Mind, Thinking & Creativity – Concept Note

Project on Mind, Thinking & Creativity

Human beings are conscious creators. The development of the diverse faculties of the thinking mind has been the central driving force for the evolution of humanity from its primordial animal origins and for all the achievements of human history, civilization and culture. Mind is the basis for humanity’s extraordinary capacity for discovery, invention, innovation, organizational development, conception, imagination and every other form of creativity. It is the source of all the creations of our art and science. It is also the source of the creative actions that form the basis for human accomplishments in all fields. Yet for all our knowledge and achievements, mind itself remains a mystery. For all our mental creativity, how little we understand about the creative processes that govern the way we think.

The human mind is itself evolving. Looking back to ancient times we find evidence of the progressive development of different types of thinking. The capacity for acute observation of nature, coordination and association, and discovery of causal relationships led to the invention of agriculture and the birth of civilization. The capacity for symbolism led to the development of art, religion, verbal and written languages, and the use of numbers. The development of intuitive metaphysical insights into the nature of reality reached its acme in Ancient India during the time of the Upanishads. The formulation of rule-based thinking led to the emergence of ideas and theories based on logical reasoning in Hellenic Greece, China and Egypt. Mathematical thinking developed rapidly after the invention of the Hindu numerals, the concept of zero and the decimal system. Analytic thinking based on the study of physical nature led to development of modern science during the Enlightenment and the remarkable discoveries of the following four centuries. During the 20th century, paradigm changing discoveries such as Relativity and Quantum theory, the increasing size and complexity of modern industrial society, advances in telecommunications and computing, the globalization of financial markets and economies, development of the internet and artificial intelligence, and the impact of human behavior on the ecosystem spurred the development of new types of thinking under various names such as cybernetics, systems thinking, holistic thinking, ecological thinking, complexity and chaos. 

Each stage in the further development of humanity’s mental capacities has led to new discoveries and also to the development of new mental capacities. The human mind is not only creative. It is self-organizing and self-creativeA full understanding and utilization of our creative mental powers also requires a knowledge of the limitations of those powers, for our capacity for knowledge and certitude remains far from perfect. Each stage in the development of mind has generated new types of knowledge that have eliminated earlier forms of error, misconception and superstition. Yet the limitations of each type of thinking have also led in turn to generating new types of errors, misconceptions and superstitions generating new types of problems. We human beings like to regard ourselves as rational animals, yet there are considerable limits to our rationality.

Our mental evolution is far from complete. The plethora of problems that confront humanity today are evidence that we have yet to develop our mental capacities to the level at which they can fully comprehend the complexity and integrality of life. And there is no reason to believe we have exhausted the evolutionary potentials of mental consciousness. We already find expressions of higher powers of mind in the discoveries and creativity of great thinkers, artists and other forms of genius. Abundant testimony by great scientists confirms that their creative discoveries were the result of intuitive rather than rational processes. There was a time five centuries ago when the mere capacity to read and write was widely regarded as a sign of genius. Higher education was long considered something beyond the ability of all but a few gifted human beings. In 1861 only a single PhD degree was awarded in the USA. Today more than 60,000 are awarded annually. Could it be that a time will come when the remarkable powers we associate with great names such as Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Galileo, Newton, Napoleon, Beethoven, Einstein, Ramanujam and other creative human beings will become widespread?

This project is a creative exploration of the evolutionary development of our creative capacity for thinking, knowing, and accomplishing. It is an endeavor to REDISCOVER the marvelous capacities of mind as humanity has originally discovered, developed and applied them. It is intended to enhance ourcapacity for rational, relevant, effective, independent and creative thinking, problem-solving, decision making and accomplishment. It seeks to impart both conceptual understanding and practical ability. It offers both theoretical knowledge as well as a variety of practical methods to expand our mental horizons and creativity.  It aims to increase conscious awareness and understanding of how the human mind works, its various faculties, powers and undeveloped potentialities, the characteristic types of thinking mind employs along with their strengths and limitations. It strives to broaden the range and enhance the quality of thinking by making conscious the implicit assumptions and barriers that confine it within narrow boundaries and the characteristic types of errors and omissions they give rise to.