Monday, October 26, 2009

What are creative systems like?

In this blog, as I mentioned before, "Creative Systems Theory" is proposed in order to understand creative processes in a totally new way, focusing the process without the reference to psychic or social aspects. The theory suggests that creative processes are "autopoietic systems" whose elements are discoveries emerged by a synthesis of three selections: idea, association, and consequence. Before looking at the detail with terms of systems theory, I shall begin with explaining what are creative systems like?

Creative process consists of a sequence of discoveries, which include problem finding, problem solving, observation, hypothesis formation, method selection, practice, and interpretation. Creative process does not follow deterministic laws, but not also happened at random. Rather, it includes contingency. Creative process is, so to speak, autonomous and therefore historical. In order to formulate this kind of processes, I would like to apply autopoietic systems theory. Creative systems theory describes how creation is possible. This attempt is done without neither psychological reduction, like most of creative research, nor sociological reduction, like several studies of collaboration.

In order to describe the affair that creative process consists of a sequence of discoveries, I would like to suggest that creative system is an autopoietic system whose element is discovery. In the creative systems, discovery is produced by discovery based on on-going creation. The discovery is a momentary element that has no duration, so it must be reproduced constantly for realizing the creative system. Element, discovery, is an emergent unity constituted in the system, therefore system cannot received discoveries from its environment or output discoveries to its environment. In this sense, what kind of discoveries is constituted depends on the ongoing system. Thus creative system is operationally closed.

Note that discovery in this context does not imply that it is neither true nor useful. The problem here is only connectivity to further discoveries. As Sawyer pointed out about successful innovators, "They succeed by way of many small sparks, and by drawing on collaboration over time to build those sparks into something tremendous. Many of the idea turn out to be wildly off the mark, but it turns out many not-so-good ideas are needed on the way to that rare great idea."(Sawyer 2007; p.105) and indeed "Darwin's notebook show that he reached many dead ends and produced a lot of ideas that scientists now consider weird." (Sawyer 2007, p.106)

In addition, it does not matter where and how discoveries come from. It may be the result of deliberation, inspiration, or merely by accident. It may be obtained by somebody alone or collaboration by more than one person. Thus, in the viewpoint of creative systems theory, what is most important is the successive generation of discoveries, not where and how they came from. With such a standpoint, one can think the creative process itself and also the relationship of creative process to psychic or social process.

Iba, T. (2009). An Autopoietic Systems Theory for Creativity, This first conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs).
Sawyer, R.K. (2007). Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, Basic Books.

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