The Act of Creation begins where this view ceases to be true. Koestler affirms that all creatures have the capacity for creative activity, frequently suppressed by the automatic routines of thought and behavior that dominate their lives. The study of psychology has offered little in the way of an explanation of the creative process, and Koestler suggests that we are at our most creative when rational thought is suspended - for example in dreams and trance-like states. Then the mind is capable of receiving inspiration and insight.
Taking humor as his starting point, Koestler examines what he terms 'bisociative' thinking - the creative leap made by the mind that gives rise to new and startling perceptions and glimpses of reality. From here he assesses the workings of the mind of the scientific or artistic genius. The general reader as well as the reader with a deeper knowledge of the topics covered will find this richly documented study of creativity both illuminating and compelling.
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This is the final master-work by Koestler. He had been working on this project for nearly 20 years, and this is the result. A comprehensive study of creativity, like few other books, this long essay takes care of a wide range of manifestations of creation. Departing from Humor, and going through science---the great passion of Koestler---making an extrapolation of his former study of Kepler (in 'The Sleepwalkers') to Darwin, Freud, Pasteur, etc., he arrives finally to art. Music, unfortunately, is hardly mentioned, and its absense is sad. Then, in Book II, the line from cell activity to creative brain-mind act is made. Worth refutations of both Gestalt and behaviourism are provided, very well.
Koestler puts forward his theory of the shared mental processes that take place in the successful artistic, scientific, and comedic mind, which he calls bisociation. He discusses how discovery of a new beauty or truth relies on the appropriate perception of an idea within two or more previously incompatible or distinct frames of reference. There are lots of examples and stories from the history of science and invention, and these are interesting to read in their own right.Despite the fact that these associations often spring from the subconscious, they only tend to be made by the most intelligent minds ¿ those which possess the capacity to understand ideas and their connections to other ideas, and the relevance of these connections to the solution of problems. The artistic and scientific revolutionary are often viewed in quite different ways, but Koestler makes a case that the nature of their general intelligence has a lot in common, despite them being gifted in different specific areas. This is a very accessible and readable work, and should be of interest to the general academic, the artist, the psychologist, or the scientist. It isn't deeply technical or precise, so I would not class it as a completely serious work of philosophy, but it excels as an inspiring popular work for the non-specialist reader.