The Origin of Ideas: Blending, Creativity, and the Human Spark

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What makes human beings so innovative, so adept at rapid, creative thinking? Where do new ideas come from, and once we have them, how can we carry them mentally into new situations? What allows our thinking to range easily over time, space, causation, and agency-so easily that we take this truly remarkable ability for granted?
In The Origin of Ideas, Mark Turner offers a provocative new theory to answer these and many other questions. While other species do what we cannot-fly, run amazingly fast, see in the dark-only human beings can innovate so rapidly and widely. Turner argues that this distinctively human spark was an evolutionary advance that developed from a particular kind of mental operation, which he calls "blending": our ability to take two or more ideas and create a new idea in the "blend." Turner begins by looking at the "lionman," a 32,000-year-old ivory figurine, one of the earliest examples of blending. Here, the concepts "lion" and "man" are merged into a new figure, the "lionman." Turner argues that at some stage during the Paleolithic Age, humans reached a tipping point. Before that, we were a bunch of large, unimaginative mammals. After that, we were poised to take over the world. Once biological evolution hit upon making brains that could do advanced blending, we possessed the capacity to invent and maintain culture. Cultural innovation could then progress by leaps and bounds over biological evolution itself, leading to the highest forms of human cognition and creativity.
For anyone interested in how and why our minds work the way they do, The Origin of Ideas offers a wealth of original insights-and is itself a brilliant example of the innovative thinking it describes.

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About the Author:


Mark Turner, Ph.D., is Institute Professor and Professor of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University. He is the founding director of the Cognitive Science Network and co-director of the Red Hen Lab. His most recent book publications are Ten Lectures on Mind and Language and two edited volumes, The Artful Mind: Cognitive Science and the Riddle of Human Creativity, from Oxford University Press, and Meaning, Form, & Body, edited with Fey Parrill and Vera Tobin, published by the Center for the Study of Language and Information. His other books and articles include Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science: The Way We Think about Politics, Economics, Law, and Society, The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language, Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science, and Death is the Mother of Beauty. He has been a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Advanced Study of Durham University, and the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He is a fellow of the Institute for the Science of Origins, external research professor at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in Cognitive Neuroscience, distinguished fellow at the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology, and Extraordinary Member of the Humanwissenschaftsliches Zentrum. In 1996, the Académie française awarded him the Prix du Rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises.

Review:


"Turner makes a cogent and often colorfully argued case for blending's importance as crucial to the development of new ideas and imaginative works."
--Publishers Weekly


"Turner probes the nature of creativity. [...He applies] 'blending' to such complex topics as 'self, ' 'identity, ' and 'theory of mind' in a reader-friendly style that encompasses neurobiology, cartoons, Picasso, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Recommended. All readers." --S. Krippner, CHOICE


"Turner probes the nature of creativity. He does apply 'blending' to such complex topics as 'self, ' identity, ' and 'theory of mind' in a reader-friendly style that encompasses neurobiology, cartoons, Picasso, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Recommended. All readers." --S. Krippner, CHOICE Magazine


"Turner makes a cogent and often colorfully argued case for blending's importance as crucial to the development of new ideas and imaginative works."

--Publishers Weekly


"Turner probes the nature of creativity. [...He applies] 'blending' to such complex topics as 'self, ' 'identity, ' and 'theory of mind' in a reader-friendly style that encompasses neurobiology, cartoons, Picasso, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Recommended. All readers." --S. Krippner, CHOICE


"Turner probes the nature of creativity. He does apply 'blending' to such complex topics as 'self, ' identity, ' and 'theory of mind' in a reader-friendly style that encompasses neurobiology, cartoons, Picasso, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Recommended. All readers." --S. Krippner, CHOICE Magazine


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2014. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why are we so innovative? Where do new ideas come from? Why are human beings so exceptionally good at innovation, leaving other species mentally in the dust? How can we hold onto new ideas once they are formed? This book explores the claim that the human spark, the source of innovation and the origin of ideas, was an advance that occurred in a particular kind of mental operation, which Turner calls blending. Blending is our ability to take two ideas or more and create a new idea from the blend. And what is so fascinating is how human beings are able to engage in blending almost without effort and usually unconsciously. It appears to be second nature to us, how we live and breathe in the course of processing information and ideas. Human beings are profoundly different from all other species in this ability. While many species can do what we cannot-fly, run amazingly fast, see in the dark-only human beings can innovate. Beginning somewhere in the Paleolithic Age, everything changed in the course of human events. Before that, we were a bunch of large mammals. After that, we were poised to take over the world. Turner makes the controversial and provocative claim that what made human advances possible was the ability to engage in the virtuosity of blending, which is everywhere apparent in our cultural record-in our creations and innovations-it is the origin of our ideas. Turner s theory of blending is featured in Jonah Lehrer s bestselling book, Imagine, and this book will be the first to lay out this theory in detail for a lay audience and academics tackling the nature of the human brain and the fascinating puzzle of what it means to be human. Seller Inventory # AOP9780199988822

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