Play Is The Engine of Creation
Focus questions for Adelaide Lunchtime
Seminar, 8 June 2019
Note: About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding.
1. FOR YOU, WHAT DOES THIS TOPIC MEAN? -
"Play is the Engine of Creation"
2. DREAMS ARE FREE. SUGGEST A THOUGHT
EXPERIMENT TO EXPLORE OR SOLVE A PROBLEM. Einstein used thought
experiments (a kind of play). Drexler uses nano-technolgy in a
thought experiment to stop climate change
3. REAL DREAMS ARE A KIND OF PLAY, AND OFTEN
USED TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. Have you ever solved a problem or thought of
a new idea after a good night's sleep?
4. CURIOSITY MIGHT HAVE "KILLED THE CAT",
BUT IT MADE US HUMAN. Do you agree? Can you name some inventions
that grew out of just mucking around with stuff out of curiosity?
[Personally, I think the most beautiful word in the English language
5. IS FORMAL EDUCATION COMPATIBLE WITH A
CREATIVE SPIRIT? Most mass education worldwide, since its beginnings
in the 19th Century has been highly regimented. The obsession with
diplomas by both students and organizations has even driven
university education that way. It worked OK for producing production
line zombies. So how far is it possible to push average people
towards creative thinking?
6. A CYNICAL DEFINITION OF A PhD STUDENT IS
SOMEONE WHO LEARNS MORE AND MORE ABOUT LESS AND LESS. DOES IT HAVE
TO BE THAT WAY? Advanced research requires highly specialized
knowledge, yet again and again the real breakthroughs have come from
individuals who both have that knowledge, yet also wide interests
from which they borrow apparently "unrelated" ideas.
7. WHAT IS ART? WHAT IS LITERATURE? Computer
programs can do increasingly sophisticated imitations of these, yet
somehow the computer product is not quite convincing. What does play
(call it experiment if you like) contribute to great art, as
distinct from competent imitation?
8. SMALL INVENTIVE DISCOVERIES DON'T HAVE TO
CHANGE THE WORLD. Can you think of an 'aha moment' when you modified
something you often did and got far better results? [Example: Years
ago I suddenly made a discovery. While safety razors gave a smooth
shave, they quickly became blunt. Electric shavers gave a poor
result. However, if I used an electric shaver for rough brush
cutting, then followed with a safety razor, the whole thing took no
longer and the safety razor lasted for months (shhh, don't tell the
9. HOW MUCH SHOULD THE PLAY OF YOUNG
CHILDREN BE GUIDED? HOW FAR SHOULD THEY BE LEFT TO MAKE THEIR OWN
10. A TYPICAL POLITICIAN'S OR MANAGER'S
"SOLUTION" TO A PROBLEM IS TO THROW MONEY AT IT. HOW WELL DOES THAT
WORK? How much latitude should there be in organizations for
employees to come up with independent ideas?
Comments & Extra Reading
Thor May (1987) "Superculture and The Ghost in the Machine". Passionate Skeptic website @ http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/skeptic/philos7.html
Wikipedia (2019) "Invention" @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention
Wikipedia (2019) "Creativity" @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creativity
Eric Drexler (2015) "Transforming the Material Basis of Civilization". TEDxISTAlameda @ https://youtu.be/Q9RiB_o7Szs
Eric Drexler (2007) "Engines of Creation 2". WebArchive.org @ https://web.archive.org/web/20140810022659/http://www1.appstate.edu/dept
Wikipedia (2019) "Engines of Creation". @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engines_of_Creation
Thor May (2014) "How do we judge literary and artistic value?. Passionate Skeptic website @ http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/Literary&ArtisticValue.htm or Academia.edu @ https://www.academia.edu/6338203/How_do_we_judge_literary_value_and_artistic_value [PDF] [Quote: "We do have an expression in English ... about any activity which requires mysterious but sophisticated human abilities: “It is more art than science”. The suggestion is that some human activities depend upon a dynamic synthesis of skills, experience and judgement which is too complex to analyse, yet which yields outcomes of high quality. “More art than science” certainly underlies our understanding of what artistic creators have been able to achieve. When it comes to particular judgements however, art, whatever its form, has no single criterion of interpretation. Depending upon the time and the place, the circumstance and the human actors involved, the status of art (or its rejection) is resolved through a multitude of prisms".
Thor May (2015) "Are Men More Inventive Than Women?" Passionate Skeptic website @ http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/Invention.htm [Quote: "The title of these notes is deliberately provocative. One purpose of the provocation is to incite discussion and reflection. Another purpose is to observe the kinds of responses which the question evokes. For example, it is instructive that those people I have broached the topic to have mostly not questioned the premise: that women have in fact been less inventive than men. Personally, I am genuinely curious about whether that is in fact true, what being inventive might mean, and why there might be gender differences in what, at bottom, has been our ability to innovate and hence survive as a species. What is indisputable from even a casual survey is that the number of documented inventions, ancient and modern, are overwhelmingly attributed to men.
It is also well documented that a significant number of inventions and scientific breakthroughs rightly attributable to extraordinary women were recorded as coming from men (e.g. see Murphy & Tasneem 2013 in the reading list below). There are other instances where a woman, though recognized as an inventor, was dismissed and disparaged (e.g. think Lady Ada Lovelace, inventor of computer programming before there were computers). The gender denigration is, of course, quite predictable and in concordance with historical gender relations in most societies. The pity of this factor in the present question is that it muddies the investigation of whatever differences there might in fact be between men’s and women’s inventiveness."]
Melissa Breyer (March 28, 2013) "10 accidental inventions that changed the world - From plastic and potato chips to matches and microwaves, these strokes of scientific serendipity have had a big impact on our lives". Mnn.com Leaderboard @ https://www.mnn.com/leaderboard/stories/10-accidental-inventions-that-changed-the-world
Patrick Kuchard (26 February 2010) "Science And Serendipity". Encyclopédie Atypique Incomplète @ http://www.encyclopedie-incomplete.com/?Science-And-Serendipity [Thor: recommended article. Quote: "“Serendipity is looking for a needle in a haystack and finding the Farmer’s Daughter.” - Julius H. Comroe, a biomedical researcher ]
PBS (n.d.) "Creativity and Play: Fostering Creativity". PBS (USA public broadcasting service) @ https://www.pbs.org/wholechild/providers/play.html [.. about child raising]
Nancy C. Andreasen (June 26, 2014) "Secrets of the Creative Brain - A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness". The Atlantic, republished @ https://getpocket.com/explore/item/secrets-of-the-creative-brain
Ian Sample )16 Jan 2018) "Creative thought has a pattern of its own, brain activity scans reveal - People who are flexible, original thinkers show signature forms of connectivity in their brains, study shows". The Guardian @ https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/15/creative-thought-has-a-pattern-of-its-own-brain-activity-scans-reveal
Science Daily (December 10, 2018) "Brainwaves suppress obvious ideas to help us think more creatively - The human brain needs to suppress obvious ideas in order to reach the most creative ones, according to scientists [at Queen Mary University of London]. These obvious associations are present in both convergent thinking (finding an 'out-of-the-box' solution) and also in divergent thinking (when individuals have to come up with several creative ideas)". Science Daily @ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181210150622.htm
K. Ferlic (2006) "Understanding play and its relation to creativity - A Releasing Your Of Unlimited Creativity". RUYC website @ http://ryuc.info/common/play/understanding_play.htm
Thor's own websites:
1. articles at http://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay ;
2. legacy site: http://thormay.net .
Play is the Engine of Creation (c) Thor May 2019 return to Ddiscussion