Six basic manifestations of co-intelligence
If we are going to take wholeness,
interconnectedness and co-creativity seriously, we are going
to have to face some very challenging implications regarding
- First: Intelligence must involve more than logical
reason, since rationality constitutes only a tiny piece of our
full capacity to learn from and relate to life.
- Second: Intelligence must involve more than learning
how to control and predict things, since that does not engage
the powerful co-creativity of life.
- Third: Intelligence must be far more than personal,
since even ants can together generate an intelligence that's
greater than they have individually.
- Fourth: Intelligence needs to reach far beyond the
obvious, since whatever is obvious is connected to things that
aren't so obvious, and intelligence should engage with the wholeness
and relatedness of things, as much as possible.
- Fifth: Intelligence should be able to arise among
us and through us, as a result of our kinship in the interconnected
family of life.
- Sixth: It would seem likely that some form of intelligence
would exist beyond us--in and beyond the living world--built
into the very wholeness of life.
Starting with these challenges, I developed the concept of
co-intelligence on the basis of six revolutionary premises:
- There is more to intelligence than brains and logic. There
is multi-modal intelligence.
- There is more to intelligence than successfully predicting
and controlling things. There is collaborative
- There is more to intelligence than individual intelligence.
There is collective intelligence.
- There is more to intelligence than solving the problems in
front of our faces. There is wisdom.
- There is more to intelligence than a solitary capacity exercised
within the life of a single entity. There is resonant
- There is more to intelligence than human intelligence. There
is universal intelligence.
These are the six basic manifestations of co-intelligence
identified so far. Here's a bit more about each one of them.
1. There is more to intelligence than brains and
logic. Many varieties of intelligence are available to us.
So co-intelligence can manifest as multi-modal intelligence.
means there are many ways to learn, know and engage with the
world. Our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits contain a full palette
of intelligences--emotional, analytic, intuitive, kinesthetic,
narrative, moral, and so forth. We can use more of these and
integrate them better, especially in synergy with other people,
since we are all capable in such different ways.
It is of the utmost importance that we recognize and nurture
all of the varied human intelligences If we can mobilize the
spectrum of human abilities, not only will people feel better
about themselves and more competent; it is even possible that
they will also feel more engaged and better able to join the
rest of the world community in working for the broader good.
Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice
2. There is more to intelligence than successfully
predicting and controlling things. We can creatively respond
to life and join with its energies. So co-intelligence often
manifests as collaborative intelligence.
INTELLIGENCE means finding and working with all the available
allies and cooperative forces around us--and there are many.
There are always energies, both existing and potential, with
which we can fruitfully align--even within the hearts of adversaries
and within the problems we face. Working with one another, with
nature, and with the natural tendencies in us and the world,
we can accomplish more with less, and enjoy it more.
Rather than asking, 'What can I get from this land, or person?'
we can ask, 'What does this person, or land, have to give if
I cooperate with them?' ... Everything is a positive resource;
it is up to us to work out how we may use it as such.
Permaculture: A Practical Guide for a
Sustainable Future (Island Press, 1990)
3. There is more to intelligence than individual
intelligence. Co-intelligence often manifests as collective
intelligence, the intelligence we generate together through our
interactions and our social structures and cultures. Inclusiveness
(finding effective ways to include all of the parts of the larger
whole) and the creative use of diversity
are two key elements for increasing collective intelligence.
means that families, groups, organizations,
communities and entire societies can act intelligently as whole,
living systems. What we believe, what we do, and how we organize
our collective affairs can make or break our collective intelligence.
We could improve our collective intelligence to a point where
humanity not only survives and flourishes into the foreseeable
future, but also consciously evolves.
Now more than ever we need to be in active conversation with
others. No one can do it alone. We need access to our collective
intelligence to address the questions that are critical to our
common future [and to] make our collective intelligence visible
to ourselves and each other on a larger and larger scale.
The Cafe Collaborative
4. There is more to intelligence than solving the
problems in front of our faces. Co-intelligence often manifests
as wisdom--seeing the big picture, the long term--an integral
intelligence that puts it all together even as it focuses on
the essence of the matters at hand.
means seeing beyond immediate appearances and acting with greater
understanding to affirm the life and development of all involved.
It involves balance, mystery and tolerance of ambiguity and change.
The expanded perspective that accompanies wisdom fosters wonder,
humility, compassion and humor.
Our greatest need at the present time is perhaps for a global
ethic--transcending all other systems of allegiance and belief--rooted
in a consciousness of the interrelatedness and sanctity of all
life. Such an ethic would temper humanity's acquired knowledge
and power with wisdom of the kind found at the heart of the most
ancient human traditions and cultures--in Taoism and Zen, in
the understandings of the Hopi and the Maya Indians, in the Vedas
and the Psalms, in the very origins of human culture itself.
Federico Mayor, Director-General of UNESCO
"Crucible for a common ethic"
in Our Planet 8:2, Aug 1996
5. There is more to intelligence than a solitary
capacity exercised within the life of one entity. Attuned
to life, intelligence evokes a fuller, deeper intelligence in
and around it. So co-intelligence often manifests as resonant
is intelligence that grows stronger or fuller as it resonates
with other sources or forms of intelligence, or which deepens
in empathic response to life.
Our availability to each other, our ability to dream each
other's dreams and experience each other's biographies is part
of the interpenetrating wave of the current time... We are being
rescaled to planetary proportions, as we become resonant and
intimate with our own depths.
Jean Houston's online News,
March 19th, 2001
6. There is more to intelligence than human intelligence.
Intelligence is a property of the universe and of all that is
in it--and perhaps beyond it. I call this manifestation of co-intelligence
is, in my understanding, the intrinsic tendency for things to
self-organize and co-evolve into ever more complex, intricately
interwoven and mutually compatible forms. Our human intelligence
is but one manifestation of that universal dynamic. The more
we are conscious of universal intelligence and connect ourselves
to it, the more intelligence (and wisdom) we will have to work
Others might describe Universal
Intelligence as the mind or will of God or Spirit. Both perspectives
derive from observing a certain intelligent pattern in the way
the world is organized and/or sensing an intelligent Presence
in and around us, and finding that there is guidance there.
The harmony of natural law...reveals an intelligence of such
superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking
and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.
The World As I See It
I've found that co-intelligence at its best consists of these
very special phenomena--multi-modal intelligence, collaborative
intelligence, collective intelligence, wisdom, resonant intelligence,
and universal intelligence--all mixing and matching in a thousand
different ways. Of course, each of these six manifestations of
co-intelligence is itself co-intelligence. At the same time,
our understanding of co-intelligence deepens and grows richer
the more dimensions it has in any given instance.
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