Creativity – the `the missing link’ (or, the consilient bridge) between `the two cultures’: Science – and The Arts… 

(in fact – the link, uniting – all of the Sciences, the Social Sciences, the Arts and the Humanities… and actually, all of Bio-Culture.)

The Cats Eye Nebula. This cat might need to lose a few pounds.

This picture looks both scientific and artistic all at once. (Coincidence..?)

As many have often noted, there is (sometimes, some places, and in some people) a `mind-set’ of there being “two cultures” – or, `Science’ and `The Arts’.

"The Two Cultures" - Science & The Arts

“The Two Cultures” – `Science’ & `The Arts / Humanities’

These two domains in culture are often seen as separate – in their methods, philosophies, and schools of thought… Their aims, objectives and the goals of both `cultures’ are also often seen as being very different…

But – some important works that suggest they really shouldn’t be seen that way, and that consilience – or interdisciplinary thinking, scholarship and research – are in fact all highly-desirable, bordering on incredibly-necessary, are, listed out, here (e.g. C P Snow’s The Two Cultures (1959), Koestler’s The Act of Creation (1964), E O Wilson’s Consilience (1998), Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity 1996), etc).

But when we look at Ervin Lazlo’s (1972) Systems Philosophy, suddenly systems theory becomes an all-important `bridge’ between the sciences and the arts (and the humanities).

Here’s what Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says about creativity, in (Henry 2006), based on 30 years of scientifically studying creativity (in both the Arts and Sciences, and in Technology) in the disciplines of Psychology and Sociology:

Csikszentmihalyi Systems Model from Henry

Csikszentmihalyi – The DIFi Systems Model of creativity (in Henry 2006, p.3)


`An outline of the Systems Model – This environment has two salient aspects: a cultural, or symbolic, aspect which here is called the domain; and a social aspect called the field.

Creativity is a process that can be observed only at the intersection where individuals, domains, and fields interact [see Figure, above].

For creativity to occur, a set of rules and practices must be transmitted from the domain to the individual. The individual must then produce a novel variation in the content of the domain. The variation then must be selected by the field for inclusion in the domain. Creativity occurs when a person makes a change in a domain, a change that will be transmitted through time.

(Csikszentmihalyi in Henry 2006, p. 3)

And by the way, in 2014 Csikszentmihalyi also updated the systems model of creativity diagram. (It means the same thing: there is an evolutionary algorithm happening between Domain, Person and Field. The algorithm is selection, variation and transmission).

General model of creativity (in the Wiley Handbook of Creativity, ed: DK Simonton 2014)

A general model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi in: the Wiley Handbook of Genius, ed: DK Simonton 2014, p. 538)

See Csikszentmihalyi’s (2014) chapter in The Wiley Handbook of Genius (Ed: DK Simonton 2014)

So – I personally believe that Systems Philosophy – and the systems model of Creativity – is `the missing link’ – or `the consilient bridge’, between “the two cultures” – or, in fact – all the domains of: the Sciences, the Social Sciences, the Arts, and the Humanities.

Also as McIntyre (2012) notes, “Creativity is not what most people think it is.” (McIntyre 2012, p. 3)

Many people are not yet familiar with Csikszentmihalyi’s (1988, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2014) DPFi systems model of creativity.

But – let’s look at the evolution of (bio)culture, in both Science and the Arts:

Evolution > Selection, Variation & Transmission > Creativity > The Two Cultures (Velikovsky 2014)

Evolution > Selection, Variation & Transmission > Creativity > The Two Cultures (Velikovsky 2014)

The mechanism of evolution causes creativity to occur. In the (2-D, despite the `optical illusion’) diagram above, Evolution happens, all the time…

And, within Evolution: the evolutionary algorithm, of `Selection, Variation and Transmission happens all the time…

Within Science & the Arts, some of these new emergent `creative cultural artifacts’ (or memes – being, ideas, processes or products) are judged creative (or, `new, appropriate, and surprising’) by the Field, and then, these `creative’ artifacts (or, memes) become canon in the culture…

Viewed another way: in both Biology and in Culture, existence causes constant problems, including problems of survival and reproduction. (see: Sir Karl Popper, All Life Is Problem Solving, 1999, and Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories, 2009). In Biology, when individuals are all busily solving their various problems, there will be small, medium, large, and very-large problems. The solutions that are found to these problems by individuals (or, by groups) can be judged (by a consensus – by an audience – by the others in the same field / environment) as one of the 4 c’s in: the Four-C Model of Creativity. (see: Kaufman & Beghetto 2013).

