Collapsing the n-dimensional Vibrancy Frontier

Previous agreements have attempted to maximize prosperity by maximizing one dimension and assuming the other dimensions will follow, leading to local optimization, global sub-optimization behavior along any of the n dimensions. Because the ecosynomic vibrancy frontier is a harmonic, not a melody, the harmonic cannot be found from the melody. Seeing them as separate dimensions leads to “either or” tradeoffs, focusing on one dimension and assuming or hoping for the other. Trying to reach higher vibrancy, in this worldview, necessitates moving further along one dimension, sacrificing the others. Rather, the melody in relationship founds the harmony.[1]

This creates a proposition to test by examining the ecosynomic vibrancy for the 10,000’s of community projects exploring the new, emerging agreements.[2]

  • P1: the closer one is to one axis (X, Y, Z, A, B), the higher the perception of scarcity.
  • P2: the greater the overall vibrancy, the higher the perception of abundance.


Equation 1: Vibrancy and Abundance

For an intuitive sense of this formulation, a collective experiences much greater abundance when it is strong in all freedom, than just in one. While this may seem obvious, it needs to be tested and confirmed, which is straightforward with the formulation of the propositions in Equation 1.

Taking the axioms of ecosynomics, we can see that the predominant logics in economics – free-market capitalism, socialism, and communism – are special cases, where the n-dimensional vibrancy frontier is collapsed onto one dimension.[3] This supports the thesis that the ecosynomic axioms provide a higher order description of the primary agreements guiding human interactions. While insufficient to prove that these axioms are of a higher order, understanding that the current, predominant logics and the mixing of them are special cases is necessary to demonstrate this. With ecosynomics, we move from an either-or worldview of freedom (relationship with self) or equality (r. with other) or solidarity (r. with whole) to a both-and worldview to an all-dimensions-of-one­-space worldview, with agreements that live in and nurture that vibrancy.

Primacy of Relationship to Self

Where the predominant worldview is that of the relationship to one’s self, primacy is placed on the individual and their freedom. To see vibrancy from this perspective, the vibrancy zone is collapsed onto the X-axis. All of the vibrancy experienced is explained by the X-axis. This collapse will result in a perceived distribution of harmonic vibrancy along the X-axis. Because the collapsed distribution is only described by the X-axis component of vibrancy, the distribution will tend to be skewed to lower values, thus perceived as less X-axis vibrancy than the overall vibrancy experienced. Projecting the ecosynomic axioms onto the X-axis results in:

  • Individualism. Since the focus is on the relationship to self, the level of analysis is the individual, which manifests its own creativity. To understand the collective requires looking at the aggregate of all individuals.
  • Instrumentalism. Everything an individual does is a means to maximize one’s own creativity, one’s own life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, on the X-axis of freedom.
  • Equilibration. There is a distribution of “liberty” responses along the X-axis, showing that some collectives are freer than others. While the individual has the freedom to provide for her own needs, exchanging with others to meet their needs requires that the needs and offers coincide, thus in the aggregate, free responses adjust to meet each other, arriving at a predictable, stable place, which is required for aggregate predictability of individual, free behavior.
  • Free markets. While creativity is abundant in individual freedom, the resources from others and from the whole are scarce, as they are owned or controlled by others, and they are required to support the initiative of the individual. From this perspective, the resources are perceived to be available to the individual or to someone else, making them scarce. Thus, the factors of production are scarce. In competition, among free individuals seeking utility maximization, excess production (capital) liberates future potential. The focus is on the individual’s private ownership of property and business enterprise, where individual owners have a social contract that protects their right to allocate the factors of production.[4]

Movement along the X-axis is perceived as movement towards lesser or greater freedom, not lesser or greater vibrancy, as the focus is on the primacy of relationship to self. Thus, a move towards higher vibrancy is expressed as getting everyone to focus exclusively on freedom for self and not on the other, the whole, spirit, or nature.

The four axioms above describe neoclassical economics (aka free-market capitalism), which is a special case of when the n-dimensional vibrancy frontier collapses onto the X-axis of the gesture of freedom in one’s relationship to oneself (see Figure 1). Homo economicus, neoclassical economic’s description of humanity, is completely rational and selfish, solving the most complex optimization problems with ease.[5] These X-axis axioms live on the surface in the assumptions of many communities. For example, many businesses focus solely on the bottom-line, with all activity in the company and in the marketplace a means to this end. In many families this belief system predominates where the focus is on pushing every person to figure out what they need to do to be a responsible contributor.

