Extracted from paper Practical Speculations at the Edge of Science (1994).

When a human experiences creativity, they imagine something new. If they make something new, they are creating. What “determines” that which is imagined through creativity? Is it “determined”? Is it causally determined from antecedent conditions? Is it purely random? Or, is there some third process, other than causal determinism and randomness?

When we want “free choice”, we don’t want our choice to be causally determined by our state at the moment of choice; nor do we want to flip a coin or throw dice – WE want to CHOSE. We want to DETERMINE, from our “whole selves”. I will call this “holistic determination”, and will distinguish it from both causal determinism and randomness.

What “caused” van Gogh to paint The Starry Night in 1889? When he was done, it was done. Before he started, even imagining it, it didn’t exist. Somehow it happened. Antecedent conditions could establish a range of possible paintings (which can be identified as by van Gogh by his evolving complex style). But, I propose, that the specific composition was not causally determined by antecedent conditions nor were they solely from random accident. Rather, in some way, the holism that was van Gogh and his World, “determined” the specifics of his composition.I also want to resist the assumption that “the holism that was van Gogh and his World” can be reduced to a specification of his sequence of physical states before and during the painting. Something that was autonomous and whole participated in the determination of the specific painting that resulted.

I hypothesize that a creator is changed by his or her creativity, creating, and creations. I hypothesize that the “whole” of the creator’s life participates in the holistic determination of specific creations at specific “times” during his or her life. I hypothesize that holistic determination doesn’t come “from time”; that it doesn’t have “moments when it happens” (but it does have time intervals where the action becomes manifest – as when actually painting).

I feel the metaphor of the holograph here; but not a sequence of holographic states changing in physical time, but a holographic structure that includes “time”, that is atemporal. I remain fuzzy about this. I propose, that for any change, three “sources” may be at “play”: causal determinism, randomness, and holistic determination. None can be reduced to the other, all three are primitive and fundamental.

For very practical purposes, for human multi-millennial survival and thrival, we must transcend the limitations of causal determinism and randomness, to include the creative emergence of holistic determination.