Namely: (1) `everyday’ or `mini-c’ creativity; 2) small-c creativity, 3) Pro-c creativity, and 4) Big-c Creativity.)

`Big-C’ Creativity (in both Science, and, in The Arts) definitely becomes canon. (Think of: Einstein, or Mozart) `Everyday creativity’, is just everyday creativity (e.g. say, finding a clever shortcut to work while in heavy traffic.)

Here is a diagram I’ve created to show the 4-c model is a continuum of creativity, rather than 4 strict `categories’.

The Four-C model of Creativity bell-curve (Velikovsky 2014)

The Four-C model of Creativity `bell-curve’   (Velikovsky 2014)

So, specifically, I (personally) think that the crucial `bridge’ between `The Two Cultures’ is: Creativity, itself.

Namely, the scientific study of Creativity – in both Science, and in the Arts/Humanities.

That is to say: Creativity in both the “two” cultures works the same way.

All the evidence for this can be found in key works by Csikszentmihalyi (1988, and also Creativity, 1996), Arthur Koestler (1964, 1967, 1978), and DK Simonton’s evolutionary theory of creativity (1984-2012) which all convincingly demonstrate that Creativity – when seen through the lens of systems theory (i.e.: the Domain, Person, Field interaction – or, the `DPFi’ systems model of Creativity) works the same way, everywhere. In Science – and, in the Arts & Humanities.

Mainly as, it is, quite simply: evolutionary theory.

See this book chapter:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture (and narreme, or unit of story)

That is, Charles Darwin (just for example) was big-C `Creative’. (With the theory of evolution, by natural, artificial, unconscious, and sexual selection).

– And for an analysis of the Selection, Variation and Transmission evolutionary algorithm in (bio)culture, see: Csikszentmihalyi & Wolfe (2000). [i.e., pls see the References, below].

Here is another illuminating quote, from Csikszentmihalyi (in Creativity, 1996):

`In cultural evolution there are no mechanisms equivalent to genes and chromosomes. Therefore a new idea is not automatically passed on to the next generation. Instructions for how to use fire, or the wheel or atomic energy are not built into the nervous systems of children born after such discoveries. Each child has to learn them again from the start.

The analogy to genes in the evolution of culture are memes, or units of information we must learn if culture is to continue.

Languages, numbers, theories, songs, recipes, laws and values are all memes that we pass on to our children so that they will be remembered. It is these memes that a creative person changes, and if enough of the right people see the change as an improvement, it will become part of the culture.’

(Csikszentmihalyi, M 1996, p. 7 emphasis mine)

And so, Films (or, Movies) are memes. So are songs, and novels, and scientific theories, and jokes and languages.

Here is an example of the DIFi (Domain, Individual, Field interaction) systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996, 2000, 2006) in the domain of: Movies (or: Film).

The Feature Film Domain as a System (derived from Csikszentmihalyi 1996)

The Feature Film Domain as a System (derived from Csikszentmihalyi 1996)

And – you are not seeing double – here is another example of the DIFi systems model of creativity, this time in the domain of Science… (Scientific theories are memes. So are scientific books, e.g. The Origin of Species, and Principia Mathematica, etc.)

The DIFi systems model of Science (Velikovsky 2014, after Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996)

The DIFi systems model in Science (Velikovsky 2014, after Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996)

So memes (ideas, processes, products) are an integral component of the DIFi systems model of creativity. Csikszentmihalyi mentions `memes’ seven times in Creativity (1996):

`The analogy to genes in the evolution of culture are memessongs, recipes, laws and values are all memes…

It is these memes that a creative person changes, and if enough of the right people see the change as an improvement, it will become part of the culture.’

(Csikszentmihalyi, M 1996, p. 7).

Likewise, E O Wilson mentions memes seven times in his excellent book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998).

And in fact, I even go so far as to contend that:

Sir Karl Popper’s (1963, 1999) and DT Campbell’s (1960, 1965, 1974) `evolutionary epistemology’ is the same mechanism as (Csikszentmihalyi’s 1988, 1996, 2000, 2006) `DIFi systems model of creativity’.

I therefore suggest – these toe theories are both, at their core: the evolutionary algorithm, of selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity. Of memes, in bio-culture (i.e ideas, processes, products).

