Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking

By Vera John-Steiner | Go to book overview
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Conclusion: The Creativity of
Thinking

The exploration of thinking and the depiction of creativity constitute joint endeavors in this work. The self-reports of artists and scientists provide critical insights into the many-sided, welded, inner stream of ideas. While experimental approaches are informative about short-term efforts at thinking and the many products of thought, they are of limited value in the examination of sustained and productive thinking. The latter is the focus of this inquiry. The issues and concerns raised in this volume are connected to the work of other contemporary students of creativity, such as Gerald Holton, Howard Gruber, and Frederic Holmes, who have chosen to look at the work of the mind from a genetic and historical perspective. They also used self-reports, notebooks, letters, and interviews as part of their methods in reconstructing the paths of discovery.

Three major themes have emerged in this examination of the processes of thought. The first of these is an inquiry into the growth in the mind of artists and scientists-in-the-making. How does a young person join wonder and skill, intensity and discipline, during the long trajectories of intellectual and artistic growth?

The second theme is devoted to the commonalities and differences among the languages of the mind. How does verbal thinking -- what Vygotsky described as condensed inner speech -- differ from thoughtin-images? And what are the characteristics of movement ideas, condensed musical phrases, mathematical models; do they also constitute some kind of a shorthand of the mind?

The third theme addresses the difficult question of creative thinking;

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