Creativity, passion and mission
I was asked by my colleagues to write and to present our work in Psychophonetics and Methodical Empathy through the topic of:
‘Creativity, Passion and Mission’.
I agreed to do it, before I realised what a huge task this presents me with both as a practitioner of personal development and as a philosopher and a historian. In my preparatory research I had to confront the huge gulf separating
the philosophy underlying personal development from the underlying philosophy of the prevailing mainstream natural science,
which also dominates social and psychological sciences.
I had to confront the reality that the Cartesian (Rene Descartes 1596-1650) assumption of the universe as a huge mechanical, impersonal clockwork and the Darwinian (Charles Darwin 1809-1882) assumption of natural selection
as the only explanation of biological evolution – are totally dominant
in what is considered scientific and even logical today.
I also had to confront the fact that these scientific theories are not
compatible with the possibility of consciously chosen personal development.
I believe the difference between these two approaches is not based on logical, scientific or philosophical differences, but on choices of one’s world view:
the ontological assumption about the nature of being.
Fundamentally, for the purpose of this article,
I reduced the essence of these two approached as follows:
1) The Causality approach to reality, namely:
everything can be explained by past causes that lead inevitably to present situation: genes, instincts, environmental influences, mutation, survival of the fittest, natural selection, coincidence, or
2) the Teleological approach to reality, namely:
everything can be explained by future intentions and purpose, the movement towards which organises existent elements into a functional form.
Teleology is the explanation of phenomena in terms of
the purpose they serve rather than the cause of which they arise.
The doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.
Teleology is a reason or explanation for something as a function of its end, purpose, or goal (from Wikipedia).
Notable teleologically inclined philosophers include:
In antiquity Plato and Aristotle; in the early modern era G.W.F. Hegel, Wolfgang Goethe, Gottlieb Fichte, Franz Brentano; Friedrich Nietzsche;
in the 20th century Carl Marx, Rudolf Steiner, Alasdair MacIntyre, Thomas Nagel. For instance, Aristotle claimed that
an acorn's intrinsic telos is to become a fully grown oak tree.
In order to be intellectually clear and honest I hereby acknowledge
my philosophical position at the start:
I live, by choice, on the assumption that human life and nature’s life are fundamentally teleological – driven by intelligent purpose.
This is considered very un-scientific today, as it has been, with some exceptions, throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, and still today.
Yet the teleological approach cannot be completely dismissed from both biology and human sciences, as so much of observable reality
can only be explained by purposeful drive.
Look for example at a car moving on the road:
the car is designed for a purpose, built for purpose, purchased for a purpose, driven by a conscious driver with the purpose to arrive from point A to point B. Without purpose the movement of the car on the road cannot be explained.
Yet teleology is considered unscientific.
As the biologist John Haldane (1892-1964) once said:
"Teleology is like a mistress to a biologist: he cannot live without her but he's unwilling to be seen with her in public."
So to me teleology is a wife, not a mistress,
and I am going to be seen with her in public:
I am going to speak about Creativity, Passion and Mission
from the teleological point of view.
Let us look first at Creativity.
Unlike animals the human race is an unfinished creation.
We are still being created, primarily by ourselves.
Leave animals alone in natural and come to visit them hundreds or thousands of years later – and they have not changed. Their creation is already completed. Leave a group of human beings alone for 10 years and come to visit them later – and you will find that everything has changed in the way
they live, interact and govern themselves.
Our creation is not completed, that much is clear by
any observation of human history.
We evolve, not only by environmental pressures from outside –
but by our own inherent tendency to evolve.
It seems that the only constant element in human life is change itself.
There exist some special faculties
in the Grey Matter of the Neocortex of the Cerebral Cortex of the Cerebrum,
the major part of the human brain, which makes us humans a unique species: we can reflect, create mental pictures of our sense experiences,
retain them as memory, access them at will and create out of them
new possibilities in our interaction with nature and each other,
that have not existed before.
In other words: we constantly change as a result of our inherent creativity and we create new realities all the time.
That is our very nature, what makes us human.
What exactly is the physiological foundation that
enables this creative human capacity – is still a matter of discussion, but
the function of it is self evident.
Some early 19th and 20th century psychologists claimed that
the essential difference that makes us uniquely human is not physiologically based at all, but inherently mental or spiritual in nature:
Gottlieb Fichte, founder of German Idealism,
identified the essential human faculty of cognition
with the human ‘I’ as an independent being;
Franz Brentano, founder of modern ‘Intentionality’,
claimed the independent nature of the mind, and
Edmond Husserl, founder of Phenomenology which claims that
“the essential opinion of the phenomenon’ can be known to the thinker. According to them the human mind acts through the human physical apparatus, but is not essentially identified with it.
We humans are creators. This is not just what we do, it is who we are!
Down to our brain function and structure.
What is the cause and what is the effect is hard to tell:
are we creative beings because of our unique brain structure –
or is our brain structure a result of the creative activities that we do?
Genetics or Epigenetics?
What is not in dispute is that we human constantly re-creating ourselves and our civilization, and that is also applied to human work.
In fact – that is human work:
a conscious change in the given circumstances, natural or human.
No other animal is doing work:
they survive according to given and repeatable pattern
which are ingrained in their instinctive structure and body.
We do that also – acting for survival and following our given instinct.
But what we call work is a result of consciously applying reflection, cognition and creativity to our interaction with nature and with each other.
Work is not given by nature and by instinct.
Work has to be consciously created
from the simplest craft work to rocket science,
from learning basic language to cutting edge research,
from first aid to brain surgery.
Without human creativity there is no human work.
Obviously some of us are more creative than others:
we do not just fulfill given functions and expectations but
we create completely new possibilities
for what we do with ourselves, with our relationships and with work.
But I would name it like this:
we all have the ‘creativity genes’ but some of us access
the human creative potential more than others.
Those who do not use their creativity consciously become in time frustrated,
as the potential for creativity is not used to its full capacity.
That unused potential creative energy, when left un-used –
can make us progressively sick:
un-used living energy starts to work against you, and it becomes toxic.
So to be a healthy human being you have to be a creative human being:
‘homo sapiens faber’.
The term ‘Homo Sapiens’: The ‘Wise Man’, the scientific zoological name for the human beings of the past 300,000 years, was created by Carl Linnaeus,
the great Swedish botanist and zoologist in 1758.
But the term ‘Homo faber’, the creator human being or the architect human being - is much older definition of the human race,
going back to the Athenian statesman Appius Claudius Caecus
in the 4th Century BC who wrote in his book Senentae:
“Homo faber suae quisque fortunae” meaning: ‘every man is the architect of his own destiny’.
Homo Faber was used by Renaissance Humanists and later philosophers like Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, Hanna Arendt,
Max Sheller, Henri Bergson and Umberto Eco.
It refers to man’s ability to control his destiny, to create tools,
to create art, science and civilization.
Let us now look at Passion and its relationship to creativity.
What makes the difference
between not using our creative potential and using it – is passion.
Passion is the fire within the human soul that keeps us moving.
Nothing creative can happen without passion igniting it.
The term passion today embrace the combined meaning of vitality, energy, desire, motivation, enthusiasm and will.
Until the 13th century it was a term for suffering (see The Passion of Christ).
But something changed and from the 14th century
it was extended to include the Greek term Pathos: intense feelings.
From the late 16th Century it grew to include sexual love and
from the 17th century it started to include enthusiasm (Online etymological dictionary).
It is defined today as:
‘A very powerful feeling, for example of sexual attraction, love, hate, anger, or other emotion’ (Cambridge dictionary).