(And, I don’t think, this has actually been contended, before? But, I may have missed something.)

To repeat: I believe that `evolutionary epistemology’ and `the DIFi model of creativity’ is the same mechanism – and the same phenomenon – in the Sciences, and the Arts, and also – in Academia.

Evolutionary epistemology is, essentially: How we know, what we know.

– If this is indeed true (and, this is a `bold conjecture’) – that, evolutionary epistemology is the same as the DPFi systems model, then, I think, it provides one (more) very good argument, as to why Academia (not least, in the Arts / Humanities, and in fact – also in the Social Sciences) should indeed perhaps, adopt the consilient evolutionary systems perspective on biology, and on culture, and thus: on bio-culture.

(That is, if indeed, the Arts/ Humanities aims to examine, `How the mechanisms of Bio-Culture / Knowledge work’. And – why particular, specific creative works – i.e.: novels, songs, movies/films, television shows, poems, videogames, scientific theories, languages, jokes, words, etc – become canon – and others, do not. Both, in an explanatory, and in a descriptive way.)

This also all ties in to some of Willie van Peer’s excellent work, such as, his `Two Laws of Literary History: Growth and Predictability in Canon Formation’ (Mosaic, 1997), where he also draws on Luhmann’s (1987) idea of “selection pressure” in (bio)culture.

I currently believe this same SVT mechanism (ie – the evolutionary algorithm – of: selection, variation and transmission) applies, in film/movies (and, in music, and all cultural domains, including both `low’ and `high’ art, or – popular culture, and the fine arts.).

So – How many kinds (categories) of canon, are there?

In the domain of film (i.e. movies) for example, here (see the diagram below) is one way to carve up the canon: Popular, Viral, Cult, Avant-garde, Critical, Awards, and (the overlap of all of these): Classic. (And of course, outside the canon, there are – `Uncreative’, or, non-canon works – as judged – or in fact, as de-selected by the field.)

Seven types of big-c Creativity/canon in Film (or novels, games, songs, etc) (Velikovsky 2014)

Categories of Canon – Seven types of `big-c’ Creativity / or `canon’ in the Arts (films, novels, games, songs, etc) and, Science  (Velikovsky 2014)

In Science there are, likewise, memes (ideas, processes, products) – or in other words, theories, research / experiment methodologies, journal articles, books, websites, etc – that each fall into precisely similar Categories of Canon (although the names may change, e.g. `cult’ = `fringe’… and Non-canon / Uncreative = `pseudoscience’ and so on).

And – of course, I could be wrong about all of this…? And, that’s also one reason that I’m posting the idea (all these memes) here – just in case I am missing something (or, even many things) that are crucial…

Epistemology - How do we know what we know?

Evolutionary Epistemology – How do we know, what we know?

(And so – any feedback/thoughts/criticism on all this is very welcome… especially, given: How `evolutionary epistemology’ works! i.e. Bold conjectures – and, attempted refutations…!)

– Also, if of interest, I also recently posted a short article on this – i.e., a `Grand Theory of Bio-Culture’ – in Practical Memetics: `A hierarchy of memes‘ (Velikovsky 2014).

And I published a long book chapter on it, in:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture (and narreme, or unit of story)

I should perhaps also mention, I am aware that Memetics is not to everyone’s taste – (and, about 99% of it, isn’t to mine, either.)

I think that the Domain of Memetics has been slowed (and even, plagued?) ever since 1976 (Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene) by the inability of the Memetics Field (to date…) to scientifically identify (or, define) the unit of culture (i.e.: the meme).

As a result – and despite a great-many excellent `bold conjectures’ (e.g. by say Dennett 1995, Blackmore 1999, Dawkins 1976, 1982, and also everyone in The Journal of Memetics, etc) and, also – some pretty-wild speculative ideas, Memetics has been (rightly) criticized as a pseudoscience – and, not least by many Biologists, and Philosophers of Biology… and, the brilliant Harvard evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker (1997, 2009).

But I think, if someone can identify `the unit of culture’, I suggest, it might help move that Domain (ie – Memetics, or `Culturology’) out of pseudo-science, and, into the realm of – possibly – Memetics (or `Culturology’) becoming a Science. (…perhaps…!)

