The Process of Creation as the New Paradigm for our Civilization

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There is a wonderful process at work in our universe.  As we look around, we see its remarkable creations:  particles, atoms, stars, planets, galaxies, life, and much else. The roots of this process go to the very nature of our universe.
The main property of our universe is its uniqueness:  it is all there is.  There is nothing outside it; in fact, there is no outside.  As there is nothing outside our universe, nothing can come into it and nothing can disappear from it because there is nowhere to disappear.  Consequently, everything must be conserved.  Conservation that is fundamental to our universe originates in its uniqueness and gives rise to the process of creation.

Our universe contains an enormous variety of different forms.  All these forms are finite; and the resources for sustaining finite forms are also finite.  In order to conserve finite forms, their range of possibilities, or degrees of freedom, must expand, which will allow them access to new resources.  Gaining new possibilities requires new properties, that is, properties that have had no prior existence; in other words, it requires an act of creation.  New properties can arise only as a result of the emergence of the new and more powerful levels of organization.  Conservation is impossible without the process of creating such new levels of organization.
We humans are also creations of this process.  As its creations we are also part of this process and we have inherited from it our capacity to create.  Over the course of our history we have demonstrated this capacity in works of art, in science and technology, in organizing our social life and institutions.  Our civilization itself is a remarkable evidence of our creativity.  It is the source of our power and prosperity.
Given the importance of the process of creation in our life, one would expect that we would use it as the main organizing principle of our civilization.  Yet odd as it may seem, this process is not central to our practice and institutions.  Our civilization is decidedly anthropocentric.  We organize our social practice and institutions around reason and rationality that we associate with human mind.  We strongly believe that the capacity for rational thought is the most powerful tool that we have at our disposal since it produces knowledge that makes the survival and evolution of our civilization possible.
We think of knowledge in terms of correspondences.  Whether in its empirical variety that views knowledge as being inferred from observing reality or in its rationalist version, according to which our mind deduces knowledge from some fundamental axioms, or self-evident truths, the prevailing general view is that knowledge consists in establishing one-to-one correspondences between our mental constructs and empirical observations.  This understanding of knowledge has shaped our practices and institutions:  science and technology, educational system and teaching methodologies, business environment and economy, legal and political system, culture, and much more.
Establishing correspondences is essentially an equilibrating operation:  it produces equilibrium.  Thus, by making reason and rationality the main and exclusive organizing principles of our civilization, we in fact recognize the primary role of equilibration and equilibrium in our social practice and institutions.
Creation is decidedly not about equilibrium.  It represents a radical break with the past and the emergence of something that has had no prior existence.  Creation disturbs balance and violates status quo.  It is about disequilibrium.
By assigning priority to equilibration that we associate with reason and rationality as the principal operation in the production of knowledge, we place creation outside the domain of rational thought, render it incomprehensible, and relegate it to the sphere of the irrational.  The recognition of reason and rationality as central to our civilization in fact de-emphasizes in very real and practical terms (even if not in theory) the significance of the process of creation.  In other words, we regard the process that plays an extremely important role in the evolution of our civilization as secondary and, consequently, relatively unimportant for shaping our social and institutional practices.
The question, however, arises, are we justified in privileging equilibration over the production of disequilibrium and assigning to it the priority place in our social practice and institutions?  Humans are capable of creation and have a penchant for creativity.  So the work of our mind does not consist exclusively of equilibration and making deductions and inferences.  Our mind can also create, that is, produce disequilibrium.  Therefore, our mind is not only about equilibration, deductions and inferences.  What is it then that our mind does and that produces disequilibrium?
Since our mind can produce both equilibrium and disequilibrium, the two operations must be in some way connected.  There is evidence that supports this conclusion.  In his important contributions to the study of human mind Jean Piaget has demonstrated the interrelationship between equilibration and the production of disequilibrium.  In his seminal work The Origins of Intelligence in Children Piaget discusses how the equilibration of sensory-motor operations (hearing, seeing, etc.) gives rise to mental images, thus opening a possibility for symbolic operations.  The equilibration of incommensurable operations leads to the emergence of a new and more powerful level of organization that conserves them and their differences as its particular cases.  The adaptation of the sensory-motor operations to this new level of organization enriches them and creates their symbolic equivalents (for example, visual and sound images).
