“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 the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual representations of the self in the brain and central nervous system.



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 how it all 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 self follows the same pattern as the physical emergence of life?



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 SELF from sensory perceptions to embodied associations to abstract conceptions to reflective interpretations…



COULD INVOLVE A SIMILAR PATTERN of interaction at the level of physical awareness giving rise to interaction at the level of emotional awareness giving rise to interaction at the level of mental awareness giving rise to interaction at the level of self awareness.



USING A THEORETICAL MAP for describing multi-level emergent systems, we can begin to explore:

Awareness and the emergent nature of the self
Representation and the emergent nature of cognition
Transformation and the emergent nature of personal and social change





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.