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The Art & Science of Searching for Meaning

DAVID BOHM ON SCIENCE, SPIRITUALITY, AND CULTURE Late in his career, acclaimed physicist David Bohm (1917–1992), was a scholar in residence at the Fetzer Institute. A student of Robert Oppenheimer and a colleague of Albert Einstein, Bohm proposed that all parts of the universe are fundamentally interconnected, forming what he called “an unbroken flowing whole.” […]

A pocket watch on lying on top of a music score

Heel, Heart & Head: Levels of Music (and the Keeping of Time)

Music may be divided into three kinds: First, the music of simple time, without any particular emphasis — and this may be called the music of the heels; second, music in which time is varied, in which there is the eager haste and the delicious delay, that is, the fast and slow, in accordance with […]

Earbud next to a drawing of a group of little heart shapes

Feel the Beat: Music, Emotion & the Rhythm of the Heart

A cardiologist, a medical historian, and a musicologist analyzed several of Beethoven’s compositions for clues of a heart condition some have speculated he had … The rhythms of certain parts of renowned works, researchers say, may in fact reflect the irregular rhythms of Beethoven’s own heart caused by cardiac arrhythmia. [S]ays lead author Zachary D. Goldberger […]

Gold & Green: The mathematical beauty of nature

… [Rafael Araujo] adeptly renders the mathematical brilliance of nature with just a pencil, compass, ruler and a protractor. He was fifteen when he first observed intelligent patterns in the work of nature and learned about PHI (ϕ), the Golden Ratio. This ratio equals 1.618 and is found everywhere in the realm of nature. By […]

Vintage diagram of parts of the mind

New Old-fashioned Ways of Thinking about Thinking

•A brief history of the emergent mind• The human mind is one of the universe’s great mysteries. It’s also possible that the mind, like the universe itself, is an emergent phenomenon. We know that the mind is a function of the brain, but it somehow transcends the brain as well. The unknown “how” of emergence […]

Clasped fingers of someone sitting at a table

Self, Employed: A Review of The Mind’s Job Description

“What is the mind?” Since the mind isn’t actually a thing, this is more of a philosophical question than a scientific one. However it’s a very tricky question, even for a philosopher. Perhaps a better (as in more useful) question to ask is “What does the mind do?” According to Ralph Barton Perry, a 20th […]

Image grid with night to day spectrum

Moments in Time: How A picture can change the way we look at time

A photograph is a physical representation of a specific moment in time. Day to Night is a photography technique developed by Stephen Wilkes that involves integrating multiple moments into a single photograph. Going right to left, left to right, or sometimes bottom to top, his images show the passing of time from day to night. […]

Animation of a molecular structure

It’s a Small World: Visualizing How Biologists See the Molecular Universe

I think biologists feel [a] sense of awe when they think about things that are happening at the molecular scale. There’s this whole universe in here, this tiny universe, that we’re just beginning to understand … I imagine biologists walking around with these movies in their heads … Creating an animation is basically trying to […]

3D outline of brain as nodes and edges

Making Connections: Science, Cognition & Communication

How do you describe the same idea to five people at different levels of cognitive development and scientific expertise? It turns out that the communication of science also involves the science of communication. What the Connectome is, it’s a kind of a newly made up term for describing a kind of neuroscience research where we […]

Narrow-Minded: What bias tells us about how we think

Brains can do the most amazing things. They help us think about ideas, have interesting conversations, learn new dance moves, stay alive, and do all those other everyday activities we generally take for granted. For the most part, brains are really good at what they do. Of course, it would be impossible for them to […]

Chalkboard style sign reading subject to technical issues

It’s Not a Flaw, It’s a Feature: Why we shouldn’t be biased about cognitive biases

Sometimes the human brain can seem really stupid. Even with all our impressive mental powers, we still have trouble accurately interpreting everything from our own perceptions to social interactions to statistical probabilities. It’s like each of us is wearing an invisible pair of eyeglasses that manipulate what we think we see by filtering out, highlighting, […]

