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About Charles M. Johnston
More information on Dr. Johnston and his work can be found at the Institute for Creative Development website (www.creativesystems.org), at the Institute's Cultural Maturity blog (www.CulturalMaturityBlog.net), at Dr. Johnston's Looking to the Future podcast (www.LookingtotheFuture.net), and at the ICD Press webpage (www.hopeandthefuture.com).
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From the book's back cover—
"In no aspect of life today do we confront more rapid and easily confusing change than in the worlds of gender and intimacy. Men and women equally are left without clear guideposts for their choices. In this short book, one of our time's most innovative social scientists and futurists offers big-picture perspective for making sense of why we see what we do and what lies ahead. He describes an essential new chapter in identity and love, one that takes us beyond the battle of the sexes and brings new depth and maturity to both how we understand ourselves and our capacity for closeness with another."
In On the Evolution of Intimacy, psychiatrist and futurist Charles Johnston addresses how our times are making possible a critical "growing up" in how we think about intimacy and gender. With intimacy, the changes he describes are as significant as those which brought us Romeo and Juliet–style romantic love. With gender, they take us beyond both the polarizing assumptions of traditional gender roles and the simplistic conclusions of a postmodern unisex ideal. On both fronts, the greater maturity he describes offers that we might understand with a new kind of completeness and sophistication.
The book's last paragraph summarizes where On the Evolution of Intimacy takes us: "The rewards for even just making a start with this needed new chapter in how we understand are immense. We discover the possibility of deeper and more solid identities as men and as women. We also discover the paradoxical fact that engaging identity and love in needed new ways, while more demanding than what we have known, is also in important ways simpler. We can think of it as part of a needed "new common sense."
From the author—
"This book had its origins in rich conversations sparked by the #MeToo movement and the like. In my role as a psychiatrist and futurist, I respond to potentially polarizing front-page-news issues by attempting to write about them from a more systemic vantage. When I tried to address current gender- and sexuality-related concerns in this way, I quickly realized that more than a short article would be necessary. I saw that these were questions that would require big-picture, historical perspective. This book was the result.
In the book's last chapter, I observe that efforts like the current #MeToo movement could result in two quite opposite outcomes. We could see important new levels of communication and steps toward a reconciling history's battle of the sexes. And just as easily the result could be escalating polarization and acrimony not unlike we see today in the political arena. I wrote On The Evolution of Intimacy to support the kind of maturity of perspective needed for the former to be the case."
—On the Evolution of Intimacy has it roots in the thinking of Creative Systems Theory, a comprehensive framework for addressing purpose, change, and interrelationship in human systems developed by Charles Johnston and colleagues at the Institute for Creative Development over the last forty years.
—How do we best understand the times in which we live?
—How do we best understand the human story as a whole?
—Why, at different times in history, has human understanding taken the forms that it has?
—How do we best understand the experience of free will?
—Are the beliefs of science and religion just different or, instead, parts of a larger picture?
—What is our place in the larger scheme of things?
These questions share a common bond: they are systemic, and systemic in a particular sense we are only beginning to fully grasp. Quick and Dirty Answers describes how the needed answers to these questions are in fact straightforward, indeed rather common sense. What is new and different is that this is a sort of common sense that we are only beginning to be able to get our minds around. Quick and Dirty Answers to the Biggest of Questions is intended for people who find particular fascination with overarching, "theory of everything" reflection.
Cultural Maturity: A Guidebook for the Futureis the most detailed of three new future-related works by the author. It looks deeply at how the most important challenges ahead for the species will require not just better ideas, but new human capacities; in the end, an essential “growing up” as a species—a new Cultural Maturity. It is written for those inter- ested in acquiring the newly sophisticated leadership abilities that we will more and more need in all parts of our lives in times ahead.
The concept of Cultural Maturity makes understandable how institutional structures and beliefs that in modern times have served us well can’t be the ideals and end points that we have assumed them to be. It goes on to articulate a new guiding story for our time, one able to take us equally beyond denial, cynicism, and naïve wishful thinking. This book looks deeply at the changes the concept of Cultural Maturity describes—both how they make needed new capacities possible, and how we see their beginnings in many parts of our personal and collective lives.
The concept of Cultural Maturity is based on the ideas of Creative Systems Theory, a comprehensive framework for understanding change, purpose, and interrelationship in human systems. Creative Systems Theory describes how Cultural Maturity’s changes are as, or more, significant than those that brought us modern democratic governance 250 years ago. It also argues that if the concept of Cultural Maturity is not basically correct, it is hard to imagine a healthy and vital human future.
In addition to introducing the concept of Cultural Maturity, Cultural Maturity: A Guidebook for the Future presents important related ideas from Creative Systems Theory. Creative Systems Theory represents an example of culturally mature conception and offers a rich array of conceptual tools able to guide us in making the future’s increasingly complex choices.
From the book's back cover:
"Hope and the Future addresses what legitimate hope for the future necessarily depends on. It describes how we face a growing number of challenges that require that we think, act, and relate in new ways—often fundamentally new ways. And it explores how effectively addressing those challenges will require not just fresh ideas, but a critical "growing up" as a species.
"This essential book also looks at ways needed changes are already happening, and how when we are ready for them, they can seem surprisingly straightforward, indeed, like common sense. Hope and the Future is an exploration of the "new common sense" on which our future depends."
Of all Dr Johnston's books, Hope and Future is written most specifically for a general audience. It is the place to start if you are not familiar with his work.
Creative Systems Theory is a comprehensive framework for understanding purpose, change, and interrelationship in human systems. It helps us better understand the past, tease apart current cultural dilemmas, and make sense of what a vital human future will require of us. The theory offers a overarching approach to understanding that reflects the more mature and encompassing kind of thinking that will become more and more essential in times ahead.
The Creative Imperative is significant not just for the insights it brings from Creative Systems Theory’s beginnings, but also for the particular attention it brings to many of the theory’s foundational concepts. In addition, it richly documents ideas with photographs of art and architecture through history. Much in Creative Systems Theory has not been expressed more richly or fully since.
Praise for The Creative Imperative:
“This book impresses me very much.”
Ilya Prigogine, Noble Chemist, author From Being to Becoming