An Introduction to Panvergent Thinking

Back in the early 1970s when my father, Robert S. Westcott, Ph.D, was working with the late E. Paul Torrence, Ph.D (often hailed as the "father of creativity") at the University of Georgia he continued his work on models of thought. During this time he did quite a few things which were considered impossible in the day such as diagramming abstract thought processes. One model of thought which he taught extensively he called at the time "Global Thinking". Much has changed in the world since 1970 and "Global", while descriptive of the process, carries connotation in modern culture that confuses; for this reason I have renamed the model "Panvergent Thinking". Panvergent is a word I coined from the greek pan (all) and vérga (flexible stick), borrowing from the latin extension, meaning to "bend wholly or in all ways".

To continue it is useful to gloss over a few conventional models of thinking: "Convergent" (vertical) thinking drills into a problem using a diminishing set of options predicated on the immediately prior option resulting in a base linear logic. "Divergent" thinking moves out from a problem to explore alternatives to the obvious, but does not neccesarily come back to solve the problem per se. De Bono's lateral thinking looks at a broad set of options rejecting the obvious logic path in the hope of finding what later becomes completely obvious using linear logic--though linear logic on its own typically would not find the lateral solution--as such it is quite useful and moves in the right direction since it still seeks to arrive at a solution.

Panvergent thinking approaches a problem by combining linear logic, abstract logic, and multiples paths to a solution such that a solution has multiple lines of linear-logic support.

To diagram "conventional" problem solving (e.g. linear logic) one might draw "A"-->"B"-->"C"||"D". Divergent thought goes out from "A" in wild directions looking to land at something that resembles "D" but may not be concerned all that much with actually arriving at "D" itself.

Panvergent thought will look something like a series of spheres or 3-dimensional wheels with infinitely long spokes of ideation going out from A, B, C, & D. Where the spokes intersect one may draw simple linear logic by a rotation of the wheel. But as the case with infinite spokes, it is often the case that one will find multiple points of intersection when one diverges/converges on a logical point from a different direction. Linear logic only seeks one connection and moves on which subsequently leads to a narrower set of choices. Panvergent thought seeks to explore all angles of a problem, (especially asking if "D" really _is_ the problem). If one negates a connection in linear logic, the entirety of the downstream solution falls--disprove "A"-->"B" then "C"/"D" are unsupported. Panvergent thought builds on multiple logic connections making it much less succeptible to error. "A" --*> "B", "A" --**> "B", "A" --***> "B" if I knock out two of the three progressions to "B" then my logic chain still stands because my associations have not been drawn on only the immediately obvious, but also the differential ideation which comes from the exploration on an expanded problem set. Because we treat each piece of the problem puzzle as its own divergence point, we find non-obvious solutions more quickly. If one then takes an intersection and creates an unexplored convergence point at that intersection the solutions can become even more unexpected.

One benefit of panvergent thought is that shortcuts are often found where "A" intersects "C" allowing one to elegantly bypass "B" altogether. This kind of discovery can be game changing and can seem entirely unexpected but patently obvious in hindsight. Another benefit of multi-level panvergent thought, particularly when one considers the question first (and continuously), is that panvergence does not accept that the solution being sought is neccesarily the solution needed. Hence it is possible to find the true problem while seeking the solution to the identified symptomatic problem--again, game-changing. Panvergent thinking is where most disruptive invention originates.

To continue it is useful to gloss over a few conventional models of thinking: "Convergent" (vertical) thinking drills into a problem using a diminishing set of options predicated on the immediately prior option resulting in a base linear logic. "Divergent" thinking moves out from a problem to explore alternatives to the obvious, but does not neccesarily come back to solve the problem per se. De Bono's lateral thinking looks at a broad set of options rejecting the obvious logic path in the hope of finding what later becomes completely obvious using linear logic--though linear logic on its own typically would not find the lateral solution--as such it is quite useful and moves in the right direction since it still seeks to arrive at a solution.

Panvergent thinking approaches a problem by combining linear logic, abstract logic, and multiples paths to a solution such that a solution has multiple lines of linear-logic support.

To diagram "conventional" problem solving (e.g. linear logic) one might draw "A"-->"B"-->"C"||"D". Divergent thought goes out from "A" in wild directions looking to land at something that resembles "D" but may not be concerned all that much with actually arriving at "D" itself.

Panvergent thought will look something like a series of spheres or 3-dimensional wheels with infinitely long spokes of ideation going out from A, B, C, & D. Where the spokes intersect one may draw simple linear logic by a rotation of the wheel. But as the case with infinite spokes, it is often the case that one will find multiple points of intersection when one diverges/converges on a logical point from a different direction. Linear logic only seeks one connection and moves on which subsequently leads to a narrower set of choices. Panvergent thought seeks to explore all angles of a problem, (especially asking if "D" really _is_ the problem). If one negates a connection in linear logic, the entirety of the downstream solution falls--disprove "A"-->"B" then "C"/"D" are unsupported. Panvergent thought builds on multiple logic connections making it much less succeptible to error. "A" --*> "B", "A" --**> "B", "A" --***> "B" if I knock out two of the three progressions to "B" then my logic chain still stands because my associations have not been drawn on only the immediately obvious, but also the differential ideation which comes from the exploration on an expanded problem set. Because we treat each piece of the problem puzzle as its own divergence point, we find non-obvious solutions more quickly. If one then takes an intersection and creates an unexplored convergence point at that intersection the solutions can become even more unexpected.

One benefit of panvergent thought is that shortcuts are often found where "A" intersects "C" allowing one to elegantly bypass "B" altogether. This kind of discovery can be game changing and can seem entirely unexpected but patently obvious in hindsight. Another benefit of multi-level panvergent thought, particularly when one considers the question first (and continuously), is that panvergence does not accept that the solution being sought is neccesarily the solution needed. Hence it is possible to find the true problem while seeking the solution to the identified symptomatic problem--again, game-changing. Panvergent thinking is where most disruptive invention originates.

diagrams still to come...

©2014 Daniel S. Westcott: All Content Copyright Daniel S. Westcott. All rights reserved. If you quote, please remember to credit, and I always appreciate links back so that people can read more (especially if you quote me on a forum).