MD creativity and intellect

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Aug 10 2003 - 01:51:33 BST

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    Pirsig in SODV:
    " of the reasons I have spent so much time in this paper describing
    the personal relationship of Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr in the
    development of quantum theory is that although the world views science
    as a sort of plodding, logical, methodical advancement of knowledge,
    what I saw here were two artists in the throes of creative discovery.
    They were at the cutting edge of knowledge plunging into the unknown
    trying to bring something out of that unknown into a static form that
    would be of value to everyone, as Bohr might have loved to observe,
    science and art are just two different complementary ways of looking at
    the same thing." SODV p.17

    Pirsig in ZAMM:
    "Poincaré then hypothesized that this selection is made by what he
    called the "subliminal self," an entity that corresponds exactly with
    what Phĉdrus called preintellectual awareness. The subliminal self,
    Poincaré said, looks at a large number of solutions to a problem, but
    only the interesting ones break into the domain of consciousness.
    Mathematical solutions are selected by the subliminal self on the basis
    of "mathematical beauty," of the harmony of numbers and forms, of
    geometric elegance. "This is a true esthetic feeling which all
    mathematicians know," Poincaré said, "but of which the profane are so
    ignorant as often to be tempted to smile." But it is this harmony, this
    beauty, that is at the center of it all.

    dmb says:
    With all the emphasis on aesthetics one might get the impression that things
    like quantum theory and advanced mathematics come from the tip of a
    paintbrush. I'd just like to point out that Heisenberg, Bohr and Poincare
    were all highly trained intellectuals who achived this kind creativity only
    after years of working to master their fields. Intellect might bog a person
    down if they are trying to get a hold of reality itself, but when it comes
    to physics and math, you better know what the heck you're dealing with or
    nothing creative is going to happen. It would most likely make a big mess of
    things. They were working on problems of such great intellectual difficulty
    that even the brightest minds struggled. They had to be creative because no
    solution yet existed. I believe this kind of creativity literally expands
    the universe. It requires precision tools, but is divine nevertheless.

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