(And, obviously, my own `bold conjecture’ about it may well be just as wrong as, all other past attempts!)

i.e. this chapter, for example:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture (and narreme, or unit of story)

But – if it is right, this theory may even (one day?) also `flow back’ into the Social Sciences, to `meet up’ halfway there with Science, who knows… (and, I do love my own very-hopeful and naive optimism about all of this.)

Consilience (JT Velikovsky)

Interdisciplinary Consilience (Velikovsky 2013)

So – to be clear, I’m not suggesting that Science should take over all other disciplines.

But – (as Gottschall 2008, and many others, have noted) that the scientific method can certainly work wonders, within the Arts/Humanities…

The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method

And – possibly, one `unifying’ thing about the idea (i.e. this `Grand Theory of BioCulture’) that I’m proposing, is – it synthesizes something that Arthur Koestler noted about Biology & Culture (i.e. `holons’, in 1967) with something that Richard P Feynman (1972, 1975) noted, about physics (i.e. `partons’).

The holon-parton structure of the meme - the unit of culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

The holon-parton structure of the meme – the unit of culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

In much the same way I believe that `evolutionary epistemology’ is the `DIFi systems model’ — I also believe that Arthur Koestler (1967, 1978) and Richard Feynman (1972, 1975) were (independently) discussing the same object / structure / phenomenon (the holon – or – the parton), but – merely using different [and ironically-juxtaposed] terms (i.e. created words). So – I am calling it: the holon-parton.

Also, what this implies, is – that perhaps, EO Wilson (in Consilience 1998, etc), Fred Turner & Brett Cooke (1999), and Boyd 2009 (on `1st, 2nd & 3rd-order Darwin Machines’), etc, may have all been right, and, that (some of) the Laws of Physics (e.g. Feynman 1972) – which as it happens, are also some of the laws of Biological Evolution (or, 3 of those laws of holarchies, at least) – apply, all the way across all of the Disciplines: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Anthropology, and – Culturology (e.g. films, novels, songs, games, languages, science, religions, etc).

Overlaps - and causal links - in scientific disciplines / domains (Velikovsky 2013)

Overlaps – and causal links – in disciplines / domains (Velikovsky 2013)

And so, (if, this theory is right) perhaps, it may be one additional form (or – device / tool / mechanism / concept) of `vertical integration’ (or, `disciplinary consistency’ – or, `consilience‘).

Vertical integration of Disciplines (Velikovsky 2014)

Vertical integration of Systems / Disciplines / Domains (Velikovsky 2014)

Here is a very similar diagram from Ervin Laszlo’s excellent article: ‘The Case For Systems Philosophy – from, Systems Philosophy: A Symposium‘, in Metaphilosophy journal, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 123-41. (1972)

Laszlo 1972 - The Case for Systems Philosophy - Fig 1

Laszlo 1972 – The Case for Systems Philosophy – Fig 1 (p. 135)

Laszlo (1972) states – citing James G. Miller’s “Living Systems; Basic Concepts”, from General Systems Theory and Psychiatry, ed. Gray and Rizzo, Boston, 1968:

Atoms are composed of particles; molecules, of atoms; crystals and organelles, of molecules. . . . Cells are composed of atoms, molecules and multimolecular organelles; organs are composed of cells aggregated into tissues; organisms, of organs; groups (e.g., herds, flocks, families, teams, tribes), of organisms; organizations, of groups (and sometimes single individual organisms); societies, of organizations, groups and individuals; and supranational systems, of societies and organizations.” (Miller 1968 in Laszlo 1972)


The other scheme I shall refer to is offered by Mario Bunge and consists of alternate categories of classification of hierarchical levels, as follows :


“Elementary particles – atomic nuclei – atoms – molecules – bodies
Physical systems – chemical systems – organisms – ecosystems
Physical processes – chemical processes – biological processes – psychical processes – social processes (= human histories)
Material production –  social life – intellectual culture
Physics – chemistry – biology – psychology – sociology – history

(Mario Bunge, “The Metaphysics, Epistemology and Methodology of LeveIs”, in Hierarchical Structures by L. L. Whyte, Wilson and Wilson, eds. New York: Elsevier, 1969)”


Bunge’s categories are convenient tools to define those indicated for systems philosophy.’

