—Learning to experience the world from nature
- 1 Becoming Receptive
- 1.1 Dismissing False Dichotomies
- 1.2 Transcending Conflict
- 1.3 Seeing Through Illusion
- 1.4 Follow the Light Beam
- 1.5 Enjoying Nature’s Beauty
- 1.6 Bubbles as Flow-Forms
- 1.7 Examining Plant Life
- 2 Choosing Your Path
- 3 Observing the Natural World
- 4 The Core Concepts of Natural Inclusion
- 5 All form is flow-form, an energetic configuration of space
- 5.1 A Fresh Look at Natural Systems
- 5.2 Putting Natural Inclusionality into Practice
- 6 Meeting the Grand Challenges
- 7 Quick Links
- 8 Resources:
- 9 References:
Perhaps the way we have been taught to look at the world makes it difficult to see its true nature. By focusing on objects, definitions, and static representations of the world we have overlooked flows, connectivity, cohesiveness, and the intrinsically dynamic nature of the world.
Fortunately we can learn to see through the illusion of dichotomies and definitions that has occluded our view of connectivity, space, energy, dispersions, and flow. Gaining this new perspective, we can then apply it to meeting the Grand challenges.
The objectives of this course are to:
- Meet the student where they now are in understanding that nature is intrinsically dynamic.
- Examine the space, energy, boundaries, definitions, and flows of various natural systems.
- Examine these elements from a variety of traditional perspectives.
- Identify and explore the core concepts of Natural Inclusion.
- See through the illusion of dichotomies and definitions that has occluded our view of connectivity, space, energy, and flow.
- Understand that “All form is flow-form, an energetic configuration of space”.
- Relook at natural systems through the perspective of Natural Inclusion.
- Apply the perspective of Natural Inclusionality to meet the Grand challenges.
There are no specific prerequisites to this course, however, some students may find it helpful to complete the Global Perspective course before beginning this one. The website Exploring Natural Inclusion provides an extensive collection of references on the topic.
A glossary of terms used in this course that are new, unusual, or that are being used in unusual ways is provided to help the student grasp the course content more easily. Direct links to key concepts in the course are gathered in the quick links section.
This course is part of the Applied Wisdom curriculum.
Each of us arrives here with our own unique background, experience, beliefs, and expectations. Some of this background will make us receptive to the new concepts of Natural Inclusion; other background will make it difficult to grasp these ideas.
Please complete the following exercises to help identify and overcome various illusions that may be occluding your view of the world, and to begin your introduction to Natural Inclusion.
Dismissing False Dichotomies
Often we describe our world in terms of this or that, black or white, right or wrong, true or false, good or bad, heaven or hell, liberal or conservative, prosecution or defense, guilty or innocent, and other stark scenes of opposition. These distinctions often create false dichotomies that exclude fertile middle ground or other alternatives where creative solutions often reside.
- Read this short essay on polarized thinking.
- Identify examples of polarized thinking, false dichotomies, false choices, or excluding middles that you perpetuate with your own language.
- Recast your thinking and language to become more inclusive and more accurately characterize the full scope of what is.
We regularly face conflict as we encounter contradictory goals. Too often we focus on differences as we try to avoid the conflict, deny it, insist on getting our way, resign ourselves to abandon our own goals, or become consumed as we fight to the bitter end. These ineffective strategies are often the result of seeing only false dichotomies, and focusing on opposing alternatives rather than creating new solutions. Becoming more inclusive often allows us to see a better way.
- Complete the course on Transcending Conflict.
- Identify some conflict you are facing, avoiding, or resenting.
- Identify the five distinct resolutions that are possible, as illustrated in the diagram shown on the right.
- Which of these five outcomes is most desirable for all involved parties? What outcome can be reasonably achieved? What new idea or resource had to be included to allow this solution?
Seeing Through Illusion
Each of us faces convincing illusions every day that distract us from seeing the full extent of what is. Perhaps the most pervasive and persuasive illusion is that what I see is all there is. To attain a perspective receptive to Natural Inclusion it is important to recognize these illusions and strive to see through them.
- Read the essay Toward a Global Perspective—seeing through illusion.
- Identify the illusions that you have recognized and overcome as you have learned more about the world. These may include childhood beliefs as simple as the Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy stories, or more significant misunderstandings about the diversity and scope of the world, its people, and the universe. What caused you to see through these illusions? How did your worldview change as a result?
- What illusions do you not yet see through? What can you do to see beyond these and expand your perspective?
Follow the Light Beam
Choose a beautiful evening when you can enjoy this next assignment.
