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The Origin of Ideas: Blending, Creativity, and the Human Spark 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199988822
ISBN-10: 019998882X
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"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


"Turner probes the nature of creativity. He does apply '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 Magazine


About the Author


Mark Turner, Ph.D., 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. His most recent book publications are Ten Lectures on Mind and Language and two edited volumes, The Artful Mind: Cognitive Science and the Riddle of Human Creativity, from Oxford University Press, and Meaning, Form, & Body, edited with Fey Parrill and Vera Tobin, published by the Center for the Study of Language and Information. His other books and articles include Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science: The Way We Think about Politics, Economics, Law, and Society, The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language, Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science, and Death is the Mother of Beauty. 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, the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Advanced Study of Durham University, and the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He is a fellow of the Institute for the Science of Origins, external research professor at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in Cognitive Neuroscience, distinguished fellow at the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology, and Extraordinary Member of the Humanwissenschaftsliches Zentrum. In 1996, the Académie française awarded him the Prix du Rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019998882X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199988822
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,369,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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?
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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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Format: Hardcover
Professor Turner believes that new ideas come from "blends", or ideas that are joined from separate webs of knowledge to create something new. The book is replete with examples, some easier and some harder to understand. A basic one he gives is the idea of a "lionman", or the joining of elements from "man" and "lion" to create something new. Blends then contribute to other blends, which become hyper-blends, and on and on goes the blending process. Turner thinks that we do this blending usually unaware, and that most of our blends do not even reach consciousness, but when they do, they can be incredibly useful and creative. As I read the book I had the uneasy feeling that he was describing something that most know but simply giving it a different label. My reading on creativity, for example, often mentions that something creative comes out of the re-combination of different things. I have also read elsewhere that we can only process so much information at once (fifty bits, someone said) so we necessarily use heuristics to make sense of the world. Part of this sense making also involves filling in gaps to tell a story, when we are aware only of minimal details. Turner, it seems to me, would transfer heuristics and storytelling to the blending bin. So I am not so sure that he is correct, and his concluding chapter where he attempts to identify exactly how blends happen in the brain is not very convincing either. I thought myself that even the idea of blending is not a blend but a metaphor, and so perhaps metaphors are more fundamental than blends, as I suspect Douglas Hofstadter might claim. On another note, the text is sometimes too dense with all the variations on a blend that Turner could think of for each example, painfully extending the length of the book. The jury is not out on blends; there has not even been a voir dire.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good but I liked his How We Think a lot better
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