A Creative Frame, “The Imitation Game,” and the History of Ideas

When it comes to evaluating the ultimate significance of the concept of Cultural Maturity and the application of a creative frame, no question is more important than just how they fit into the larger story of human understanding. I’ve addressed this question from a variety of directions in my various books. I’ve described how these notions help us get beyond the common assumption that Modern Age beliefs and institutions represent ideals and end points. I’ve delineated how they offer concrete tools for addressing both challenges particular to our time and eternal questions that have before been beyond us to effectively answers. I’ve also highlighted how they provide new defining concepts to replace Descartes’ observation that we could understand reality as a “great clockworks”—the radical claim that took us beyond the then limiting beliefs of the Middle Ages.

I recently saw The Imitation Game, the provocative movie on the life of Alan Turing. While watching the film, a further useful way of framing this historical significance occurred to me. Benedict Cumberbach (playing Turing) explained the apparatus he was inventing to break the Enigma Code—and which would become the first digital computer—to the Kiera Knightly character as a universal mechanism for machine intelligence (emphasizing the difference from a a single purpose computing device). We can similarly understand the Creative Function in Creative Systems Theory as providing a universal template for human intelligence. The Creative Function helps makes sense of why human experience as seen through the lens of human intelligence appears as it does. And it successfully does this for human experience irrespective of when and where that experience takes place. (Every Creative Systems Theory patterning concept is in some way represented by the Creative Function—whether its concern is how much experience we can tolerate, at what stage in culture’s story we are doing the experiencing, or the specific angle on experience that comes with our particular personality style.)

We can tie this way of framing significance directly to the comparison with Descartes’ then-timely claim. The new kind of cognitive perspective that makes culturally mature understanding possible (what CST calls Integrative Meta-perspective) replaces Modern Age from-a-balcony objectivity (and the rational/material, machine reality picture that results from it) with a vantage that more fully draws on the whole of our multifaceted, toolmaking, meaning-making—we could say simple “creative”—cognitive complexity (all of our multiple intelligences applied as an integrated whole). The Creative Function maps how reality appears when seen through the lens of Integrative Meta-perspective. One result is a reality that is inherently evolutionary—akin to Darwin’s dramatic notion, but here applied specifically to human systems and human perception (including our perception of the biological). Another is a reality that is similarly relativistic in a more here-and-now sense—akin to Einstein’s relativity in physics, but here applied specifically to human systems and human perception (including our perception of the world as seen by physics).

Does a creative frame, in replacing Modern Age machine model understanding, then finally get things right? Do we rightly conclude that thinking of human experience—and reality as a whole—as “creative” in the Creative Systems Theory sense, represents final truth? We must be aware of not falling for the same kind of assumption that made Modern Age ways of thinking a last word and ideal. What we can comfortably say is that Integrative Meta-perspective and the more dynamic and complete kind of systemic understanding that results offers that we might better address the increasingly nuanced and complex questions that define our time (as Descartes’ great machine model did for the emergent questions of his time). We can also reasonably conclude that these new steps in how we understand bring us a bit closer to getting our minds around all that is involved—as each previous chapter in human understanding appears to have done. How close a creative frame takes us to how things “ultimately” work is a question we have no way to answer.