• 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
    990

    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
    125
    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
    8.4k
    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
    990

    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
    8.4k
    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
    10
    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
    990

    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
    10
    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
    69
    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
    10
    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
    69
    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
    10
    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
    69

    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
    10
    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
    69
    Exactly, it's very interesting, the difference between how we think we'll be understood vs. how it actually happens.
  • Gus Lamarch
    579
    I am wondering if there are any new ideas which have not been advocated by thinkers already. This is based on my reflection on the way in which I have discovered that any idea which I have, if I do some basic research, seems to have been explored.Jack Cummins

    The original "ideas" were not even ideas, but instincts, or irrational impulses. Everything that had been thought of by mankind was no longer original.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    This is a fairly old thread in the sense that I have probably started about five since this one.

    However, I am interested by your claim that every idea thought by mankind had existed already. If you mean it is based on some instinct, I am not sure that would make sense in the way that I am thinking of ideas. That is because I am thinking of them in a philosophical sense. For example, the ideas of psychoanalysis, postmodernism, the existential, holistic or phenomenological.

    Of course, I realise that I am talking of the naming of ideas and that the actual content of ideas goes beyond the surface of mere naming. I can understand that some ideas are discovered by all different cultures independently, such as the idea of time or the idea of religion. In this respect, such ideas could be seen as archetypal. Is that what you mean?

    Basic ideas could be seen as existing in that way. but surely, is it certain individual human beings who have developed the specific ideas, such as the philosophical theories or critiques, as we know them.
  • Edy
    13
    Ideas are not thought up or magically conjured in our neurological network of grey matter. Ideas are discovered. They always existed in accordance with the laws of the universe.

    The concept of ideas can be compared to the concept of inventions.

    Most new inventions are just a combination of primary inventions. A wheel being a primary invention, as well as fire in a combustion engine. A motor vehicle is a much newer invention, but is just a complex combination.

    I would say most primary ideas have already been thought of. But there is still many ways to combine them and discover something new.
  • Don Wade
    10
    After reading the posts on this thread, I believe we first need to agree on some specifics of what is meant by "Truly new and original ideas".
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I see that this is your first post on the site, so I hope that you find some interesting discussions. I have been thinking about the issue of ideas since the comment made previous to yours. What I have been thinking is about is how both Plato and Kant saw ideas as part of the objective sphere. Their theory of knowledge was based on the belief that knowledge and ideas exist independently of us, and we are able to discover them.

    Yes, it is also interesting to wonder about how inventions are out there in an objective realm waiting to be discovered. I have been engaged with others on a couple of other threads about the process of creativity in the arts. In thinking about this we can ask about whether, for example, the pictures of Salvador Dali or novels of James Joyce were based on an objective realm of ideas awaiting discovery.

    This is also an exciting area of thought because it leads us into the direction of how do we find knowledge ourselves? Kant thought it was discoverable, by the principle of reason. I am sure that many think of other means of finding ideas, including psychedelic experimentation. These could be seen as the two extreme approaches as searching for ideas awaiting to be found. At the moment, the world is in need of some outstanding ideas. I am almost starting to think of someone out in the wilderness reaching out for ideas like Moses grasping the ten commandments amidst burning bushes.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I generally like to keep thread discussion as open as possible but I would welcome any suggestions for specifics. I created this thread about 6 weeks ago and it feels more like 6 months ago. I have written lots, but at the moment this one seems to risen again. Unlike some threads which I thought about quite a bit, I wrote this really spontaneously, so I am inclined to the idea of keeping it as open as possible in the spirit of creativity.
  • Gus Lamarch
    579
    Is that what you mean?Jack Cummins

    No.

    What I say is that, the "original ideas" in their essence were not conceived by the human psyche, but were instinctive reflections of the animalistic side that we still have.

    For example, the idea of creating energy by means of the use of fire, or better saying, of producing energy by means of cooking food - when human beings learned to "cook" or create more energy to be consumed - was not something idealized, or programmed by the inquiries of the human individual, but by the simple instinct and its irrational impulsivity.