Piaget’s study shows that equilibration of differences leads to the emergence of a new and more powerful level of organization, i.e., disequilibrium.  It creates a radical novelty with new properties that have not been observed prior to its emergence.  This example from Piaget’s study demonstrates that equilibration and the production of disequilibrium are closely interrelated aspects of the same process—the process that brings about radical novelty, which is how we understand creation.  The dissociation and privileging of equilibration over the production of disequilibrium renders the process of creation incomprehensible, unexplainable, and something akin to a miracle that emerges as if out of nothing.  The result of the failure to understand how the process of creation works is that we cannot control our own creative capacity and we do not see and utilize possibilities that our creative powers offer.
Perhaps the most important possibility that we fail to recognize and use is the creative potential of every individual.  All humans have a capacity to create.  The fact that we all develop consciousness and the ability to think in symbols is a vivid testimony of the creative powers of each individual.  However, for the most part this enormous potential remains unappreciated and underutilized.  The principles we use for organizing our social practices and institutions are limited and do not capture the full capacity of our mind.  As a result, the way we organize our practices and institutions does not provide opportunities for each individual to use his or her creative potential to the fullest extent possible.
Our civilization is advancing at a constantly accelerating rate.  It rapidly approaches the stage in its evolution when using the creative potential of every human being becomes a necessity.  The information revolution, technological advances, the broad use of robots, computers, advanced machinery and automata are progressively displacing human labor from performing repetitive and routine physical and mental tasks.  Creative work is one of the few remaining areas where machines, no matter how sophisticated and technologically advanced, are simply incapable of replacing humans.
A growing number of people in all walks of life feel that creativity will be essential for solving the problems we face today.  Speaking at a forum devoted to the world economic crisis, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, remark:  “We are going to have to innovate our way out of this thing [economic crisis].”  His comment succinctly summarizes what many researchers, business people and politicians think today.  Whether it is technological devices, new creative businesses and forms of financing, entrepreneurship (a euphemism we often use for creativity), or new products, our business community believes that creativity is the way out of our current morass.  It is not accidental that we often refer to our modern economy as creative.
Politics is another area where many feel creative ideas are badly needed.   There is a general sense that the defeat of the Democratic Party in the last elections was due largely to the lack of new ideas.  This defeat and the election of Donald Trump are vivid proofs that we cannot renew our society and solve our problems by simply replicating the New Deal.
America has been phenomenally successful.  It is hard to beat success.  Many have hoped and still hope that our current problems are aberrations and that they will eventually dissipate.  The election of Donald Trump is a wake-up call.  It is a warning:  we must re-invent and renew our civilization.  The consequences of the failure to do so may be dire.  We will not achieve our professed goal of emancipation and will lose our cherished values and ideals.  And there is no guarantee that someone else will follow in our steps.
The growing demand for creativity and creative solutions is a sign of our time.  The fact that many people think that creativity is the answer to our problems is not a definitive proof that it is so but it does tell us something.  It signals the emergence of a new paradigm in which the process of creation is the main principle for organizing our social practices and institutions.  This change does not mean that we will place less value on equilibration.  On the contrary, the paradigm that emphasizes the process of creation will include and conserve both equilibration and the production of disequilibrium as particular operations in the more general and broader framework that recognizes and uses both as two integral aspects of the process of creation.
Many current problems that we face as a civilization are related to this emerging paradigm shift.  These problems are not the sign of some fundamental flaw in our civilization, announcing its imminent collapse.  Rather, they are indications of progress. They signal that we have outlived the old paradigm and are now capable of creating problems that we still lack the capacity to solve.  They tell us that our current state of knowledge and understanding is profoundly deficient.  This is a clear indication that we need to embrace the new organizing principle and reshape our society.
Indeed, there may and will be legitimate questions about the new paradigm.  Doubts and criticisms are important in our exploration of new ideas and approaches.  One should stress, however, that the new paradigm is not about some final solution.  It is about opening space for possibilities and creativity.