- Carry a flashlight outdoors on a clear night. Turn it on, point the beam skyward, count to three, and turn the beam off.
- Contemplate the journey of the light waves as they travel through space at nearly 300 million meters per second.
- What is always ahead of the light beam (i.e. out in front of the leading surface of the light) as it speeds into space?
- Repeat the experiment, and move the beam rapidly in a zigzag or figure eight pattern. Contemplate the movement of the beam as it travels through space. Where is it now? How far will it travel? How long is it?
- Describe the boundaries of the light beam, where it is in space, and where the energy flows.
Enjoying Nature’s Beauty
The more closely we examine nature, the more fascinating its intricate beauty becomes. Also, the more aware we are of the beauty of nature, the more we are able to see.
Part 1: Notice everyday beauty as follows:
- Watch the sunrise
- Take a walk somewhere nearby. Notice each beautiful thing you see or hear. Make a list of this everyday beauty. Look closely. Look closer.
- Savor the beauty in your life.
Part 2: Practice miksang—good eye—as follows:
- Read the article “What is Miksang?”
- Read the article “Turn a Lens Toward Your Life”.
- Follow the guidance given in the section “Capture the Moment” Note, no camera is necessary. The essence of the technique is in noticing the beauty.
- Practice miksang aurally. Notice pleasant sounds such as song birds, running water, or children playing.
(Evaluate the book The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, by Robert Macfarlane to include here as recommended reading.)
Bubbles as Flow-Forms
Enjoy watching this video of Soap Bubbles Shrinking in Slow Motion, a demonstration of Partial Coalescence.
After watching the video, please answer these questions.
- Can you describe a bubble without mention of the space within its volume? What does a bubble include?
- Beginning 15 seconds into the video, how are the new bubbles created inside of the large bubble? Where do baby bubbles come from?
- Consider the boundary of a particular bubble. Does that boundary separate the bubble interior from space, or does it separate space from the bubble interior?
- When two bubbles merge (coalesce) describe what happens to the boundaries of each, and to the space encapsulated by each. Which of the two bubbles lives, and which one dies?
- Bubbles change shape to minimize energy expenditure. For a bubble to persist, its primary need is to attune its activities and development to correspond with energy availability and hence with the local conditions of its environment. It is therefore clear that the availability of sources of energy is the principal influence that governs the growth, organization and function of these bubbles.
- Can a bubble form independent of space?
- Can a bubble form independent of energy?
- Can a bubble exist independent of its neighborhood?
A type of green algae, called volvox, forms large spherical colonies. These form much like the bubbles in the above video, as can be seen in this video showing the middle and late reproductive stages of the volvox life cycle and this video on Sexual Reproduction in Volvox.
After watching these videos, answer the questions posed above substituting volvox for bubbles.
Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy watching this lava lamp video. Where is the space, where is the energy, where are the boundaries?
Examining Plant Life
Dr. Alan Rayner, an originator and primary authority on Natural Inclusion, was originally trained as a botanist. He developed key concepts from his observations of germination, growth, propagation, metabolism, and death of various plant forms. On February 13, 2013, he gave a lecture on The Art and Science of Understanding Plant Life at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.
- Watch the video of his talk “The Art and Science of Understanding Plant Life”
- Describe the flows that sustain a tree
- Describe a tree as a dynamic system. Be sure to describe various flows occurring on time scales of minutes, months, and years.
Choosing Your Path
In his book Inclusional Nature, Bringing Life and Love to Science Dr. Alan Rayner describes the context, life circumstances, and evolving thought that led him to imagine, refine, describe, and pioneer the concepts of Natural Inclusion. He describes the path his journey is taking from the traditional thinking of abstract rationality to Natural Inclusion. With his insights now accessible through his writing, painting, and lecturing, we can each follow our own various paths to understanding Natural Inclusion.
Many students may already be proficient in some traditional discipline, or have extensive background in some area. In this section of the course we begin with that background, and provide a path from your existing specialized background toward the core concepts of Natural Inclusion. Please scan the list of paths provided below, and choose at least one to follow that best matches your background or interest.
For other paths, browse the various Inclusional Research Streams.
A Youngster's Path
Young hearts and minds may be particularity open to grasping the concepts of Natural Inclusion, as in this imaginary dialogue: Natural Inclusion for the Young of Heart and Mind.
An Engineer’s Path
The gateway concept for an engineer to grasp is considering the world as a collection of dynamic systems. If you have an engineering background, please read this essay: An Engineer’s Journey (currently in preparation).
A Business Person's Path
In the article From natural exclusion to natural inclusion, Giles Hutchins encourages businesses to learn from nature, reconsider the true nature of relationships and trade boundaries, broaden the scope when considering costs and benefits, and include all that is.
