Philosopher-Theologian John Cobb: Our Institutions Have Failed Us


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At age 95 John Cobb  continues to be one of the world’s most important thinkers. The leading light in process philosophy/theology, he has authored over 40 books and edited 16 more (including 9/11 and American Empire v.2, which I co-edited).

In this interview John Cobb argues that our civilization is failing because it accepted the wrong set of ideas—among them Cartesian/Kantian dualism and materialism—a few centuries ago.  Some quotes from this interview:

“The (coronavirus) plague has a possibility of waking people up and moving them in the direction that might make future crises less destructive then they otherwise would be….(but) we won’t solve our problems unless we change — unless we give up modern philosophy and modern ways of thinking.”

“If we know that the purpose of being educated is to be socialized into operating on the world in a certain way without asking any questions about what the world is, then universities can survive for a long time. And if anybody ever asks, well, what’s the use of universities? Oh, you get a better job if you go to one. OK, that’s all that’s left. And it’s ceasing to be true. So I think that the universities are committing suicide. I just hope they go through with that before the whole world goes down with them.”

“The banks want to be completely free to make money. And when they make money they pocket it. When they lose money, the government bails them out. This isn’t capitalism or any recognizable -ism, it’s just the power of the banks. So it’s clear who runs the country. But in spite of all of this, they’re collapsing. And the financial collapse is what is being postponed as long as usual. The virus gave them a chance to give a few more trillion to the banks, which I think is shameful.”

“The willingness to just increase the number of deaths in other countries in order to make people miserable enough to bow before us is a sad sign of the level of morality in American imperialist circles.”

“I consider The New York Times as the most damaging source of news in this country, because so many thoughtful, well-meaning, honorable people think if it’s in The New York Times, it must be true. I’ve been astonished to find that kind of New York Times fundamentalism among my friends. I mean, these are the good people! But The New York Times belongs to Wall Street. So as long as Wall Street can control all the propaganda and as long as Americans think they are getting wise and just and liberal views from that propaganda, the control of our minds is very deep.”