Comprehensivist Wednesdays

Tools for Comprehensivity: Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox

Comprehensive learning aspires to integrate more and more of Humanity’s traditions of learning to better comprehend the world and how it works. As we learn more and more from these diverse ways of knowing, it becomes increasingly likely that the perspectives, hypotheses, and frames of reference we encounter will seem incompatible or even inconsistent with others. This resource suggests how to better accommodate these ambiguities as tools for our comprehensive practice.

This way of accommodating ambiguity in our learning is a central theme in the profound 2007 book “How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics” by William Byers. The book examines ambiguity while it surveys the folklore of mathematics culture and the philosophy of mathematics. It is easy to read and serves as a good introduction to mathematics for readers with weak math skills. It might be especially valuable for those wanting to expand the compass of their comprehensive learning with mathematics.

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The Ethics of Learning from Experience

The way in which any tradition of inquiry and action is practiced is beset with issues about the correct or proper way to conduct inquiry and act within the tradition. Learning from experience has been proposed as a core epistemic virtue for our comprehensivity, our inclination to understand it all and each other. This resource explores several issues which may arise as we consider how we should learn from experience. Buckminster Fuller’s thinking about experiential learning will instigate much of the exploration.

The value of learning from experience, also known as the inductive attitude or empiricism, was introduced in the resource on The Comprehensive Thinking of R. Buckminster Fuller and was further developed in The Inductive Attitude: A Moral Basis for Science and Comprehensivism and has been reprised in the summarizing resources Comprehensivism in the Islamic Golden Age and Dante’s Comedìa and Our Comprehensivity.

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Dante’s Comedìa and Our Comprehensivity

Our comprehensivity is our facility for comprehensive thinking and action. One way to build our understanding of comprehensive practice is to look for precursors in historical works. This resource will examine the comprehensive ideas used by Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) in his great works La Vita Nuova and the Comedìa (more commonly known as The Divine Comedy even though Dante never used that title).

Since January 2021 The Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society and 52 Living Ideas have organized group explorations of Dante’s greatest works to commemorate the septicentennial of his death seven centuries ago. The project has been organized through the web page Reading Dante in 2021 where many learning aides including two free on-line video courses were listed to support participants of the project. This resource surveys ideas for deepening our understanding of the practice, values, and history of comprehensive inquiry and action that might be highlighted by participating in a project exploring Dante’s great works.

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Chronofiles: Data Mining Your Life for Comprehensive Thinking

Many of Bucky’s essays (“Bucky” is the affectionate name for Buckminster Fuller) provide a window through which we may further glimpse his approach to comprehensive thinking. To iterate more deeply into his comprehensive thinking this resource examines Bucky’s short 5-page essay “Man With A Chronofile” published on 1 April 1967 in “Saturday Review”. We recommend you read that essay for context before continuing.

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Shifting Perspectives and Representing The Truth

In an exquisite video presentation Tricia Wang explains the benefits of perspective shifting to better represent the truths of our worlds and its peoples:

This resource will situate Wang’s powerful and important ideas in the context of our Art of Comprehensivity, our learning practices for building an ever more extensive, ever more intensive, and ever more integrated understanding of our worlds and its peoples.

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June 2021 Update on Comprehensivist Wednesdays

Since the April 26th update, Comprehensivist Wednesdays has organized six events. This update documents two forthcoming events and collects resources including event descriptions, video, and essays from the ten most recent past events.

Three Forthcoming Events

In order to RSVP to attend these events, you must join either the 52 Living Ideas meetup or the Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society meetup. Joining either group will require joining Meetup.com which is a free on-line service with strong privacy controls. Once you are a member, you can RSVP to join the event from the link to its Event Page.

The 11 Most Recent Past Events including video links and essays

About Comprehensivist Wednesdays

Comprehensivist Wednesdays is an on-going series of weekly events to foster the art of comprehensivity, our inclination to integrate all our sources of learning so as to better comprehend the world and how it works. The idea of comprehensivity may best be captured by a quote from Buckminster Fuller’s book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”: “wanting to understand all and put everything together”. Although it is impossible to fully achieve by any one human being, it is our conviction that the aspiration of comprehensivity opens new worlds of learning that may not be possible through other approaches. In addition, a citizenry with adequate numbers of practitioners of comprehensivity may be more aware, connected, and able to address planetary challenges.

The series is being organized by emcee Shrikant Rangnekar of 52 Living Ideas in collaboration with CJ Fearnley of Collaborating for Comprehensivism and the Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society. Here are three playlists of past events:

Collaborating for Comprehensivism is an emerging initiative to energize humanity’s collective intelligence through group conversations that step-by-step compose ever broader and deeper and more integrated understandings of our worlds and its peoples.

