Towards A Science Of Life As Creative Organisms ~ Norm Hirst June 1, 2008
Read Norm Hirsts paper published in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy  Click Here

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Life IS...Institute

Coming soon Life is...Insitute site

  • An invitation to growing-new-mind-conversations 
  • IInsights and inquiries about shifting consciousness
  • Growing an every-day philosophy for our emerging time.
  • Bring your inspected life to conversations for radical self-knowing
  • Join this new citizen science in the making.
How it all works!! Life - you and me - nature

TAI research reveals a transformation is occurring bringing with it different approaches, a significant paradigm shift in assumptions about what is life and living process. (see Noetic Sciences The Shift Report and Ervin Lazlo's Quantum Shift in the Global Brain). With a new mind about life-itself, its oneness, connectedness and the role of its diversity to create new knowledge, problems become opportunities for an evolutionary growth that benefits the whole.

We have a perceptual problem. To go beyond the dominant paradigm, TAI questions our 2500 years of metaphysics, philosophy, and logics. That which has been invisible is becoming visible but new metaphysics, philosophy and logics are needed to meet the demands of new discoveries that laws of physics cannot account for.

Energy equal Mass multiplied by the Speed of Light Squared takes on new significance when life is primary, not matter.

If Life-itself is "energy" that obeys a set of "natural laws", we can begin the process of making sense of discoveries now coming out of quantum physics, biophysics, relativity, consciousness, value dynamics, and social dynamics.

What's shifting:

Over the past 2500 years the pre-occupation of study and perception has been that reality is matter and its motion. From that has evolved widespread belief that life sprang from an unusual combination of chemicals and atmospheric conditions that existed to produce the cosmos. The problem-solving logic that followed from that perception produced the physical sciences as is dominant today.

The world's social conditions have grown out of an ignorance of life-itself's (consciousness) organizing coherence. The traditional sciences have actually "prevented" us from perceiving this hidden reality what life is>. Social problems have been approached with the same reasoning as though humans were just stones to be assembled into a pyramid, and if we can just apply the right forces in the right design we can get all the stones to line up the way we want them to. That's now changing.

But in the last few decades new research suggests that our past science models of life are not only inadequate, but are fundamentally wrong.

What if……
*Life created matter, rather than arising from matter?
* Life learns by initiating creative acts using will and observing the results?
* Life does not obey the same laws as physical matter, and life energy cannot be perceived using traditional scientific methods?
* What if there are coherence conditions imposed by Life-itself that guide living process?

Understanding the nature of life itself and living processes towards a new science of life is the mission of TAI.

We believe that four elements need to be brought together to advance our understanding of life-itself.

*Defining a new science domain of life-itself using both philosophical and scientific methods to produce coherence of knowledge and integrity of results.
* Making a distinction between science and philosophy, and understanding that both are necessary to develop our new understanding of life-itself.
* Conducting research on life-itself under sponsorship and conditions that will allow seemingly radical ideas to be discussed and understood without repression or suppression.
* Individual development in radical self-knowing and awareness of the coherence operative within life-itself.

Join in the process.

Autognomics: Knowing the living self

What is the role of self-law, of autonomy? Why is collaboration, the law of others and with others also key?   It appears both are essential to be alive.

Such mysteries of Life’s organismic ways have been the subject of The Autognomics Institute (TAI) Research, Education and Consulting.

Skye Hirst, PhD. is president and co-founder of TAI.  Since 1992 Skye and Norm Hirst co-founders, along with other researchers have been bringing together over 75 years of inquiry – to identify a "meta-verse,"  root meta organizing principles that enable humans and living creatures, at many levels within our universe, to function with both self-law and collaboration. Such findings reveal how there is a self-organizing aliveness with consequenes for health, wellness, and harmony.  Furthermore these self-organizing principles may lead to better understanding what interupts such aliveness.

Being alive, means constant changing, reflecting on what has been learned,  acting again with new awareness in an unfolding journey of learning, self-discovery, and creating. Acting from the fullness of what has been learned, seeking effective actions for how best to live to realize a balancing feeling of coherence can best come by becoming more aware of these self-laws and necessity for collaboration.  An inherent Value Intelligence  helps with this navigation.

Autognomics Consulting with Skye Hirst, PhD

1)    Self-knowing Health & Living Process Consulting;  Identifying the self-knowing capacities of living processes, and self-organizing principles within nature has been found to lead individuals and groups to create a greater quality of living aligned with meaning, fulfillment, satisfaction and health.

2)   Value Intelligence Assessment:  The Hartman Value Intelligence Inventory – brings into focus an inner GPS value lens available within the living proces.  Useful for individuals, teams, organizations.

