As a child, I had two passions: God and astronomy. I went to the local country Methodist church with my grandparents every Sunday and was seriously into Jesus. By the age of 11, I had really begun to lose my faith in Christianity. I was quite lost for two years.
My grades fell; I just seemed to be drifting. Then I discovered the atom at 8 th grade science class and never looked back. The atom led to nuclear physics, which then led to quantum physics. By the age of 15, I was reading quantum physics textbooks. I got to MIT when I won a scholarship in physics, because I was one of those American childhood gadget scientific whiz kids. But I won all those prizes and got to meet President Kennedy. I had an atomic accelerator, a cloud chamber and a bubble chamber in my bedroom and was smashing atoms night and day and all that.
I was a real monster case. Then I went to MIT with a scholarship in physics. While it was unheard of at that time, MIT allowed me to do a double degree in philosophy and physics. Then I went on to grad school at Harvard and did three years PhD work in philosophy, religion and psychology.
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Danah: That was the place to be in the 60s. I envy you. Our student revolutions were very mild compared to yours. What did you read at Berkeley, Russ? Danah : Fascinating!
My books are kind of my dissertations. Danah: Eric Ericson was a very strong influence. Both were in phenomenology and existentialism. I greatly preferred that to analytical philosophy. He felt that I should apply my wide ranging imagination in something other than Christian theology and failed me in the course. At that point I converted to Judaism, being true to my own beliefs, and went off to live in Israel. I got preoccupied with left wing pro-Palestine politics and started writing and journalism while in Israel.
It was a very good transition time for me. I never thought about quantum physics for years until I met my husband when I was He was a psychiatrist with a very strong background in physics and mathematics from Oxford.
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He was babbling on for seven years about quantum physics and consciousness. What is he on about? Who cares? Danah: No, he was a practicing psychiatrist. He earned his living with psychiatry and psychotherapy.
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But he gave lectures at Oxford on quantum physics to various seminars and was fully respected as a member of the physics community in Oxford. He was a very brilliant man.
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He is dead now. Danah: Anyway, I had to go into hospital for major surgery after my second child was born. I was under anesthetic for five hours. When I began to come out of the anesthetic, the thought occurred to me straight away that if Ian is right, that changes absolutely everything. I wrote nonstop the outline of the Quantum Self , a subject I had not consciously been thinking about up to that time.
The only books around on quantum philosophy provided a few strands. David Bohm, the famous quantum physicist from the 20 th century who worked with Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer and then lived here in Britain, was writing in his quantum physics text book back in the early 50s that there were striking similarities between the way quantum systems behave and the way that human consciousness behaves. He said that there seems to be more than mere coincidence and that the basis for a connection should be pursued. That was in my subconscious since I read his book at 15, but that experience on waking from the anesthetic brought it to the fore again.
I suddenly understood what my husband had been babbling on about. The only precursors to Bohm were the founding fathers of quantum physics, themselves, particularly Wolfgang Pauli who had a very close working relationship with Jung. These are the only precursors to the Quantum Self that I know about.
I wished at first to relate it to psychology, a model of the self and the various things I wrote about in that book. It was a first for that kind of thing.
There were then, after it was published, a whole industry of follow-on books. These days quantum has come to mean cool. Russ: Then there were the people working around that time who were focusing on the application to organizations and development and change like Jeff Goldstein, Glenda Eoyang, and Ralph Stacy. Goldstein moved his work more towards complexity theory, later.
But there is a very fascinating scientific bridge between complexity and quantum physics that I think is particularly applicable with organizations: This is what systems complexity biologists call complex adaptive systems. These are living systems; all living systems are complex adaptive systems. They can be thought of as living quantum systems. Russ: Which is why people started to read authors like Rupert Sheldrake and others at that time, as well.
He concentrated more on the morphogenic field idea. But Sheldrake is playing the same ball game intuitively and indeed he got his idea from a paper my husband published on resonance phenomena and consciousness back in Only Sheldrake thought Ian was dead. He was very surprised to find that he was alive when we published the Quantum Self! He only acknowledged Ian on the last footnote on the last page, which caused some bitterness.
But even my husband back in was thinking about things like the Sheldrake book of resonance phenomena and fields. Ian certainly knew about quantum science and was inspired by that. We now know there is quantum biology. But these complex adaptive systems are a bridge between the two and leadership, because after all organizations are living systems. They are not machine systems as Taylor thought; they are living organic systems. Complex adaptive systems bring the properties of quantum phenomena into living systems. So, as I said, they can be thought of as living quantum systems.
They are called complex systems, so there is a link between the two. My later work has focused on this and I present these ideas in Spiritual Capital.
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Russ: There are two things then that are particularly of interest here. One is how you evolved your work into the whole idea of spiritual intelligence — you started publishing about that in — and then how you brought that work into complex adaptive systems, particularly in relation to leadership. So spiritual intelligence is, these days, a more current term than was the case when you and Ian were writing about it. Danah: Oh, yes. There have been dozens of follow-on books by others SQ, as I call it, is now used quite a bit in management and leadership thinking. Russ: In your work on spiritual intelligence, you and Ian had a dozen principles that you had developed.
Cindy Wigglesworth has 21 practices around spiritual intelligence in her more recent work. But the thing that interests me is your discussion of the relationship between cognitive intelligence or IQ, emotional intelligence or EQ and spiritual intelligence or SQ. Could you talk about that a little bit?
Danah: I can talk both personally and intellectually about it and both are my interests. I told you when we started that I had two major passions as a child, God and science, I never dropped the God stuff; I felt I could find it in some religion.
I became first a Quaker, then a Unitarian, then a Jew, then a Buddhist. At some point along this line I had children who were exposed to all these journeys.