Synoptic Philosophy


The goal of synoptic philosophy is what the Greek words imply:sun-optikos, “seeing (everything) together,” and philein-sophia, “to love wisdom.” Put these root-words together and the meaning is clear: synoptic philosophy is the love of wisdom that comes from achieving a coherent picture of everything seen together – a vision of the whole of life.” [1]

Synoptic as a term seems to be an older term than holism and systems thinking. The term ‘holism’ may be more popular at this time because it is an English term, (perhaps it’s popular in English also because it sounds like the word “whole” which is related to the meaning of holism).

I understand it as:
• an impossible task – (because it would be only my vision of the whole and thus incomplete without all the billions of other possible perspectives.)

• an impossible task – (because to understand the whole you would have to understand it from beginning to end – across time – otherwise you’re just understanding a “frame” of the entire “movie”).

• an impossible task – We are limited to human understanding – the universe is older than human beings. It may also have a good chance to continue on without us for quite some time. Understanding the whole would require understanding the whole before human existence and after human existence across the entire time. Since we are limited to understanding only from the human perspective – we don’t have the full picture to consider. Millions of years went by before humans –there has to be plenty of lessons to be learned.

• a possibility from a personal, private level of understanding – my own personal interpretation of the whole. This is both a personal grand quest, and a humble quest next to the reality of the total task.

[1] Christian, J. L. (1998). Philosophy: an introduction to the art of wondering. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
ISBN: 0155055925 9780155055926

Daniel Montano
Keyword: Daniel Montano, Dan Montano, user experience design, information architect


One thought on “Synoptic Philosophy

  1. maltephilipp

    When you try to improve the breaking power of a car you can either be ‘reductionist’ about it and scrutinize the composition of the breakpad-material, the pressure of the calipers etc….or you can look at the car from a ‘holistic’ perspective considering things such as weight and tire grip trying to achieve your initial goal.
    That’s what i understand under the term of “holistic/systemic”. 🙂



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