    All reflections conceived by the contemporary human logical-rational mind - from 10,000 BC to the present day - were no longer original, as they were based on irrational "ideas" from our ancestors.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I think that you are partly right, but I would say that we are driven by our animal sides and rational aspects, with emotions as somewhere in between. Jung spoke of how we had neglected the animal aspects of our being and how religious and spiritual teachings had spoken in terms of a false dichotomy between lower and higher aspects of human nature.

    I would imagine that the whole way of seeing life was different between the earliest people and present day ones. I am sure that they were more practical because they had learned to approach life in that way. There are variations between people and I am one of the worst examples because I sit here writing about ideas and I rely on microwave food.

    But I do believe that ideas are not just based on instincts alone. What about the role of art? We are not just concerned with bodily aspects of life, but at the same time it would be foolish to deny these. It is possible that in the original sense ideas were based on survival. It is also possible that the whole processing of ideas was different , as suggested by Julian Jaynes in 'The Origins of the Bicameral Mind.'

    I would say that we need to be aware of the instincts, emotions and reason and that ideas occur on all these levels. If anything, perhaps the problem with Plato and Kant was that they made the whole problem of knowledge appear too mystical. However, on some level I would argue that there is still an archetypal and mythical dimension to human existence.
  • Gus Lamarch
    579
    But I do believe that ideas are not just based on instincts alone.Jack Cummins

    My statement does not say that all human metaphysics is irrational, but that its base was built by the instinctive and irrational minds of our ancestors. I believe that everything after 50,000 BC had already been developed and conceptualized rationally and "philosophically" - in this, understand "philosophically" as the act of questioning and answering yourself -, yet, as time went on, our way of perceiving and idealizing thing got more sophisticated.

    I would say that we need to be aware of the instincts, emotions and reason and that ideas occur on all these levels.Jack Cummins

    As Nietzsche said:

    "Apollo and Dionysus. We are made to recognize the tremendous split, as regards both origins and objectives, between the plastic, Apollinian arts and the nonvisual art of music inspired by Dionysus. The two creative tendencies developed alongside one another, usually in fierce opposition, each by its taunts forcing the other to more energetic production, both perpetuating in a discordant concord that agon which the term art but feebly denominates: until at last, by the thaumaturgy of an Hellenic act of will, the pair accepted the yoke of marriage."

    In resume, we should live using wisely both our instinctive and rational "Self" to reach Übermensch - yet, we see the trend throught history of times where the rational aspect dominates, and others in which the animalistic irrational takes hold -. We have yet to make the perfect "marriage" between the two.

    I am one of the worst examples because I sit here writing about ideas and I rely on microwave food.Jack Cummins

    I don't think you're one of the worst examples. You are simply adapted to the environment in which you find yourself. This doesn't make you worst or better. You just are.
  • Don Wade
    10
    I appreciate your efforts. We communicate with each other in both generalities, and in specifics, but often we are unaware of which one each of us are using when compared to the other person. That part is usually left out. I understand why you would want to keep the conversation general, but sometimes someone may ask a question looking for more information,or detail, - increasing the specificity. How you could "lock-in" a specific level of information in a back-a-forth conversation could be debated in itself.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I am sorry that you are finding my post as being not specific enough. Apart from the current discussion which is about ideas and whether they are objective truths, and whether they are based on reason, I would point to another specific question.

    One person, Possiblility, pointed to a criteria for evaluating ideas: originality, accuracy, popularity, comprehensibility? You can read her post if you scroll back this thread. However, the question is whether originality is the most important standard for viewing the importance of ideas or one of the other measures? I found this to be a useful question to think about.
  • Don Wade
    10
    I also appologize if I seem to be critical of your coments. Being critical is not my intent. I was pointing out the difficulty of communicating ideas whether we are general, or specific. Your question: "Truly new and original idea"? seems to be a good question. I find it philosophically thought provoking. Depending on context, the answer could yes, or no.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I did not take your comment as s personal question. If anything, it helped me to reflect on how I have been writing almost on a manic level.It is the first forum I have been on and I only joined in September and I have been writing so many posts and threads. I think that I need to slow down a bit, and I would imagine that you are being more cautious.

    Philosophy is about reflection in many ways. You speak of the question or questions raised by this post as being yes or no. I think it is very hard to find yes or no answers in philosophy. Is this fortunate or unfortunate?
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.