Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Is Creativity Opposite from Automation

The purposeful manipulation of the stages of 'preparation', 'incubation' and 'illumination' is a widespread protocol for creative output among professionals.

Human’s mind is complex, mysterious and even paradoxical; on one side, by nature, people are creative to adapt to the environment by inventing the new tools and innovating the new way to do things; on the other hand, humans are mechanical as well, that involves setting up automatic sequences (schemas) that they can invoke to get repetitive tasks accomplished. So what’s the philosophical debate about Creativity vs. Automation?

Conscious mind vs. subconscious mind: The crux of using our subconscious mind is to appreciate how different it is from our conscious mind. Conscious thinking is slower as it is primarily ready thoughts for communication, often in language. However, intuitive thinking is subconscious, fast, and effective. Using that form we perform tasks without being aware of what has been done. The complex they may be, we have learned them in sufficient detail and with sufficient repetition that we do not need much cognitive effort to perform them. The crux of using our subconscious mind is to appreciate how different it is from our conscious mind. Even though the conscious mind and subconscious mind exist in the same body, they have vastly different characteristics. Conscious mind and subconscious mind cannot be separated. And, if they do not work together, the results can be harmful.  Our conscious and subconscious thinking (rather than mind) work together. That is nature. Subconscious thinking is more efficient, but conscious thinking is more disciplined. The latter is a precursor to communicating some ideas. Our real thinking happens subconsciously so we are not aware of it happening. However, we become aware of its consequences for they appear as conscious thinking.

Schematic thinking ( via repetitive process) is the antithesis of creativity! Humans are mechanical. We tend to learn things in a series of small steps. Each step is quite simple and the link between steps is not a smooth one. Gradually this evens itself out as we learn whatever it is we are learning. Those initial steps were as they were because we use conscious thinking. We specialize in working out the way of doing things that involve the minimum (cognitive) effort. That involves setting up automatic sequences (schemas) that we can invoke to get repetitive tasks accomplished. It really doesn't matter how complex those tasks are, it matters only that they are performed regularly & repetitively. That repetitive, schematic kind of process is perhaps the antithesis of creativity because, by definition, we are not looking for alternative ways of doing things. Schematic thinking is the why creative solutions may be overlooked for years before someone views a problem or challenge in a different way - in other words, they have made the cognitive investment to look at something in a non-schematic way and come up with a creative solution.

"Automatic" and "creative" by their definitions, do not sit comfortably well with each other: When a human interactive task becomes automated, we have disconnected from our creative interaction with it. We have defaulted to mind and muscle memory. That is not to say that during this repetitive task that our subconscious capacity cannot or will not produce creative ideas for other related (or even disparate) tasks. Not at all - in fact, the more mindless the task the higher probability of subconscious disruption. To be interactively creative within a task is to suppress any automation or disembodiment, to immerse with it.

The purposeful manipulation of the stages of 'preparation,' 'incubation' and 'illumination' is a widespread protocol for creative output among professionals.The process of 'preloading' the subconscious capacity with a task (requiring a creative solution) and then deliberately distracting the conscious mind is quite common in creative industries. There seems little doubt that the corpus callosum which communicates between the two hemispheres of the brain is an important influence on creativity. It has also a miserably poor 'data rate', in other words, the two hemispheres do not communicate easily. One of the things that quite dramatically improves the data transfer rate is doing a mindless task, which may go some way to explaining why 'Ah ha moments' come when you are, for instance, going for a walk. It is not clear whether the task has to be physical (like taking the walk) or whether it could be mental, such as the repetition of the mantra during meditation. Either way, it is clear that creativity, in general, can be enhanced by performing a task, with the subject of the creative effort having nothing to do with the task.

Genuine creativity is the opposite of automation, however, understanding that our subconscious capacity to generate disparate creative associations is not exclusively associated with the conscious task at hand. The two phenomena are related, but not at the exclusion of all others.There exists a wealth of empirical and anecdotal evidence to support the understanding that one may be consciously engaged in one task, only to have the subconscious offer up into conscious thought, proposals and solutions to unrelated tasks.


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