3)   Jin Shin Jyutsu - bio energy balancing – a self-help practice & philosophy of mind/body/spirit awareness and self care

4)   Open Conversations – participant driven, open inquiries into issues of urgency where participants share their living self-knowing experiences and passions. This self-organizing process is rich with possibilities in which collaboration, self-discovery and creative insights emerge.  TAI is an advocate and facilitator of Open Space Technology (founder, Harrison Owen.


Radical Self-Knowing: A Peoples' Life-Knowledge Lab

Autognomics is a discipline of "wholistic" thinking that can help us identify order amongst the chaos of our lives and competing priorities. TAI brings new possiblities into focus to grow a new worldview of live processes; a radical perspective on change for finding our way as human beings with consciousness of live, ever changing, creative processes in and with life’s inherent ways.


Join our forum conversation and knowledge lab - a citizen science - sharing our living experience to more fully know our living selves and our relatedness as "wholistic" beings. 


Basically the word Autognomics translates from Greek to say “know yourself at the deepest possible level”. Some of the most basic and important aspects of who you are can be mysterious and obscure so our journey must look at those aspects and probe them to discover the laws of human behavior that are embedded within Life-itself.  These laws help us know, correct, grow, create and organize our lives.  Autognomics looks at how our values shape our societies and when understood, makes our communication and our relationships coherent and effective. The intention here is not to “fight” for dominant perspective, but to elucidate a fuller perspective than what holds mainstream science and popular consciousness.


Purpose:  To do philosophy of the ways of Life-itself - to explore realms of direct sense, intuitive experience – not so much to argue perspectives, but to share perspectives, to learn from one another with intention towards more complete understanding of organizing ways common throughout living/live experience.  Dare we say to discover organizing principles (realities so obvious there is no other) towards a new science of Life-itself? 

We see this effort not as problem solving, but to create anew, to grow beyond that which has taken habit and to encourage the forming of conscious presencing to see that if by taking a wholistic/live perspective we might experience a shift in what is possible; that in changing the focus of perspective – new ways become possible, and that we learn how much we know already; that we have experience as living beings but have not had the awareness or “language” for recognizing what we live all the time 


·       To explore these mysteries that we might better know ourselves (to self-know) as human beings/becomings (not human fixed things) within a wholeness of constant initiating, changing, becoming, creating, transforming and knowing.

·       To learn from our collective experience pool – how life organizes itself in and with each of us and to learn where we intersect in our experience – to be in our “receptive mode” of intuitively knowing more of the ways of wholeness.


Background: So much of the current dominant worldview is formed from having learned, known and grown a perception of reality as an object-based representational view of reality in which we live. It’s a world of thingness and fixedness. Going beyond this “fixed” worldview opens opportunities for deeper knowing of softer, subtle living process, energies and capacities such as intuitive awareness, sensing, of knowing meaning-making, valuing beyond the concrete, object-based view of reality.  


Since 1992, The AutoGnomics Institute, Inc (TAI) a non-profit group doing research, consulting, facilitation and education bringing together 75 years of study exemplified by a paper authored by Norm Hirst on the emergent field  “Towards a Science of Life as Creative Organism” published in the Cosmos and History Journal of Natural Philosophy.



·       A more fully developed working hypotheses from which to seek deeper knowing, a more complete worldview/life-view on ways of Life-itself.

·       Develop a working infrastructure for sharing experiences – for capturing our stories (nested levels of sharing).

·       A means of distillation – through selecting the most coherent and comprehensive examples of hypotheses on ways of Life-itself.


Follow on Twitter @autognomics.



Reflections on What Is Life? Norm Hirst

What is coming out in today's research requires understanding how living processes are free to act and combine in societal unities. It is life itself that produces evolution, not random processes or survival of the fittest. Life evolves based on values, which requires an awareness of holism. At all levels, living entities are choosing acts based on values characteristic of their level. That the molecules in cells are living is contrary to what biologists have traditionally thought. Now laboratory evidence shows signals and behavior indicating that they are living and acting.


In life, valuation processes are pervasive. We have lived with materialism too long to remember the qualities of life. It seems to me that many are trying to live as if they are machines; we are not well suited to being robots. It is the adventure of living fully that gives life meaning.   Life is< philosophy gives us new assumptions about reality and that's where we discover value dynamics in living processes by which we find our emergent ways.


I began at MIT delving into the foundations of knowledge from physics and mathematics to metaphysics, logics, biology and theology—and then into new findings in biophysics and quantum physics. 


…Instead, I would discover through a lifetime of inquiry that physics and it's foundations in substance metaphysics and accompanying logics is totally inappropriate for applications to understanding life. Way down deep human knowledge developed in a way that became committed to errors that destroy life.


Recent experiments of the past 20 years in physics and biophysics are producing results that cannot be explained with the traditional scientific materialism and substance philosophy. A new worldview is required. Not only is a new view of reality required, we also need to change protocols of inquiry to cope with it.


