A Glimpse at How Culturally Mature Perspective Rewrites the Social Sciences

Cultural Maturity’s cognitive changes bring fresh perspective to every realm of understanding, from the arts to the hard sciences. But most obviously significant is how culturally mature perspective challenges us to rethink domains of understanding that have to do specifically with ourselves—the social sciences. Cultural Maturity not only provide valuable new insights in the social sciences, it redefines each of the social sciences at the level of basic assumptions. Recognizing how this is so helps one appreciate the depths of Cultural Maturity’s changes and the foundational significance of the new kinds of thinking they make possible. Below I’ve outlined basic changes in three realms where this fundamental reordering of how we understand is most easily recognized–history, philosophy, and psychology:

History:   Traditionally, history has been a chronicling of leaders, wars, inventions, and the occasional grand idea. As far as cultural change, at best ties invention and grand ideas to changes in how we think. Culturally mature perspective offers a more  “developmental” picture of cultural changes that is able to more deeply address why we have thought and acted in the very different ways we have at different times in culture’s story.  The concept of Cultural Maturity follows from this more dynamic/evolutionary way of understanding cultural change and makes little sense without it.  And the kind of new capacities that the concept of Cultural Maturity argues will be necessary if we are to effectively address future challenges will be very hard, if not impossible, to attain if the basic concept of Cultural Maturity is not correct. (See Developmental Evolutionary Perspective and Patterning in Time in the blog Library)

Philosophy:  Traditionally philosophy has been about making rational sense of the biggest of human questions. Cultural Maturity’s cognitive changes not only providing a more systemic picture of how we understand, they alter what it means to understand. At they very least, they make clear that rationality represents only one aspect of intelligence. Philosophy that reduces to rational argument thus leaves us at best with limited answers.  My book Quick and Dirty Answers to the Biggest of Questions: Creative Systems Theory Explains What It is All About (really) describes how the reason philosophy has found answers to so many of the most important big-picture questions elusive is that culturally mature understanding is needed to ask the questions in ultimately useful ways.

A simple way to recognize philosophy’s systemic challenge is to notice how philosophy’s defining controversies have involved polar opposite viewpoints – for example, pitting positivists against romanticists, or advocates for scientific objectivity against those who identify with religious truths.  Creative Systems Theory maps the whole of philosophy as an evolving sequence of polarity-defined assumptions. (See CSPTHome.org ). Culturally Mature perspective provides a newly integrative/systemic picture both of human cognition and of what truth becomes when we apply our cognitive capacities in ways human challenges ahead will increasingly require. (See Integrative Meta-perspective in the blog library.)

Psychology:   We can come at the fundamental shift in psychology from multiple angles. One simple observation puts the larger part of psychological research in question. Culturally mature perspective highlights the profoundly different ways difference ones of us organize experience—make personality differences of a deep sort obvious, and obviously important. Very little psychological research takes temperament differences into account. It is concerned with norms and variations from the norm. This recognition that personality organizes in diverse ways has radical implications. Thinking normatively about personality is like taking box of crayons, measuring the color frequency of each crayon, then making the average of those frequencies what crayons are about.  The result is not just a dismissing of essential differences, but a badly diminished picture of what it means to exists (as a crayon or as an individual). ( (See the Creative Systems Personality Typology – CSPTHome.org.)

The same more systemic understanding of intelligence that brings the assumptions of philosophy into question, similarly challenges the basic assumptions of modern psychology. Culturally mature perspective makes clear that the task is not so much to make the unconscious conscious, as it is to apply our richly multifaceted natures (many aspects of which can never be made conscious) in the fullest and most effective ways possible. Creative Systems Theory goes further to describe how our multiple intelligences work together to give us our audaciously “creative’ tool-making, meaning-making capacities. Culturally Mature perspective makes clear that any approach to psychology that lacks an appreciation for intelligence’s multiple aspects and the contributions each makes to human identity and possibility becomes severely limited in the face of today’s challenges.  (See  Multiple Intelligences in the blog library.)

Culturally mature perspective reveals how our modern concept of the individual is not some ideal and end-point as we tend to think of it.  It makes clear that more complete understandings of human identity are needed and becoming possible. (See the Modern Myth of the Individual. )  This recognition has profound psychological implications. In other posts I describe, for example, how romantic love — which we idealize as love based on individual choice and a final achievement — is neither of these. I also describe how more culturally mature—“Whole-Person”—love is becoming increasingly possible. (See Beyond Romeo and Juliet.)  In other writings, I describe how elated changes are today reordering how we think about leadership of all sorts. (See Hope and the Future.)  These observations require a rethinking of relationships of every kind along with a reexamination of any idea in psychology that has to do with identity or choice. (Beyond individual psychology, this same observation requires that we rethink institutions of every sort. In Hope and the Future, I describe how it challenges us to rethink government and governance, to ask just what real “government by the people” might look like.)


In a similar way we can see culturally mature perspective bringing into question basic assumption in sociology, linguistics, education, and other of the social sciences. With regard to the arts and humanities, at the very least it helps put assumptions in historical perspective.  In later posts. I’ve addressed how culturally matter perspective also fundamentally challenges traditional assumptions in science and religion (see “‘Come On’ Stephen Hawking: The Quandary of  Free Will in an Apparently Deterministic Universe”  and “How Science and Religion Need Not be at Odds”).


Fill out the form below to receive monthly articles and updates from Charles Johnston, M.D.