by Marinus Jan Marijs
Sir James Jeans an English physicist, astronomer and mathematician:
Radioactive break-up appeared to be an effect without a cause, and suggested that the ultimate laws of nature were not even causal.
Jung’s synchronicity is an acausal connecting principle. In his ‘Foreword’ (Jung 1952: 419–20) Jung states that he is aiming ‘to give a consistent account of everything I have to say on this subject’. In the first chapter, ‘Exposition’ (Jung 1952: 421–58), he notes that modern physics has shown natural laws to be statistical truths and the principle of causality to be only relatively valid, so that at the microphysical (i.e., subatomic) level there can occur events which are acausal. These are:
- simply the fact of two or more events paralleling one another (the paralleling is by virtue of a shared content or meaning)
- the emotional charge or ‘numinosity’ attending the synchronicity (a source of non-rational meaning)
- the significance of the synchronicity interpreted subjectively, from the point of view of the experiencer’s personal needs and goals
- the significance of the synchronicity objectively, as the expression of archetypal meaning which is transcendental to human consciousness
Thus in synchronicities ‘one and the same (transcendental) meaning might manifest itself simultaneously in the human psyche and in the arrangement of an external and independent event’ (Jung 1952: 482). The question is whether a causal events can also be demonstrated at the macro-physical level of everyday experience.
Another example a non-causal phenomenon is the Axial period. The phrase ‘the axial age’ was coined by the existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers:
In the years centering around 500 BC
-Karl Jaspers, “The Origin and Goal of History”, 1949.
This ‘centering around 500 BC’ is seen in the diagram in figure 54. Around 500 BC the developments in Greece were tempestuous. In a very short period, logic, ethics, natural philosophy, state philosophy, aesthetics, physics, pedagogy and meta-physics emerged. These developments unfolded at a remarkable speed.
At the same time, similar events were taking place in other parts in the world. This parallelism is not only striking, but defied every explanatory hypothesis. The revolutionary developments taking place in Greece were also taking place in China, India and the Hebrews in Canaan.
These events included enormous spiritual developments. In a very short period Buddhism and Jainism were established, the great Hebrew prophets came to the foreground and in China Lao Tzu and Confucius appeared. This all happened simultaneously with the development of philosophy, mathematics, logic, science and mysticism in Greece.
Multiple independent discoveries: Historians and sociologists have remarked on the occurrence, in science, of “multiple independent discovery”. Robert K. Merton defined such “multiples” as instances in which similar discoveries are made by scientists working independently of each other.
Sometimes the discoveries are simultaneous or almost so; sometimes a scientist will make a new discovery which, unknown to him, somebody else has made years before.
Commonly cited examples of multiple independent discovery are the 17th-century independent formulation of calculus by Isaac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and others, described by A. Rupert Hall; the 18th-century discovery of oxygen by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Joseph Priestley, Antoine Lavoisier and others; and the theory of the evolution of species, independently advanced in the 19th century by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
Multiple independent discovery, however, is not limited to only a few historic instances involving giants of scientific research. Merton believed that it is multiple discoveries, rather than unique ones, that represent the common pattern in science. Merton contrasted a “multiple” with a “singleton”—a discovery that has been made uniquely by a single scientist or group of scientists working together. Merton’s hypothesis is also discussed extensively in Harriet Zuckerman’s Scientific Elite (Wikipedia).
