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Charles Eisenstein is an author and public speaker, and self-described "degrowth activist". He is the author of several books including The Ascent of Humanity (2007), Sacred Economics (2011), and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (2013).
Born in 1967 to parents of Jewish descent, Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. He has lived in Taiwan where he worked as a translator. He married, had children, and later returned to USA and divorced. Eisenstein currently lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania..
Eisenstein now frequently travels to speak and share his work at conferences and other events. Since 2010, he has spoken over three hundred times in over one hundred cities in US and elsewhere. His events are held voluntarily, organized by others who invite him to speak. He generally charges people expenses but no fee, leaving it up to them to give him something if they feel the urge. This appeals to his ideal of generosity and "living in the gift."
Eisenstein has written at least 6 books since 2001.
The Ascent of Humanity, published in 2007, is a large book which draws together Eisenstein's thoughts on many topics. It might be called a 'history of the discrete and separate self'. Eisenstein begins by looking at the separating effect that technology has had on humans, both from their environment and from one another. Through this perspective he looks at the converging crises of our age and predicts that the escalating problems of a determination to dominate nature will make a fundamental change of direction inevitable, from what he terms the "age of separation" to "the age of reunion". The entire text of this book is available online. It was read on the Unwelcome Guests radio show and the reading was later released as an audiobook.
Eisenstein's 2011 book Sacred Economics revolves around the theme of how the current monetary system based on interest and usury, along with the abandonment of the gift economy, has led to alienation, competition and need for an economic system predicated on continuous growth. This book tracks the changes that are already taking place in our economic system, with chapters concentrating on negative interest currencies, the idea of the commons, local currency systems, the internalization of costs, resource-based economics, as well as a social dividend. It has been translated into Turkish.
The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible is a newly finished book published in 2013, and made publicly available on November 5. It is focused on how attitudes of the individual can change the world. Eisenstein describes what he calls "The Story of Separation" as the way of thinking and behaving that is found very frequently in humans: that humans are separate from nature, and that their sole purpose is to maximize rational self-interest. He states in this book that human nature isn't such, and that everyone is a unique entity with an important purpose in life. It is also intended to quell cynicism and encourage optimism, opening minds of the public to a new way of thinking. It illustrates, using real-life stories, how small acts of kindness and trusting one's own feelings can, in a way, change the general attitude of society.
In 2013, journalist and author Rory Spowers described Eisenstein as a "refreshing new voice", saying that he's young, fresh, well-informed, humble but articulate, with a very spiritual perspective. He added that Eisenstein is too intelligent to be confrontational but that, through his works especially The Ascent Of Humanity and Sacred Economics, "he's really moved the whole thing along in a number of ways."