A fractal is a pattern that maintains the same shape across all scales and iterations. Also known as: recursive, isomorphic. In nature, fractals are ubiquitous, occurring in flora, waterways, growth forms, waveforms, etc.

Praxis is defined classically as “practice, as distinguished from theory.” In the liberation pedagogy work of Paolo Freire and others, praxis is given deeper meaning as “the intersection of theory and action,” i.e how belief becomes embodied and how behavior enacts belief.

So, what is fractal praxis?

“Fractal praxis” implies that something is to be enacted in a fractal way. Or, that something which is fractal is to be embodied and enacted holistically.

So—what is the relevant fractal described by the formal term Fractal Praxis?

The fractal is: Life itself.

If we look at the behavior and philosophy of Life as a whole, we can identify a root pattern that is fractally encoded into every and any life form: the use of cognition (i.e., sense-making) to create greater conditions for Life. Life—and its extension, consciousness—is the only known system in the universe capable of moving against the tide of entropy—that is, negentropy, or creating higher order. All living beings have identity and generate meaning in keeping with this elegant “core code.”

This pattern doubles as both an observable behavior and a theory of how to create conditions for more life—in other words, it is a praxis. Life desires and produces regenerativity because it must. When viewed through an expansive understanding of "cognition," to create negentropy looks like learning. To riff on the Santiago School Theory of Cognition, All beings learn for the sake of adapting (creating more niches for life). This is true regardless of whether the learning occurs cognitively or genetically.

This astonishing “fractal praxis” is at the heart of how Life expresses—irrespective of time, scale, conditions or forms.

Humans—one kind and subsystem within Life—express and reflect this “core code” by embodying and generating enormous complexity in terms of cognition, technology, and society. We also express it through our inexhaustible pursuit of meaning and understanding in all circumstances.

However: globalizing human society and the neoliberal economic system is neglecting this core code to great peril. We have strayed so far from it that humanity’s entrenched conduct now threatens to undermine the conditions of life for entire complex ecosystems, for ourselves, and for nearly all other living beings.

Today, globalized capitalism (the mentality and the enactment), which is the planet’s most dominant and widespread socioeconomic order, seems hellbent on the destruction and desecration of complexity in many forms. This can be observed across multiple scales and systems:

i) the normalized annihilation of millenia-old ecosystems worldwide in exchange for short-term financial gains

ii) the degradation of truth signal in culture and communication through the motivated spread of nihilistic and malicious disinformation

iii) the decimation of the human spirit, mind, and body by industrial society

iv) widespread psychological exploitation for the purpose of peddling consumerist and conformist myths

v) the consolidation of wealth and reaching new extremes of inequality, driving human suffering and the stifling of human potentials

… I could go on!

As modern civilization is now showing its first clear signs of epic disease and collapse, we witness the dominant civilization’s paradigm as a kind of Death-seeking, entropy-loving culture—that is, we seem to celebrate the idea of dying more than we love the idea of transforming, and living.

Yet transforming, and thereby surviving, is a perennial option always available to living (and learning) beings. Indeed, transforming, over and over again, is essential for a mature life. Sometimes those transformations can feel as intense as dying—sometimes huge chunks of the scaffolding of our beliefs and identities are disintegrated in a sudden thrashing like a hurricane! But one’s mind can weather almost any transformation that yields further service to its purpose: surviving and thriving.

The trick is developing a capacity to convert any breakdown into a breakthrough. Fortunately: intelligence gives us those tools.

In order to realize our most profound identities and find the utmost meaning in our lives—individually and collectively—we must intensify our natural and intrinsic processes of sense-making and thus “find our way”—through processes of reckoning, reclaiming, reconciling, reorienting, and reinventing—to begin to “amplify” (reinforce) Life’s core code. That is, we begin to center the question, How are we measurably contributing to complexity that enhances Life?

If we are diligent, we can actually express this regenerative pattern at all layers and levels of our lives: from the personal to the interpersonal to the transpersonal, from the structural to the cultural to the unconscious, from the nature of our beliefs and the shape of our conduct, to the design of our economies, cultures and societies. It means beginning to participate consciously in evolutionary process:

That which serves life, we keep. That which does not, we prune back and compost.

If individuals and society could (re-)organize ourselves through self-generated knowledge and self-aligned patterning at all scales, if we could return to abiding by the code that is irreducibly central to our very existence and is the root of all of the meaning in our lives, then we would be capable of shedding—sometimes arduously, sometimes spontaneously—the “dead weight” of obsolete and energy-intensive beliefs and behaviors accumulated within ourselves, and begin acting intentionally as holistic “agents of Life,” focusing our efforts on maximizing the potentials for Life in all arenas and systems that we touch.

As it stands: we don’t have much time left on the clock of the world to get it right, and to “get right” with our true selves and with all of our beloved kin and communities.

So Fractal Praxis offers an accelerated path to the truth. Each sense-making being who engages with it must find their own way to integrate and relate to the truths at their core. Fractal Praxis as an organization (ad)ministered by C. Savery offers several paths for facilitating that process, including discourses, facilitated groups, ritual and learning spaces, and coaching. Learn more and engage with the community at fractalpraxis.com.


Humberto Maturana & Francisco Varela, Santiago School Theory of Cognition

Douglas Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, about the development of consciousness through recursive cognition

Robert Anton Wilson, “negentropy," a portmanteau of "negative entropy." See also: Buckminster Fuller, who called it “syntropy.”

Grace Lee Boggs, “What time is it on the clock of the world?”

What questions or thoughts do you have after reading this article?

Do you resonate with the invitation to better align your ideas and actions in accord with this "core code" of Life? What might that look like within your life?

Can you imagine a culture or a community that filtered its perceived opportunities and threats using Life's core code as a metric? What might that look like?

What is the relationship between an inner transformation (such as a revolution in worldview, triggered by the pressure to integrate true information that conflicts with past entrenched beliefs and behaviors)—and the growth of higher order, more intelligent structures in living systems?