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.
Collective Wisdom Initiative
The Collective Wisdom
Initiative's Declaration of Intent concludes with the following:
They have compiled a
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.
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
Pór and Collective Intelligence
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."
Noubel and TheTransitioners.org
cultural creatives, spiritual seekers, social entrepreneurs.
CIWC means Collective
Intelligence, Wisdom and Consciousness. What is the difference between
refers to the external, methodological and operational aspects of social
organizations to raise their intelligence as a whole.
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.
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
A large array
of relevant resources are available on the site.
Robert Kenny and the Science Behind Collective Wisdom
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
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