Following my tour of duty in the Korean War— I became deeply concerned about the causes and destructiveness of war and when I met Robert Hartman, the founder of the first formalism of values, I was inspired by Hartman and dedicated my life to more fully develop Hartman's science of values.


The current reality change is making a transition from a rigid, mechanistic, and materialistic worldview to one that is built on a foundation of interconnectedness, cooperation, and the intersection of science and living processes and experiences.


Living entities can initiate acts. In acting they add an uncontrollable quality that cannot be calculated through any physical laws of force.  Living entities do not passively await an external force to do something. For life there is no cause and effect. No determinism. Life is holistic from bottom to top. Using reductionism destroys knowledge of our living organization and how best to work with it; the very aspect we should be trying to understand.  In structure, an organism may appear to have many parts, but in process and function organism consists of societies of actors, acting on the basis of communication and coordination with all that organism’s societies and actors. Thus organisms function as a single holism.


But scientific materialism has provided technology by which the internal workings of living organisms can be observed as they live. But how living organisms work is unlike anything ever imagined! As we learn how living entities function, it turns out that it is nothing like we thought. Living entities are not machines, nor machine-like. Their workings are not subject to cause and effect, and they are not carrying out calculations. Living entities are capable of initiating their own acts based on values. They live in societies that give them maximum freedom within coherence conditions required by life. That is true even in the cells in our bodies. It is true of the molecules in cells, and, in nature. It is true of us on the living earth. Reality is not just rocks with accidental creation of life as epiphenomena here on earth.


Life itself is fundamental.


Matter isn’t fundamental, some form of, not yet defined, energy is. Physicists have discovered the Dirac Sea; zero point energy that fills all of what we thought was empty space. The physicist, P. A. M. Dirac, made a change to Schrödinger’s quantum equations that lead to discovery of this pervasive energy; thus it is named the Dirac Sea. Much of fundamental reality occurs in the Dirac Sea from which it becomes manifest in our space-time of material. Rather than matter being fundamental, energy flows in the Sea of Dirac are fundamental. The reality-underlying quantum theory is a living organism. That is why quantum theory is so difficult to interpret. The dynamics of those energy flows are, I believe, the dynamics of life. The energy flows manifest matter and living entities. All life is one, a living organism. Due to its connectedness we have primary unmediated experience.


To be alive is to be able to act. There is nothing in our history of ideas, whether philosophical or scientific, that deals with living self-making entities.  Everything in our philosophy and science is an attempt to imitate life with non-living entities not capable of action.  We will talk about life as energies within the electronics nature of living organisms; mysteries - such as how can bodies of so many parts be holistic? The answer is: the living processes within it are holistic. The living processes within it are “meta-stable” and constantly have to be maintained by energy. If the living processes are gone, all that's left is hardware.


Unfortunately, given a materialistic meta-physics, scientific explorers have been limited to a minor territory, the domain of the physical/non-living. Can all those deterministic forces possibly account for our experience? Is there any way to combine them all together in such a way as to produce what we experience? Simply, no. There is no way. So biologists explain that it’s “random processes” and survival of the fittest. There is no chance in hell that random processes can produce what we have in our experience; nor produce us for that matter. Life charged with creating novelty under conditions of great co-intelligence can create life and evolution.  We must quickly create a philosophy and science for the 21st Century and for what Life is<. 


Brown's The Living Universe

 William Brown's fresh look at Life itself.  Here is his summation of a wonderful article linked here from his blog

In Summation, life is synonymous with existence and is eternal, and the most fundamental fabric of reality is consciousness.  It is a Field of pure abstraction and intent, and through self-interaction it produces manifestations from endless potentialities.  Therefore the Universe itself is intelligent, and this reality construct is the result of intelligent design.  Every aspect is intelligently designed and contains consciousness itself.  This does not mean it is a controlling factor and that there isn’t randomness, because the spirit of free will is intrinsic.  Indeed the process of randomness is a testament to the sublime intelligence of Cosmic Consciousness.  In that a system can be allowed to evolve completely independently – and yet the state of each constituent of the system is known at all times and the behavior upon the addition of a particular influence can be precisely predicted.  However this terminology is misleading, because it indicates that the system would be outside of and apart from the Intelligence, when in fact it is an aspect itself of the Unified Consciousness – as everything is truly One


Values are "coherence conditions" of life.

 Norm Hirst on Coherence Conditions of Life

  Organisms(Living Entities) Require Coherence. (I think of coherence as conditions permitting freedom to act in parallel with a multitude of acts without destructive interference.) Life is the process of forming a coherence or unity within, which is developed through a multiplicity of events within and coupled with events without. It is a series of evolving events of birth, growth, maturation, integration and fulfillment.

