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Life Arts    H3'ed 11/8/21

Dr. Albert Rothenberg on Scientific Creativity (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) November 8, 2021: I respect the American psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg's work on human creativity. See, for example, my OEN article "Dr. Albert Rothenberg on Creativity" (dated October 29, 2021):

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Now, in Dr. Rothenberg's 2015 book Flight from Wonder: An Investigation of Scientific Creativity (Oxford University Press), he notes that we in contemporary Western culture tend to value creativity strongly (see esp. pages xi and 7).

Dr. Rothenberg also operationally defines and explains carefully the three key terms he works with in his 2015 book about scientific creativity:

(1) janusian process (see esp. pages xvii, 28, and 36-37);

(2) homospatial process (see esp. pages xvii and 41);

3) separation-connection articulation process (see esp. pages xvii, 49, and 117).

Now, despite Dr. Rothenberg's characteristic meticulous precision in expressing himself throughout his 2015 book, I want to call attention to something he says on page 179: "Scientific discovery is, as Einstein said, 'a continual flight from wonder,' satisfying our deepest curiosity and providing us [in the Western world] with advances in the necessities and comforts of living. Scientific discovery may justifiably be considered the builder of our [Western] modern world" (also see page 12 for the Einstein quotation; see page 7 for Dr. Rothenberg's stipulation that he is studying the Western world).

If we see the Western modern world as emerging after the Gutenberg printing press emerged in Europe in the mid-1450s, we may indeed see scientific discovery as contributing significantly to building the Western modern world, including, of course, our contemporary Western modern world.

But what about the Western pre-modern world - in ancient and medieval times, before the Gutenberg printing press emerged in in the mid-1450s in Europe and became a significant part of what is known as the Renaissance? What role(s?), if any, did (1) janusian process, (2) homospatial process, and (3) separation-connection articulation process play in the Western pre-modern world?

And what about the non-Western pre-modern world and the non-Western modern world after the Gutenberg printing press emerged in Europe in the mid-1450s?

It strikes me that the activation of human potentialities in Western modern scientific creativity of (1) janusian process, (2) homospatial process, and (3) separation-connection articulation process, taken together, represent collectively a certain cultural permutation in Western modern culture - a certain permutation that was not yet fully activated in the Western pre-modern world in ancient and medieval times.

In effect, Dr. Rothenberg's 2015 book about scientific creativity offers a further argument that I could perhaps use to support my basic argument in my 2008 article "The West Versus the Rest: Getting Our Cultural Bearings from Walter J. Ong" in the journal Explorations in Media Ecology, volume 7, number 4 (2008): pages 271-281. Let me now briefly explain my basic argument in that 2008 article about getting our cultural bearings from Ong's thought.

Now, the American Jesuit Renaissance specialist and cultural historian Walter J. Ong (1912-2003; Ph.D. in English, Harvard University, 1955) did his massively researched doctoral dissertation about the French Renaissance logician and educational reformer and Protestant martyr Peter Ramus (1515-1572) in the history of the formal study of logic and rhetoric from ancient times up to and beyond Ramus' time.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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