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Boundary conditions for creativity

Understanding the connection between mathematics and consciousness can help refine this art. Consciousness has a finite logical or mathematical structure. This structure does not exhaust its essence. It hardly touches on it, but it is an essential aspect of conscious experience. Mathematical limits are limits on structural possibilities and these in turn are limitations on consciousness. These limits include boundary conditions for creativity. Within those boundaries and with sufficient physical resources, consciousness can expand without limit.

There is a conceptual leap between the problem of mathematical creativity discussed in previous chapters and practical problems of creativity in our political and economic institutions. In mathematics we are dealing with logically determined systems. Real world systems are far too complex to be fully understood or characterized.

Much of practical creativity involves coping with uncertainty. There is a great practical description of this problem in Guns, Germs and Steel[18]. Jared Diamond investigates why certain cultures came to dominate the planet while others remained relatively stagnant. There were a variety of reasons, but two essential ones were diversity and concentration of resources. One needed a dynamic tradeoff between these two for modern civilization to arise. A culture dominated by a single ruling elite, like China, inevitably failed to pursue possibilities essential to future development. Similarly a region, like Africa, with so many small communities could never marshal the resources needed for certain kinds of progress. Europe presented the ideal combination of diversity and concentration of resources.

Competition and cooperation are equally essential elements of creative development. Mathematics teaches us that we must continually increase both diversity and the resources available along any given path if we are not to stagnate. It is possible to investigate this tradeoff in more detail to get tighter constraints on the balance between these two. This problem is of great practical concern in this age of globalization. The fear many have of this process is more than justified. Globalization is inevitable, but establishing the boundary conditions that do not cause creativity to stagnate in a unified planet is an an enormous practical and theoretical problem.

It is all too easy to stray outside of the region where creativity is unlimited. The current bias toward megacorporations is potentially dangerous. It focuses on concentration of resources at the price of diversity. Everyone wants the biggest guns for competing in the global free for all. As we are increasingly dominated by global institutions we must incorporate the boundary conditions for creativity in the structure of those institutions. We must understand and prohibit the conditions that will stifle creativity. We need to better understand the conditions that will cause it to flourish.


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Next: The evolution of consciousness Up: Applying mathematics to consciousness Previous: Truth is an art   Contents


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