Griffin and Tyrrell

Organising ideas

WHOEVER you are you are always searching: looking for the rules that underpin relationships between people and things to explain what is going on around you. And, if you are of a more questing nature, this extends to what is going on in the Universe. Our intuition as well as scientific experience tells us that there is always an underlying principle – a larger organising idea – that connects knowledge up in a new way that clarifies understanding and brings material, emotional and spiritual benefits. This is what our new book does, as you can see in the book's introduction, the Curtain Raiser.

An organising idea is one that 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 the organising ideas in our head play an active role in shaping our perception and thinking. They guide our conscious 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 organising ideas that we imbibe from our environment is therefore of the utmost importance.  

It is the quality of an organising idea that determines how much of reality is revealed to us.

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

The difficulty is that, since most people react to what goes on around them in conditioned ways, they have to be persuaded of a new idea. The 'uncovering' and ' introducing', however, are separate skills.  The skills needed to introduce an idea, and persuade enough people to adopt it so it will take hold, are rarely found in the same person.  A perfect example of this is the case of, Ignatz Semmelwies, 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 he couldn't persuade his colleagues to see what he had understood. But now we know his organising idea was correct: hygienic behaviour in hospitals and the home has saved millions of lives.

The human givens approach to understanding behaviour, psychotherapy and educating and rearing children is an equally significant organising idea – but concerned with social, mental and emotional hygiene.