An Ecologist’s Path
A Philosopher’s Path
A Natural Scientist’s Path
A Theologian’s Path
A Spiritual Path
A Psychologist’s Path
Observing the Natural World
With a deeper understanding of concepts forming a foundation for Natural Inclusion, we are ready to examine the flows occurring in a variety of important natural systems.
Flows in Natural Systems
While engineering drawings, diagrams, photographs, and even short-duration direct observations represent the world as stationary, natural systems are intrinsically dynamic. Consider these examples:
- Formation of the Universe in time and space. Stars form, grow, explode and die. Galaxies are formed. Each of the chemical elements is formed.
- Hydrology, fluid mechanics, calculus, engines, mechanical devices, electromagnetic waves, and alternating current are inherently dynamic.
- All forms of waves including surf, sound, light, and earthquakes are inherently dynamic; an extensive form of energy distributed in space.
- Plants grow, live, breath, die and decay.
- The citric acid cycle, Calvin cycle, nitrogen cycle, and carbon cycle are all essential flows sustaining life on earth
- Animals are conceived, grow, eat, breath, live, die and decay.
- Ecosystems are characterized by complex and dynamic relationships involving primary production, energy flows, decomposition, nutrient cycling, a range of function and biodiversity, and many ecosystem goods and services.
- Continents drift, mountains are formed, rocks flow, earthquakes shake, wind blows, rain falls, water erodes, silt and dust drift.
- Ocean currents flow, tides ebb and flow, waves propagate, undulate and crash, beaches erode, barrier islands form and reform.
- Weather describes continuous changes in temperature, pressure, humidity, winds, clouds, rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Clouds form, rain falls, streams and rivers flow.
- Climates describe long term variations in weather patterns in time and space.
- Storms form, winds blow, rain falls, lightning strikes, oceans surge, water rises, trees fall.
- We are each conceived, gestate, are born, breath, eat, sleep, defecate, grow, learn, work, play, mate, age, die, and decay.
- Elements combine, dust clouds drift, gravity receives, solar systems emerge, planets form, revolve, and rotate; life emerges.
“Essentially, all models are wrong,” George Box noted, “but some are useful.” Since the systems of the natural world are intrinsically dynamic, rather than static, these systems are better described using dynamic rather than static models, using language that emphasizes movement and flow rather than artificially imposing some static snapshot of the system.
Also, neither the reductionism approach nor the holism approach to modeling nature is entirely effective. Natural Inclusion reconciles these two dichotomies and provides an inclusive approach to modelling nature.
The Core Concepts of Natural Inclusion
We are now ready to briefly describe the core concepts of Natural Inclusion.
Natural Inclusion is a radically new way of understanding evolutionary becoming as a process of cumulative energetic transformation or natural energy flow. Originally introduced by Alan Rayner, it applies to all scales of natural organization, from sub-atomic to cosmic, including biological evolution. It arises from a core philosophical awareness of 'Natural Inclusionality', which recognizes that all form is flow-form, an energetic configuration of space. This departs from definitive rationality in two fundamental ways. Firstly, natural boundaries are acknowledged to be intrinsically energetic 'dynamic interfacings' between distinct localities, not the 'inert limits' of discrete objects. Secondly, it is recognized that these natural boundaries can only be dynamic through the inclusion of space as infinite, intangible, frictionless presence. Correspondingly, natural inclusion may be described as the co-creative, fluid dynamic transformation of all through all in receptive spatial context.
An understanding of Natural Inclusionality can be gained from a wide variety of different viewpoints: philosophical, scientific, technological, mathematical, ecological, theological, artistic, educational, sociological, political, psychological, linguistic. By the same token, natural inclusionality has profound implications for a very wide variety of human endeavors and offers hope for resolution of some of the most intractable human problems and challenges, which arise directly or indirectly from definitive rationality and that for thousands of years have resulted in profound conflict and suffering.
Alan Rayner describes and illustrates these concepts in this short video.
Art and Creativity
Artistic approaches can both be inspired by and help to develop and communicate inclusional perceptions of receptive space and dynamic boundaries, which can transform our understanding of evolutionary processes in biological, ecological, geological, cosmic and social systems. Lyrical writing, visual and performance art are very effective means of exploring these perceptions in an invitational and immediate way that can, without imposition, engage peoples' imagination and go beyond the restrictions of definitive language.
