Re: Spectrum of Thought( was Imagination vs Critical thought)

Anders Sandberg (
Thu, 19 Jun 1997 11:52:42 +0200 (MET DST)

On Wed, 18 Jun 1997, Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:

> > I merely seek to point out that *both* have their own role to play in the
> > creative act, IN FACT, neither one is separate from the other - it is more of
> > a sliding scale, with logic and critical/rational linear thought on one end,
> > and dreaming/emotional/imagination based thought on the other...
> I really don't see that. I simply them both as completely disjoint
> capabilities--among hundreds of different things the mind is capable
> of, none of which bears any relation to any other, and that are not
> on any "scale".

I think both of you are slightly right, slightly wrong (talk about a
definite stand! :-) The creative act needs both dreaming/imagination,
the creation of new and unlikely ideas, and critical analysis to get
rid of those 99% which are pure junk and implement the good ideas;
this happens to a large extent almost subconsciously and forms an
integral system. Overly critical thinking strangles creativity, and
overly imaginative thinking never gets anywhere.

Nothing in the mind is disjoint from everything else, our modularity
is not very good; most of our mental abilities overlap in nontrivial
ways. Of course, imagination and analytical thinking are basically
different processes, but they are closely intertwined even if it is
not obvious.

> I do not learn to juggle at the expense of learning to shoot a
> basketball

I'm not entirely sure about that. Ok, I doubt you would get any worse
by trainign both, but cross-talk does occur when we learn to do
different things with the same part of the brain. If they are
different enough there is no problem, but similar actions easily get
mixed up with each other. There is also interference from older
memories; for example, I have some trouble with some falling
techniques in ninjutsu because of old motor programs (likely
from my childhood) which kick in when they shouldn't.

> They have nothing to do with each other, and discussing them
> together and calling them a continuum of sorts just feeds our
> prejudices that they are somehow at odds, and that perception can
> cause genuine harm by perpetuating stereotypes like "artist" and
> "nerd" based on that mistake.

That is a good point. Placing things on a line tends to suggest a
dichotomy. It would be better to see it as a complete graph, where
each mental ability forms a vertex...

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y