Sustainability is a difficult subject. Many conversation partners are willing to accept that mankind pursues activities which endanger the planet, ecosystems, future generations, plants, animals. But they have a hard time accepting that human activities, worse: human thought, will have to change.
For sustainability is about human thought, too. The paradigm that we ‘know the world’ determines public activities. And, more to the point: ‘everything we know is everything we are able to know, meaning that we can only take this into consideration’. In other words: we cannot take into consideration what we do not know. Strange? No, it is an important premise of the idea that markets make sound judgments: markets react to knowledge available to them. They do not need to take into consideration what they do not know. That is how they determine supply and demand (and ultimately, price).
Theoretically, this is perfect; in practice, it is pure theory. Those who are able to judge, the scientists, are aware that we do not know everything, not even everything important to us. And yet, many factors which we cannot measure, or even know, determine our lives. We are connected to the world, including forces we do not know.
But then again, we are aware of this: we know that there is a lot we do not know. We do experience factors outside the realm of our knowledge, for instance through our intuition, which indicates our relationship to the world around us. But many conversation partners do not accept intuition as an argument, and surely organised society only accepts knowledge. But knowledge is like a map of the world: it just depicts what we have mapped, not the world itself. Sustainability is about taking into consideration what is not mapped.