The validity claim of the X-axis of relationship to oneself is freedom, which is also described as ethos, aesthetic, or beauty. From this claim, human experience identifies three overall stages: (1) I do; (2) I let go to be; and (3) I co-host. Aesthetically, (1) I am the one responsible for my creative flow; (2) I work with the creative flow, as it happens within me; (3) I co-host the generativity of the creative flow. From these claims, the axioms tend to focus on developing the individual into strong, individualized participants in the marketplace, working to bring out one’s own creativity. These same validity claims suggest that the axioms give one the incentive to push through to higher levels by personal mastery, while also weakening one’s ability to develop these capacities in relationship with others (Y-axis) for the benefit of the whole (Z-axis).

Primacy of Relationship to the Other

Where the predominant worldview is that of the relationship to the other, primacy is placed on the relationship and its fairness. To see vibrancy from this perspective, the vibrancy zone is collapsed onto the Y-axis. All of the vibrancy experienced is explained by the Y-axis. This collapse will result in a perceived distribution of harmonic vibrancy along the Y-axis. Projecting the ecosynomic axioms onto the Y-axis results in:

  • Egalitarianism. The level of analysis is the relationship, where justice manifests as fairness. To understand the collective requires observing the web of relationships.
  • Judicialism. Everything done in relationship is a means to balance, on the Y-axis of equality. The scales of justices determine the fairness, in balance, for all relationships.
  • Rule of Law. There is a distribution of “just” responses on the Y-axis, showing that some collectives are fairer than others. This requires protection of those collectives where individuals impose on the collective. This is required for aggregate predictability of fairness in relationships.
  • Pluralism. Since the focus is on relationship and not on the individual or the whole, abundant generation of creativity of the individual and support from the whole are ignored or rejected, thus the factors of production are scarce and to be allocated fairly People are not perceived to have equal, felt-fair access to all resources, even with the mediating factor of judicialism, thus the rule of law is necessary to fairly allocate scarce resources. In competition, among relationships of equal-seeking justice, labor-centric policies promote regulation of individual and collective behavior. Since individuals might accumulate resources unfairly, for their own gain, the focus in relationship to the other is on public ownership of property and business enterprise, among all relationships, with a public agency fairly allocating the factors of production.[6]

Movement along the Y-axis is perceived as movement towards lesser or greater equality, not lesser or greater vibrancy, as the focus is on the primacy of relationship to another. Thus, a move towards higher vibrancy is expressed as getting everyone to focus exclusively on equality with another and not on the self, the whole, spirit, or nature.

These axioms live in the assumptions of communities that focus on rights and inclusivity. Many civil society organizations have strong cultures, structures, and processes about inclusiveness and consensus building. Within some businesses, a heavy focus on non-discrimination provides clear processes for fair treatment of minority perspectives. Within some families there is a tradition of sitting around the family table and listening to everyone’s perspective.

The validity claim of the Y-axis of relationship to another is equality, which is also described as pathos, justice or good. From this claim, human experience identifies three overall stages: (1) What do you think; (2) Seeing your potential; and (3) witnessing your destiny. Inclusively, (1) what you know is an important experience to bring in; (2) you work with the creative flow, as it happens within you; (3) I co-host the generativity of the creative destiny manifesting within you. From these claims, the axioms tend to focus on developing highly inclusive groups that treat each other fairly. These same validity claims suggest that the axioms give relationships the incentive to push through to higher levels by fairness, while also weakening one’s ability to develop these capacities in relationship with oneself (X-axis) for the unique contribution one can make to the whole (Z-axis).

Primacy of Relationship to the Whole

Where the predominant worldview is that of the relationship to the whole, primacy is placed on the collective and its caring for all. To see vibrancy from this perspective, the vibrancy zone is collapsed onto the Z-axis. All of the vibrancy experienced is explained by the Z-axis. This collapse will result in a perceived distribution along the Z-axis. Projecting the ecosynomic axioms onto the Z-axis results in:

