We’re back with Brain Pickings, writer and MIT fellow Maria Popova’s blog for curious minds. This article is her exploration of W. I. B. Beveridge’s The Art of Scientific Investigation, in which he puts forth his fascinating explanation of combinatorial creativity. Beveridge’s theory is that ideas happen to us in response to needing a solution; it’s not a conscious process. Crucially, we need to be open to not knowing so that intuition can play off other thoughts and help us find the answers.
Those who do not know the torment of the unknown cannot have the joy of discovery.
Claude Bernard, French physiologist
Last week, we took in some timeless vintage wisdom on the role of serendipity and chance-opportunism in creativity and scientific discovery, culled from the 1957 gem The Art of Scientific Investigation (public library; public domain) by Cambridge University animal pathology professor W. I. B. Beveridge — a brilliant treatise on creativity in science and, by extension, in all endeavors of the mind. Beveridge constructs what’s essentially a florilegium of quotes by famous scientists and case studies of watershed discoveries to synthesize insights on what makes successful science — and successful creative thinking in general, exploring subjects like serendipity, intuition, and imagination to reveal the habits of mind that produce good ideas.
Today, as promised, we revisit Beveridge’s hefty tome to examine his ideas on the role of intuition and the imagination.
Continue reading this article on Brain Pickings.