Sustainability: the search for the integral worldview.

Klaas van Egmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The sustainability problem is described as a process of recurrent destabilization of societal value orientations or worldviews. These worldviews represent both value orientations with respect to ‘quality of life’ and mental maps about the surrounding world. The many different worldviews which shape society appear to be part of an overall integral worldview which can be deduced from societal enquiries and from the experiences of history and philosophy over many centuries. This integral worldview is defined by the vertical contrast between idealism and materialism and the horizontal contrast between uniformity and diversity. Due to a number of societal and psychological centrifugal forces, worldviews become one-sided and finally end in fundamentalist value orientations which are synonym with overshoot, collapse and crisis. Examples are religious fundamentalism and related wars, communism, nazism, the ecological crisis as well as the recent financial crisis.
The solution to these sustainability problems has to be found in the timely recognition and compensation of the destabilizing centrifugal forces. The resulting integral worldview is synonym with ‘human dignity’. The thus defined time independent notion of human dignity defines a new ethical framework and solves the paradox between the needs of present and future generations in Brundtland’s original definition of sustainable development
Original languageEnglish
Article numberFutures 43
Pages (from-to)853-867
JournalFutures. The Journal of Forecasting, Planning and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • value orientations worldviews, sustaianble development ethics centrifugal centripetal forces


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