Part 1 of The Runaway Species -- New Under the Sun

Discuss the January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month, The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.
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Scott
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Part 1 of The Runaway Species -- New Under the Sun

Post by Scott »

This topic is for discussing Part 1 of The Runaway Species. Please do not post in this topic unless you have read at least through Part 1 of The Runaway Species.

How did you enjoy Part 1 of the book?

From my reading of it, in this part of the book, assert that creativity always involves at least one of three main components: bending, breaking, or blending. Then many examples are given of each. This providing of many examples both (1) helps explain what they mean by each of three components and (2) helps provide the evidence to backup their assertion that creativity involves bending, breaking, or blending.

Did you interpret the authors' main assertion in Part 1 to be as I have summarized it above? If so, do you agree with it? If not, what did you under the authors' assertion(s) in Part 1 to be, especially regarding "bending", "breaking", and "blending"?

Overall, I enjoyed reading Part 1 of the book. However, I did feel like it was a slow point in the book for me. Going over so many examples started to seem repetitive and less interesting to me the more it went on. Granted, this is somewhat to be expected since the first part of a book like this is presumably providing the foundation of the hopefully more interesting arguments in the rest of the book, such as in terms of creating a foundation of evidence, examples, and background info.

What do you think?
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Tehsorso
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Re: Part 1 of The Runaway Species -- New Under the Sun

Post by Tehsorso »

I think that, rather than discrete categories, at least two processes - bending and breaking - can really be seen as degrees of intensity of a nearly universal creative process: the modification of an initial entity according to the goals of the individual. In other words, there is a point where bending becomes breaking - such as that when the modifications to the original lead to the creation of something entirely different (for instance, in the case of the bull drawing, where the more extreme renditions are beyond recognition).

Blending is a more difficult process to include on this continuum; however, rather than keeping it separate, it can be conceputalized as an underlying prerequisite to both breaking and bending. After all, most creative endeavors can be seen as alternation of a certain thing/situation/concept by drawing inspiration from another thing/situation/concept.

In other words, all creative acts involve a degree of bending, breaking and blending.

I'll check with the book later today, but from what I remember I don't think the authors touched on the potential of the three concepts to be more or less simultaneously present in all creative acts, rather than isolate.
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Re: Part 1 of The Runaway Species -- New Under the Sun

Post by Scott »

I agree that in the book, as best I recall, the authors weren't clear whether they were arguing that categories were meant to be mutually exclusive or not. I feel the way or presenting implied that they were, but (since I feel that would be blatantly untrue) I gave them the benefit of the doubt and assume they realize that it is a continuum, with different acts of creativity involving different levels of bending, breaking, and blending.

When things are "bent", that could probably generally be considered a form of blending. For example, if you make something bigger, in a sense you are blending the concept of bigness or something big with the original concept. If you take something that's usually red and make it blue, you are blending the things that are blue with something that's usually red. So I don't think the distinction between the three categories is black-and-white, but rather it is a useful construct with useful but arbitrary categorizations of different types creative methods (bending, breaking, and blending).
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Part 1 of The Runaway Species -- New Under the Sun

Post by calm-realm »

About the three B's (bending, breaking and blending):
I also interpreted that any combination of the B's can be used in the creative process, and their boundaries are not extremely clear (or important). What the authors did was an Analysis: break a complex topic into more manageable pieces. I found this to be incredibly useful and insightful, because then a structure appears in the previously unclear creative process.

About the summary: I agree if every word of Scott's Summary (even that sometimes there are too much examples). I would just add :
- Innovation never stops because it is never about the right thing; it’s about the next thing.
- Creative ideas need to find their audience, the social context defines its acceptance. If it is too similar to previous ideas, it is not interesting; if it is too different, people get shocked or do not understand.

I thought maybe we can iterate the summary to improve it collectively (Bending it and blending with new insights). Here is my try:
The authors assert in the first part of the book that creativity always involves at least one of three main components: bending, breaking, or blending. Then they give many examples (sometimes too many) in order to both (1) help explain what they mean by each of three components and (2) provide the evidence to backup their assertion that creativity involves bending, breaking, or blending.
They use the same technique to assert that a creative ideas will never cease to exists because the current solutions quickly become uninteresting and that the innovation must have the right amount of change to be accepted by its audience: too much of the same and they lose interest; too much change and they get disoriented.
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