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Thoughts and writings from the world of Ionia

Ionian to the Core

“Ionian”: an expression coined by the physicist and historian Gerald Holton; the roots of this belief go back to Thales of Milietus, a philosopher of the sixth century B.C.E. in Ionia. Thales’ believed all matter ultimately consisted of water and his work is often cited as an example of how far astray Greek philosophical speculation wandered. Notably, however, the significance of his thought is really the metaphysical value (i.e., being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space) it expressed regarding the unity of nature. The idea that all matter ultimately synthesizes into being, knowing, substance, etc. 

To go further, EO Wilson, a Nobel Prize winning biologist, wrote about his own “Ionian Enchantment” which began with a reading of Systematics and the Origin of the Species by Ernst Mayr (1942). Like Ionian philosophy, the book united the 19th century Darwinian Theory of evolution with modern knowledge of genetics; the combination of which ripples through our normative understandings of animal life while offering a substantive theoretical structure to natural history. 

Wilson goes on to write, “Einstein, the architect of grand unification of physics, was Ionian to the core. That vision was his greatest strength.” He rightly points out that Einstein’s explanation of modern physics focused on the unification of the forces of nature. Additionally, in his heralded book Consilience, Wilson states “But the spell of the Enchantment extends to other fields of science as well, and in the minds of a few it reaches beyond into the social sciences, and still further…” 

Behavioral modification, influence, persuasion, and motivation are Ionian concepts; the applications of which are combining multiple faculties of science into applicable specialties we’re just beginning to learn how to harness. From the Black Scholes equation used for option pricing to the Jobs-Wozniak homebrew computer club, Ionian frameworks reign as the great market equalizer for innovative, world changing ideas known to disrupt markets or contribute to their dynamism.  

When it comes to applying behaviorally informed approaches in the marketplace, we’re currently experiencing an Ionian Enchantment all our own. Finance, retail, automotive, healthcare, government, and all forms of technology are incorporating knowledge of human dynamics and behavior into their design and marketing platforms. In fact, Apple’s recent success is a product of collaboration between hardware engineers and visionary designers amongst many…the results speak for themselves in aesthetic and consumer usability.

As interactive technology continues to grow in markets desiring less human overhead and increased consumer access (all markets), the synthesis of behavioral science and development is more demanding than ever.  By understanding more fully the behavioral elements of consumer/product/service interaction, the more effective those interactions become, resulting in: better healthcare tools for all consumers, ease of consumer interaction (e.g., Alexa, Siri, etc.), reduced costs of business, and greater access to markets for consumers, etc. 

Finally, understanding human behavior from an Ionian framework causes us to look beneath behavior as only an external outcome. Human behavior is a result of our feelings, and feelings are different than emotions; feelings are mental portrayals of what is going on in your body when you have an emotion and is a byproduct of the brain assigning meaning to the emotion; itself, a physical state which arises from the depths of the brain from external stimuli. Beneath our emotions and feelings, behavior goes deeper into our physiological being which predisposes our physical brains’ emotional responses. Together, emotions, feelings, and physiology can be aggregated to better understand the behavior we outwardly observe, but in a vacuum they only offer hints into the complex mystery of human behavior. 

The growth and application of behavioral economics and behavioral modification is beset with the obligation to collaborate, synthesize, and incorporate what was previously thought to be disparate ideas. 

As such, behavioral economics and the practical application of behavioral modification is itself…

 Ionian to the Core

Matthew Cybulsky