Three examples of multistable perceptions

Look at It This Way: How our brains influence how we see the world

Whether it’s physical objects or a mental ideas, we know that there’s always more than one way to see things. Yet the brain’s job is to make sense of everything, so we often aren’t conscious of just how ambiguous the world really is. To the extent that mental conception emerges from physical perception, what and […]

Pencil and pieces of eraser

To Err is Human: Science & the Art of Finding Our Mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes. Even scientists. It’s part of being human. That’s actually why science is so invaluable — it’s a collaborative practice that requires us to continually test, share, and reevaluate the evidence upon which we’ve based our interpretations of reality. The problem researchers have uncovered is simple: the computer programs designed to sift through […]

Screenshot from language and cognition video

The Power of Words: An overview of theories of language and cognition

If you’ve ever learned another language, then you know that some words don’t translate exactly. For example, there’s a language in New Guinea that only has two words for color — mola, meaning “bright,” and milli, meaning “dark.” Now compare that to English. We have lots of words for color … But does the fact […]

Outline of human head with tree branch pattern inside

Found In Translation: How our understanding of language transcends languages

From the representation of individual words as concepts to collective words as sentences, there are patterns in the ways we understand language that transcend the organization of individual languages. One of the new insights emerging about human brain function … is that individual concepts have identifiable neural signatures … [and] that there is a high […]

A Sentence as a Story: Patterns and scales of language

Every sentence is a story. That is, the organizing principles of a sentence are very similar to those of a story. Although it isn’t clear which came first, the shared abstract structures of grammar and narrative suggest an underlying pattern that informs the organization of language (and perhaps cognition as well) at multiple scales. The […]

Dark figure pointing finger at reader

You’re the Enemy: How resisters play a supporting role in populist movements

When “We the People” becomes “You the Enemy” In his article about “how to let a populist beat you, again and again,” Andrés Miguel Rondón describes “four easy steps” to productively (and unproductively) working against a Trump-style populist movement. For many, however, those steps will seem very counterintuitive. Why is that? At least part of […]

Angel figurine partially in shadows

A psychological problem of the highest moral significance…

Bringing the shadow to consciousness is a psychological problem of the highest moral significance. It demands that the individual hold himself accountable not only for what happens to him, but also for what he projects. . . Without the conscious inclusion of the shadow in daily life there cannot be a positive relationship to other […]

In Your Mind’s Eye: Looking at the perception and conception of body metaphors

When two people are seeing eye to eye, they’re usually not literally standing face to face and staring at each other. However, new research suggests that hearing the previous sentence would probably activate an area of your brain responsible for the visual perception of body parts. Almost as if you were actually looking at two […]

Mental Fingerprints: The brain as a form of ID

The structural connections in your brain are unique to you, say scientists, who have developed a way to “fingerprint” the human brain … “This confirms something that we’ve always assumed in neuroscience—that connectivity patterns in your brain are unique to you … This means that many of your life experiences are somehow reflected in the […]

I see what you mean: Perceiving and conceiving with the mind’s eye

[T]hinking…is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas. — Rudolf Steiner REFERENCE Goethean Science | Rudolf Steiner Although it is the brain rather than the sensory organs that perceives colors and sounds, it is […]

Reimagining the Mind: An emergent systems perspective of cognition

Just as matter emerges from different scales of physical interactions, what if mind emerges from different scales of cognitive interactions? What if our ability to perceive the physical world, make associations based on our perceptions, and conceptualize those associations as symbols represent emergent levels of cognition? How can this perspective of cognitive emergence help us […]

Finding the Third Way: A Creative Approach to Revolutionary Thinking

When trying to come up with creative strategies for approaching everyday problems, we sometimes confuse an emergent “third way” with a linear “middle way.” Unlike more linear approaches, an emergent systems perspective isn’t just about compromises or common ground. It is also about synergies and the bigger picture. To be emergent, a third way approach […]

Three ballerinas in group pose

Feeling Our Bodies: Physical, emotional, and social awareness

There’s one thing always connecting us to our physical environment, our emotional experience, and our social relationships: our bodies. But what does this mean? How does the body simultaneously inform our physical, emotional, and social awareness? The research paper entitled “The specificity of the link between alexithymia, interoception, and imitation” offers a few insights into […]

