What is a Thought-Ecology?

A thought-ecology is a way of studying how thought is working when people do something together collaboratively.

This way of considering the capacity of human social systems recognises the connections between conceptual potentials. It finds the dynamics occurring in the patterns that connect our thinking. What this enables is a practical appreciation of the potentials for thought in our infinite and varied expressions of humanity.

This is particularly significant for sustainable systems. It is vital for communities of thinkers that intend to learn, contribute, and evolve together. It enables groups to become more than they might be now.

You will notice that we are talking in this domain about ‘thought’ rather than thoughts, thinking or thinkers. A thought-ecology looks at the topological landscape of the potentials for thought.

Much like in how we study ecosystems, we are concerned with the potentials of the system, not only the existence of individual parts. In looking at thought-ecologies we become interested in the dynamics of all contributions and what they enable co-actively. Like biological systems, the inventory of biomass and the volume of content, is important, but it is not what makes an enduring ecology.

We know all about this in analogy. In biological systems we can see how the populations of individual plants and animals change continuously. Yet within this continual and periodic change there are enduring patterns and the periodic renewal of potentials. The study of thought-ecologies looks at how the potentials for ‘thought’ endure and change in human-scale organisations and social systems.

In a technical sense a thought-ecology is defined as the system of conceptions and the connection of their interactions. It is very different to the mere totality of the measured cognitive capacities of individuals. It is more nuanced than cultural norms or attributed observed social behaviors. The study of a thought-ecology discloses a different level of vibrancy. Just like how knowing a diverse biological ecology involves more than adding up the populations of its different species, knowing how a thought-ecology works involves a bit more than collating the opinions of individual persons.

This leads us into a whole series of more interesting questions ..


© willvarey (2012)