Inclusionally, all patterns and processes in nature arise from the variable stiffening and yielding of fluid dynamic, spatial-informational medium (flow-form). Excessive stiffening results in the rigidity of 'fixed' or 'frozen' form, corresponding with the static linearly boxed (3-dimensional) and excluded space of Euclidean geometry. Excessive yielding results in formlessness.
Correspondingly, creativity dynamically mixes informational rigidity (discipline) with spatial relaxation (letting go) so as to generate and explore an infinite array of possible forms of expression ('formings'). Any meaningful work of art hence depends upon being both relaxed enough and disciplined enough to allow expression to flow into forming. This is when the Muse works her magic in the liminal zone between conscious and unconscious realms in a way that can seem little short of miraculous when we become ‘stuck’ between periods of creativity. The inhibition felt when the 'blank canvas', 'blank page', ‘block of wood, stone, metal or clay, and 'pregnant silence' freezes us into non-expression is like what happens when trying to swallow at will. As soon as we concentrate on the action or intention itself, our throat locks up - analysis becomes paralysis. To proceed at all, it is necessary to have the courage to 'let go' in an act of faith that all will or at least can be well. But the letting go has to be constrained if it is not simply to splurge.
Ultimately the combined sense of having the courage to relax and allow whatever comes to mind or hand to emerge and surprise, along with the determination to maintain influence over what issues forth can fill with deep excitement, pleasure and awe - just as Nature does - on a good day. On a day and in a place where those defensive 'blocks' that paralyze so much of modern culture don't get in the way of our joyful expression. When we have the sense of being lovingly receptive—responsive channels, not grudgingly possessive, active-reactive authors demanding royalties for what flows through us from beyond our local reach.
Language and Linguistics
Definitive language reinforces definitive theory and practice in ever more intractable cycles. Hence whenever language is regarded as more than an aid to communicating our meanings and experiences, and acquires some kind of life of its own as our sole means of expression, it is a trap. We become entangled in a web of misunderstandings and arguments over exact meanings, where we desperately seek uniformity of usage to avoid ambiguity. But such uniformity runs counter to the rich variety and evolutionary possibility of life. We can gain such uniformity only through not being able to express our appreciation of what living really means in all its dynamic depth and complexity. By restricting our communications to what can be articulated explicitly, we leave aside, out of sight and out of mind, the enormity of implicit experience.
Through inclusional awareness it may not only be possible to recognize this language trap but also to find ways of avoiding it. Firstly, we can use language and metaphors that tend to sustain fluid possibility and don’t reinforce concepts of definitive closure. For example, we can use the language of water, not the language of concrete in our descriptions of life and evolution. Secondly, through appreciating how the meaning of words is influenced, sometimes radically, by the context in which they are being used, we can make clear that the context is inclusional. The meaning of ‘information’, for example, is definitive when used in a rationalistic context, but dynamic relational in an inclusional context.
More on inclusional language, including suggested alternative word choices, is provided in this article on inclusional language.
The intention of this course is to explore the meaning and implications of natural inclusion from these diverse viewpoints. But before setting out on this exploration, it is worth pointing out that in order to understand the basic principles of natural inclusionality, it is not necessary to have extensive prior knowledge, and indeed this can be an obstacle because the way we have predominantly taught ourselves to think over the last few thousand years actually profoundly contradicts the way we naturally are in the world as it naturally is as flow-forms - energetic configurations of space.
All we actually have to do to understand these basic principles is to ask ‘what needs to be present for natural form to be distinguishable?’ Or, more concretely, ‘why is our direct experience of walking into a brick wall different from that of walking through an open doorway?’ Or, ‘what makes it possible to paint a picture?’ It then becomes apparent that the only way of answering these questions is to acknowledge the occurrence of at least two kinds of natural presence: a receptive context or medium which provides freedom for local movement and/or expression, and local formative content, which informs or configures that context. The former is necessarily spacious, the latter necessarily cohesive. Moreover, for form to be and become distinguishable, each of these presences must naturally include the other. Spacious presence alone would be formless void, and formative presence alone would have no shape or size. They are necessarily distinct, but mutually inclusive presences. They can neither be abstracted from one another as independent entities, nor be homogenized into ‘Oneness’. The only way in which this necessity can be fulfilled is for one of these presences, natural space, ultimately to be everywhere, continuous, intangible (i.e. frictionless) and immobile, and for the other ultimately to be somewhere, distinctive, tangible and continually in motion. Natural space and figural boundaries are hence, respectively, continuous and dynamically distinct (i.e. dynamically continuous) energetic interfacings between the insides and outsides of all natural forms as flow-forms.
The natural world is better understood and described by focusing on:
- Energy—the presence of mobility,
- Space—the continuous, immobile, intangible presence that becomes configured and reconfigured into distinctive localities by natural energy flow. Read this in-depth discussion of space for a deeper understanding of this concept.
