"There is nothing so practical as a really good theory". - Ludwig Boltzmann

Great Thinkers and Visionaries site development proposal

This is your opportunity to help shape the future of your ideas, your business, your culture, your society, and your world!

The following is a draft proposal for the expansion of the Great Thinkers website. Please comment!


The Website of Great Thinkers and visionaries now attracts over 60 thousand people a year and is considered an important intellectual and educational resource. It generates a large number of responses and requests for further information. This work requires attention and resources that the creator of this page can no longer provide on his own.

With proper effort, this website can be turned into a comprehensive knowledge resource addressing various aspects of the intrinsic merits and potential impacts of the ideas of both classic and rising thinkers and visionaries according to a multitude of viewpoints.

We need to formalize the methodology that has already been implicitly employed to select and classify the candidates for the existing list. This WebSite could be expanded to perform the social role of an "idea radar" for new and important concepts and their originators.

Since what animates cultures, is the store of concepts which are incorporated into institutions and products, the ability to identify forthcoming concepts through such "idea radar" will provide an anticipation of social trends and rising influences. And as the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle observed, the most important aspect of leadership is anticipation. So with the insights from this kind of "idea radar", foresight can be exercised regarding future developments. This could be the basis for far more effective business and social planning than we have ever exercised before. The developed materials can also become an invaluable resource for studies of great people and their activities and help increase public awareness of the great figures in human history, their lives and contributions to various areas of social development.

Some features of the suggested site

The website should store the following data about visionary thinkers and their ideas:

Disciplines / areas of activity

Utility of people's contribution to the society

Type of participation / influence

Extrinsic Attributes of Ideas

  1. Publications - availability of print or online examples of output
  2. Contextuality - the cultural setting within which the idea occurs
  3. Assimilibality - the difficulty or ease of accepting and accomodating the new idea
  4. Interpretations - extension and/or application of the idea
  5. Verifications/Refutations - have the ideas been proven or disproven
  6. Acclamation - the extent to which the idea is granted plausibility
  7. Citations - extent to which others reference a thinker's work
  8. Reputation - the extent to which the thinker is granted credibility

Intrinsic Attributes of Ideas

  1. Denotations - formal definitions of idea's terminology
  2. Implications - idea's logical entailment of other current ideas
  3. Explications - potential for differential development of the idea
  4. Anticipations - consequences of the idea's use
  5. Associations - analogical relations with similar ideas
  6. Connotations - metaphorical implications of idea
  7. Genealogy - the historical antecedents of a new idea
  8. Etymology - logical relationship to previous ideas

Other stored parameters

Functions to be provided

To avoid editorial or public bias in the assessment of different candidates, the site may include classifications by different agencies; users of the site would choose whose classification they would like to explore. For example, one annotator can classify Gurdjieff as a great occultist, and another - as a bad philosopher, or refuse to include him at all. The site can also allow alternative descriptions of people, and even different portraits, selected by different editors for representing this person.

Organizing development

Ideally, proper organization and operation of the "idea radar" on which an Institute of Great Thinkers and Visionaries will be based, would requires the full-time commitment of two epistemological entrepreneurs:
  1. A Research Director (to develop and apply the methodology)
  2. A Communications Director (to prepare and present results to subscribers, clients and the public)

Alternatively, this website could be upgraded and run by a distributed group of part-time volunteers, working on various smaller aspects of the site.

Any suggestions of volunteering, sponsorship, or advice would be greatly appreciated.

The proposal was originally written by Alexander Chislenko and William Sheridan in September, 1997
Last changed on January, 29, 1999