• Enrique
    332


    Helen Keller didn't even have a self until someone prompted her to conceptualize the sense of touch, and she became one of the most eloquent representatives for the disabled of anyone in history while totally transforming what society believed it was possible for cognition to do.

    Think of everything we've learned about neuroscience from accidental deficits in particular regions of the brain that teach us the processes they perform. If we were all exactly the same, brain science probably would have made much slower initial progress because we would have only been seeing what we expected, with experiment mirroring our intuitions.

    Its not just rare gifts but rarity in general that is key to support because some progress will be impossible any alternate way. The university system we take for granted began with Medieval universitas which were just a few students meeting with a single teacher at someone's house to read great books. By the
    Early Modern period this was an institutional foundation of culture and became the entire world's template. Medicine developed by facing sickness and deformity head on rather than ostracizing it.

    And yes, avant garde art scenes are an example of how rarity achieves a respected niche, not always immediately or obviously adaptive, but the principle of it is crucial. Of course civilization shouldn't wander off a cliff with experimentation, but that's probably impossible anyway if we also keep rationality in focus as we craft mainstream institutions.

    Of course this or any principle is vulnerable to corruption in any particular case, as I'm sure you can imagine, but that shouldn't be seen to invalidate the principle itself, just as rationality can't be dismissed as an ideal by claiming humans are frequently irrational.
  • Jack Cummins
    883

    Yes, you are quite right about Helen Keller. She was a very interesting example of someone with rare gifts and the person who sprang to my mind when I was reading your comment was Stephen Hawking. Also, I was wondering in particular about people who have been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, because some of them have profound and rare abilities too.
  • Brett
    3k


    Original thoughts come forth from our innate ability to create something new.MondoR

    I’m not quite sure what this might mean in relation to the OP?

    I’ve being thinking about this in relation to the OP “What is the purpose of creativity”. What are we meaning by original and creating? In one of my posts, in an effort to include intentionality in my thinking, I wrote in relation to every intending having its intended object ( I don’t assume I completely grasp intentionality) that imagining presents an imaginary object. This was in relation to creativity coming before the act. Then I said that in imagining something imaginary we were only creating something imaginary by collating disparate, but pre existing, elements, like an imaginary creature from space. We create it from things we know. How could we create it from things we don’t know?

    It seems to me that what we call original is only that. To say that original thoughts come forth from our ability to create something new is is sort of doubling up on the impossible. Even a newborn, with their own fingerprints and DNA, still resembles every other child in appearance and ultimately in consciousness.

    In Picasso’s painting Le Demoiselles d’avignon, a radical break away from conventional painting at the time, an ‘original’, he combines tradition with the influences of African masks and sculpture. Nothing in it is original except the throwing together of two cultural representations of people. So isn’t the new or original not a fact but just perception. And if so then can there really be something original?
  • 8livesleft
    123
    So what is the scope for original possibilities and are there questions which have not been touched upon at all.Jack Cummins

    I think so. So far, mankind has been limited by its own perception. We see things as only a human can see things. Everything we've made so far is based on that.

    But we're touching on real phenomenon that are beyond human perception. Quantum physics, dark energy and matter, unifying theories, and whatever else that lies beyond the observable universe... In other words, we might have exhausted our human perception but there's far more that exists beyond that.
  • TheMadFool
    8.3k
    You might want to give this (Multiple Discovery) a look.

    and this:

    Carl Wilhelm Scheele (9 December 1742 – 21 May 1786) was a German and Swedish Pomeranian pharmaceutical chemist. Isaac Asimov called him "hard-luck Scheele" because he made a number of chemical discoveries before others who are generally given the credit. — Wikipedia

    and this:
    Heroic Theory of Invention And Scientific Development

    and this:

    [The profound significance of Mendel's work was not recognized until the turn of the 20th century (more than three decades later) with the rediscovery of his laws. Erich von Tschermak, Hugo de Vries and Carl Correns independently verified several of Mendel's experimental findings in 1900, ushering in the modern age of genetics] Rediscovery Of Gregor Mendel's Work — Wikipedia

    and this:

    Leibniz-Newton Calculus Controversy

    It appears that the invention/discovery of new ideas has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Sometimes, rediscovering/reinventing an idea/invention brings the original discoverer/inventor to public awareness and this becomes the occasion for receiving recognition in their respective fields e.g Gregor Mendel's case. Other times, multiple discoveries result in no-holds-barred fights among the discoverers/inventors, all of whom want to claim primacy in the discovery/invention e.g. the Leibniz-Newton debate.

    Speaking for myself, I suppose it's a good idea to do adequate research before one claims that one's idea is a novel one. Two thousand years have passed since the earliest thinkers graced the world and even if one makes a conservative estimate of the rate at which new ideas/inventions are born there should be enough ideas/inventions out there to make the odds of duplication quite high.
  • Jack Cummins
    883

    Thanks for the references. Actually, a few minutes ago I just bought a book in a charity shop by Christopher Hitchens, (2011), 'Arguably,' after reading your thread about it.