- Flow—continuous change in locality,
- Boundaries—energetic interfacings. Read this in-depth discussion of boundaries for a deeper understanding of this concept.
- Each in the Other — recognizing that space permeates boundaries. Rejection of false dichotomies.
- Dispersions—complex flows distributed in space and time, and
- Flow-forms—localities of flow
- Choose some natural system of flows. This might be chosen from the section “Flows in Natural Systems” above, or from some other source.
- Describe the system in terms of the energy, space, flow, boundaries, flow-forms, and each in the other.
All form is flow-form, an energetic configuration of space
In general terms, natural inclusionality is a kind of awareness that helps us to appreciate our selves and other tangible forms as dynamic inhabitants of Nature, not discrete subjects and objects rigidly set apart from one another.
At the heart of inclusionality is a simple but radical shift in the way we frame reality, from absolutely fixed to relationally dynamic. This shift arises from perceiving space and boundaries as connective, reflective and co-creative, rather than severing, in their vital role of producing heterogeneous form and local identity within a featured rather than featureless, dynamic rather than static, Universe.
The simple move from regarding space and boundaries as sources of discontinuity and discrete definition to sources of continuity and dynamic distinction is the ecological and evolutionary point of departure of ‘natural inclusionality’ from objective rationality.
By acknowledging ourselves as distinct but not isolated local inclusions of natural energy flow, it is always possible gracefully to accept what we receive, to nurture and make the best of it, eventually to pass it on.
Alan Rayner summarizes the idea succinctly: "Think of it this way - by imaginatively contemplating the question of what makes any natural form distinguishable from its surroundings? It becomes apparent that the only way of answering this question is to acknowledge the occurrence of at least two kinds of natural presence: a receptive context or non-resistive medium, which provides freedom for local movement and/or expression, AND local formative content, which informs or configures that context. The former is necessarily spacious, the latter necessarily cohesive. Moreover, for form to be and become distinguishable, each of these presences must naturally include the other. Spacious presence alone would be formless void, and formative presence alone would have no shape or size. They are necessarily distinct, but mutually inclusive presences. They can neither be abstracted from one another as independent entities, nor be homogenized into ‘Oneness’. The only way in which this necessity can be fulfilled is for one of these presences, natural space, ultimately to be everywhere, continuous, intangible (i.e. frictionless/non-resistive) and immobile, and for the other ultimately to be somewhere, distinctive, tangible and continually in motion. Try whirring your hand around in front of your face until it appears as a blur, and you may get a feel for how all distinguishable form will ultimately appear this way when viewed sufficiently closely (i.e. at sufficient magnification) and for sufficient duration - if the whirring stops even for a moment, so too does 'time', and the mutual inclusiveness of each in the other breaks down irretrievably. Natural space and figural boundaries are hence, respectively, continuous and dynamically continuous energetic interfacings and distinctions between the insides and outsides of all natural forms as flow-forms."
He goes on to say: "Whenever I see a contradiction between two supposed opposites, I feel there must be a deeper way to consider them that will reveal an underlying need of each for the other. Whenever I see a pattern in some phenomenon or concept (historic or contemporary), I automatically and intuitively notice resemblances to some other phenomenon or concept. I do this with wildlife, with science, with writing, with art, and seemingly every other area of interest that has fired my imagination over the decades. I simply cannot avoid doing that, and wouldn't want to. Once I called it 'looking for connections', until I realized that language didn't evoke the right image in my mind. Nowadays, I would call it 'looking for affinities'. This is why I have come to regard 'evolutionary ecology' - the study of pattern, process and relationship at any scale, the most basic of all forms of NATURAL scientific enquiry."
A Fresh Look at Natural Systems
Putting Natural Inclusionality into Practice
"We must draw our standards from the natural world. We must honor with the humility of the wise the bounds of that natural world and the mystery which lies beyond them, admitting that there is something in the order of being which evidently exceeds all our competence." --Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic
Reconceiving many of our social and political institutions and basing them on the principles of Natural Inclusion provides new solutions. Here are some examples.
Nature itself is the greatest master of Natural Inclusion. Biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus encourages designers to ask “How would nature solve this problem?” and then observes “Learning about the natural world is one thing, learning from the natural world—that’s the switch. That’s the profound switch.” Biomimicry is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems.
