Have you gained insights from reconsidering assumptions?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many of the insights I’ve had over the years have arisen as a result of reconsidering various assumptions I held, often unconsciously … and wondering whether the same is true for others.

One such assumption I’m currently unpacking is the meaning of ‘ownership’. Until about 18 months ago (when the Global Commons Trust idea suddenly planted itself in my head), I treated ‘ownership’ as an indivisible classification chunk, in the sense that I assumed something could be owned or not owned. The list of things that I figured could be not-owned, or which could be either owned or not-owned, had been expanding for a long time (think of the sharing economy, for example), but I hadn’t really considered what the concept of ownership itself was all about.

And so … over the past 18 months, I’ve been playing with the idea that ownership as a concept chunks together a largely-agreed-within-our-culture set of rights and responsibilities we have in relationship/connection to a thing … and pondering what some of the implications of reconsidering ownership this way might be.

For example:

  • Do our current information technologies give us the ability to reconfigure those rights and responsibilities in ways which work better for managing our ongoing relationships with each other and with our natural world?

  • At what point in the process of redefining those rights and responsibilities, with regard to land, for example, would we be moving from an ‘ownership’ relationship to another type of relationship, such as stewardship?

I’ve also been considering some of the other concepts we tend to use as if they were indivisible chunks, like:

  • voting, democracy
  • roles, jobs
  • institutions (whether corporations, government bodies, schools, community groups etc)
  • knowledge disciplines and qualifications
  • money, debt, value, price

I’m not going to go into my thinking about those here … but I’d love to know whether this pattern of reconsidering assumptions (or conceptual chunks, if you prefer) has led to insights for you, too?