antheosophia: shaping a this-person world

in which we can think, learn, work, and live as us

by Kye Nelson

I coined the word antheosophia because I saw no field yet existing which gathered in one place our collective  wisdom about the practical, theoretical, and philosophical implications when we see that there is a person here--that is, that everyone's in-here is here, now.


It is broadly experienced by people in our time, that we are making some kind of shift out of the Cartesian paradigm towards some kind of putting the person back in.  I feel that in order to successfully negotiate this shift to a new paradigm we must have a coherent body of knowledge and practice.  I think that this is equivalent in our time, to the birth of science as a discipline in the time of Descartes, Bacon, Newton, and Galileo.  I think we need a carefully-articulated, cross-disciplinary experiential knowing which instances itself--that is, which includes the person here now-knowing in the known.  I think this new discipline needs to gather current knowledge of what is already being discovered and done in many fields at this fertile point: and, I think we need to foster thinking which gives rise to new theory, practice and philosophy across disciplines.


There is a wisdom we already have about what a world looks like, in which the luminousness of this person is allowed to shape what the world is becoming.  Up to now our knowing about this, when it has been articulated at all, has been mostly scattered in pockets.  There is much passion, and sometimes some sense that some particular endeavor is part of a bigger knowing about the importance of people that is emerging--but there is not yet a clear and coherent picture of the whole of this which can move as one, as a living body does.   I want to see this cultural implicit knowing emerge as a coherent entity.  I think that such coherence has power.  I do NOT think this is an urgent project; rather, an important one.  I think it is the slow work of a lifetime--of more than a lifetime.  Science was not built in a generation, neither will this be.  But the foundations of science were built in a relatively brief period, and the equivalent I think can happen in our lifetimes.


The philosophy of the implicit and the focusing process--and what emerges in focusing--is an instance of this kind of thing, as is Chris Alexander's quality without a name and pattern language in architecture and urban planning (and in software design), and Mohammad Yunus's microeconomics and Grameen Bank project.  A year and a half ago I listened to Yunus talk about the step-by-step process of Grameen unfolding, and was deeply moved by his own aliveness and by the way he described the process of listening step by step to the people in the situation, always letting that shape what happened next.  As Adam Kahane says, to change the world, you both have to be committed to changing it and able to listen to how it wants to change.  Kahane’s work, too, is an instance of what I am talking about here.  He has taken the scenario-building process out of the business world where it was developed and applied it in some of the most troubled, conflict-ridden regions of the world.  He uses scenarios—alternative possibilities of how the future can unfold intended to help people think the unthinkable--to engage nations as a whole in building a shared vision of a desireable future.


The Context Institute and Positive Futures Network have worked on pulling something like this kind of knowing together--so have many others--but there is not the emphasis on creating conditions for further articulation of our knowing, and of staying close to what we know experientially.  This is part of the purpose of antheosophia-- to create fertile conditions where experiential thinking such as happens in the TAE process for instance can be elicited, can develop, and when it has developed can interact with other new experiential thinking.


I think experiential thinking is an antidote to a fundamentalist sort of idealism. I don't think fundamentalism has fertile soil if we stay close to our experiencing in this moment, close to what we know right now.  This does not mean that the traditions we are handed are not of value--far from it.  But there is a way that our experience now speaks-in our traditions, as well as our traditions speaking in our experience in this moment, so that our traditions stay alive and can continue to speak in successive generations.  This is very different than fundamentalism in its way of allowing us to respect and pass on what was handed to us.


I am in the early stages of forming antheosophia now into a nonprofit organization.  We are a loose collaborative group of people with projects which currently include The Focusing and Philosophy Project, a collaboration between Rob Foxcroft, Campbell Purton, Barbara McGavin and myself which includes an annual conference in Scotland and an online discussion for learning philosophy experientially (particularly the philosophy of the implicit); the Focusophical Herald, a quarterly newsletter for experiential thinking edited by Chiara Borrello;   Marty Cohen’s Center for Humanity project in Boston and Robert Golden's Downtown School in TriBeCa--two projects in which the knowing of people in situations is given room to flourish in academic life; and the philia-sophia discussion list which I moderate. 

Additionally, Gene Gendlin and I are continuing, in collaboration and also individually,  to develop experiential thinking methods and means of facilitation for new theory, practice, and philosophy which can shape a world in which we are: in which what is alive in our experience is shaping the world that we inhabit. We have been offering Thinking At the Edge (TAE) workshops together for some years now, to teach experiential means of theory construction in which what is known implicitly can be precisely articulated, and developed into a tight logical structure. 

I have established a training and certification program for mentors and facilitators, as well as continuing to offer workshops, mentoring, and consultation myself. And, I continue to develop the antheosophia website and other means of disseminating information and enabling dialogue in this new cross-disciplinary area.


If you have--or know of--other projects which should be mentioned on the antheosophia website, or if you have a compatible project which needs an organizational home so it could thrive, please write me at 


This material © 2002 by Kye Nelson. All rights reserved.

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