In many natural systems local configurations based on energy balance lead to efficient, enduring designs where essential properties emerge. Design paradigms based on self-organization and local context contrast with the typical top-down, central control-oriented design of so many human-designed systems. Examples include ant colonies, bee colonies, flocks of migrating birds, animal skins, leaves, insect anatomy, water flows, healing mechanisms, microscopic surface features, solar energy capture, wind energy capture, membranes, fibers, colors without pigments, parallel processing, lightweight structures, and strong materials. There are many patterns in nature.
Natural systems are successful; they have proven their ability to survive—some species are billions of years old—through a range of environmental conditions. “We live in a competent universe.” Often success is based on remarkably efficient approaches to capturing and using energy. These solutions evolved in context. “Life creates conditions conducive to life.”
Designers who have looked to nature for inspiration have developed elegant solutions to difficult problems. Studying natural flows inspired these innovative products:
The AQUAporin company is creating a new class of water filtration membranes based on aquaporins—a naturally occurring protein central to the functioning of Human kidneys— as cornerstones in water filtering devices to be employed in industrial and household water filtration and purification. These filters, based on flows and boundaries in the human kidney, can play a role in making fresh water more widely available.
BioPower Systems is developing bioWAVETM units to provide utility-scale electric power production from ocean waves. Its design, inspired by aquatic plants, combines high conversion efficiency with the ability to avoid excessive wave forces, enabling supply of grid-connected electricity at a competitive price per megawatt hour.
The PAX Scientific product design firm has designed a more efficient impeller and turbine based on recurring natural patterns of vortical flow. Inspiration came in part from studying the spiral movement of kelp in response to water movement.
Designing the front of a high-speed train based on the kingfisher’s beak allows more efficient transitions through the air pressure difference encountered when entering a tunnel at high speeds. This allows the Shinkansen Bullet Train to run more quietly while requiring less energy.
- Watch at least one of these videos on biomimicry:
- Browse the design solutions shown in this gallery of products.
- Identify at least one specific biomimicry approach and describe how it can address a particular Grand Challenge.
- You may also be interested in this related video on self-assembly technology. Skylar Tibbits: The emergence of "4D printing".
Traditional economics is based on several assumptions that exclude, rather than include nature.
The value of natural assets, especially ecosystem services, is typically ignored in financial calculations. Although these services are essential, we rarely account for their value in our economic models. For example, pollination of crops by bees is required for 15-30% of U.S. food production, yet the services of the bees themselves (as distinct from beekeeping activities) are regarded as free. One study estimates the value of ecosystem services world-wide at approximately $33 trillion per year.
A similar example is the way in which extracted minerals, such as oil, is accounted for. Although the oil itself has value, even before it is discovered and extracted, financial systems attribute value primarily after it is extracted. An inclusive accounting system would treat petroleum sales as liquidation of a capital asset, rather than as income.
It is important to distinguish between economies—the exchange of goods and services—and economics—a money-based model of an economy. “Essentially, all models are wrong,” George Box noted, “but some are useful.” Unfortunately the models we use in our financial accounting systems diverge significantly from a value-based economy. Perhaps asking "what else is happening" can help draw your attention away from the narrow financial transaction to notice the full extent of the economic exchange, both positive and negative, that is taking place.
Traditional economics relies on several premises which are clearly false:
- Growth can continue indefinitely,
- Externalities can be safely ignored,
- Natural resources represent income that increases as they are extracted rather than capital which depreciates as it is depleted, and
- Resources can be substituted for one another with infinite flexibility.
In contrast, an inclusive economic model would:
- Acknowledge limits to growth,
- Account fully for Externalities,
- Treat natural resource extraction and consumption as liquidation of a capital resource,
- Recognize that many resources are unique.
How do you prefer to spend a day? Perhaps you would enjoy hiking with someone through the local county park, seeing the natural beauty, listening to the sounds of nature, and noticing some wildlife while getting healthy exercise and strengthening a friendship. Alternatively you might enjoy a day at Disney World, mingling with the crowds, enjoying amusement rides, and meeting the Disney characters. While these two options may have similar value to you, the first costs little or nothing, and the second costs plenty.
- If the county park and Disney World both charged admission, what relative charge do you think fairly represents the value of each experience? What do you think is a fair way to preserve the various commons we rely on?
- Complete the assignment in the Ecosystem Services section of the Limits to Growth course.
- Study the section on Externality (from the Global perspective course) and complete the assignment in that section.
With our understanding of Natural Inclusion the goal is for the student and teacher to enter a creative space where they can participate in co-creating a learning experience.
Wikiversity itself is an example of an inclusive learning environment. Because anyone can contribute to the creation, expansion, and improvement of course materials, energy of students and teachers is welcomed into the creative space of the courses. Talk pages and other feedback channels help align students and teachers with the learning opportunities.