(Laszlo 1972,  pp. 135-6)

And the above is also partly why I like to look at the cosmos this way:

Overlaps in Disciplines: i.e. Consilience, or, The Unity of Knowledge

Overlaps in Disciplines: i.e. Consilience, or, The Unity of Knowledge

I note that Laszlo (1972) adds this point (note that `conceptual integration’ below simply means consilience):

`Whereas ultra-specialization in science can at least claim indisputable advances in our piecemeal understanding of certain delimited processes, adding to the sum total of contemporary empirical information, there are no indisputable advances in an ultra-specialized philosophical inquiry. Yet by behaving as though this were the case, many philosophers disdain general theory to an extent equal to the most limited kind of scientific specialist.

By that token, they refuse responsibility for conceptual integration – which however has always been a key function of philosophy, and continues to be demanded of philosophers today.
Scientists are beginning to realize the limitations, and even the dangers, inherent in specialization. Empirical phenomena do not come in conveniently parcelled out patches, suitable for cultivation by friendly neighborhood gardeners, each cultivating his own bit of terrain. The empirical world discloses itself more like an intricate system of coordinated events, in which the knowledge of one event presupposes familiarity with the rest.
Even if this presupposition diminishes in importance beyond certain limits as far as the acquisition of knowledge is concerned, it remains important in regard to the utilization of knowledge. Purposive intervention in one field has definite, and often unforeseen, results in another, as our ecology-conscious culture is beginning to realize.

Nature does not come in isolated patches.

Man himself is part of the system of nature, and unless informed “generalists” make it their business to develop systematic theories of the patterns of interconnection, our short-range projects and limited control-abilities may lead us to our own destruction.’

(Laszlo 1972, p. 125 – emphasis mine)

And, Laszlo (1972) also includes the following diagram: (note also the direction of the `overall thrust of evolution’ below…)

Laszlo 1972 - The Case for Systems Philosophy - Fig 3

Laszlo 1972 – The Case for Systems Philosophy – Fig 3 (p. 139)

In his conclusion, Laszlo (1972) rightly points out that his Systems Philosophy unites the various disparate domains, or, in short: moves towards consilience between the Arts / Humanities, the Sciences, and Social Sciences, and in fact even makes much of Philosophy relevant again (which has recently been severely reduced, by Science answering many age-old philosophical questions):

`The most consistent as well as most general paradigm available today to the inquiring, ordering mind is the systems paradigm. Explicated as a general theory of systems and applied to the analysis of human experience and its problems, it constitutes a systems philosophy.

This, then, is the conceptual framework within which classical philosophical analyses of experience, knowledge, art, religion, valuation, freedom, morality, dignity, and many other facets of philosophical interest, can take place.

For within such a framework the anthropomorphic bias of commonsense experience is neutralized by reference to the systems philosophical paradigm, which takes man as one module embedded in an encompassing hierarchy of likewise concrete and actual physical, biological and social systems.’


Laszlo 1972 - The Case for Systems Philosophy - Fig 4

Laszlo 1972 – The Case for Systems Philosophy – Fig 4 (p. 141)

`If systems philosophy is to become a working paradigm of contemporary thought, it must be pursued by a growing number of informed and perceptive investigators. Systems philosophy does not invalidate any scientific or philosophical question by branding it meaningless: it seeks to solve, not dissolve, problems. There is ample opportunity within its conceptual framework for collaborative work by scientists and philosophers of the most diverse interests. By sharing a common general framework, theories advanced by investigators of diverse interests become mutually relevant and beneficial.

Thus the present communications-gap in the disciplines can be overcome, and this without forcing individual insight into a preconceived mold. For not any one formuIation of a systems philosophy, but its general methodological and conceptual presuppositions, are its decisive constants.


Specifications of the paradigm, and of any of its applications, can come and go; they can benefit from the interplay of many minds, with mutually relevant information.

But the systems philosophical framework can remain: it can be held that (i) the understanding of the human being and the world around him is possible in reference to a hierarchy of dynamic systems, defined in terms of their organizational invarances of state and function, and that (ii) the concept of such a systems hierarchy is the necessary framework of reference of all more detailed empirical analyses.’

(Laszlo 1972, pp. 140-1 – emphasis mine)

Here is one other crucial point that Laszlo (1972) makes:

`…the human situation cannot be properly understood unless the genetic and historical nature of man, and his manifold ties to his environment are understood. Such understanding presupposes a knowledge of that slice of nature which I call the terrestrial microhierarchy : a complex dynamic level-structure within which system coacts with system and is embedded, as a Janus-faced holon, in an ascending sequence of increasingly individuated systems.

