You might well ask.
Syntironomy is the branch of study dealing with how entities and phenomena, both physical and abstract, are sustained over time. It was coined in 2020 by archaeologist Dr Mark McKerracher. It is a neologism derived from the Greek συντηρώ (to sustain, to conserve) + νέμειν (arrange, manage). Astronomy is ‘star-arranging’, economy is ‘household-arranging’, and syntironomy is ‘sustenance-arranging’.
It is founded on the sole premise that, in linear time, existence is dependent upon persistence or sustenance: things which cease to persist (or cease to be sustained), cease to exist, and therefore every entity or phenomenon which exists tends intrinsically towards persistence over time. This founding premise can be summed up in the four words of the syntironomic principle:
“Nature abhors an ending”
Syntironomy is concerned with determining and describing the ways in which things are sustained, in terms of the four syntironomic methods: Provision, Protection, Propagation and Prospection. These methods are defined as follows (where ‘resources’ include knowledge, methods, et cetera, besides physical and biological resources).
- Provision – utilising existing resources
- Protection – guarding and securing existing resources
- Propagation – increasing existing resources
- Prospection – seeking out new resources; innovating; experimenting
Not everything will use all four methods, and it is not always necessarily advantageous to do so.
The final key concept of syntironomy is supersession: things (entities or phenomena) fail to be sustained when they are superseded by the syntironomic methods of other things. For instance, the cells of an organism attacked and superseded by viral or bacterial Propagation; or a viral or bacterial infection attacked and superseded by a Protective immune system.
What isn’t syntironomy?
Syntironomy is an extremely young branch of study, and there is much work to be done exploring what it is, and what it isn’t.
But it is worth stating at the outset that is not prescriptive. It does not advocate a ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality – nor, for that matter, does it advocate anything else. It does not – in and of itself – adopt any moral, philosophical or political standpoint. It provides a tool for thinking, and as such may usefully be applied in philosophical considerations, but it makes no claim to be ‘a philosophy’ in its own right.