Wednesday, October 22, 2014


While there are those that continue to assert that cultural variation is driven by the embedded homunculus in each of us, the more we know about the way in which change occurs, the more we see ourselves as part of the natural world, and thus explicable in the same terms. This realization doesn’t imply that we only change only in a genetic fashion but that cultural change can be accounted for as an additional aspect of the an overarching general framework.  One way we can see that is in our creativity. The homunculus believers hold that creativity comes from some inner genius who magically instantiates ideas out of the ether. More careful study of the process reveals a cultural inheritance basis in which patterns observed in one area are applied to a new one.  Isaac Asimov seems to have recognized this in his essay 55 years ago:

“Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.”

“Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a ‘new idea,’ but as a mere ‘corollary of an old idea.’”

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