Prout in a picture

Prout in a Picture
Although it is usual to think about Prout as a set of economic proposals, in fact the primary purpose of Prout is to build healthy communities. Here the community we are talking about might be a village, a country or the global community. Because we live in an age dominated by economic thinking, most introductions to Prout take an economic bias.
One of the greatest defects of contemporary economics (as it is taught in universities) is to abstract economic principles away from real people, real communities and the environment in which they are embedded. Building healthy communities requires the integration of an understanding of culture with principles of ecology and principles of economics. Therefore in the above diagram, community is placed at the centre, where culture, ecology and economics overlap.

Possibly the most important of these is culture, because the artefacts and institutions which we create and which come to dominate our lives, are a reflection of our culture. At the core of any culture is its spirituality. This is why spirituality is at the apex of the triangle. Spirituality may be defined as the never ending effort to maintain one's contact with spirit. Spirit is a difficult word to define - so as not to limit it. But as a start, spirit can be regarded as the source of everything that we consider remarkable and beautiful about human beings - it is the source of our courage, our dynamism, out kindness, our curiosity, our self-sacrificing nature. It is connection to spirit which makes or breaks a civilisation.
Many social commentators have commented on the increasing materialism of modern society, and it should be a worrying trend. As Sarkar himself has noted, "When everything is matter, everything turns to stone."
The philosophical foundation of Prout is Neohumanism, which Sarkar offers as a progressive development of the humanist tradition. A useful starting point is to consider the original definition of humanism attributed to Protagoras (5th Century BC) - the idea that "humans are the measure of all things." This is surely a powerful and revolutionary idea - that human diginity and human welfare take precedence over the dictates of kings, priests and tyrants.
While the humanist tradition can be regarded as a precious gift that European civilisation has bequeathed to the world (in the same way that south Asia has given us a rich spiritual tradition and indigenous cultures have given us environmental wisdom), Sarkar notes that humanism has two limitations. Firstly, if humans are the measure of all things, then what about plants, birds and animals? Is their worth only utilitarian, only in relation to human beings? And secondly, if humans are the measure of all things, what can we say about the future potential of the human race? Are we to be limited by our past? To deal with the first question requires an infusion of environmental wisdom into humanism. And to deal with the second, requires the infusion of spirituality.



Further Reading

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Recent Publications from PIA and PIA associates
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