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​​On Creativity
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Learn the key ideas of the book by David Bohm

​​On Creativity

Creativity according to the great physicist David Bohm

American physicist and philosopher, David Bohm, is widely considered to have been one of the most original thinkers of the last century, and to have made a significant contribution to the field of quantum mechanics. So, what does physics have to do with creativity? The answer is a great deal, because creativity is an essential part of science, and of life in general: without creativity, there is no progress. In his book, On Creativity, Bohm analyses the concept of creativity not only from the perspective of invention, imagination, and originality, but also of perception and discovery. We are all creative, regardless of our particular talents: in order to harness our creativity, we need to free ourselves of our preconceptions, always be willing to learn, be original, and try to discover the creative harmony that exists in all things.

​​On Creativity
Read in 14 min.
Listen in 17 min.

Creativity is essential for scientific progress

As a scientist himself, the author often wondered why other scientists felt such a strong sense of involvement in their work, and came up with several hypotheses: either their work was useful in some way; or they had a desire to discover the laws of nature, so that they could predict them and actively participate in natural processes; or perhaps they simply enjoyed their work and the discoveries it led to. The author, meanwhile, felt that these were all superficial, or at least partial, explanations.

Bohm maintained that a scientist’s objective is to discover something new, but this finding must also be meaningful in some way, in the form of a law in the natural order of things, which was previously unknown and which now results in wholeness, integrity, and harmony.

The aim of any scientist’s work is therefore to discover wholeness and harmony in nature, but to do this, the process has to be creative: scientists must build new frameworks for their ideas, which express the harmony and beauty that we can find in nature; they must also create the tools to test the accuracy of these ideas and effectively communicate the evidence they have found. Just like a composer, an architect, or an artist, scientists also feel the need to discover and create something new that is whole, complete, harmonious, and beautiful.

The creative development of science relies on our ability to look beyond a known set of fundamental concepts. Psychologically speaking, this is the most difficult step, but once taken, it will free our mind, making us alert, aware, and open to the discovery of a new order that has the potential to create new structures of ideas and concepts.

This form of creativity is very rare indeed, and few people in human history have achieved such an impressive state of creativity, perhaps because, in most cases, we are driven from an early age to develop a conformist, imitative, and mechanical state of mind. Those who do not accept this mentality may eventually rebel against it, but they inevitably then embrace another opposing set of ideals, which are nonetheless conformist. Conformity stifles creativity, but not many people are able to escape from this way of thinking, because our security, happiness, and even life itself all seem to be completely dependent on it.


The key ideas of "​​On Creativity"

Creativity is essential for scientific progress
The relationship between art and science lies in the concepts of beauty, truth, and integrity
Creative imagination lies somewhere between insight and ‘fancy’
It is important to understand the difference between reactive and reflective thought, in order to develop creative intelligence
Letting go of our mechanical thought processes is essential to fostering originality, and therefore, creativity
Fragmented thought is the cause of many problems in the world, so it is important to understand its purpose
Take-home message
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