Insight and Outlook, an Inquiry into the Common Foundations of Science, Art, and Social Ethics

Insight and Outlook, an Inquiry into the Common Foundations of Science, Art, and Social Ethics

Insight and Outlook, an Inquiry into the Common Foundations of Science, Art, and Social Ethics

Insight and Outlook, an Inquiry into the Common Foundations of Science, Art, and Social Ethics

Excerpt

Artists treat facts as stimuli for imagination, whereas scientists use imagination to coordinate facts. The aim of this book is, first, to show that such distinctions are not fundamental, that all the creative activities of man are based on a common pattern, and to present a unifying theory of humour, art and discovery, in which these are shown to differ merely in degree and not in kind. Secondly, the attempt is made to show the possibility of a system of ethics which is neither utilitarian nor dogmatic, but derived from the same integrative tendency in the evolutionary process to which the creative activities of art and discovery are traced.

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It may seem curious to start a book on this subject with an analysis of so remote and complex a phenomenon as the comic. The usual textbook method is to begin with relatively simple phenomena, and to progress in an orderly fashion to more complex problems. But textbooks are post-factum rearrangements of long and devious processes of inquiry which as a rule have equally specific and sometimes abstruse problems as their starting point. The so-called "elementary" concepts are the end, not the beginning, of organic developments of thought--the condensed drops in the analyst's retort.

However, the choice of the comic as point of departure of the present inquiry is not purely accidental. As the bizarre symptoms of hysteria yielded an unexpected clue to the interrelation of psyche and soma in general, so the puzzling phenomenon of laughter may serve as a backdoor approach to the creative mental functions. Some of the reasons why this should be so are set out in the first chapter . . .

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