Ervin Laszlo’s Genius Hypothesis
In the following Laszlo gives an elaborate support for his hypothesis: Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 257-267, 1994 0892-33 10194 0 1994 Society for Scientific Exploration The “Genius Hypothesis”: Exploratory Concepts for a Scientific Understanding of Unusual Creativity ERVIN LASZLO, The General evolution Research Group, 56040 Montescudaio, (Tuscuny) Italy
Unusual acts of artistic and scientific creativity – associated in the popular mind with the concept of “genius” – do not have a satisfactory explanation in terms of the cerebral or mental processes of individuals. The ‘genius hypothesis’ suggests that such acts of creativity involve an interaction between the mind of the creative individual and other minds, bent on similar creative endeavours. The interaction envisaged in the hypothesis relies on the spontaneous transmission of the crucial Einfall that catalyses the creative acts. Following the presentation of pertinent evidence culled from the fields of cultural development, scientific discovery and artistic production, the mechanism of transference is illustrated with the analogy of networked computers. It is also shown to shed light on what Jung called archetypal experience.’ The phenomenon of instantaneous spatiotemporal connectivity is not limited to human brain-minds but has counterparts in quantum physics and evolutionary biology. Its explanation poses one of the greatest challenges to the contemporary natural sciences
Do unusual acts of creativity occur in the isolation of a closed-system brain, or is that brain – and the correlated mind and consciousness – effectively interacting with other brain-minds in the creative process? Social and cultural influences on the minds of creative people are undisputed – no person is a Robinson Crusoe, least of all sensitive individuals such as artists, writers, composers and others of their kind. The question raised here concerns a more immediate and spontaneous interaction than the standardly envisaged sociocultural influences: it concerns the possibility that the minds of unusually creative people are in spontaneous, direct, though usually not conscious, interaction with other minds in the creative process itself Subtle interactions beyond the scope of sensory perception have been suggested for millennia: they are an essential part of both Eastern and Western traditional metaphysics and mysticism. In modern times many forms of ESP have been investigated in the laboratory, producing statistically significant results. “Twin pain” and image transference between emotively closely linked individuals even when physically distant is relatively well established. The transactional and transpersonal schools of psychology acknowledge the reality of spontaneous subtle interactions between the emotive and cognitive processes of individuals. Although there is as yet no definitive explanation of the way ideas or images are transferred without sensory contact, there can be little doubt that such transfers do take place. A process that is basically the same could underlie unusual acts of creativity as well. The creative product could be the result of an interaction, rather than the fully autonomous output of one individual. It may be that unusual, quasi-miraculous forms of creativity need to be traced to a confluence of interconnected creative processes, rather than to one self-contained individual. The “genius hypothesis” of interactive creativity could bring the astounding phenomena of genius closer to scientific understanding. This paper will first review the main strands of evidence relevant to the thesis of interactive creativity, and then sketch a conceptual framework capable of providing a researchable and potentially fruitful explanation of the observed facts. The Principal Strands of Evidence Cultural creativity – the collective advance of entire populations through the typical creative activity of their members – is one strand of evidence relevant to interactive creativity. In the cultural creativity of a population not only members of the same population seem to interact (that could be explicable by information transfer through standard means), but also members of distant populations appear to be in some form of contact. It appears to be a fact that parallel cultural achievements have occurred among populations that are unlikely to have seen in any standard form of communication with one another. The control of fire was an invention that occurred in distant populations more or less at the same time. Homo Erectus tended fires in various locations: At Zhoukoudien near Beijing, at Aragon in the south of France, and at Vertesszollos in Hungary. These far-flung populations could not even have known of each other’s existence, yet they appear to have evolved the art of igniting, tending and transporting fires almost simultaneously. Early cultures also developed tools of striking similarity. The Acheulian hand axe, for example, was a widespread tool of the Stone Age, and it had a typical almond or tear-shaped design carefully chipped into symmetry on both sides. In Europe the axe was made of flint, in the Middle East of chert, and in Africa of quartzite, shale, or diabase. Its basic form was functional, yet the agreement in the details of its execution in virtually all known cultures cannot be readily explained by the coincidental discovery of utilitarian solutions to shared needs – trial and error is unlikely to have produced such similarity in these distant populations. Other artifacts, too, seem to have leapt across space and time. Giant pyramids were built in ancient Egypt as well as in pre-Columbian America with remarkable agreement in design. Crafts, such as