unifying the two in unbelievable ways.

This can be purchased or read as a e-book for free here.
Bryan Winchell
This book radically shifted my understanding about the world, our cultures, what science is telling us, language, how we use time, education, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is philosophy with relevance for the world we live in today. Long, but worth the time!
I recommend this book highly. It is one of the most even treatments of decolonization of the mind and critique of civilization. Its hopeful note also inspires action, and almost a kind of metanoia.
Every human being on the planet needs to read this book! It is a very clear deconstruction of culture and an explanation of how things came to be as they are. Read it!

Feb 09, 2011 Geccoe marked it as to-read
You can read it online :
Joslyn Dmello

Life Changing! Stellar to no end!
if you read one book, make it this one
Kristen Sabol
The arguments presented in this book are worthy of a five star rating. It takes great bravery and skill to meld together accomplished and respected scientific thinkers with lesser known, new age inspired thinkers representing the best of today's counter-cultural movements. He does this well...though the reader may feel resistant to it as the chapters wind and wend. The overall writing style takes patience, even for those well educated. This is part and parcel of the argument he is trying to make ...more
I realize there are other books that are far longer, but if I had to choose a word to describe this text, it would be "epic".
I was torn on how to rate this. It does start to lose steam towards the end, as Eisenstein does a better job of defining the problem than offering solutions, and the final section doesn't offer any new ideas (it just restates ideas from earlier in the book).
But, I feel like just reading this book has changed me. It's given me some new avenues to explore in trying to unders
In my opinion Sacred Economics is the only Charles Eisenstein book worth reading. I didn't totally hate it though.
Shelley Hartman
Not currently finished. I agree with some of the ideas about the cost of technological and scientific "progress" that have been downplayed by society, and separation from each other and nature causing problems. However, I think the author glorifies primitive culture as a whole and doesn't admit that some of our advances truly are advances. There are positive aspects to so-called primitive cultures like a stronger sense of community, connection with nature and innate spirituality, but I'm not abo ...more
Will Szal
One story about the history of human culture. The rise of the separation and control paradigms.
Brian Ishmai Naim
Great Book incorporating many viewpoints to make you think about the current state of affairs in nature and human society. How have humans managed to progress so far, yet stray so far from the true nature of our being? Absolutely fascinating, paradigm-changing read that incorporates many divergent ideas. I don't necessarily agree with all of the theories put forth here, but they certainly get you to think about what you do believe.
Dec 19, 2013 Dan added it
I dunno, I listened to the first 3 chapters and he just kept losing me more and more. I'm certainly interested in the critique of symbolic culture and all that stuff, but there's just wasn't enough political analysis in a lot of the topics he was bringing up, and when he mentioned something about the feminine and masculine within us, I finally gave up. I don't want even a hint of gender essentialism in my books, thanks.
James Chin
A personal brush with death, or even the passing of a loved one, connects us to a reality beyond the constructs of me and mine. Death opens our hearts. Death reminds us, with a clarity that trumps all logic, that only love is real. And what is love, but a melting of the boundaries between self and other? As many poets have understood, love too is a kind of death.
Mar 27, 2010 Yves added it
This book describes how humanity evolved to a point where separation can no longer be supported. Reviewing the process and steps of our ascent into a separate self identity enabled me to realize even further how the world/Self view of perennial philosophy is precious. It is not a question of belief but more of understanding that the choice is ours to make.
Any person who considers him or herself enlightened, or wanting to become enlightened, should read this book.

The very first sentence -- in the preface to the 2013 edition -- hooked me: "For my entire life a foreboding of doom has lapped at the edge of my attention."

If you identify with that, read the book.
Xavier Shay
A friend once described reading a good book as "marinating in someone else's brain for a while". That is the best description I have of this book. Many challenging thoughts, though a large part of it could be cut. As a rule, philosophers should not try to interpret science. 5 stars if it was half the length.
This is not a book to "fly" through. Take your time and fully appreciate the viewpoint of the author. t's likely you've not heard anyone discuss perspectives in such a unique way before. If you have then you've read widely. I've only recently begun and being only 120 pages in or so, it's a riveting read!
I found this book several years ago and have taken quite a long time to finish it. It is densely written with lots of thought provoking ideas. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see the world in a new way.
Frank Hamrick Jr.
Eisenstein is just incredible. I think he picks up where Quinn left off...or completes things I found missing in Quinn. Without a doubt one of the most insightful books I've ever read.
Lots of good thoughts. But way too long, and way too comprehensive in what it seeks to achieve. Plus there are a fair number of pretty loony notions in there as well.
I am so done with this book! There may be some gems in there somewhere but there is just so much BS to sift through to find them that it's just not worth it.
Jessica Zu
I'll try read it later. I see some good stuff and interesting ideas but I could not be convinced enough to continue my reading.
James McCallister
One of the most important books that anyone could choose to read. Life changing.
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Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. His writings on the web magazine Reality Sandwich have generated a vast online following; he speaks frequently at conferences and other events, and gives numerous interviews on radio and podcasts. Writing in Ode magazine's "25 Intelligent Optimists" issue, Da ...more
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