Monday, February 16, 2009

Human logic is creativity

From The Society of Mind, Marvin Minsky's excellent book (Picador edition, p. 189):
I do not mean to say that there is anything wrong with logic; I only object to the assumption that ordinary reasoning is largely based on it. What, then, are the functions of logic? It rarely helps us get a new idea, but it often helps us to detect the weaknesses in old ideas. Sometimes it also helps us clarify our thoughts by refining messy networks into simpler chains. Thus, once we find a way to solve a certain problem, logical analysis can help us find the most essential steps. Then it becomes easier to explain what we've discovered to other people - and, also, we often benefit from explaining our ideas to ourselves. This is because, more often than not, instead of explaining what we actually did, we come up with a new formulation. Paradoxically, the moments in which we think we're being logical and methodical can be just the times at which we're most creative and original.

I think the last two sentences are enlightening and in strong contrast to the popular assumptions that "logical" thinking is an antithesis of creative thinking.

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