Values are the coherence conditions that life imposes on living processes and entities. I have come to think of values as the "coherence conditions of life." Strictly speaking I believe it is valuation processes that are important to living entities. The necessary autonomy of living entities prevents their having any informational inputs. Yet they do need to discover what works in their living context. They do that by acting, to find effective acts. Acts that produce the organism’s intentions are effective acts. (see definition of Autonomy).

Substance metaphysics (started over 2500 years ago) has forced upon on us worldviews precluding values.  With a few
exceptions, the literature on values is rather ridiculous. Values are not things.  They are conditions on living processes.

·       I think of coherence as conditions permitting freedom to act in parallel with a multitude of acts without destructive interference.  For example, driving on a designated side of the road.  That gives maximum significant freedom to drive anywhere without crashing into someone else. Living entities are autonomous; they are intended to individuate; to develop their unique potential to become a unique actor while staying within the coherence laws of their identity. I think of coherence as conditions permitting freedom to act in parallel with a multitude of acts without destructive interference..  A good simple example is driving on a designated side of the road. It makes coherent traffic flow, gives us greater freedom to drive to a destination and really doesn’t need enforcement.

·       Reviewing the characteristics of life gives the concept  “harmonize” a specific emphasis.

·       Life is the process of forming a coherence or unity within, which is developed through a multiplicity of events within and coupled with events without. It is a series of evolving events of birth, growth, maturation, integration and fulfillment.

·       Living processes are carried out by living entities capable of acting.  Actions are based on perceived facts of experience when an event is starting.  Those facts set the stage for what is possible. Value processes select the most effective acts. The living entity acts and the stage is now changed to include a mixture of old and new perceived facts ready for the next event.

·       Harmonization is the process by which we creatively find a way to resolve differences between conflicting coherence conditions to find a new coherence unity.   Understanding the role of values and valuation is essential to carry out this process.

·       Talking about values with our current linguistic habits turn values into ideals to live by.  For example, always tell the truth.  However, there are times when truth is essential and there are times when truth is better not said. What life requires of us are the value process skills to know when truth is required and when it is not.

·       If you think values are ideals, then you make harmonization impossible because your values are right and theirs are wrong and there is no room for harmonization. Rather, ideals are abstractions. Abstractions do not hold the entire reality in which they are thought to function. Thus they cannot be achieved, and even if they could be, given the dynamics of life, there is no absolute right and wrong set of ideals that apply to everyone all the time.


I suggest that in Hartman’s hierarchy systemic valuation and extrinsic valuation are in consciousness.  Intrinsic valuation is in awareness. Intrinsic valuation is the highest because it provides the ground for the others to develop.


Living Process Coherence Events called valuation

To talk about values I want to look at the events in a living process, i.e., those events when you choose a set of acts for the next step in your evolving process.


Recent Papers

Value-Intelligence In All Creative Organisms ~ Skye Hirst with Assistance from Norm Hirst. August 2010

Robert Hartman discovered a value intelligence inherent in all life as early as the 1950's but he was ahead of his time.  Now learn how this value lens is formed within and how we can access it using the HVP.

Using the Hartman Value Profile as used in coaching by Hirst she discovers the absolutely unique inner landscape within that each individual has developed, we discover the world of values and value dynamics/intelligence from which we human beings and perhaps all organisms find effective action for life and living.
Published in The Robert S. Hartman Institute Annual Journal CLICK HERE

What People Are Saying

 What I Learned from Norm and Sky Hirst And How It Changed My Life
by Rodney Plimpton

Before I met Norm and Skye I had a pretty good handle on how Life worked, or so I thought.  I had a PhD in Social Psychology from Stanford, had studied Human Potential for Five years with Jean Houston, knew all about stimulus-response and something about cybernetics.  I didn’t consciously realize how much my model of life was based on a popular concoction Darwinism, materialism, elitism, and computer science.

Medicine in a New Key

Conventional medicine is dying ultimately because it is based on an obsolete dominant mechanistic model that does not recognize the coherence of the organism

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho explores how a science of the organism could underpin a new organic medicine that would best serve the nation.

Visit to learn more.

New organic Way for Medicine

The philosophy of Hans Jonas inform this paper by Schwartz and Wiggins to surmount the mind-body dualism plaguing Western thought. They show us the ways of organism; the difference between inorganic and organic reality and how each being must begin from its own direct experience of life in self and in others; and then how the two meet in the living being.  Since life is ultimately one reality, their theory presents the polarities that must be reintegrated by psyche with soma such that no component of the whole is short-changed, neither the objective nor the subjective.  Here they define the polarities within living beings and the requirements of organisms to live and thrive.



"The creation of significant form is the basis of knowledge, possibly for all living species; it holds the key to aesthetic experience in science and art, and depends on the inextricable entanglement of all beings in nature." ~ Dr. Mae-Wan Ho