The Inductive Attitude: A Moral Basis for Science and Comprehensivism

Comprehensivism is an emerging practice that takes seriously Buckminster Fuller’s observation that we want “to understand all and put everything together”. In this practice, we value learning from other traditions of inquiry and action, all our communicated experiences, and the Ethnosphere, our all-encompassing cultural zone. To assess this learning, we value accumulating and comparing many working hypotheses, conjectures, guesses, theories, and explanations so we can evaluate our vast inventory of knowledge comprehensively.

With these aspirations and values in mind, this resource will consider inductive reasoning as a moral basis for science as examined by George Pólya (1887–1985) in his 1954 public domain book “Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning: Volume I: Induction and Analogy in Mathematics”. We will also explore the implications of Pólya’s ideas for our comprehensivity, our efforts at learning that are broad in scope and deeply incisive or cutting. For diligent readers who want to assess the relevant parts of Pólya’s book on their own, at the end there is a section with links to its most important and most accessible sections on inductive reasoning.

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Posted by CJ Fearnley in Resource Center, 1 comment

The Value of The Ethnosphere

This resource condenses, contextualizes, and explores a nearly two hour video featuring Wade Davis to exemplify a way to open the world of video lectures to people pursuing collaborative comprehensivism, learning in groups to understand the world ever more extensively and ever more intensively. It examines a poignant topic that reveals an important source of learning for comprehensivists. It further illuminates fundamental issues involved in establishing the new tradition of comprehensivism.

This enthralling Wade Davis presentation is itself a condensation of five 2009 Massey Lectures which were published as the book “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World”.

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The Comprehensive Thinking of R. Buckminster Fuller

Collaborative comprehensivism is participating in groups to incrementally expand the breadth and depth of everyone’s understanding. An effective tool for its practice is exploring ideas from a book. Some participants may be unable to read the book. To provide them with background and to focus on the key passages to be explored at a particular event, it can be helpful to have a brief for the book. Ideally, the brief will highlight questions to guide and spur a group exploration.

To support book-based events with an example, this resource includes a synopsis of R. Buckminster Fuller’s 1969 book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”. This brief is just one of many possible condensations of the book. It focuses on some of the key ideas that inspired the “Collaborating for Comprehensivism” initiative.

It is common to refer to the author of “Operating Manual” as “Bucky”. To read the book, you can find a copy from a bookseller, or read a 44 page PDF at, or read a web-based copy at Below there is section offering advice for readers of the book.

"Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth" by R. Buckminster Fuller
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Posted by CJ Fearnley in Resource Center, 4 comments

The Fundamental Role of Story in Our Lives

Comprehensivism is the practice of considering with ever increasing depth and breadth more and more of Humanity’s great traditions of inquiry and action to better comprehend how our worlds work and how they change so we might all live more effective lives. In this practice, as each explorer reflects on the value of their independent and group learning, they will from time-to-time identify ideas that they think should be collaboratively examined.

Collaborating for Comprehensivism aspires to engage every participant in organizing ideas for the group to explore. We think this kind of engagement of participants is necessary to activate the full potential of the collective intelligence of the group.

To exemplify this aspiration, we will share and explore an idea that we think should be collaboratively examined. Let’s investigate the idea that story may play a fundamental role in all traditions of inquiry and action, in the practices of a comprehensivist, and in our lives.

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Posted by CJ Fearnley in Resource Center, 6 comments