Whitehead is vindicated : there are no facts floating around in nonentity. Each fact requires the understanding of the systematic universe which serves as its reference.’

(Laszlo 1972, pp. 139-40 – emphasis mine)

So – with all that in mind – I suggest the unit of culture (the meme) is the holon-parton.

And – an example of movie story structure (as `units of culture’, aka `memes’) is below.

Film Story Structure (Velikovsky 2014)

Film Story Structure (Velikovsky 2014)

At any rate – such an identification of `the structure of the meme – the unit of culture’ might also even (help to) solve the issue (or, the multi-domain Problem) that Van Peer, Hakemulder & Zyngier (2007) rightly noted: `As far as can be seen, there is no consensus on the notion of culture anywhere to be found.’ (van Peer, Hakemulder & Zyngier 2007, p. 30).

In other words, this theory (of memes, as holon-partons) is trying to do the same for Culture, as Watson & Crick did in 1953, for Biology.

I should note – even if Culture `works’, according to the same evolutionary mechanism as Biology appears to (and is also `structured’ identically, by the same Physical laws), this doesn’t imply (in any way) that any cultural creative artifacts (e.g.: books, novels, films, songs, jokes, languages, scientific theories, religions, paintings, words, etc) are `alive’, nor `conscious’ nor `intentional’ nor `intelligent agents’ in themselves, in any way (well – unless maybe, say, viruses in Biology also eventually turn out to be… but that currently seems unlikely).

Rather, this is all suggesting merely that, the laws of Physics (i.e. the 3 laws of holarchies) seem to also apply to cultural artifacts – in their “growth”, emergence, structure, and `behaviour’/trajectory, in biocultural systems.

And also that, when we use the word `Creativity’, one part of what that might involve, is a certain phenomenon within Evolution (i.e.: the evolutionary algorithm – selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity).

i.e. – I don’t personally think there’s anything `metaphysical’ (i.e. supernatural or spooky?) going on there; I just think: it’s Physics.

And I think, it also correlates to what Sir Karl Popper proposed, about `The Four Worlds’ (in All Life is Problem Solving, 1999).

– But of course, I could be wrong – about, absolutely everything – (and, worst-case scenario, I also may just be a brain in a vat).

Also, if it seems unlikely that, some random scholar (or, brain-in-a-vat) such as myself should propose this sort of outrageously-ambitious idea, and make such vast claims (i.e, a Grand Theory of Bio-Culture, and also suggesting that everything – including Evolution itself, is all based on `systems’), I think, it’s perhaps a side-effect of, that I’ve also worked for 20 years as a Game Designer (which involves a lot of Systems Theory / Systems Thinking / Cybernetics), but also – in amongst there – I’ve also worked as a Transmedia writer/creator… (e.g., films, games, novels, tv, short stories, poems, theatre, songs, drawings, comics, paintings, sculptures, computer-languages, etc.) It’s been an eclectic,  deeply-random and `scattered’ creative career.

And, also, I note that it probably helped that I read The Selfish Gene (Dawkins 1976) at the start of that 20 years… (and, I guess, that implanted the notion of `memes’ ie “What exactly, are the `units’ of culture”? for me to ruminate about for 20 years.) That book sure electrified me, when I read it.*

So – in films, novels, games, songs – there have been some `recurrent patterns’ across all those media or `cultural artifacts’, [in the process of studying them; creating them; trying to figure out how they work; noting some common elements along the way; etc] that have repeatedly caught my attention, for about 20 years…

And – I may well be `fooled by randomness’ (a la Nassim Taleb’s great book on that); it could all be pareidolia (i.e. mistakenly seeing `patterns in noise’, or order in chaos). But – the Field can be the one to judge that, not me. Besides which – `Chaos Theory’ in nonlinear dynamical systems theory is actually (and ironically) all about order in chaos. (It perhaps should rather be called `Order Theory’.)

But I note – it all (this Grand Theory of Bio-Culture) seems to also correlate with a lot of what I’ve read, in the (consilient) academic/scholarly literature (including, knowledge in the scientific study of Creativity from the domain of Psychology). So, who knows – there might be something in it…(?)

(And on the bright side, if it’s wrong, then we’ve all learnt something, and that is progress — and, maybe I can stop worrying about it all.)