pottery-making, took much the same form in all cultures. Even the technique of making fire brought forth implements of the same basic design in different arts of the world. Although each culture added its own embellishments, Aztecs and Etruscans, Zulus and Malays, classical Indians and ancient Chinese, all fashioned their tools and built their monuments as if following a common basic pattern or “archetype.” Entire cultures have come to flower at the same time, entirely, or almost entirely, independently of each other. The great breakthroughs of classical Hebrew, Greek, Chinese and Indian culture occurred in widely scattered regions, yet they occurred practically simultaneously. The major Hebrew prophets flourished in Palestine between 750 and 500 BC; in India the early Upanishads were composed between 660 and 550 BC; Siddharta the Buddha lived from 563 to 487 BC; Confucius taught in China around 551 to 479 BC; and Socrates lived in Hellenic Greece from 469 to 399 BC. Just when the Hellenic philosophers were creating the basis of Western civilization in Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy, the Chinese philosophers were founding the ideational basis of Oriental civilization in the Confucian, Taoist and Legalist doctrines. At the same time that in the Hellas of the post-Peloponnesian wars period Plato founded his Academy and Aristotle his Lyceum, and scores of itinerant sophists preached to and advised kings, tyrants and citizens, in China the similarly restless and inventive “Shih” founded schools, lectured to rulers, established doctrines and maneuvered among the scheming princes of the late War- ring States Period. “Synchronicities” such as these are not restricted to classical societies; they have occurred even in modern science. There are documented cases of insight coming practically simultaneously to different investigators who were not aware of each other’s work. The most celebrated of these cases concerns the simultaneous and independent discovery of the calculus by Newton and by Leibniz, the likewise simultaneous and independent elaboration of the fundamental mechanisms of biological evolution by Darwin and by Wallace, and the concurrent invention of the telephone by Bell and by Grey. Insight and discovery could also leap across different branches of the same culture. While Newton was using a prism to break down the shafts of light that entered the windows of his Cambridge lodgings, Vermeer and other Flemish artists were exploring the nature of light entering through colored door-and window-panes. While Maxwell was formulating his electromagnetic theory, according to which light is produced by the reciprocal orthogonal revolution of electrical and magnetic vectors, Turner was painting light as swirling vortices. In recent years physicists have been exploring many-dimensional spaces in grand unified theories, and simultaneously, and apparently entirely independently, avant-garde artists experiment with visual superposition on their canvases, representing spaces of as many as seven dimensions. Space and time, light and gravity, mass and energy have all been explored by physicists and by artists sometimes at the same time, sometimes one preceding the other, but seldom if ever in conscious knowledge of each other. Shlain (1991) explored these “coincidences” in detail and provided stunning illustrations of the power of artists to mirror, and frequently to anticipate, the conceptual breakthroughs occurring in the minds of physicists without knowing anything about physics and the concerns of its investigators. Researchers of synchronicity have found many instances of such “coincidences” (Jung, 1973; Peat, 1987; Combs and Holland, 1990). Some are easy to dismiss as illusory, others may be due to chance, but many defy conventional explanation. The phenomenon itself has merited the attention of some outstanding thinkers. Hegel formulated his celebrated concept of Zeitgeist, the spirit of an age that infuses the minds of its contemporaries, and Jung advanced the concept of the collective unconscious, the sharing of mythic symbols and archetypes in diverse cultures. Phenomena of cultural synchronicity may indicate interaction between individuals that transcends the known bounds of sensory perception with its limitations of space and time. It is conceivable that some individual acts of creativity would be influenced by such interaction: that some insights would not be due to a spontaneous and largely unexplained stroke of genius but to the elaboration of an idea or a pattern in two or more minds in interaction. This would be equivalent to a dialogue in the Platonic sense of the term, where it stands for a process of which the results transcend the abilities of the dialogue partners individually. It recalls Plato’s view that the soul “recollects” the key ideas in the course of an insightful dialogue. We would only need to substitute “collection” for “recollection”: according to the thesis of interactive creativity, in the course of the creative process persons collect (from other creative persons) some element of their creativity. Independent evidence suggests that genuine acts of creativity are often based on what the Germans call an Einfall (meaning a sudden and spontaneous intuition leading to a conceptual or aesthetic breakthrough). Individuals of genius, known for repeated Einfalle, are regarded as having been born with rare and mysterious gifts: a Mozart, a Michaelangelo, or a Shakespeare, to name but a few. This view is reinforced by the fact that otherwise unremarkable individuals can display astonishing capabilities in specific fields, most often in music and mathematics. To call such individuals “gifted” and their achievement “works of