Few have doubt about the benefits that human creativity brings.  Creativity is the most important and infinite resource at our disposal.  So far we have not been using this resource very efficiently and that is the main source of our problems.  Let’s take, as an example, our environmental problems.  The source of these problems is not our production.  It is the fact that our production is inefficient.  How do we describe an economy that wastes its most valuable resource?  We describe it as inefficient.  We waste our most important resource—our creative potential.  One can see this waste, for example, in unemployment, in the prevalence of top-down managerial practices that severely limit creativity.  These examples show that despite all claims to the contrary, our economy is wasteful and inefficient.  An inefficient economy always lacks resources.  And when resources are lacking, the first thing to go is so-called externalities and environmental sinks.  We can clean our environment.  We can eliminate pollution.  We just lack resources to do so.  And we lack resources because we waste them, particularly our most important one–our capacity to create.  Human creativity is not just one of the available resources; it is our most important and infinite resource.
The transition to the new paradigm requires that we clearly articulate the new organizing principle and its implications.  Failure to do so will make the process of adaptation much more difficult or it may not even succeed.  And if we do not adapt to this progress, we will find ourselves at odds with the evolution that we have ourselves initiated; and the longer we take to adapt the wider the gap is going to be between the complexity of new problems and our capacity to solve them; the more severe the consequences of this gap will be in terms of human suffering and losses.
In order to adapt to the rapidly evolving new conditions, we need to change our social practices and institutions.  We must adopt the process of creation as the main organizing principle of our civilization. The achievement of this goal will require a better understanding of the process of creation in all its aspects.  Our social practice and institutions must integrate all aspects of the process of creation and, first and foremost, the close and complementary relationship between equilibration and the production of disequilibrium.
So, what are the distinct features of the process of creation and how will they affect our social practices and institutions?  There is still a great deal that we need to understand about the process of creation.  However, some definitive features emerge from the preceding discussion.
The first thing to understand about the process of creation is that, by its very nature, it is inclusive.  There are several ways of understanding and practicing inclusion.  One way is to merge all individual parts into one whole, depriving each of any autonomy.  Totalitarian rule is a good example of such inclusion.  Aggregations are another form of inclusion where individuals are essentially isolated and only nominally connected with each other.  We also often practice inclusion by seeking consensus.  This form of inclusion emphasizes commonalities and seeks either to diminish or even suppress differences.
The process of creation puts the main emphasis on differences, not commonalities.  The inclusion and integration of differences is the source of creation.  We often understand such inclusion as love because love is the most complete and uncompromising form of inclusion.  Love presupposes the inclusion of the difference that the included individual can bring—the difference empowers us and helps conserve and sustain our own difference.
The inclusion and equilibration of differences gives rise to new and more powerful levels of organization that conserve differences as their specific cases, that is, cases that are valid under specific conditions or assumptions.  In his study of the emergence of symbolic thinking Piaget has demonstrated how the integration of seemingly incommensurable sensory-motor functions (for example, seeing and hearing) creates mental images that represent a totally different level of organization.  We can “hear” and “see” such images even when the objects they represent are not present before us.
The process of creation itself is, first and foremost, the process of inclusion of differences as it integrates equilibration and the production of disequilibrium—the two very dissimilar operations—as its two particular aspects.  As local interactions equilibrate differences, a new level of organization emerges.  Since this level includes all differences, it offers more possibilities than local interactions do; hence its greater power.  More powerful levels of organization give rise to more powerful forms.  By adapting to the more powerful global level, local interactions enrich themselves and increase their power.  Since they change, they need to re-equilibrate with each other in order to conserve themselves, thus opening a new cycle in the process of creation.
The inclusive nature of the process of creation points to an important social dimension.  The fact that it requires interactions that integrate differences makes the process of creation an intrinsically social process.  As such, it is the main source of human sociability and the main reason for the emergence of human society and civilization.
The emergence of new levels of organization is the essence of the process of creation.  What emerges in the course of equilibration is a new property that cannot be observed in local interactions.  The combination itself represents a new global property that is not present at the local level as it carries within it a negation that opens space for new possibilities, thus making it a genuine case of creation in the sense in which we understand this word.
