Four “Required” Conditions for Creative Interchange (CI) – Part IV



Overview and Context Setting

This document continues to morph in the process of being written. The basic structure for differentiating the creative interchange (CI) process remains the same. Dr. Henry Nelson Wieman identified the process a little over 100 years ago and I became a part of his work 50 years ago. Henry focused on four characteristics of the process. The four characteristics include; 1) Interchange, currently called Authentic Interacting, 2) Appreciative Understanding, 3) Integration, currently called Creative Integrating and 4) Transformation, currently called, Continual Transformation. The four CI characteristics have been described in greater detail previously.

My work since 1966 has been to research and discover conditions, that when present, facilitate the CI characteristics. My search has been motivated by the notion of finding the 20% that makes the 80% difference in facilitating the process. The four underlying conditions are; A) Awareness, B) Appreciation, C) Creation and D) Commitment/Motivation.

Creation (Creative Cognition)

CI condition C acts as catalyst for transforming, integrating and stabilizing CI characteristics 1) Authentic Interacting, 2) Appreciative Understanding and 4) Continual Transforming. Condition C Creation provides data and information for trans-forming and expanding the created self. It enables Characteristic 3 (Creative Integrating) in deconstructing, reconfiguring, reconstructing and stabilizing the created self. It makes information and knowledge from conditions A Awareness and B Appreciation adaptable, usable and practical. It does this by generating a cognitive and affective environment for ideas, images, feelings, information and knowledge can be transfigured and reconfigured creatively in awareness, uncertainty, curiosity, ambiguity, absurdity and appreciation.

Such creative diverging, converging and emerging result in a creative interchange that initiates, builds, reinvents and revitalizes the created self. It is a process of disconnecting and reconnecting creatively. The word connecting comes from the Latin, con, together + nectere, to bind, to join and to fasten together. Data, information and knowledge can be connected in any number of ways. The intention and context in which it is connected determines its interpretation and meaning for the created self. This is why the same word in one context means one thing to one person and something quite different for another. This means what makes perfect sense and is logical in the mental model of one person can be perceived as nonsense and illogical in another’s. Such differences become the basis for disagreeing, polarizing, and conflicting. 

How long it takes to integrate and internalize new information and knowledge is a function of intention, appreciation, attention, focus and repetition. The CI process is accelerated or compromised by one’s capacity to creatively integrate diverging, converging, reconfiguring and emerging ideas, images, interpretations and meanings. If condition B Appreciation and A/B [the entanglement of conditions A Awareness and B Appreciation] are rigid and resistant to change due to fear of ambiguity, uncertainty and absurdity, the created self will resist “letting go” and “going with the flow.

A variety of rationalizations can be generated to defend and maintain the status quo. This occurs when people are invested in being “right” and/or remaining safe in their comfort zone. The need to be “right” is averse to being changed. The change is perceived as “wrong” or harmful. Most people fail to see any sense, reason or logic in being vulnerable to being wrong. Assuming correctness is preferable to risking being wrong.

Linear Thinking

Linear thinking is “straight” line thinking. The lines become boundaries for defining the limits of our mental models. Straight-line thinking is often referred to as in-the-box-thinking. It defines what many refer to as their “comfort zone.” As stated above, there is no single way of connecting data and putting it in-formation and inventing knowledge. Linear reasoning involves sequential thinking, where ideas are assumed to follow one another in a logical progression.

It produces a sense of cause-and-effect between thoughts, beliefs, values and perceptions. Such thinking is assumed to be rational, logical and “factual”. Ideas, beliefs, values, et al become true or false, fact or fiction, logical or illogical, rational or irrational. This is the basis for “either/or” thinking. It is dualistic and subject/object oriented. It becomes the primary way of thinking for the created self.

With such a choice, more and less become more or less, agree and disagree become agree or disagree. The same goes for right/wrong, good/bad. The preference to be right has a significant impact on cognitive function. Judgments become final, sides are taken, win or lose competitiveness becomes dominate and things like cooperation and collaboration are compromised. CI is obstructed.

At this point people, ideas and events are separated and disconnected from one another. This separation forms the boundaries for “in-the-box-thinking.” People, things and situations are either in-the-box “or” out-of-the-box. A judgment is made that something or someone is a threat or a benefit. Clear lines of division are drawn and sides can be taken. The basis for polarization, argumentation and conflict are established.

Linear thinking can be inductive and/or deductive. Inductive thinking moves from part-to-whole, from the specific toward the general and from concrete to abstract. It moves from information toward anticipation and prediction. Inductive thinking is related to the word induce, which in its Indo-European root deuk- means to lead, to pull, and to draw out. It is a pursuit of discovering the further implications of an idea or perspective. Inductive reasoning and logic assume a causal relationship between one part or fact and the next in the sequence. It is cause-and-effect thinking that is moves from part-to-part and part-to-whole.

Deductive thinking, on the other hand, moves from whole-to-part, from theory to observation and from the wider toward the narrower, from the abstract to the concrete. It is assumed there is a cause-and-effect relationship that provides continuity from whole-to-part, as well as, part-to-part. Like inductive thinking, deductive thinking defines the structure and boundaries of our mental models. It provides guidelines for the narratives and stories we construct to explain and rationalize our findings, values, beliefs and meanings.

