Ecosynomic Axioms

To find order in seeming confusion is the pattern-seeking, sense-realizing effort of the theorist and practitioner. Axioms are the building blocks of assumptions about the primary agreements that guide human interaction. Since these underlying axioms are deep assumptions that guide the development of guiding principles and agreements, it is important to make them explicit. Since Nature does not bring order to experience, it is the human need to impose order on ordered experiences that necessitates theory building and making axioms explicit. An axiom is “a proposition that commends itself to general acceptance; a well-established or universally-conceded principle; a maxim, rule, law.”

A set of social-systemic axioms must minimally indicate the level of analysis of human behavior, the intended purpose or outcome of the behavior, how the individual and collective levels of behavior relate, and how human behavior relates to the resources that sustain it.

The four axioms of ecosynomics are:

  • Holonism. The level of analysis is the whole that is a part of a greater whole.
  • Vibrancy maximization. Everything humans do is a means and an ends to the vibrancy of prosperity for oneself, another, and community.
  • Systemic leveraging abundance. The aggregate prediction of the behavior of the individuals is only achievable as a process of synthesis and dynamics.
  • Abundance in relationship. The factors of production are abundant when in harmony. It just depends on how we are in relationship with them.

Each axiom is now described and grounded in examples.

Holonism

Holonism is an integral approach to looking at the level of analysis, acknowledging and integrating simultaneously the whole and the part. Since a system is a whole and it is a part, it is necessary to understand that a system is not simply the aggregation of parts, rather a completely different phenomenon that cannot be derived or arrived at from any of the parts.

Holons are parts that are wholes that are parts.  Simply put, at one level an individual is a whole, a whole person. A whole of many parts, whether they are roles, personalities, or body parts. This whole person is also part of a whole family, which is also a part of a whole community, and so on.

We know this from our own experience. For example, working with the essence of string, a whole unto itself, one thinks of flexibility and pulling when in tension. Working with wax, also a whole unto itself, its essence is malleable when heated and it holds its structure when cooled. Understanding these essences in isolation does not bring about the essence of luminosity produced by a candle, when the wax and the string come together as parts of a greater whole. Likewise, from the essence of accounting, marketing, or production one does not arrive at the pleasure of the experience of wearing warm socks. Thus, we know from everyday life that the essence of the part and the essence of the whole are different. Holonism sees that the essence shifts when something is seen as a part or as a whole.

Two very different approaches to dealing with the part and the whole have emerged, with analysis tearing systems apart to understand the behavior of the disaggregated parts and synthesis examining the relationships of the parts to understand the behavior of the whole. Recent innovations have begun to interweave analysis and synthesis, providing different perspectives on the part-whole – the holon.

This can be drawn graphically as ever more encompassing concentric circles, as in the case of the work in Guatemala (see Figure 1). In this way, the health of any outer circle (the whole) depends on the health of the inner circle (the part). In the other direction, however, the health of the inner circle does not necessarily depend on the health of the outer circle.

In the Guatemala case, one’s access to education does not directly influence whether one has access to supportive relationships; however, without a healthy level of collective support for access to healthy relationships, it is very difficult to develop the access to education. On the individual, interior levels, the healthy ability to learn is contingent on the healthy ability to feel, but not necessarily vice versa.

In social systems, holonism integrates the actor and the structure. One does not precede the other, rather they co-exist. The individual has agency in determining what they want as a whole unto themselves and the structure determines what the individual receives in resources as a part of the greater whole.

 

Figure 1: Holon of Individual and Collective Prosperity in Guatemala

 

 

Vibrancy maximization

Vibrancy maximization is an aspiration-reality, discrepancy-minimization effort. Aspiration-reality discrepancy minimization means that the end goal is to minimize the difference between the aspirational and current reality levels of behavior. People seek greater vibrancy, working towards their aspirations of the possible, by changing their current reality. Humans across all cultures and ages are finely tuned instruments for sensing vibrancy, the flow of spirit in every dimension of their lives.

In the case of Guatemala, the aspiration-reality discrepancy was the difference between the desired ability to self-determine and the actual ability (see Figure 2). The end goal of all the efforts in the project was to close this gap.

 

 

Figure 2: Guatemalan Aspiration-discrepancy Minimization

 

It is, in fact, vibrancy not utility that humans seek to maximize in their lives, using whatever dimension of the human experience is most appropriate at the time. Utility is the consumer’s satisfaction, assessing how much consumers prefer goods and services. Vibrancy is the human relationship to its experience of life, in all of its forms. Where as consumers seek greater utility from their goods and services, humans seek greater density of harmonic vibrancy in their life.

 

Systemic leveraging abundance

Systemic leveraging abundance is a process of synthesis where abundance becomes available in the system through the interaction of the agreements within the system, as they engage healthy growth engines and recognize healthy sufficiency for all individuals and the collective.

The part relates to the whole through a web of relationships, which can be described as a system. It has become clear in the past fifty years that because of systems effects, small causes can lead to big effects and large causes can lead to small effects. This is counter to the prevailing logic that small interventions lead to small changes, and only large efforts lead to large changes. In systems it is more about shifting the behavior of the whole, through its interrelated individuals, than trying to move all of them at the same time with a massive push. This lesson has been lost on many of the world’s largest organizations in government, civil society, and business.

 

Abundance in relationship

There is abundance in the relationship to enabling resources, the factors of production, influenced by the dynamics of perceived scarcity or abundance. Scarcity is defined as restricted in quantity, and comes from the Old French eschars and Classic Latin excerpre for selecting out. Abundance is defined as more than sufficient or existing in great plenty, and comes from the Latin abundantem for overflowing, to flow in waves away from. Many communities around the world have asked themselves the questions of what their assets are. Many are wealthy in the key resources of healthy people with a strong social fabric, good land, knowhow, clean air and water. Some of these only lack access to markets. While what is lacking varies by collective, most collectives are abundant in many of the key resources to human prosperity.

 

The four axioms

In summary, the four axioms highlight a world of potential and possibility, a world that aligns with how individuals and collectives look at their own lives. The axioms describe a world where people form wholes, with their own, unique intentions, which simultaneously make contributions to larger wholes. Everything people do, as parts and as wholes, is to increase the vibrancy of prosperity they experience for themselves and for others. They work within collectives, leveraging the system of relationships to maximize abundance for all. They do this in relationship with the resources that are given and those developed. The degree to which people’s aspirations for these relationships and reality depart creates the urgency to minimize that discrepancy.

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