New and more powerful levels of organization give rise to new ideas, theories, approaches, and methods that enrich our capacity to understand the world in which we live.  They allow us to identify new aspects of reality, establish new and more diverse one-to-one correspondences between our mental constructs and reality, and invent new ways of relating to and using reality.  In other words, the process of creation has an important cognitive dimension:  it produces knowledge.  In a very real sense, the process of creation—not just equilibration as in the current approach to knowledge production, but also including the production of disequilibrium—is the source of our knowledge.
In order to include differences, we must acknowledge them.  The acknowledgement of differences requires a broad recognition of autonomy, both one’s own and that of the other.  The recognition of and respect for autonomy constitutes the foundation of morality and moral values.  Thus the process of creation has an important moral dimension that is integral to it.
The inclusion of differences also involves their validation.  Each included difference enriches the whole.  By validating differences we recognize that every individual who bears a difference is capable of sustaining and enriching the common process of creation.  In other words, the process of creation involves the affirmation of the individual and his or her agency.
The act of affirming one’s agency creates a sense of pleasure and is the source of gratification. Gratification represents the basis for aesthetic experiences and, thus, is the source of aesthetic values and sensibilities.  Therefore, there is another important dimension integral to the process of creation—an aesthetic dimension.  The involvement in the process of creation affirms one’s agency.  It empowers the individual and is the source of gratification.  The process of creation constitutes the basis for our aesthetic experience and gives rise to our aesthetic values and sensibilities.
Thus, there are four very important dimensions to the process of creation:  social, cognitive, moral, and aesthetic.  Although they are different and autonomous from each other, they are all integral to the process of creation.  Their close interrelationship is essential for creation.
The above considerations have important implications for our institutions and practices.  We must embrace not only equilibration but also the production of disequilibrium; that is, we should not fear the emergence of new, more inclusive and, consequently, more powerful levels of organization that give rise to new and more powerful ideas, theories, and perspectives; we must learn to recognize and embrace such new levels of organization.
Also, the inclusive nature of the process of creation that involves the recognition of autonomy and agency require that our institutions and social practices should be broadly open and democratic.  There are many ways in which we understand and practice democracy.  Some focus on rights and freedoms, others emphasize laws and procedures, still others consider elections and voting as the most essential aspect of democratic practice.  All these approaches to democracy are deeply rooted in the anthropocentric principles we use in organizing our civilization.  The anthropocentric frame of our civilization marginalizes the production of disequilibrium and, for this reason, is limiting.  The existing democratic systems tend to emphasize consensus over the genuine inclusion of differences, that is, the type of inclusion that integrates all differences and creates new and more powerful levels of organization.  The marginalization of differences gives way to exclusion and ultimately to domination and elite rule.
The process of creation presupposes an uncompromising emphasis on inclusion of differences.   For this reason, making the process of creation the central organizing principle of our practices and institutions requires a new concept of democracy.  The inclusive form of democracy cannot be consensus-oriented, as consensus seeks to minimize differences.  Rather, it should seek to include and empower all differences.  The new concept of democracy calls for universal empowerment.
There are several participatory approaches toward democracy that emphasize universal empowerment.  However, they all without exception understand universal empowerment in negative terms:  as the absence of hierarchies.  The conception of democratic practice organized around the process of creation is a positive one.  It views universal empowerment in terms of universal access and participation in the process of creation; it seeks a maximal utilization of the creative potential of every individual.
The process of creation is not limited to any particular sphere but is fundamental to all human practices.  For this reason, the universal empowerment that the process of creation requires is not applicable exclusively to politics or some other individual sphere.  Rather, it is relevant to all spheres of life—politics, business, culture, education, production of knowledge, science, technology, and others.
As has been stated, the process of creation works on inclusion of differences.  The more differences it integrates the more powerful level of organization we can create. Exclusion of any kind diminishes our common creative potential and power.  Therefore, the desired goal is the inclusion of all differences and universal empowerment.
The idea of universal empowerment raises questions as to the role of hierarchies and leadership.  Many theorists of egalitarian democracy voice their objections to the continued existence of hierarchies that, in their view, pose a threat to universal empowerment and democratic decision-making.  One cannot simply dismiss these objections given the role that hierarchies and elites have often played in human history, limiting or eliminating altogether a broad participation in decision-making.