genius” is not to explain their abilities, but just to label them. How did they come by their unusual accomplishments? Are they the possessors of a fortunate combination of genetic information? Or did they receive their gifts from a higher force? Better explanation than these are possible. We should note first of all that some of the most remarkable Eiqfalle occur in altered states of consciousness. Few artists compose music and poetry or paint and sculpt in an ordinary common-sense frame of mind. There is almost always some element of transport to The Genius Hypothesis 26 1 another plane of consciousness, a deep concentration that approaches a state of trance. In some (relatively rare) cases these “inspired states” are artificially induced – by drugs, music, self-hypnosis or other means. Mostly, however, they come spontaneously to the gifted individual. Coleridge composed his celebrated epic poem Kubla Khan while lying in what he described as a pro- found sleep (which was in fact induced by laudanum, an opium-based sub- stance he took as medicine); Milton created his Paradise Lost as an “un- premeditated song” dictated, he said, by the Muse. Mozart claimed that his compositions came to him during nights when he could not sleep. They came completely, from where he could not fathom. He did not hear the parts one after the other, but the whole piece at once. “What a delight this is, I cannot tell.” he wrote, “All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing lively dream.” (Owen, 1988). In the sciences too, altered states are frequent in processes of innovation and discovery. Though scientific discoveries are paradigms of reason and logic, many of them owe their existence to an unusual state of consciousness in their authors. This is true of mathematical discoveries as well. Evariste Galois, for example, committed to paper his fundamental contributions to higher algebra at the age of twenty, in three feverish days before meeting an adversary in a duel that he expected – correctly, s it turned out – to be fatal. Karl Friedrich Gauss sought to discover the proof for the way every number can be represented as the product of primes and, though he made many tries, did not succeed for years. After many failures he could write in his diary that he had succeeded, “but not on account of my painful efforts. Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle happened to be solved.” Henri Poincare said with good reason that the elements of mathematical discovery are “harmoniously disposed so that the mind without effort can embrace their totality – divining hidden harmonies and relations.” Exceptional achievements can be given rational explanation: we can follow up the lead of unusual creativity in altered states. Consider, then, the paradigmatic creative act. A person with a high level of motivation and great powers of concentration focuses on a given task or problem. Another person, likewise highly motivated and concentrated, focuses on the same or a closely similar task. In these conditions the similarity of the states of the brain in these individuals allows some level of access to each other’s emotive or cognitive processes. This permits a subtle dialogue that can have remarkably creative consequences. The above is more than simple conjecture: significant evidence is now available in support of spontaneous brain-to-brain interactions. Experiments in Italy with the so-called “brain holo-tester” (a computerized electroencephalograph [EEG] device capable of continuously measuring the level of synchronization between the left and right cerebral hemispheres) show that in deep meditation the synchronization of the two hemispheres increases dramatically. More than that, experiments with two test subjects measured simultaneously indicate that in deeply meditative states the subjects brain waves become doubly synchronized: left-right as well as person-person. Since person-person synchronization occurs in the absence of sensory communication, it furnishes evidence that in altered states persons who meditate together influence each other’s cerebral processes. Indeed, the transference of images and fantasies among meditating persons is a frequent occurrence. On occasion, the meditators are capable of interacting with each other’s fantasies. Space and time seem to make little difference in these phenomena. The evidence for a spontaneous transmission of effects be- tween the mind of different individuals, and between the mind of one individual and the body of another, is significant, and it shows that separate and possibly distant individuals can affect each other even in the absence of sensory communication. The synchronization of EEG patterns in non-communicating test subjects speaks to this point. The same basic kind of mind-mind communication with correlated brain-brain synchronization could underlie acts of unusual creativity as well. As different persons bent on a related creative task enter a state of deep concentration, their brain states are likely to become highly synchronized whether or not they are physically in the same location, and whether or not they even now of each other. These finely tuned cerebral processes could permit some level and form of interaction. The latter could occur in the absence of any conscious awareness of it. In fact, the absence of conscious awareness is likely to facilitate the interaction. Normal waking consciousness is known to suppress unusual contents of consciousness: It is dominated by the linear logic of the left cerebral hemisphere. The altered state of intense concentration (or meditation) is relatively free of such constraints. It can allow subtle inputs – Einfalle – to fertilize and inspire one’s creative endeavours.