Mailing List

To receive a weekly update about forthcoming events, please submit a request to join the “Collaborating for Comprehensivism” announcements-only mailing list.

Other Comprehensivist Wednesday's Series News Releases

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How to Create That-Which-Is-Not-Yet

To develop our comprehensivity, our interest in broadly and deeply understanding our worlds and its peoples, we actively consider the learning of other traditions, traditions that may seem very strange to us. When we explore these kinds of resources, we may come across ideas that puzzle or intrigue us. The practicing comprehensivist will, from time-to-time, want to linger to explore a line of thought and some questions that arose in a prior exploration. This resource will exemplify such a follow-up exploration that extends our previous examination of change as ongoing genesis, ongoing creation. A key motivating issue for this continuation will be how we create that-which-is-not-yet. Many of these ideas are adapted from the 2012 book “The Design Way” by Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman.

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Rethinking Change and Evolution: Is Genesis Ongoing?

There are many ways to approach the development of our comprehensivity, our ways of understanding the world and its peoples through broad and extensive considerations that are also deep and intensive with the aim of forming a more and more complete and integrated comprehension of our worlds. Previous resources engaged essays, papers, video lectures, books, surveys, syntheses, condensations, contextualizations, interpretations, investigations, and explorations. This resource curates a small sampling of ideas in the hopes of stimulating a broader, more comprehensive appreciation of the nature of change, evolution, and design in our conceptuality.

The idea for this resource came from the provocative, revolutionary, and controversial 2012 book “The Design Way: Intentional Change Change in an Unpredictable World” by Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman. I no longer recommend the book because too many of my associates have been unable to appreciate its provocative style. I find the book to be a wellspring of intriguing ideas. Its revolutionary approach in considering design as Humanity’s first tradition of inquiry and action is an exemplar for my efforts to create a new tradition for comprehensivism, the practice of our comprehensivity. In addition, this resource will consider ideas from W. E. H. Stanner’s essay “The Dreaming” (see a July 2017 event on “The Dreaming and The Songlines” for more notes on Stanner’s essay), Dan Everett’s studies of the Pirahã people from the “New Yorker” profile by John Colapinto, and Richard Lewontin (see his three presentations for the 2003 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lectures at the Santa Fe Institute).

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March 2021 Update on Comprehensivist Wednesdays

Since the January 25th update, Comprehensivist Wednesdays has organized six events. This update documents two forthcoming events and collects resources including event descriptions, video, and essays from the ten most recent past events.

Two Forthcoming Events

In order to RSVP to attend these events, you must join either the 52 Living Ideas meetup or the Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society meetup. Joining either group will require joining Meetup.com which is a free on-line service with strong privacy controls. Once you are a member, you can RSVP to join the event from the link to its Event Page.

The 10 Most Recent Past Events including video links and essays

About Comprehensivist Wednesdays

Comprehensivist Wednesdays is an on-going series of weekly events designed to foster the art of comprehensivity, the state or quality of considering with ever increasing depth and breadth more and more of Humanity’s great traditions of inquiry, more and more of Humanity’s communicated experiences that comprise Buckminster Fuller’s notion of Universe, and more and more of the Ethnosphere (Wade Davis’ cultural analogue of the biosphere). Buckminster Fuller described the approach as “macro-comprehensive and micro-incisive”.

The series is being organized by emcee Shrikant Rangnekar of 52 Living Ideas in collaboration with CJ Fearnley of Collaborating for Comprehensivism and the Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society. Here are three playlists of past events:

Collaborating for Comprehensivism is an emerging initiative to energize humanity’s collective intelligence through group conversations that facilitate incrementally the formation of ever broader and deeper and more integrated understandings of our worlds and its peoples.

Mailing List

To receive a weekly update about forthcoming events, please submit a request to join the “Collaborating for Comprehensivism” announcements-only mailing list.

Other Comprehensivist Wednesday's Series News Releases

Posted by CJ Fearnley in News, 0 comments

Mistake Mystique in Learning and in Life

Comprehensivity is our inclination to integrate all our sources of learning so as to better comprehend the world and how it works. To effectively guide our newfound comprehensivity we require newfound epistemic virtues, new criteria for good knowledge. In previous resources, we have explored two such proposed epistemic virtues: the inductive attitude and the method of multiple working hypotheses.

This resource will investigate mistake mystique as a third proposed epistemic virtue for our comprehensivity. Our primary guide for this exploration is R. Buckminster Fuller’s essay Mistake Mystique. It was published in the now defunct periodical East/West Journal, you can find a copy in some anthologies including “Your Private Sky: Discourse: Buckminster Fuller” edited by Joachim Krausse and Claude Lichtenstein (2001) and Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity published by Lars Muller Publishers (2010). We will also consider some ideas of Stuart Firestein from the 2012 book “Ignorance: How It Drives Science”.

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