The process of creation gives rise to new and more powerful levels of organization.  The presence of the power differential signals the emergence of a hierarchical structure.   This emerging hierarchical structure is created by local interactions and thus its emergence conserves and optimizes what has been created at the local level.  Hence, the process of creation inevitably involves the rise of hierarchies and hierarchical interactions.  Hierarchies have a legitimate role to play in creative and democratic practice.
As has been pointed out earlier, the process of creation includes both equilibration and the production of disequilibrium.  Equilibration is associated with non-hierarchical interactions, while disequilibrium is the condition for the existence of hierarchical interactions.  Although equilibration and the production of disequilibrium are very different from each other, they are, as has been emphasized earlier, perfectly compatible and, in fact, their close complementary relationship is essential for the process of creation.  The compatibility and complementarity of equilibration and the production of disequilibrium suggests that hierarchical and non-hierarchical interactions are also perfectly compatible, complementary, and productive; and that both are essential for the process of creation.
In the creative process, hierarchical interactions are not about giving commands and controlling their execution.  The task of the emerging global level of organization is to conserve and optimize what has been created by local interactions.  Conservation requires the integration of the global and the local level.  Such integration is essential for continued creation.  It requires the adaptation of local interactions to the global level.
Due to power differential between the two levels, those at the local level cannot easily adapt to the global level since they have difficulties observing it.  If they have to adapt on their own, such adaptation will take a great deal of time and effort.  By contrast, those located at the global level can easily observe both the global and the local level of interactions.  They are in a position to facilitate the adaptation and thus advance the overall process of creation.
In order to adapt to the more powerful global level, those involved in local interactions must have access to and understand what goes on at the global level.  Understanding requires a common language.  Thus, translating global operations into the terms of local interactions will immensely facilitate the process of adaptation.  Those located at the global level are in a position to perform such translation since they can observe both levels simultaneously.  The translation requires the invention of a common frame that includes both the local and the global level as its particular cases.  The invention of such frame is a creative act that involves reflective coding.  It also sets the parameters for a new level of organization.
The translation of global operations into the terms of local interactions enormously facilitates and accelerates the adaptation.  The adaptation changes and enriches local interactions.  The re-equilibration of these enriched local interactions completes the creation of a new level of organization, which opens a new cycle in an infinite process of creation.
Thus, embracing the process of creation as the main organizing principle of our social practices and institutions involves a balanced relationship between hierarchical and non-hierarchical interactions and a new conception of leadership and the role of leaders.
In this new approach, both hierarchical and non-hierarchical interactions play an essential role in the common task of creating new levels and forms of organization.  Those at the global level and those at the local level are part of the same process.  Their relationship does not involve a command-control mode.  Rather, one could characterize it as cooperation and partnership in a common creative enterprise.
The above discussion provides some general idea about the effects that the adoption of the process of creation as the main organizing principle of our civilization will have on our practices and institutions.  They will have to become open, inclusive, and broadly democratic.  They will also have to maintain a constant balance between hierarchical and non-hierarchical interactions, with those at the global level and those at the local level forming a partnership in the common creative enterprise.
Much work will have to be done in creating and perfecting specific forms that these new practices and institutions will take.  The designing and implementing these new forms will require efforts and ingenuity of many individuals.  The new practices and institutions will have to engage and enhance the creative potential of every individual and ensure its full utilization.
Education will be an important part of this transformation.  Our educational practice should do a lot more that just provide some opportunities for students to be creative.  The process of creation should form the very basis of the philosophy and methodology of our education.  Education should ensure that what goes on in classrooms in a very direct way exposes students to the process of creation. Students should learn the principles and acquire the habits and skills required to participate and involve others in this process.
In contrast to other organizing principles, including the anthropocentric ones that dominate our civilization, the process of creation is inclusive.  Because it operates on inclusion, the process of creation is open-ended.  It does not presuppose any finite form that our civilization should take.  Rather, it makes possible the infinite creation of new possibilities and new forms that may be required to accommodate future, still unknown stages in the evolution of our civilization.