There are many examples of open education, each seeking to eliminate barriers to entry and increase student involvement.
- Study this chart illustrating learning at the speed of thought.
- Identify a problem you would like to explore, pose a particular question you would like to answer, or identify some course of learning you would like to engage in.
- Choose some open education resource, perhaps within the MediaWiki projects, or some other open education resource.
- Use the open education resource to answer your question, move toward the solution of the selected problem, or pursue a course of learning.
- Continue learning at the speed of thought as you progress around the cycle.
Various forms of government, proposed and in practice, that seek to increase the involvement of more people in understanding issues, dialoging on concerns, proposing solutions, and making decisions are consistent with the general concepts of Natural Inclusion. Various forms of democracy, especially including direct democracy, and participatory democracy, are examples.
A number of transpartisan organizations strive to enter the space between polarized political positions, seek common ground, and offer new solutions. Transpartisanship acknowledges the validity of truths across a range of political perspectives and seeks to synthesize them into an inclusive, pragmatic container beyond typical political dualities. Such organizations include No Labels, Coffee Party USA, and FactCheck.org in the United States.
The website openDemocracy.net offers news and opinion articles covering current issues in world affairs. Using the slogan "Free thinking for the world", it seeks solutions that promote human rights and democracy, rather than advocating the traditional, polarizing ideologies.
- Choose some issue to study that is deadlocked in debate between conservative and liberal politicians. If possible, choose one of the Grand challenges to focus on for this assignment.
- Describe the conservative position on the issue. Describe the liberal position on the issue.
- Adopt a point of view that transcends both the conservative and liberal positions to seek a solution that is best for the people being governed. Create alternatives for mutual gain. What creative, yet practical, solutions can you suggest?
In Human Interplay
No one can live while isolated from the environment. Physiologically we all need to breathe, drink, and eat, while we exhale, perspire, and excrete waste. We all consume energy to heat and cool homes, cook food, light spaces, and transport ourselves and our goods. Our carbon footprint tries to take account of this need (and neediness). Socially, many of us crave human companionship, and feel bereft and powerless on our own.
In short, we all benefit from participation; engaging with others in our community to solve problems, manage our environment, and connect with each other to build, maintain and improve our community. When we are able to open up our egos, learn to co-create rather than compete, work together to protect the commons, and appreciate both our similarities with our neighbors and our differences, this can certainly be fun – and indeed profoundly inspiring. When we can attain and even transcend a global perspective, feel compassion, and become generous, we all gain.
- Practice the skill of dialogue, it is the art of participating in conversation. Use dialogue as a way to receive understanding from others, and allow them to receive understanding from you.
- Read the module on Community (from the What Matters course), and complete the assignments in that module.
- Complete the course on virtues.
- Read the section on Ecological Footprint (from the Limits to Growth course), and compete the assignment in that section.
- Work to identify and include the various externalities you have been overlooking. Study the section on Externality (from the Global perspective course) and complete the assignment in that section.
- What can you do to increase your participation and begin to address some of the Grand challenges? Do so.
Wetlands, coastal regions, littoral zones, barrier islands, waterways, earthquake zones, forests, and even deserts are flow-forms; inherently dynamic land areas. Land deeds use a static model to describe dynamic land forms, creating a fundamental mismatch.
A new model of land ownership based on the dynamic nature of earth, water, climate, and weather is needed. (Are there any ideas here? Nomads lived dynamically, but the lifestyle seems difficult.)
- Choose some natural disaster to study. This might be a flood, tsunami, blizzard, hurricane, typhoon, drought, heat wave, tornado, or wildfire. Major tragic events include: the dust bowl, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, climate change impacts on Tuvalu, and Hurricane Sandy.
- Describe how representing a flow-form with some static model contributed to the disaster.
- To what extent are these tragedies the result of human error (an occluded view of the world) rather than truly natural?
Imagine a religious organization that welcomed everyone because it honored the similarities of the needs and beliefs of the people, rather than excluding and opposing people who hold arbitrarily different beliefs.
Thoughtful and curious people open to experience and skeptical of the universal veracity of divine revelations and sacred scriptures practice various forms of nontheism to meet their human and spiritual needs.
- Read the text of the charter for compassion.
- Read the essay on transcending dogma.
- Develop the virtue of tolerance. Know its full extent and its limits. Practice tolerance.
- Develop your own robust theory of knowledge so you can be clear about why you believe what you believe. Know how you know.
- List existential, spiritual, or moral questions you seek guidance with.
