“We are simpler than we think
and at the same time more complex
than we can imagine.”

— adapted from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



TO CREATE A BETTER FUTURE FOR HUMANITY, we need a better understanding of what it means to be human.



WE HAVE TO EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES about how we are in the world, why we are the way we are, and what it all means for who we — as individuals and as a species — want to become.



IT ALL BEGINS WITH REIMAGINING OURSELVES and that which makes us most distinctly ourselves: the physical brain and the cognitive mind.



WE CAN THINK ABOUT THE BRAIN in a lot of different ways: how it fits together like a puzzle, how it functions like a biological machine, how it processes information like a computer, or how it’s complex and adaptive like an ecosystem.



BUT THERE ARE STILL SO MANY QUESTIONS about the brain and how it really works.


EVEN AS WE LOOK UP AT THE NIGHT SKY FULL OF STARS to wonder about the universe…



WE ARE STILL LOOKING WITHIN OURSELVES to wonder about the nature of wonder.



BUT WHEN WE LOOK CLOSELY, we find that there are patterns all around us.



IN THIS WORLD FULL OF ITERATIVE PATTERNS, there are themes repeating throughout multiple levels of scale in space and time.


definition of fractals


WHAT IF the cognitive emergence of mind from brain follows the same pattern as the physical emergence of life from matter?



THE EMERGENCE OF LIFE from subatomic particles to atoms to molecules to cells…



INVOLVES AN ITERATIVE PATTERN of interaction at a subatomic level giving rise to interaction at an atomic level giving rise to interaction at a molecular level giving rise to interaction at a cellular level giving rise to living organisms.



THE EMERGENCE OF MIND from sensory perceptions to emotive associations to abstract conceptions to reflective interpretations…



COULD INVOLVE A SIMILAR PATTERN of interaction at the level of Perception giving rise to interaction at the level of Association giving rise to interaction at the level of Conception giving rise to interaction at the level of Interpretation giving rise to metacognitive awareness.



USING A THEORETICAL MAP for describing emergence as a systems process, we can begin to explore:

Emergent complexity and the nature of the world
Cognition and its relationship to the body, heart, mind, and spirit
Design and the possibilities for personal and social transformation


Next: Emergent Systems



This content is being created and curated as part of a project exploring how changing the ways we think about thinking can revolutionize the ways we change the world. See the Emergent Cognition Project overview to learn more.