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Theoretical articles about Co-Intelligence Topics


Since co-intelligence is intelligence which arises out of and nurtures wholeness, and has many applications in the world, extensive theory is growing up around its many facets. Linked below, with brief summary annotations, are key articles relating to some of these facets. This is a new field and new theory is continually emerging. For a more concise overview, see our FAQ. For current articles, see Tom Atlee's blog.


Intelligence - Intelligence is more than IQ. It is the whole palette of capacities through which we continually create a fit between our minds and lives and the world around us.

Co-intelligence - Co-intelligence is intelligence that is guided by and nurtures wholeness. Co-intelligence manifests in diverse ways that reflect wholeness, such as the integration of our heads and our hearts, the wisdom of spirit and nature, the collective intelligence of groups, communities and whole societies and much more.

Conscious evolution - Civilization is evolving rapidly, although not very consciously. Conscious evolution is aware, informed, intentional, responsive, and wise. Co-intelligence is part of a larger evolutionary trend to help civilization become more able to evolve itself consciously. In research and conversation, the Co-Intelligence Institute explores evolutionary dynamics evolutionary agents can use to consciously transform social systems and human consciousness. We also share the universe's evolutionary story as an inspiring, empowering science-based narrative about who we really are and what our evolutionary role is. Our page on Conscious Evolutionary Agentry and Evolutionary Systemic Intervention will be of special interest to social change activists and philanthropists. Evolutionary agentry can help prevent humanity's extinction while catalyzing an unprecedented evolutionary leap through our emerging crises, such that humanity becomes conscious evolution.

Democracy and Politics - Co-Intelligent political theory explores how human society at all levels -- from neighborhoods to nations -- can self-organize wisely. The Co-Intelligence Institute's work focuses on catalyzing wiser democratic systems. High quality dialogue is perhaps the most important factor in developing the capacity for wise democratic self-organization. Many of the articles in this section focus on how to institutionalize wisdom-generating dialogue in democratic political culture and representative governance. We also include sections on co-intelligent activism, polarization and public issues which involve practical political applications of co-intelligence. There is also more material on democracy at the website of Tom Atlee's book The Tao of Democracy.

Wholeness - As noted above, co-intelligence is intelligence that is guided by and nurtures wholeness. Wholeness refers to the evolving inclusive coherence of life and its various parts, and the relationship dynamics between those parts. This coherence underlies familiar concepts like health, integrity, wholesomeness, holiness, and other holistic concepts. Comprehending the many dimensions and dynamics of wholeness can help us understand and enhance co-intelligence.

Power - Co-intelligent power weaves together power-over, power-with, power-from-within, power-from-among, power-as, whole-system power, and wholesome power.  While it covers all applications of power (which is simply the ability to create effects), it focuses on social power (the ability to influence people and the directions and policies of society), since social power is so intimately related to politics, economics, leadership and other topics on this list which impact our collective fate.

Economics - Co-intelligent economic theory explores how living systems - people, communities, and natural systems - can and do self-organize to meet their needs and enhance their lives. In this it shares much with co-intelligent political theory. It offers both an appreciative critique of existing economic systems and envisions ways they can evolve to be both more fulfilling and more sustainable. While appreciating the role of competition, it tends towards cooperative, holistic and wiser dynamics and perspectives.

Diversity - Diversity, used creatively and well, is a hallmark of co-intelligence. New realities are woven out of the interaction of diverse people, ideas, viewpoints, forces, lives, etc. Human Diversity involves far more than race, gender, culture and other hot-button demographic differences, and is a potential source of immense treasure. One of the hottest forms of diversity is polarization.

Wisdom - Co-intelligent theory views wisdom as the capacity to appreciate the wholeness of life with an expanded, deepened perspective -- and to act on that appreciation to produce long-term common good, or useful lessons in that direction. Most phenomena normally associated with wisdom (compassion, humility, insight, etc.) are embraced by this view. Most importantly, wisdom in co-intelligence theory includes the expansion of perspective and co-creativity that's possible through dialogue among diverse people or viewpoints. This is a major foundation for a wise democracy.

Questions - One of the most potent dynamics of co-intelligence is the power of inquiiry. Too often we think the only role of a question is to be answered. But powerful, generative questions that have heart and meaning can open up new realms and possibilities, especially when pursued together or deeply lived, so that they produce insights and evolutionary shifts like an apple tree produces apples, over and over.

Community - The Co-Intelligence Institute and many other organizations offer abundant principles, insights and tools to help communities that want to build their quality of life, their sustainabilty, and their ability to address their problems wisely. This page provides links to many of them, paying particular attention to civic dialogue.

Leadership - Co-Intelligent leadership supports co-creativity, self-organization and the emergence of collective wisdom. Leadership is recognized as coming from both individual leaders, as well as systems, processes and culture.

Process and Participation - "Process" is a word we use to describe "what's going on" or "the unfolding of life." Whenever we participate in a process -- whether it's a conversation, eating, recycling or exchanging money -- our activities shape (and are shaped by) the processes around us. For example, we pay X amount of money for bread because of the price, but the price is influenced by the demand we co-create with other consumers. We live in a participatory, co-creative universe. Everything we do or don't do has multiple impacts, and is part of larger events we co-create with our actions. We can be more conscious of the processes in which we are participating. Co-intelligent processes support our efforts to be consciously co-creative in ways that benefit the whole (group, organization, system, etc.) and all its parts.

Morality and Ethics - Co-intelligent moral sensibilities are guided by wholeness, interconnectedness, co-creativity and synergy. From the co-intelligence perspective, these guides are basic to the holistic nature of life and they can be consciously nurtured for greater, broader benefit. The primacy of dialogue in co-intelligence suggests that nurturing quality public conversations about moral issues among diverse moral perspectives is a highly moral act.

Empathy - Empathy plays a powerful role in the wise use of intelligence. Like intelligence, empathy can be exercised in narrow ways that result in undesirable outcomes or in enlightened ways that support wisdom. Also like intelligence, expanded forms of empathy can be embedded in cultures and social systems to generate wiser collective outcomes.

Story - Co-intelligence often involves sharing our stories and co-creating the larger stories within which we live our shared lives. What we call "reality" and "consciousness" may well be examples of larger stories we have woven together to make sense of our world. The Co-Intelligence Institute is researching the special sense-making power of an emerging inclusive story, the great story of the evolution of the cosmos, life, and human consciousness and culture.

Spirituality - In its current forms, co-intelligent spirituality honors a common core of Spirit or shared connection to Spirit. Grounded in that communion, the infinite diversity of Life dances itself into being, moment to moment, through co-creative, co-incarnational, co-evocative, co-evolutionary interaction and dialogue, evolving into ever-new forms of wholeness.

Systems Thinking - Systems thinking is any kind of thinking that delves into the wholeness and interconnectedness of reality. This can include anything from feedback analysis and exploring the dynamics of political and economic systems to deep ecology and shamanism. As our collective power increases it becomes increasingly important that we take into account the complex sources and consequences of our actions, which systems thinking helps us do.

"Imagineering" visionary stories about future social applications of co-intelligence:

Imagining Collectively Intelligent Communities

Pat & Pat, a view from 2020 -- a story of two co-intelligent politicians who became mayors of a medium-sized city in Iowa.


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