The Wisdom Page 

A Brief Introduction to Collective Wisdom
By Copthorne Macdonald

We often think of wisdom development as a personal matter. Over time, as individuals, we develop psychologically and spiritually. We encounter obstacles in life and learn to transcend them. We gradually acquire and internalize "the values of the wise." Bit by bit we develop an understanding of the complexity of the human and cosmic situations, and we begin to see how meaning is related to context.

That said, our connection to others is also a crucial part of the mix. We are immersed in a sea of influences. Some are positive and wisdom fostering. Others pull us in unfavorable directions. The positive effect of interacting with wise people is clear. But is there also another sort of dynamic that can arise from our involvement with groups of concerned others? Can the right kind of group interaction, itself, give rise to wise perspectives, wise plans, and wise actions? Under favorable conditions, can the wisdom of the group be greater than the wisdom of any of its individuals?

There are a number of organizations that are currently exploring these and similar questions, and this newly-created section of The Wisdom Page — COLLECTIVE WISDOM — will attempt to connect interested Wisdom Page visitors to relevant resources. Let's begin with a brief overview of some of the approaches currently being taken.

The Collective Wisdom Initiative

The Collective Wisdom Initiative's Declaration of Intent concludes with the following:

We know that people in groups can consciously generate collective wisdom and that individuals can cultivate their capacity to receive, to hear and to amplify wisdom in the communities they are called to serve. By coming together in groups to consciously generate collective wisdom, we believe we have the potential to heal conflicts that seem impossible to heal; embrace with compassion polarities and paradoxes that tear the fabric of our psyches and communities; and cultivate our capacities to love and forgive in groups splintered and polarized. We come together as artists, educators, mystics, practical idealists, scholars, activists, and especially pragmatists, bringing forward some of our own light and seeking to do together what is not possible alone.

They have compiled a list of over 700 people in the field, many of whom have created "self-portrait" documents describing their own involvement with collective wisdom. The site also links to a wealth of relevant articles, book excerpts, and speeches.

George Pór and Collective Intelligence

George Pór defines collective intelligence as "the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and harmony, through such innovation mechanisms as differentiation and integration, competition and collaboration." He feels that we will become either a wisdom society or an extinct society. Through his organization, Community Intelligence, he has worked with various Communities of Practice — "groups of people who share a passion for something they know how to do and who regularly interact to learn how to do it better" — and with a variety of knowledge networks to help these groups acquire "the broader perspective associated with wisdom."

Jean-François Noubel and

From web site:

Transitioners are cultural creatives, spiritual seekers, social entrepreneurs.

CIWC means Collective Intelligence, Wisdom and Consciousness. What is the difference between the three?

Collective Intelligence refers to the external, methodological and operational aspects of social organizations to raise their intelligence as a whole.

Collective Wisdom is the access to and the manifestation of wisdom, at a collective level. A group of wise individuals doesn't necessarily know how to behave wisely together, because of a lack of collective intelligence. Therefore, collective intelligence is a necessary (but not exclusive) condition for collective wisdom to emerge.

Collective Consciousness is the sense that each participants has of the consciousness of the group. It is a space he/she can access at anytime to sense what the context is and what is willing to emerge. Three key conditions are necessary for collective consciousness to manifest: a shared wealth (the perception of qualities and contributions of each one), a shared vulnerability (the humanness in the other), a shared language (for understanding each other).

A large array of relevant resources are available on the site.

Robert Kenny and the Science Behind Collective Wisdom

Robert Kenny is an Associate Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies and a researcher of collective wisdom and collective consciousness. Read his comprehensive paper What Can Science Tell Us About Collective Consciousness?. Other material available online includes his article, The Science of Collective Consciousness and a video, Collective Wisdom #1.

Kosmos Journal

Kosmos, a journal consistently at the forefront of global transformation, has devoted its entire Spring/Summer 2008 issue to collective wisdom, collective intelligence, and collective creativity. While subscribing to the journal is highly worthwhile, this (and other) issues can also be purchased separately.