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The Origin of Ideas: Blending, Creativity, and the Human Spark [Hardcover]

Mark Turner

Price: 19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 April 2014 019998882X 978-0199988822 1
Why are we so innovative? Where do new ideas come from? Why are human beings so exceptionally good at innovation, leaving other species mentally in the dust? How can we hold onto new ideas once they are formed? This book explores the claim that the human spark, the source of innovation and the origin of ideas, was an advance that occurred in a particular kind of mental operation, which Turner calls blending. Blending is our ability to take two ideas or more and create a new idea from the "blend." And what is so fascinating is how human beings are able to engage in blending almost without effort and usually unconsciously. It appears to be second nature to us, how we live and breathe in the course of processing information and ideas.

Human beings are profoundly different from all other species in this ability. While many species can do what we cannot-fly, run amazingly fast, see in the dark—only human beings can innovate. Beginning somewhere in the Paleolithic Age, everything changed in the course of human events. Before that, we were a bunch of large mammals. After that, we were poised to take over the world. Turner makes the controversial and provocative claim that what made human advances possible was the ability to engage in the virtuosity of blending, which is everywhere apparent in our cultural record-in our creations and innovations-it is the origin of our ideas.

Turner's theory of blending is featured in Jonah Lehrer's bestselling book, Imagine, and this book will be the first to lay out this theory in detail for a lay audience and academics tackling the nature of the human brain and the fascinating puzzle of what it means to be human.

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"Turner makes a cogent and often colorfully argued case for blending's importance as crucial to the development of new ideas and imaginative works." --Publishers Weekly"Turner probes the nature of creativity. [...He applies] 'blending' to such complex topics as 'self, ' 'identity, ' and 'theory of mind' in a reader-friendly style that encompasses neurobiology, cartoons, Picasso, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Recommended. All readers." --S. Krippner, CHOICE

About the Author

, is Institute Professor and Professor of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University. He is the founding director of the Cognitive Science Network and co-director of the Red Hen Lab. He has been a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the National Humanities Center.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to cut through the word overgrowth 31 Mar 2014
By lady_of_mercia - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Strange... the book should have been interesting, but it is verbose and repetitive--so repetitive that I started to think the author could have written an interesting magazine article. I am not sure if this is a failure of the author's material (there just isn't a book's length of information to communicate) or whether it's a failure of the author's writing ability. I simply couldn't take the rehashing of the same idea so many times, and I quit reading about a quarter of the way into it. The only time the book came alive was when the author was summarizing stories written by others.

I regret being so negative in a review, because I like to point out what's good in a work when I can. I think a first-rate editor could have improved the book's readability with a lot of cutting, but it would have been very labor-intensive work. The author writes in a lively manner, but the repetition is killing. Perhaps he does not give the reader the respect of believing that we can remember what was explained 10 pages earlier?
5.0 out of 5 stars Comparable to Darwin 6 Aug 2014
By whit - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Will this book someday be seen as ranking alongside The Origin of the Species? Alone, no. But the work it represents, to which Fauconnier, Lakoff, Johnson, Hofstadter, Sander and others in the forefront of work on analogy and blending have also made major contributions, constitutes a breakthrough equal to Darwin's. As Darwin fundamentally re-ordered our understanding of biological systems, this work, which Turner presents with a disarming modesty, is re-ordering our understanding of how our own understanding works. Nearly all of philosophy, comparative religion, literary theory and psychology will need to be extensively revised in light of these discoveries. It may be several decades yet before these other fields realize the degree to which their current bodies of work have now been rendered obsolete.
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