The combination of beliefs and narratives outline our current understanding of who we are, who others are and how situations are defined and understood. These stories become the content of our “box,” “mental model,” “paradigm” or frame of reference. Our boxes or everyday perspectives act as filters for our meaning making. In-the-box thinking is the basic way we live our day-to-day lives. It provides the borders of our consciousness. It becomes our created self. Parents, relatives, educators, peers and social media are the primary providers of our cause-and-effect-in-the-box-thinking self.

Nonlinear Thinking

Nonlinear thinking is thinking in straight lines, “curvy” lines and beyond lines. The lines can be any shape moving in any direction. Nonlinear includes inductive and deductive reasoning, as well as, what I call “abductive” thinking. Such thinking is thought by most people to be irrational. As a condition of CI, abductive reasoning includes metaphoric, metamorphic and “morphogenic” cognition.

Abductive thinking can be random and spontaneous. It augments reason with imagination, fact with fiction and words with images. It introduces uncertainty, ambiguity, ambivalence, absurdity, as well as, rational, non-rational and irrational cognition. It relies on “in-the-box,” “out-of-the-box” and “beyond-the-box” thinking and reasoning.

Nonlinearity uses differences and similarities to generate and create novel and original connections among data, information and current knowledge. It can use, bend, break and ignore boundaries. Such thinking supports flexibility, fluidity, flow and adaptability. It uses data and information from CI conditions A Awareness B Appreciation and A/B (entanglement of A and B) and combines and mixes them in a crucible with ambiguity, uncertainty and randomly stirs them into a myriad of shapes, sizes and options. Similarities and differences are mixed and matched, configured and reconfigured to birth new boundaries and new mental models.

Metaphorically speaking, it is where the medieval alchemist’s melting pot transmutes the lead of the old mindset into the gold of the new one. I call this process “metamorphic” cognition. It transforms thinking, feeling, remembering and anticipating into “holistic” or “synergistic” cognition. Such thinking is natural in healthy children. They have the capacity and ability to put on different mental models without becoming attached exclusively to any one of them. It is the place where their creative self and emerging created self-interface.

It is the place where play and work come to dance, embrace and enrich each other. It is where “either/or” and “both/and” are complimentary. It is the realm where the unconditional, “what if,” “just suppose,” “why not” and “I wish” are normative. There is no threat of ought or should. It is where potentiality, possibility and choice converge to energize and motivate creating, learning and expressing. It is the space of holistic and synergistic cognition.

Holistic Thinking

Creative holistic thinking promotes a unique and seamless process of divergent, convergent and emergent cognition interchange. It is the creative and created self resonate in coherence. It is the spawning ground for the emergence of the created self within the creative self, nonduality births duality, consciousness appears in awareness, nonjudgmental differentiates judgmental, observing and perceiving embrace, intrinsic worth gives way to extrinsic esteem, feeling morphs into emotion, linear takes preference over nonlinear thinking and non-striving dissolves into striving. It is the home of paradox and paradigm. For the small child it is where “pre-box-thinking,” innate life learning, trust, openness, curiosity, embracing ambiguity, creativity, interdependence and tenacity meet the confining characteristics of cultural and social conditioning and shaping.

Speaking metaphorically, as some scientists are suggesting, our moon was ripped from the earth in a catastrophic event so our adaptive consciousness was conditioned away from our original holistic awareness. It is where the CI process encounters its earliest disruption. Holistic thinking is metamorphic “beyond-the-box-thinking.” It transcends and uses both linear and nonlinear cognition. Such thinking approximates the “fuzzy logic” and the disambiguation process used by computers when making an Internet search. The connections between data, information, knowledge, people, things and events become simultaneous and Omni-directional.

Today many physicists accept that, “everything-is-related-to-everything.”

As far as we know, the human capacity to relate anything to everything uses linear, nonlinear and holistic cognition without known limits. This supports Wieman’s contention “that the human mind is capable of indefinite expansion in the range of what it can know, appreciate, [imagine] and control.” This capacity further provides a radical openness to where a single cause can have any number of effects and any effect can produce any number of causes. This raises questions about only single cause-and-effect relationships.

This suggest that information and knowledge, as we know it at any given time, is only one way, out of an indefinite number of ways, it can be configured. It suggests everything can be multi-causal and multi-effectual. This kind of radical openness leads to where awareness becomes conscious in the human brain and neurons commence generating and networking. It is literally a journey to the source of cognition as currently understood. This is where awareness and consciousness mingle and are no longer distinguishable, let alone separated.

Holistic thinking accelerates “peak experiences” and “aha moments.” It fosters wonder, adventure, experimentation, exploration, excitement and anticipation. It opens a vast area between and beyond our deepest assumptions and most cherished values and beliefs. Even our experience of time and space are altered, awareness and consciousness fuse, the abstract and concrete merge as two aspects of the same thing. It is beyond certainty and uncertainty, ambiguity and precision.

Many identify such moments with religious experience or spiritual transcendence. There is a sense of past and future converging into the NOW and a feeling of oneness, unity, and wholeness. It is the highest human experience of satisfaction. It’s been called by many names; love, peace, joy, fulfillment, bliss, happiness and the list goes on and on and on. Nevertheless, condition C (Creative Cognition) is only the beginning of the process of emergence. It initiates the convergence that morphs into emergence. It also requires commitment and motivation to complete the transformation of the adaptive created self. That requires CI condition D (Committed Motivation).