“The funny thing is that stories of such brilliant insights spurring out of deep thought aren’t unique. Throughout history, luminaries ranging from Charles Darwin to Friedrich Nietzsche have attributed much of their genius to the many hours they spent lost in their mind.
Darwin had a “thinking path” that he would walk down to ruminate, and Nietzsche is said to have strolled around in nature for hours and hours on end to make sense of his ideas.
Behaviors that have been chastised today as being unproductive by a culture that mostly fetishizes measurable outputs like hours worked and reports produced seem to actually be some of the most productive…”
Cool little article here in Business Insider (surprisingly!) encouraging at least a couple hours of imaginative, day-dream-like rumination. I’m all for it!
I’ve been told I was a slacker/daydreamer my entire life, beginning in early childhood. I remember a few years ago finding one of my report cards from elementary school (first or second grade, I think) that my mother had saved and recall reading a note that the teacher had written on it; her concern was that I appeared very “aloof” in class…. To most people in the public school district I attended, my “aloofness” was probably judged as a learning disability of some sort (I was placed in remedial classes at an early age), but it couldn’t possibly be that I was just an imaginative young lad, perhaps bored with compulsory education, who preferred to make stories up in my mind. No, of course not. That’s completely unproductive and weird.
Tangentially related here, this notion of thought experimentation that the BI article talks about reminds me of Harvard philosopher Catherine Elgin’s work on exemplification and understanding. Her insight that scientific experiments are “fictions,” just like imaginative/literary ruminations are “fictions” but also legitimate thought experiments, is simply wonderful! As Elgin writes, “Scientific experiments are vehicles of exemplification. They do not purport to replicate what happens in the wild. Instead, they select, highlight, control and manipulate things so that features of interest are brought to the fore and their relevant characteristics and interactions made manifest.”
Painting above by Augusto Volpini