What is a Thinking Organism?

Thinking organisms are, as the name implies, organisms that one creates purely as thinking. The term does not refer to organisms that think, rather “thinking” is used as a gerund. Thinking organisms remain “within” one’s mind where they grow and evolve as an organism might, were it physical. I came up with the notion for these in 1995, writing my first (perhaps naïve) experiment in the medium, Idea Toy: A Game for Evolving.

The purpose of a thinking organism is to engage the thinker, in ongoing thinking. A successful thinking organism continues to evolve as though on its own even while the thinker is not consciously engaged in thinking on it. When the thinker returns his or her focus to it, it seems to have changed or evolved so that now the thinker has a different insight on it or greater awareness of something in reality because of it.

A thinking organism should be apprehended in a basic form by the thinker, and then grow and evolve as the thinker spends time with it. Like a koan, thinking organisms are not intended to be solved. Thinking organisms are simply “presencing”.

A Lab for Thinking Organism Development

While the thinking organism is created by thinking and thus, essentially invisible, it is possible to document the method of its creation. Documentation enables others to engage and produce such a thinking organism on their own. I believe many of these could start as suggestions, or partially written procedures, which I’ll house in this space for further development. Additionally, it ought to be useful to document any insights produced as natural byproducts of thinking organisms. These should take the shape of new or recalled awareness and insights.

After creating more thinking organisms and documenting their processes, I believe certain patterns and similarities might emerge. If that is the case, it seems like it may be possible to develop a taxonomy of thinking organisms, so that we can better describe, understand, and apply them. I’d like to encourage anyone interested in thinking organisms to contact me with any contributions toward the above goals.

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