Creativity: perceptual shift needed

Aug 11 2008 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

Any valuable creative idea is logical in hindsight, and this has led logicians to insist that you should be able to get to the idea by logic in the first place, so there is no need for creativity.

So it is this inability to distinguish between hindsight and foresight that has resulted in philosophers ignoring creativity. In an asymmetric patterning system, whatever is obvious and logical in hindsight could be invisible in foresight.

Now there is no mystery as today, for the first time in human thinking, we can look at idea creativity as the behaviour of thought in the brain's neural networks.

We can design the formal and deliberate tools of lateral thinking from this knowledge. These tools are all totally logical, but it is the logic of patterning systems. Logic is the behaviour within a system that is defined usually language.

Goedel's theorem demonstrates that you can never prove the starting points from within any system as they are arbitrary perceptions. So you can't do any better than your perceptions allow, no matter how logical you think you are.

Considering how important perception is, you would think more effort would be made in the teaching and training of it. But almost no effort is made at all, discounting those schools already using my CoRT Thinking Programme to develop perception.

According to research by the Atkey Organisation, using this programme as a separate subject improves performance in every other subject by 30% to 100%.

Our thinking habits originated with the Church at the time of the Renaissance, which controlled schools, universities and most thinking. The Church took logic, truth and argument from the Greek thinkers because they needed them to prove heretics wrong. There has been no strand of perceptual thinking, creative thinking or design thinking in Western education as a result of this.

'Possibilities' are important when it comes to perception. The relationship between possibilities and perception is similar to that of truth and logic. It is possible to look at something in a particular way and at the same time conceive the possibility of looking at it in a different manner.

You can keep the other possible perceptions in your mind even as you take practical action based on your original perception.

Consider the hypothetical scenario of a stranger offering you help in a foreign city. You might accept the help graciously while at the same time keeping in mind the possibility that the stranger is intending to trick you and perhaps even steal from you.

The basis of perception is possibility rather than truth. You can act as if one possibility were the only viable option, but at the same time consider it only one possibility among many.

Our obsession with truth is very practical but it makes us anxious to decide on one perception and then ignore all others.

Even when it is not real, perception is reality. We have no choice but to react to our perceptions. Therefore, the ability to change perceptions via creativity is very important.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono is a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.