So, if anyone can please falsify this theory (ie – the meme, the unit of culture, as: the holon-parton) you’ll actually be doing me a big favour – and, I can just go back to making movies or, something.

Once again, the theory (the Grand Theory of Bio-Culture) is here:

A hierarchy of memes (in Practical Memetics)

And, also here:

The holon-parton structure of the meme – the unit of culture (on the StoryAlity weblog)

And… so in fact, not just Creativity, but – the meme, the unit of culture, is another `missing link’.

Once we have correctly identified that (the unit of culture), the `differences’ between `the Sciences’ and `the Arts’ evaporate. Both of them (the Sciences and the Arts) are culture.

And, also – Some Random Suggestions on, How to (Maybe) Falsify the Grand Theory of BioCulture:

Ways to perhaps falsify this theory include:

– Show that, canonical culture isn’t structured that way, namely, as holon-partons (e.g. – canonical books, novels, movies, games, songs, poems, etc.) (i.e. There are lots of books, movies, games, poems, songs that are `counterexamples’, but – are they canon? i.e. Popular, or critical, awards etc, success?)

– Show that evolutionary epistemology (Popper, DT Campbell etc), isn’t the same concept as, the DIFi systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996, etc; Simonton 2004, 2010, 2012, etc)…

– Show that creativity isn’t Boden’s (2004) `combinatorial creativity’ – or Koestler’s (1964) `bisociation’ (in, Biology and also in Culture) (eg: Maybe, prove that Lynn Margulis’ `endosymbiosis’ theory – about eukaryotes from prokaryotes, is wrong…)

– Show that there isn’t `selection pressure’ in (Bio)Culture, whereby, about 98% of `new’ cultural artifacts in any given domain (e.g. film, novels, pop music, words, etc) then *doesn’t* get `de-selected’ by `the environment’ (ie – by: the Field, and by the selection pressure from competing media, all of which is: “the environment” for that creative artifact)

– Show that: (bio)culture isn’t an Ecosystem…

– Show that, everything (pretty much) isn’t: systems (the Cosmos [ie: astronomy / astrophysics], physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, culture) and that – in fact it’s all *not* one big system, where everything is connected to everything else, and with blurry `transitions’… (i.e. with Physics blending into Chemistry, Chemistry blending into Biology, Biology into Psychology, Psychology into Sociology, Sociology into Culturology – etc)

– Show that scientists and artists in culture don’t use the algorithm of: Selection (of memes – ideas, or processes, or products), and then Variation (eg mutation, combination, e.g.combining 2 ideas/memes in their head) and then, Transmission-with-heredity (of, that new `bisociated’ artifact, back into, the meme-pool – or Bio-Culture)

– Show that there’s no such thing as: Human Nature. (see: Carroll 1995, E O Wilson 1998, Pinker 2002, etc)

– Show that Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Psychology, and Evolutionary Sociology, and Evolutionary Culturology are wrong.

…So – any of those might do it, I suppose…(?) [ie – falsify this Grand Theory of BioCulture]

But I note, in Evolution (or at least, my own current understanding of it) in Biology, [and in the `creativity’ there] there are a lot of fatalities, due to (unfavourable) mutations, and (tragic) still-births, accidental deaths, brutal natural-selection `culls’ due to weather [and, environment] changes, and also due to over-population, etc.

And – with creative artifacts in Culture, it all seems to work the same? (The `environment’ there in `the infosphere’ includes: human minds, and all competing creative artifacts, and also we need to remember that resources are finite, and that people are all time-limited. As Pinker 1997 notes: “Life is a series of deadlines.”)

I also see that – according to Lakatos, all good(?) scientific theories should probably have a `hard core’, and a `protective belt’ (a little bit like: Saturn).

Planet Saturn from Cassini (courtesy: NASA)

The planet Saturn, as viewed from the Cassini probe (Courtesy of: NASA, and because: Science!)

So – maybe `the hard core’ (of this `Grand Theory of Culture’, i.e. Memes as holon-partons) is:

(1) The evolutionary algorithm (or Selection, Variation, Transmission – which is really also BV-SR, [or Blind-Variation and Selective-Retention]), works the same way, in Biology and Culture.
(2) Systems theory/cybernetics,
(3) Memes (and pretty much, everything) as holon-partons, and,
(4) The DIFi systems model = evolutionary epistemology.

