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It would be very difficult to get an argument over whether the earth is round or flat. We have had over five centuries to get used to the idea that the earth is a sphere (mostly).

It is something so basic to our understanding of reality that we hardly ever have to think about it. When we are at very high altitude we may be able to see the curvature of the earth. Or when we plan a very long-distance trip, we use a great circle route, the shortest distance between two points on a sphere but a curve on a flat map. The rest of the time, it doesn't matter to our ordinary
experience whether the world is a sphere.

For four of the last five centuries, we have gotten used to the idea that our universe is orderly, understandable, predictable and controllable. With the acceptance of Isaac Newton's laws of nature, the world view that all is knowable, predictable and controllable has been as second nature as our confidence in the earth being round. English poet Alexander Pope was moved by Newton's accomplishments to write the famous epitaph:

Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said "Let Newton be" and all was light.

For the last hundred years, led by quantum physics, we have learned that the universe is only partly orderly, knowable, predictable and controllable. Only partly!

This idea is so radical that even a century after its discovery, most people still hold the view of a largely action-reaction universe. We want to believe that all is knowable, predictable, controllable.

Yet it is easier to go through life ignoring that we live on a sphere than it is to go a week without running into the unknown, unanticipated, uncontrollable and the random. And because we do not have a deep
understanding of this aspect of our universe, we try to cram these events into
the models of action-reaction that Newton gave us.

The IdeaFestival in Louisville at the beginning of October, 2010, held a really illuminating panel discussion around the question of whether creativity be taught. The discussion was all about the tension between craft and art, old science and new science, but the polarity was never named. As a result, the ideas went every direction at once without ever landing in a framework.

The duality got spoken early by one of the panelists who proclaimed strong convictions that creativity could be taught and then, in the next breath, the belief that it can't really be taught. He was in the middle of the polarity without seeing it.

We need to be able to hold the tension between two models of our universe:

Craft and Old Science

Art and New Science

Completely orderly, causal and controllable

Partly orderly, causal and controllable,
also partly random and acausal











Discipline, structure, practice

During the course of the discussion, all of the elements of the two models in the table above got mentioned, either as single elements or as incoherent parts of an unclear whole. Because the two models had been conflated into a single undifferentiated whole, the conversation and many
of the participants remained mired in confusion or tunnel vision.

The unspoken point seemed to be that there are two sides to promoting creativity and they are both critical and the each need to approached with separate understandings.

In my view, the Craft/Old Science side of the table can be taught - in the traditional, pedagogical use of the term. And some of us will learn faster and easier than others of us because we are inclined in that direction. I call that inclination aptitude.

The Art/New Science side of the table does not lend itself to direct instruction. We must create the conditions for it to thrive by nurturing it, offering opportunities for its application, and recognizing its contributions. I call the inclination in this direction talent. These words are more or less arbitrary and I offer them merely as ways to label the two different inclinations.

The highest levels of achievement will come from conditions where both the craft and art are highly developed. Discipline, structure and practice is required for each.

Creativity is a both a surrogate for and a component of innovation and the capacity for making fundamental change. There is both a craft and an art to changing the world. And those of us who want to innovate and make change have to master both.

It is much harder when the only view we hold is the craft/old scientific, even for scientists. The scientific method that dominated 20th century thought only allows for that which can be proven and repeatedly proven. It is a simple method that makes no allowance for the reality that at a fundamental level, our lives exhibit a large degree of randomness.

Even if our universe is three parts causal to just one part random and acausal, exclusive reliance on the Newtonian scientific method would be a deeply flawed way of working in the world. It precludes
randomness, insight, intuition and moments of acausal action that will be part
of the disruptive, large scale shifts that occur. Much of lives is shaped and formed by intuition, by moments of synchronicity, by completely random behavior. The idea that is so radical and strange about quantum mechanics is that quanta of light act as though they are aware of their own being. What does that piece of knowledge do to our conviction that everything is under our control?

Human thought may be three parts causal to one part acausal. A quarter of human thought may be completely creative, original, and not the result of prior experience.

In times when we need the creative and original to cope with the rapid pace of change, the loss of effectiveness and trust in social institutions, the erosion of our social compact, and the degradation of our planet, it becomes imperative for us to learn a post Newtonian understanding of our world and to nurture the art of change.

Take away learning:

Order and uncertainty, causality and acausality exist in tension simultaneously. We need to learn to see, understand and work in both. We work in the space where order and chaos meet.

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