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Hayman, A. (1968). Invention and the Evolution of Ideas: By Donald A. Schon. (Paperback edition of Displacement of Concepts.) (London: Tavistock, 1967. Pp. 208. 21s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:112-113.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:112-113

Invention and the Evolution of Ideas: By Donald A. Schon. (Paperback edition of Displacement of Concepts.) (London: Tavistock, 1967. Pp. 208. 21s.)

Review by:
Anne Hayman

This work deals with the mental process of invention. Schon divides most theories about this into (i) "theories of mystery", which attribute novelty in ideas to "an inscrutible (and thus unknowable) agency" like divine inspiration or revelation; and (ii) "theories of reduction" which deny that there is anything new to explain by treating new ideas as simple recombinations of old ones. Though explaining much up to a point, psychoanalytic theories which derive creativity from the unconscious seem to belong basically to the first group. Szekely's (1967) paper does illuminate unconscious interferences with creation, but his reliance on re-combinations of some current psychoanalytic theories to "explain" creativity itself puts his ideas into the second group. To explain novelty in ideas Schon offers the new theory of "displacement of concepts". He regards this idea as the same as Cassirer's (1946) "radical metaphor", and it resembles Koestler's (1964) concept of "bisociative thinking" in seeing creation as emerging from certain specific ways of juxtaposing ideas or perceptions taken from different contexts. Winnicott's (1953) concept of the "infant creating the world" has something in common with these ideas, as he relates creativity to the "transitional area" where two "worlds" meet. What has a philosopher-turned-industrial-consultant to say that helps us further? Schon is concerned with the thinking expressed in certain parts of language. Like the post-Galilean physical scientists (Rapoport, 1967), we are involved in a revolution of ideas, but unlike them lack a specific language (they have mathematics) with which to express these.

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