- Find an inclusive forum for exploring those questions and developing satisfactory answers. This might be discussions with a trusted friend or mentor, research into theories on the origins of the universe and the origins of life, study of human rights and virtues, contemplation, introspection, or meditation, some inclusive religious sect such as the Unitarian Universalism church, humanism, or some other group more concerned with spirituality than dogma.
- Learn to quiet your mind.
Meeting the Grand Challenges
The value of Natural Inclusion concepts can best be measured by their ability to improve overall well-being. How can an understanding of Natural Inclusion help us overcome the Grand challenges? The following table illustrates how Natural Inclusion concepts address the various Grand Challenges. The column headings are linked to the corresponding headings in this NI course, and the row labels are linked to the corresponding section in the Grand challenges course. Each cell entry describes how the Natural Inclusion approach addresses the corresponding Grand challenge.
|NI Concept:||Design||Economics||Education||Government||Human Interplay||Land Use||Religion|
|Physical Health||Biomimicry Water Solutions||Value Water Commons||Preserve Ecosystems|
|Mental Health||Community participation improves mental health.||Increased harmony reduces stress|
|Opportunity||More accurate accounting systems include more people.||Education increases opportunity||Emphasis on human rights increases opportunity|
|Safety||Education reduces crime and violence.||Participation reduces violence and crime.||Increased harmony reduces conflict.|
|Stability||Engage Across Classes and Hierarchies||Increased harmony reduces conflict.|
|Environmental Stewardship||Design efficiencies reduce resource consumption.||Value Environments, Value Eco Services, Value the Commons||Better understanding of environment’s value||Preserve Ecosystems||We are all stewards of the creation.|
|Policy||More accurate accounting reduces distortions.||Better informed policy makers.||Include more people in decision making.||Participation increases inclusion.||Improve land use utility.||Based on well-being rather than ideology.|
|Flourishing||Improved Aesthetics||Valuing the best things in life.||Education provides enrichment.||Government promotes well-being||Participation is enrichment.||Improved Aesthetics.||Continued spiritual growth.|
- Choose one cell in the above table to study in depth.
- Describe in detail how the relevant NI approach addresses the corresponding grand challenge.
- Create an action plan for using that approach to address the challenge.
- Carry out that action plan.
Direct links to key NI concepts are gathered here for easy access.
- Space—the continuous, immobile, intangible presence that becomes configured and reconfigured into distinctive localities by natural energy flow.
- Boundaries—energetic interfacings. Boundaries identify a shift between inner and outer contexts; boundaries face both ways.
- Dynamic Interfacing, the Vitality of Each in the Otherness, a slide presentation
- Modeling Nature, Each in the Other — recognizing that space permeates boundaries
- Including several summaries of this concept.
- Glossary of Terms
The resource materials listed here are useful for continued study of Natural Inclusionality.
- Exploring Natural Inclusion
- Rayner, Alan (2012). NatureScope. Earth Books. p. 198. ISBN 978-1846949807.
- I - Opening, Four paintings by Alan Rayner expressing awareness of self-identity as a dynamic inclusion of natural neighborhood.
- Natural Inclusions, Paintings Combining the Art and Science of Life, By Alan Rayner, Vol. 1, 1969 - 1999
- Natural Inclusions, Paintings Combining the Art and Science of Life, By Alan Rayner, Vol. 2, 2000-2018
- Space Cannot Be Cut—Why Self-Identity Naturally Includes Neighbourhood, Alan David Rayner, Integr Psych Behav (2011) 45:161–184.
- Rayner, A.D.M.(1997), Degrees of Freedom - Living in Dynamic Boundaries. London: Imperial College Press.
- Rayner, A.D.M.(2004), Inclusionality and the role of place, space and dynamic boundaries in evolutionary processes. Philosophica, 73, pp.51-70.
- Rayner, A.D.M.(2011b), NaturesScope: unlocking our natural empathy and creativity C an inspiring new way of relating to our natural origins and one another through natural inclusion. O Books.
- Inclusional Sustainability: A Natural Way of Life, by Alan Rayner, BestThinking,
- Inclusional Nature, Bringing Life and Love to Science, by Alan Rayner
- Dynamic Networks, An interdisciplinary study of network organization in biological and human social systems., Karen June Tesson, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Bath, Department of Psychology, June 2006
- Janine Benyus: The promise of biomimicry, TED Talk
- Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action, TED Talk
- Learning Efficiency from Kingfishers
- Heinberg, Richard (2011). The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality. New Society Publishers. p. 336. ISBN 978-0865716957.
- Time is Money, So Take It to the Bank (and Other Community Building Ideas), Leland R. Beaumont, The Dodge Blog, June 25, 2012