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What is an organising idea?

An organising idea pulls information together so the mind can make sense of it. The richer the pattern in the mind, the more 'true' the organising idea is.

In all areas of life confusion flourishes, mistakes are made and harm is done when we forget that the way we look at phenomena is dependent on an active effort of imagination and thinking. We are not mechanical recording instruments looking out on a fixed world.  We organise what we see through what we believe we know.  

“All scientific knowledge is a correlation of what is seen with the way that it is seen.”

Henri Bortoft in 'The Wholeness of Nature'

All the organising ideas in our head play an active role in shaping our perception and thinking and guiding our actions. An effective new organising idea is always larger than an earlier one because it can explain the anomalies that previously caused confusion. 

The quality of the organising idea is determined by how much of reality it reveals.

When any field of study is confused, any political effort is failing, any conflict not being resolved, it usually means a larger new organising idea has to be introduced before a resolution to the problems can be found.

Since most people react in conditioned ways to events, it requires a particular set of skills and qualities to see what has never been seen before and thereby produce the new organising idea. 

These are not necessarily the same skills that are needed to introduce the idea to enough people so it takes hold.  A perfect example of this is the case of the man, Ignatz Semmelwiess, who recognised that doctors washing their hands between seeing patients and cleanliness were important in preventing high mortality rates in hospitals. He was driven mad because his colleagues couldn't see what he was going on about. But now we know his organising idea was correct and hygienic behaviour in hospitals has saved millions of lives.

The human givens approach to understanding behaviour, doing psychotherapy and educating and bringing up children is equally significant – perhaps more so.

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