Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I'm thinking of giving a talk to our local philosophy club. The topic will be creativity and imagination. The subtopics will be as follows. What is your definition of creativity? Is creativity inborn or learned, or a mixture of the two? If it's at least partly learned, can it be taught or enhanced? What part does visualization (or imagination) play in creativity? Can visualization be taught?

Historically there are three sources of creativity that we might consider. For the Greeks creativity was a mystical process that required the intervention of a supernatural Muse. David Hume and John Locke thought that creativity was nothing more than the ability to rearrange previous ideas or perceptions. Others see creativity as the fortunate application of pure chance.

I taught what might be called "psuedo creativity" for a few years. If we use the Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary definition for creativity, it would be the ability to transcend traditional rules, ideas, patterns, etc. in order to generate meaningful new ideas. Pseudo creativity is the application of methods that will generate unnatural thinking paths that will generate new ideas. For example, most people have unconscious censors in their minds that will eliminate thought paths that are illegal, immoral or violate the laws of physics. This constraining of the the process at a very early stage leads to narrow thinking. If we consciously eliminate such constraints we may come up with ideas or problem solutions that are not physically or legally or morally realizable, but they may have distant cousins that are achievable.

I would appreciate your ideas on the subject. With respect-Joel

Friday, February 8, 2008

Major Barbara

Sometime back Howard commented on a post by quoting Major Barbara by Shaw.  I hadn't seen or read that play and I was curious.  I finally got around to reading it the other day and found it full of very interesting comments concerning economic philosophy, religion and the meaning of life.  Perhaps it would be interesting if Howard wanted to lead a discussion of Shaw's ideas.  With respect -Joel

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ethical Dilemma?

Ethical Dilemma?
I was looking for ethical dilemmas. I recalled a serious one concerning the use of medical data derived during the Holocaust. I discovered a long article that I think is very interesting from a philosophical point of view. As in Dawkins' trolley there is an issue of one life for many, but also many other issues. There are historical implications as to how the victims will be remembered. There are implications with respect to glorifying the work of nazi butchers. I think you will find this site thought provoking and a true dilemma. With respect -Joel

Friday, February 1, 2008

L/C Mind Neural Research

I'm happy to see that some neural research has been done which impacts our L/C mind concept. Although the work and especially the media reports contain certain biases as can be seen from the critique, it at least validates the concept that we are wired with different neural processes. I think the problem is that the study and ones that preceded it do not use a rule that forbids describing the differences in pejorative terms. It doesn't help that they use the terms conservative and liberal label either. With respect -Joel

Here's the website and a brief quote below.;jsessionid=5295E483D9A844426631F547AFEE6E78

Here's the site for a critique of the work.

Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism
David M Amodio1, John T Jost1, Sarah L Master2 & Cindy M Yee2

Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern.
[I added the links in clickable form. Ira, 5 Feb 2008]