Alignment and the neuroscience of effective communication

How can you tell if you really understand what someone else is saying? Or that they really understand what you’re saying? We may have an intuitive sense of being in sync with others, but someday soon there’ll most likely be a mobile app that can check whether our thoughts are actually synchronized… During his 2016 […]

Body-Mind Alignment: Yoga and the cultivation of voice

We’ve all heard about the mind-body connection. But what about body-mind alignment? In this interview, yoga and voice instructor Jurian Hughes describes yoga as the practice of unifying or aligning our feelings, thoughts, words, and actions. This alignment is essential to what she calls our authentic voice, or the “full, deep expression of ourselves.” Her […]

Health, environment & design

There are all sorts of well-researched physical, emotional, and mental health benefits to spending more time in natural environments. But this video also does a great job of expressing the meaning of its message using well-integrated physical, emotional, and mental design elements of communication. Click image to access video REFERENCE We spend too much time […]

Empathy in Action: Why listening speaks louder than words

The interesting thing today is that in so many ways we’re more connected than we’ve ever been, but the thing that is missing from that equation is empathy… It’s being connected, but it isn’t connecting. — Benjamin Mathes REFERENCE Who We Are: The Urban Confessional Story (video) | Urban Confessional Urban Confessional is an organization […]

Mirror, Mirror: Using technology to break down the walls between us

We say it all the time: “I know how you feel.” But we don’t mean this literally. We can only try to describe or imagine how someone else feels. Someday, however, technology may help us understand how others feel in a truly embodied sense, which in turn may help us communicate in deeper, more emotionally […]

Turbulent Times: The adolescence of teenagers, technology & the human tribe

REVKIN: In The Descent of Man, in 1871, Darwin wrote a passage about how we were fundamentally tribal, but that the more that humans were interrelating with each other … the more our sense of tribe would expand. Then he said, only an artificial barrier stands before we will become essentially one tribe, not just […]

3 Powers of Creativity: Connection, Collaboration & Community

How can a creative mindset add value to an entrepreneurial work ethic? [E]ven while many of us are looking for our inner artist, only some think to ask themselves what’s the actual value of creativity … For years, I’ve been studying the lives of successful authors, artists, and creative people. What I’ve realized … is […]

Transformational Change and Revolutionary Love

TIPPETT: You’ve said … an animating question for you is “How does transformational change happen…?” ALEXANDER: I think very often people are waiting for the next great leader to emerge, not recognizing that that’s actually not how the history unfolded … Throughout history you see that when ordinary people begin to believe that their own […]

The Fellowship of Roses: A cultivation of earth, spirit, and community

Community does not descend down from heaven. We have to shape it right here on Earth … The 13th century, Sa‘di’s Rose garden, is the masterpiece of Persian prose. In the text, the great poet Sa‘di talks about a person having … a dialogue with the piece of clay … “I am just a humble […]

Puzzles, numbers, and the abstract functions of physical forms

We could say that cognitive development in any domain (movement, language, mathematics, etc.) is a process of literally and figuratively putting the pieces together. Different domains may involve different pieces, but perhaps the underlying patterns are really the same. Especially in the area of mathematics, should it be surprising that some of those pieces would […]

It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it: Behavior and design as communication

[O]ne cannot not behave. Now, if it is accepted that all behavior in an interactional situation has message value, i.e., is communication, it follows that … one cannot not communicate. Activity or inactivity, words or silence all have message value: they influence others and these others, in turn, cannot not respond to these communications and […]

Do sensory metaphors give language emotional flavor?

