Three Things I Learned Today About Consciousness and Creativity

1. On July 7 of this year,  a group of neuroscientists declared that all nonhuman animals, “including all mammals and birds and many other creatures, including octopuses,” are conscious. There is a signed document to this effect (The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals).

Science is catching up to the Ageless Wisdom teachings, which suggest that there is a kind of consciousness in all things—including a rudimentary consciousness in plants and minerals. I think the next thing will be to recognize that there is a difference between the brain, where everyone’s looking for consciousness, and the mind.

2. One theory of creative genius, originally proposed by psychologist Donald Sutherland and made more comprehensive by psychologist, Dean Keith Simonton, suggests that creative thought comes through a process of “blind variation and selective retention (BVSR).”

Basically it means that creative people go blindly through a lot of trial and error, trying man things to determine the idea’s usefulness. They have to generate a pile of different ideas. This, Simonton calls superfluity. Lots of ideas. Ones that ultimately won’t work.

Creative people also backtrack; this is retracing steps.

Often the two happen at the same time. Creativity isn’t linear. Neither is it circular. It’s more zigzagular. Probably not something that can be described on a piece of paper in a diagram.

3. Talent is important in cultivating genius (and extreme creativity). However, there are several other things that may be even more important:

  • pursuing an activity for its own sake—the feeling of autonomy
  • finding the activity important or of interest
  • feeling competent in your skills (which gives you confidence)