The Ecology of Joy

Why Ecology of Joy?

This matters because poor philosophy choices lead to violence, war and minimal cultural achievements.

Everybody has a philosophy of life. Even if you never took a philosophy course, we all have a philosophy - some understanding of the way the world works around us. A philosophy is based on our own experience, and the experiences of others. 

A philsophy that accepts the premise that fear and pain are the most effective human motivation results in cultures where violence is accepted as inevitable.

A philosophy based on joy as the most effective human motivation offers the possibility of peaceful coexistance and great personal and cultural achievements.

The Ecology of Joy is such a philosophy.  

The three parts of the Ecology of Joy

  1. Motivation
    Joy is the most powerful human motivator. Fear has been used effectively to control people, but people achieve their best when motivated by joy.
  2. Links
    The way that links form between people influence the nature of the resulting culture. One way to look at these links uses the concepts of heterarchy and heirarchy. Another way to explore different forms of culture is found in the explorations of Partnership by Riane Eisler. In her work, Riane talks about partnership thinking and dominator thinking.
  3. Cultural transformation
    Riane Eisler originated this term.  Ecojoy proposes another way to analyze cultural transformation.  Media affect the way we think by way of the content they carry.   But to an even greater extent, media and technology change culture because they present a metaphor for the forms of links between people.  One of the pioneers of media studies was Marshall McLuhan

Riane Eisler's important book The Chalice and the Blade explores cultural transformation theory and partnership.  My ideas about joy have roots in Eisler's  book Sacred Pleasure

These three parts interact with each other.  The motivation of joy works best with heterarchical cultural links; fear works better when combined with heirarchical cultural links. Media and technology contain embedded ways that we think about the links between people.

Some of the attributes of partnership and dominator thinking: Dominator thinking fosters an external locus of control, or, put another way, other people decide how you should act.  Partnership thinking fosters an internal locus of control - you are the best person to decide how to act.

Why is change happening now?

The Internet has become the dominant medium of our time.  The Internet is fostering heterarchical linking between people.  With the Internet, information flows around us like a web.

Printed newspapers and magazines are fixed like ink on paper.  In order to revise a story, the page would need to be reprinted. The Sunday newspaper carries several pounds of advertising, because newspaper advertising cannot be personalized for the reader.   The number of writers and editors is small compared to the number of readers.  Print media foster heirarchical linking. 

Television network programming is the same everywhere.  Except for news networks, newscasts are scheduled, and rarely update to follow fast-moving stories.

World Wide Web pages can be created on the fly, customized to the history and demographics of each individual viewer.  In the Internet world, there are many distinct information sources, and smaller audiences, and this medium fosters heterarchical linking, like the web in it's name.

How do we move toward partnership culture?

To move toward a partnership culture
  1. Recognize that in a partnership culture joy is the most effective human motivation.  Seek to live and work in joy.  Use joy as motivation for yourself and those around you.
  2. Strive to make the links between yourself and others in heterarchical form.  Avoid using rank or position to force activity.  Seek to work together with others to achive desired goals.  
  3. Share your thoughts and ideas with others in heterarchical ways, modeling partnership interactions.

The Singularity

We are experiencing a condition where computing and telecomunication technology are increasing at a geometric rate, and digital technology costs are increasing at a much slower arithmetic rate.  At some time in the near future, computers will have the capacity of the human brain and the vast knowledge of human culture will be easily available to everyone.   Ray Kurzweil describes this in his book (and soon a movie) The Singularity is Near. As our capabilities grow, we need a new philosophy to guide our actions and interactions.  That is why I am writing about the Ecology of Joy.


It would be ineffective to act joyful for all conditions around us.  In order to be most effective, all of the people in a group, organization or culture should be able to experience joy.  This means that we need to help each other reach a state where we can experience joy - free of fear and violence, able to secure adequate food and housing. So it is useful to look at the world around us and work together to create an Ecology of Joy.

Latest update June 18, 2017

See also the Ecojoy Blog

Copyright © 1996-2017 David Devereaux-Weber dave at
Dave's web page <>