  • Holism. The level of analysis is the health of the whole, which cares for the individuals who contribute to the whole.
  • Subsumption. All efforts of the individual subsume the self and the other, in service of the whole, on the Z-axis of solidarity. There is equal liability of all to work.
  • Centralization. There is a distribution of “orderly” responses on the Z-axis, showing that some collectives are better controlled than others. This requires control of the chaotic input of individuals. This is required for aggregate predictability of contributions to the whole.
  • Collectivism. Since centralized leadership of the whole determines the resources the aggregate of individuals needs, and, thus, what the individuals need to do to contribute to the whole, there is perceived scarcity in what the individual can contribute (most will just “do” what they need to do), thus there is only just so much available to provide – the factors of production are scarce. In competition, the whole provides land-centric policies of central planning of collectively owned, centrally run factors of production. Since the labor of the workers provides value to commodities, the profits should be allocated proportionally to the workers, and the factors of production should be owned by the workers.[7]

Movement along the Z-axis is perceived as movement towards lesser or greater solidarity, not lesser or greater vibrancy, as the focus is on the primacy of relationship to the whole. Thus, a move towards higher vibrancy is expressed as getting everyone to focus exclusively on solidarity for the whole and not on the self, the other, spirit, or nature.

These axioms live in the assumptions of communities that focus on the health of the whole and caring for all of the individuals. Many small communities have developed agreements for the culture, structures, and processes that permit them to sustainably care for everyone in the whole.

The validity claim of the Z-axis of relationship to the whole is solidarity or fraternity, which is also described as agape and caring. From this claim, human experience identifies three overall stages: (1) taking care of us; (2) taking care of all of us; and (3) caring for all beings. Caringly, (1) we take care of our own people, whether it is family or community, they are like us; (2) we take care of everyone, as we are all people; (3) we care for all beings. From these claims, the axioms tend to focus on developing agreements and processes for determining how each individual will contribute to and be taken care of by the whole. These same validity claims suggest that the axioms give a collective the incentive to push through to higher levels by collective coordination, while also weakening one’s ability to develop these capacities in relationship with oneself (X-axis) to be able to see the unique potential in another (Y-axis).

Primacy of Relationship to Spirit

Where the predominant worldview is that of the relationship with spirit, primacy is placed on the manifest experience of direct relationship. To see vibrancy from this perspective, the vibrancy zone is collapsed onto the A-axis (see Figure 1). All of the vibrancy experienced is explained by the A-axis. This collapse will result in a perceived distribution along the A-axis. Projecting the ecosynomic axioms onto the A-axis results in:

  • Cosmovision. The level of analysis is spirit as it manifests in the human experience.
  • Enlightenment. Daily practice in this life is as a means to directness of relationship with spirit.
  • Progression of consciousness. Aggregate predictability – Christianity, Buddhism, Mayan
  • Infinite manifestation. The factors of production are infinite, as they are merely an express manifestation of the infinite spirit.

These axioms live in the assumptions of communities that focus on the relationship with spirit and transcendence. Many small communities have developed agreements that permit them to focus on individual initiatory pathways of transcendence to the direct experience of spirit.

The validity claim of the A-axis of relationship with spirit is eros, the level of masculine piercing into higher, subtler realms of direct experience. From this claim, human experience identifies three overall stages: (1) the laws of spirit are given through mediating teachers; (2) one is in direct relationship with spirit; and (3) one is the manifestation of co-creative relationship with spirit. From these claims, the axioms tend to focus on developing the ability one’s level of piercing into higher, subtler stages of consciousness.

Movement along the A-axis is perceived as movement towards lesser or greater transcendence, not lesser or greater vibrancy, as the focus is on the primacy of relationship to spirit. Thus, a move towards higher vibrancy is expressed as getting everyone to focus exclusively on transcendence with spirit and not on the self, the other, the whole, or nature.

Primacy of Relationship to Nature

Where the predominant worldview is that of the relationship with nature, primacy is placed on the relationship and its balance. To see vibrancy from this perspective, the vibrancy zone is collapsed onto the B-axis. All of the vibrancy experienced is explained by the B-axis. This collapse will result in a perceived distribution along the B-axis. Projecting the ecosynomic axioms onto the B-axis results in:

  • Naturism. The level of analysis is the cosmos, of which humans are an infinitesimally small part.
  • Evolution. Everything done in the cosmos is done as a means to fitness and requisite variety, so that one can be the fittest to survive.
  • Laws of Nature. Aggregate predictability?
  • Ecosystem abundance in sufficiency. There is a finite ecosystem in a delicate balance. The factors of production are sufficient for each microecology to survive, as long as it is in balanced relationship with the other microecologies.

These axioms live in the assumptions of communities that focus on the health of nature and finding balance with the ecosystem. Many small communities have developed agreements that permit them to find balance in their relationship with the natural world around them.