    There are so many writers and ideas, and one writer leads onto another. It is like digging up the collective unconscious. For the moment, I am so busy reading recently that I feel that I am doing philosophy full-time, and I would imagine that you spend most of your time reading and writing.
  • TheMadFool
    8.3k
    Christopher HitchensJack Cummins

    A handy tool in your toolkit should be Hitchens' Razor: What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. It seems to have attracted some criticism but, to me, it's a burden of proof issue and assuredly, the one who makes the claim must furnish the proof for that claim whatever it is. I believe the Latin equivalent is: quod grātīs asseritur, grātīs negātur (what is asserted gratuitously can be negated gratuitously).

    Coincidentally, Hitchens' razor is a good example of an old idea that has been adapted to the modern audience by a prominent social figure who's, among other things surely, a strident opponent of religion.

    one writer leads onto anotherJack Cummins

    I suppose ideas that are mutually compatible or mutually supporting clump, to use a biological term, together and a synergy develops among them that, on occasion, becomes the breeding ground for other, newer, ideas. At other times, conflicting ideas experience attrition as they vie for people's attention and adherence and even here too new ideas, either by way of a compromise or a rejection of the inconsistency, emerge from what is essentially the carnage of ideological wars.
  • Don Wade
    6
    It seems to me, in order to have an original idea we must first create new foundations. Generally, we start building our foundations for thinking very early in life and those foundation-thoughts are primarily sensory inputs. We can't remember our very first sensory thoughts so we believe our reality is based on our perception. However, as adults, we have the ability to question our sensory input. "What we perceive may not be the real truth". It is difficult to imagine a new, original, idea based on our lifelong habits of perception. At this point I would like to introduce a new thought - not based on our old perction, but creating new thought experiments based on "emergent properties". For lack of a better name, I call these thought-experiments "Levels". Levels are the hiararchy of property bundles - not just our old sensory inputs. If this concept seems interesting to you, please respond.
  • Jack Cummins
    883

    As no one has responded to you yet my playful word associated around the idea of levels of consciousness. What also comes to mind is the Avicci track 'Levels', which I associate with levels of consciousness even though I have no idea whether it is about that at all.

    If my response is disappointing I am sorry, but you gave so little clues about what your idea of levels is.
  • Don Wade
    6
    Thanks for your response Jack. In the space available for comments it is difficult to give enough clues to allow someone not already familiar with levels to really grasp the scope. However, you seem to have shown an interest. It is a start.Thanks! Levels is not really associated with "levels of consciousness". It is more closely associated with reductionism, but also recognizes things becoming larger - not just smaller. Levels also recognizes the hierarchy relationship of large and small objects, and concepts. An example could be "the forrest and the trees". Levels can also be used to understand the "Sorites paradox", and other similar thought problems.
  • Manuel
    59
    It's possible that, if you are generous enough with interpretations of what others have said, one could conclude, that there are no "truly new ideas", or ideas that are new from scratch. In physics, however, things are so sophisticated by now that physicists have to really come up with ideas that are quite unique, forced on by the problem. So the Many Worlds Interpretation or Loop Quantum Gravity are quite innovative.

    However, considering how many people have come before, the technicalities are new, the underlying thought maybe not so much. But one may certainly improve certain ideas, or put them together in a manner that is unique, so in that regard there's plenty of things one could work out. But big questions stuff, have probably been touched on by some person sometime in the past.
  • Don Wade
    6
    It is difficult, probably impossible, for humans to "come up with" a truly unique idea as you describe. Our minds build ideas on old foundations. We can't think of new things unless we have already learned the newer foundations. Generally, new foundations are learned by accident. Example: emergent properties. Look at the history of our science. New discoveries are primarily made by accident. To prepare our minds for learning new things - we must first realize we don't "know" anything. Be a Schultz - "I know nothing". Knowing something (knowledge) is only a habit of using certain memories. Information comes to our brain via electrochemical impulses. Memories are formed in the brain by repeating these impulses to a specific area, or cell, within the brain. The brain is inherently lazy so it naturally chooses established memories over unknown information that might accidently get to the brain. This information is based on Neuroscience.
  • Manuel
    59
    That sounds about right. I'd only modify what you said by replacing "the brain storing information" with "people storing information". I don't think we know enough about anything to be able to claim that much from neuroscience, which is not to say that what you describe doesn't happen. I'd say it's our best inference of what our brain does in certain situations.

    It also raises the issue, what are "truly new and unique" ideas anyway? Most of this stuff is discovered by accident as you said. In the humanities, we could speak of "originality" which is distinct from new.
  • Don Wade
    6
    Interesting perspective! "People storing information". Is information stored in people, or in the peoples brain? I would say it comes down to an individual's perspective, but perspective is already individualized just by definition.
  • Manuel
    59

    I think its standard usage. As in, if your hypothetical friend, Jones, memorized something, you wouldn't say Jones' brain memorized this information, you'd say Jones memorized the information. Likewise, you wouldn't say Jones legs walk, you'd say Jones walks (using his legs of course). A brain alone leaves out, eyes, nose, ears, etc. not to mention situations, other people, etc. I'd argue that we understand more about people than we do about brains, which is to say very little.
  • Don Wade
    6
    A good point. Our language dosn't always cover details. We speak in generalities and believe the other person will understand the details. Your examples cover that well.
  • Manuel
    59
    Exactly, it's very interesting, the difference between how we think we'll be understood vs. how it actually happens.
12Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.