And so – maybe the `protective belt’ of the theory is:

(1) How Popper (1963, 1999) [rightly] said: Definitions aren’t that important. (We all can, accidentally, play language-games…)

So, for example, I know there is a lot of theory about `Blind Variation and Selective Retention’… But, what if, we’ve (or `they’ve’) all been using that word “blind” there, a bit loosely? ie `Blind’ suggests a total lottery, just `a random search’ & then, selection & variation.
But of course – scientists (and artists) `select’ their 2 (or, more) ideas, before they vary (combine) them.
But (in the study of Creativity) that (selection, and then variation) also seems to take many – or even 100 goes, before it’s a `right’ one…
– ie The `first’ idea selected by the scientist/artist (thus, also, then their first `combination’) is rarely right (rarely a good/effective solution to the creative problem). So yes, it’s also a bit of `artificial selection’ (but, also  – in a smaller, `fractal’ way, it is just: the Selection, Variation, Transmission [evolutionary] algorithm – but on a smaller scale, (isn’t this right)?

ie – When they (artist/scientist/writer) first, `test the idea out’ in their head/ imagination. If it `fails’ that selection process, then the scientist – or artist – judges their own (test) idea as a `non-starter’ – and then, goes off looking at/hunting for, other random ideas [in their memory or in books or talking to people, etc], to try more `selection’ and `combining’. And it’s `blind’ as a process, as: they don’t know it, till they `see’/find it. They may well hone in on the right general area using hunches and intuition, and then hunt around and hit on it, but – if it’s not `blind’, then, why doesn’t every artist/scientist, solve their `creative problem’: first go, every time?) [see Simonton 2010, 2012 for more on all of this, ie `Darwin machines’ in creativity]


– Why don’t all novelists simply dictate all their novels, and never feel a need to change/edit/tweak a single word, or punctuation-mark?

– Why don’t, all songwriters get the music and lyrics perfect on the first go?

– Why did McCartney write the song `Yesterday’ at first, with the place-holder “scratch” words, “Scrambled Eggs?”

– Why didn’t Darwin `nail’ Genetics, and everything all at once, in Origin (1859)? (I note, he did a pretty stunning job, even so.)

So – it’s like we creatives (in both the Arts and Science) are basically `blind’, but — that we are also: fumbling around say, with our (mental) hands, and `smelling’ with our (mental) nose, and `listening’ for clues, and can kind of `feel it on our skin’ (mentally) when we’re “getting warmer”, or, getting closer to a good solution, etc.

Ok – we use our intuition and habitus (or, feel for the game) – there, I said it.

And – when we do get lucky (and, find a good creative solution to our current creative problem), it’s then hard to know if it’s just: luck. (i.e. It usually feels like, we `really worked hard, for it’.)

So, maybe if anyone wants to criticize BVSR (just, as an example), say, and thus attack the idea of SVT as well, the problem there may be, a problem of language –
i.e. Mainly that – words like the “blind” in `BVSR’ are such `loose containers’ for meaning. (And, I certainly don’t mean anything `postmodernist’ or `deconstructionist’ by that… I just want to criticize language itself [i.e. words], for being a rather `blunt instrument’ as a communications technology, sometimes… Seems, diagrams are often much better. But – as I often suggest, we can’t really expect too much from language, as it was invented by a bunch of dumb cavepeople.)

Screenwriting has been in a pre-paradigm state up till now. See this post for Why.

The Pleistocene EEA (or, the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness)

(I mean, our Pleistocene forebears, to whom we owe everything – and who were actually, utterly amazing.)


(2) Maybe, as long as we mostly stick to language, #1 above may be the only `protective belt’ required…?

Creativity. It's not what you think!

Creativity. It’s not what you think!

Thanks for reading!

…Thoughts/Comments/Feedback always welcome.

(And, if you haven’t read / viewed them, may I again suggest, all of these…?) It seems highly probable that – the sooner that knowledge (about: creativity) is integrated into Science and the Arts, the faster that knowledge (and, Creativity!) will progress.

(And – we all have a lot of creative problems to solve, e.g.: climate-change, war, poverty, inequality, etc…)

Also, other creative problems like: How to create a hit movie, or a best-selling (or `instant classic’) book…

(One that might also help to solve those other pressing, and all-rather-depressing problems, listed out above.)

And – Thanks again for reading!


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/


Posted: 11th August 2014, updated somewhat, April 2016


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* (I was wearing a polyester shirt.)

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