The Right of Things in the Third Wave Era

As Alvin Toffler predicted 40 years ago in his masterpiece, The Third Wave, we are currently facing and experiencing the dying industrial civilization and an emerging new civilization.

In Toffler’s account, the Third Wave Civilization started around 1955 in the U.S., challenging all our old assumptions which were once considered perpetual standards.

The Second Wave Civilization, the industrial civilization, was characterized with standardization, specialization, synchronization, concentration, maximization and centralization, mainly relying on cheap fossil fuels, mass production and mass distribution through market supported by the nuclear family, the corporation, mass education, and the mass media in which consumers and producers were sharply divided.

I hold that as the Third Wave Civilization is taking over the Second Wave Civilization, we are moving into “post-atheist” and “post-secular” era in which a variety of spiritual beliefs will resurge as the underlying foundations of human rights.

First, I take up Jacques Maritain for revisiting the paradox of human rights and trace his historical account how God himself had been degraded to a mere guarantor for Nature, Reason and Natural Law and the human Will/human Freedom had replaced God as supreme source and origin of Natural Law.

Second, I turn to the theories of the emerging Third Wave Civilization, referring to Alvin Toffler1 and Luciano Floridi and confirm that the Third Wave Civilization would fundamentally transform who we are, the notion of the modern self developed in the Second Wave Civilization. As a result, we are gradually acknowledging ourselves as one of many and a part of a greater life, which paves a way to “post-atheist” era.

Third, I take up Charles Taylor’s proposition that both non-religious and religious discourses have equal rational credibility in the public sphere. I hold that Taylor’s proposition will open the door to religious and spiritual beliefs as underlying foundations of human rights. Then, I introduce Markus Gabriel’s Neo-Existentialism as a plausible theoretical framework which could account for multiple foundations/justifications of rights as object of human mind.

Fourth, I reexamine Jacques Maritain’s theistic justification of human rights in contrast with Kant’s right theory and in reference to the contemporary “Speculative Realism” which locates rights in a non-anthropocentric rights philosophy.