William Irwin Thompson (born July 1938) is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He describes his writing and speaking style as "mind-jazz on ancient texts". He is the founder of the Lindisfarne Association.
Thompson was born in Chicago and grew up in Los Angeles. Thompson received his B.A. at Pomona College and his Ph.D. at Cornell University. He was a professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then at York University in Toronto. He has held visiting appointments at Syracuse University, the University of Hawaii, University of Toronto, and the California Institute of Integral Studies.
In 1973, he left academia to found the Lindisfarne Association, a group of scientists, poets, and religious scholars who met in order to discuss and to participate in the emerging planetary consciousness, or noosphere. Thompson lived in Switzerland for 17 years. He describes a recent work, Canticum Turicum in his 2009 book, Still Travels: Three Long Poems, as "a long poem on Western Civilization that begins with folktales and traces of Charlemagne in Zurich and ends with the completion of Western Civilization as expressed in Finnegans Wake and the traces of James Joyce in Zurich."
Thompson now serves as Curriculum Designer and Founding Mentor to the private K-12 Ross School in East Hampton, New York. With mathematician Ralph Abraham, he has designed a new type of cultural history curriculum based on their theories about the evolution of consciousness. Thompson currently resides in Maine.