Relatedness

Relatedness is a quality, which is indispensable für all humans, animals, plants, and even inanimate matter. Nothing can exist without relatedness, which means no thing can be without the other(s), so neither can the hen exist without the egg, nor the egg without the hen. Relatedness describes the many and manifold relations constituting the web of life.

Although humans can only live (well) when in relation, a broad public discourse on the importance of relatedness only started in the beginning of the 1980s. The work of American developmental psychologist Carol Gilligan then provided important input with her book In a Different Voice, complementing the mainstream rights-based ethics with an ethics of care.

Within the declining order of patriarchy, which is built on competition and individualism, the insight into a life of relatedness enables us to rediscover and acknowledge neediness and dependency as constituting parts of the human condition.

Nothing less is thus at stake than a new conception of the conditio humana, the human condition, and an altered view of the world. It’s about an order that instead of focusing on demarcation concentrates on the in-between, connecting people, with all their diversity. It is about the consequences such a worldview of relatedness would have on various spheres of thought, research, life experience, and living-with-each-other.

Even in science, economics, and theology such new thoughts are already at work. American theologian Carter Heyward, whose book The Redemption of God: A Theology of Mutual Relation was published at the same time as Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, suggested defining God as „power-in-relation,” strongly influencing developments in feminist theology for decades. Scientists like biologist Florianne Koechlin replace the dominant paradigm of genetic determinism (the idea that genes always and invariably determine certain human characteristics) with complex ideas of interactive processes between cells and organisms. Even mainstream economists have started to admit—though hardly in public—that their concept of the egocentric homo economicus is not sustainable, giving room to an understanding of the self as a related one, even within an economic context. In these and many other areas it is mainly a matter of insisting on the relatedness of everything with everything and so, rearranging the meaning of everything.

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