Metaphorical sentences may spark increased brain activity in emotion-related regions because they allude to physical experiences … Human language frequently uses physical sensations or objects to refer to abstract domains such as time, understanding, or emotion … “You begin to realize when you look at metaphors how common they are in helping us understand abstract […]

A science of character: Defining, discovering, and developing our individual strengths

What does it mean to be a good person? Whether we understand it in terms of character or morality or virtue, this is a question about how we should address the various life challenges we face as social beings. Those challenges involve situating our personal wants and needs in relationship to the wants and needs […]

Theories, maps & territories: Navigating the worlds of science

To say something is a map is not to say it’s a hunch,” said Dr. Godfrey-Smith, a professor at the City University of New York and the University of Sydney. “It’s an attempt to represent some territory.” A theory, likewise, represents a territory of science. Instead of rivers, hills, and towns, the pieces of the […]

How to make the world wide web a better place

Could a science of character development inform the ways we design the internet, technology, and society? [W]e proactively can evolve the internet and infuse it with character strengths. That is really a framework to think about a healthy evolution of the internet, instead of throwing your hands up … [J]ust as we’re raising a child, […]

The art of perception: Seeing a poor neighborhood as a work of art

Amid Cairo’s brick buildings and heaping piles of trash is a sprawling work of art, which, at first, looks messy and incoherent. But when you stand on the nearby hillside and read the spray-painted Arabic “calligraffiti,” as its creator Tunisian-French artist eL Seed calls it, the message reads loud and clear: “If one wants to […]

The body language of words: Fonts as a form of communication

| What happens when we dress a word up in different fonts? | Why does it feel like a word has a different personality or character based on the way it looks? Is it really possible that the variations in lines and curves which differentiate fonts can cause the same word to invoke different emotions, […]

The truth about reality and why we don’t see things the way they really are

| Reality, perception, and what gets lost in translation | Logic, reasoning, and scientific advancements have helped us determine that the earth is neither flat nor is it the center of the universe. Although we’d probably never know just by looking. As far as our sensory perceptions tell us, the earth is indeed a flat […]

Types of empathy: Feeling versus thinking about others’ emotions

What is the difference between affective and cognitive empathy? Of all the tools in the emotional intelligence toolbox, empathy is especially valuable in today’s world. As we continue to learn more about how much human decision-making and behavior is informed — if not driven — by emotion, being able to understand how someone else feels […]

Network Earth | Mauro Martino • Jianxi Gao

The world is a complicated place. Our planet is made up of millions of networks from microscopic ecosystems to global migration. How can we ever hope to understand and predict the complexity of our mulit-networked world? New research may have the answer… REFERENCE Network Earth (video) | Mauro Martino • Jianxi Gao RELATED Universal resilience […]

The radical reconstruction of society …

These are the bright years of emergence; though they are painful ones, they cannot be avoided … In these trying circumstances, the black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws —racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. It is exposing the evils […]

Counterpoint and the hidden structure of choreographic knowledge

In her TEDxColumbus talk from 2009, Norah Zuniga Shaw tells the story behind Synchronous Objects, an interdisciplinary, collaborative project which involved translating choreographic elements from a dance into data that were then used to create a series of data visualizations. During the project, collaborators started using the concept of counterpoint to explore the deep layers […]

Systems perspectives as different ways of seeing, organizing, and understanding the world

| It’s not what you see. It’s how you see it. | What we see as a system, and how we understand the interactions of its parts in relationship to the whole, is a function of our own perspective. By changing our perspective, we can conceptually reorganize the same phenomenon as different types of systems […]

Connecting the Dots

THE ORGANIZATION OF INTERACTION IN CENTRALIZED, DECENTRALIZED, AND DISTRIBUTED NETWORKS In the early 1960s, as an introduction to a series of memoranda entitled “On Distributed Communications,” Baran made the case for shifting existing communication systems from analog-based, hierarchically organized networks to an innovative, digital, distributed type of network. He maintained that the greater connectivity and […]

Systems of organization: Ladders, webs, and fractals as organizing structures

If we look carefully, we can see systems literally everywhere. But what exactly are we looking for? Why does our perspective matter? And how do different perspectives affect how we think about the world? There are all kinds of systems: physical (mechanical, infrastructure, environmental, physiological), social (political, economical, legal, health care), informational (ideological, mathematical, linguistic). […]

Mind, body, and the nature of connection

| Reframing the question of the perception’s role in cognition | How is perception, the processing our physical experiences in the world, related to cognition? It seems like this should be a relatively straightforward question. In truth, the question is complicated by the question of how we define cognition. While there is no universal definition, […]