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History

Did it ever strike you as odd that there isn't a conceptual framework that encompasses most of what we know and do? It did to me. At least, I hadn't come across one yet. And I'd been through quite a bit of school at that point. And encountered quite a few different domains of life and thought.

The ProxThink set of ideas is an attempt to integrate the most disparate ideas, influences, people and experiences I've come across so far in life. As a conceptual framework, it perhaps contains some insights into most of what we know and do. It may also contain some clues about how we might proceed, as individuals and in groups. Here is some of how it evolved.

ProxThink grew out of adventure. Adventures in thinking that relates to getting things done, as well as enjoying life.

Adventures in widely diverse areas suggested a need for a thinking system for almost any situation, including very ordinary moments. We often get stuck. We often need clues. I began looking for patterns.

I've always been curious about practically everything. Yet often each group of people have their own way of talking about their special area. I wanted the biggest, most encompassing patterns possible.

Common sense works in many situations. But common sense is not a cohesive system. Something more than common sense was needed.

As I scoped further and further out, looking at things in more abstract and philosophical ways, I came across a wonderful book. That book was "Many Dimensional Man" by James Ogilvy. In it, he presented this idea from information theory. The idea was "to be is to be related." It seemed about as general as you could get. I decided to take that idea, try to build upon it, and see where it would go.

I found I needed to add the concept of proximity. The proximity is a useful concept since the meaning of proximity includes nearness in relationship, allowing consideration of any elements related to a situation.

Through many steps, I developed a set of ideas involving some basic terms and sets of patterns.

When I found patterns, I tested them against diverse situations in thought experiments. It has been a very iterative process, and continues to evolve.

In a search for patterns, you run up against limits. So different types of limits need to be included in order to be realistic. On top of that, many things are contradictory. So contradictions must be allowed.

I also wanted the thinking system to be used by diverse people. This meant making complexity accessible. And it meant using everyday words wherever possible.

ProxThink was developed during explorations through everyday life, the hard and soft sciences, the arts, design, engineering, business, culture and a wide variety of people and groups. I've been preparing for and working on ProxThink, in one way or another, for over thirty years. I know it will not be everything to everybody. I hope some people find some of it valuable. A nice example of the Value of Some.

David Loughry
February 2007

[[to come - the evolution from individual ProxPatterns to thinking about ProxPatterns as a related group with a kind of systems perspective]]

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