The Functional Analogy of Networked Computers
The above variety of processes, required in a coherent explanation of acts of unusual creativity, can be illustrated with the functioning of networked computers. In modern business and professional computing systems, information from local and distant sources can be combined and subjected to programmed processing. Doing so furnishes a functional analogy for the kind of local/long- distance information processing through which the creative individual may receive the crucial Einfall. He or she may receive a sudden flash of insight, sufficient to start off the process of creative elaboration, or he or she may be guided by a sustained though subconscious “dialogue” during which now this avenue, now that, is explored, assisted by flashes of intuition. This kind of process occurs frequently in scientific explorations: the author himself has been fortunate to experience it on a few occasions. Its analogy is access to data downloaded from another source, and their elaboration with the help of data inputted in one’s own system. In interactive creativity the brain-mind processes of many individuals may be involved simultaneously. This, in turn, has a functional analogy in widely networked computers. In electronic bulletin boards programs are created that allow subscribers to both read their own materials into the board, and to read out from the board what other subscribers have inputted. Items can be elaborated by many subscribers together, and others who read out he results have no knowledge as to which part has been contributed by which subscriber. his illustrates the kind of process that obtains when not a specific concept or notion “falls in” (becomes the Einfall) but a residue or amalgam resulting from the creative processes of many individuals. At the most fundamental level, the composite Einfall amounts to Carl Jung’s “archetypal experience.” Here the collective unconscious (said by Jung [I9621 to be “the psychic expression of the identity of brain structure irrespective of all racial differences”) functions as a species-wide bulletin board. The analogy of networked computers cannot be stretched beyond its capacities: it remains an analogy. In the real world, not switched connections and electronic bulletin boards, but natural factors would have to ensure the synchronization of cerebral processes, and the observed spontaneous interpersonal communication events. Interpretation Spontaneous interconnection among spatially separated phenomena are known to occur in a variety of fields of investigation. In quantum physics, for example, in the EPR and related experiments, particles exhibit “non-locality”: one particle interacts with an identical particle across space and time. In the double slit experiment, particles interfere with successively emitted particles as if they were waves – and as if they were still present. In accordance with Pauli’s principle (which requires specific correlations between electrons in the shells surrounding atomic nuclei without dynamic forces acting between them), particles are immediately and non-dynamically “informed” of each other’s quantum state in the structure of atoms. Analogous interconnections exist in the living world. The genotype is not as fully isolated from the environment that surrounds the phenotype than as classically believed. Genetic mutations seem complexly adapted to the milieu of the species; isolated chance mutations could not account for the massively coordinated systemic changes that are required if the genome is to produce a viable new species. And, as shown by statistically significant findings in controlled experiments in remote viewing and other forms of thought and image transfer, in the sphere of mind and consciousness information seems to be transmittable beyond the range of sensory perception. Such findings indicate that phenomena in the natural world are more intimately linked than mainstream science has, as yet, allowed. A connecting factor is present in many domains of investigation, including the physical, the biological and the psychological. Spontaneous interconnections among human brain-minds are instances of the close connections that link phenomena in many domains of investigation. The presence of such interconnections in humans means that individuals are not isolated information-processing systems. They are open to the world not only through the bodily sense organs, but through distance information processing capacities in their brain. This notion is part of the great esoteric traditions of both East and West. It is also a cornerstone of the intellectual current Aldous Huxley named the perennial philosophy. The analogous insight crops up in modern psychology and psychotherapy. The thought expressed by Carl Jung in one of his last letters is illuminating. “We may have to give up thinking in terms of space and time when we deal with the reality of archetypes,” he wrote in 1961, “It could be that the psyche is an unextended intensity, not a body moving in time. . . . in itself, the psyche would have no dimension in space and time at all” (Jung, 1961). The investigation of the physics that underlies spontaneous communication among spatiotemporally distant human beings, and analogous processes in organisms and in quanta, is one of the greatest challenges awaiting the contemporary natural sciences. Its sustained pursuit would link the timeless intuitions of mysticism and perennial philosophy with empirically researched and scientifically understood phenomena. It could also lead to a better understanding of the nature of unusual acts of creativity, resulting in an explanation that does not call for ascribing the faculties of genius either to gifts or to genes.
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