The validity claim of the B-axis of relationship with nature is balanced. From this claim, human experience identifies three overall stages: (1) using nature for one’s own benefit; (2) co-existing with nature; and (3) co-stewarding the balance of nature. From these claims, the axioms tend to focus on developing agreements and processes for determining how individuals and collectives will find a sustainable balance with nature, developing the requisite variety to survive eventual changes in the natural environment.

Movement along the B-axis is perceived as movement towards lesser or greater balance and embrace, not lesser or greater vibrancy, as the focus is on the primacy of relationship to nature. Thus, a move towards higher vibrancy is expressed as getting everyone to focus exclusively on balance with nature and not on the self, the other, the whole, or spirit.

There are attempts to embrace the B-axis directly, such as the ecologist who would embrace nature, sacrificing humanness. There are also many attempts to embrace the B-axis from the assumptions of another axis. In business, the movement of corporate social responsibility attempts to move from capitalism in the X-axis towards nature in the B-axis, creating instability in the creation of inconsistent set of axioms. Likewise, the triple-bottom line attempts to embrace the X-axis (profit) toward the Y-axis (people) and the B-axis (planet), creating a very unstable, incoherent set of axioms.

Figure 1: Comparison of Systems of Axioms

While a great preponderance of leaders in the economic, political, and social realms today focus mainly on one axis, in their rhetoric, their actions and success must be, at a minimum, multi-dimensional, if not inclusive of all dimensions. Thus, the ecosynomic axioms show a pathway to the agreements that actually guide human interactions versus the limited, uni-dimensional perspectives provided by the axioms of one axis alone. Thus, it is the point of the ecosynomic axioms that nobody actually uses the uni-dimensional axioms they espouse, rather the more complete, ecosynomic axioms.

It is by focusing on only one axis (see Figure 1) that scarcity in other axes is perceived, thus the factors of production are perceived to be scarce, as only part of the holon is seen as generative of resources, while all are required to see the whole that generates the resources.[8]

Rules-based Agreements

Prior to these three manifestations of economics in the 18th to 20th centuries, rules-based structures were more common. This is a case of low efficiency (the size of the pie) and low distribution (the slice of the pie). Simply mapping onto the n-dimensional space, most people had very little. Even the nobility had little freedom, equality, and solidarity.[9]

  • Self-sustenance. The level of analysis is the small collective and its ability self-sustain.
  • Providing. Most people spend most of their efforts as a means to provide for the rule-makers, with sufficient left over to self-sustain.
  • Levies. Many small contributions by the masses aggregate to the strength of the rule-makers.
  • Fiatism. The factors of production are mostly agriculture-based, building reserves of the rule-makers to acquire force when needed for defending power.[10]

These axioms live in the assumptions of communities that focus on taking care of basic needs.


[1] The ecosynomic formulation changes what “developed” and “developing” communities and countries mean. Originally, the term was “industrially developed” and “industrially developing,” and with lazy-speak the industrial part was dropped. Unfortunately the term then began to signify developed-on-all-levels and developing-on-all-levels. The five axes of ecosynomics might completely re-orient this whole conceptualization.

[2] Explore formulation of multiplying vector length by vibrancy (0-1).

[3] What is the geography-based consciousness that brought in each of these projections?

[4] For a similar set of axioms or assumptions underlying the modern economic worldview, see Harvard economist Marglin’s observations at (Marglin, 2008). For a critique of these “neoclassical” economic axioms, see (Arnsperger & Varoufakis, 2006). A popular economics textbook lays these axioms out as ten principles (Mankiw, 2008, pp. 4-9).

[5] We were recently reminded of the clarity of this picture of humanity (Levitt & List, 2008).

[6] These pluralistic axioms mirror those presented by socialist economics.

[7] These holistic axioms mirror those presented by communist economics (Marx & Bender, 1988).

[8] That economics assumes scarcity is so clear that even Sean Flynn, PhD, a student of Nobel Laureates George Akerlof and Daniel McFadden, states firmly in his book Economics for Dummies that “scarcity is a fact. There isn’t nearly enough time or stuff to satisfy all desires, so people have to make hard choices about what to produce and consume so that if they can’t have everything, they at least have the best that was possible under the circumastances (Flynn, 13 – Wiley: Hoboken, NJ, 2005).”

[9] For a historical economic perspective, see (Marglin, 2008).

[10] For more on the rules-based factors of production, see (J. Locke, 1989; Machiavelli, 2008; Marglin, 2008).

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