How does a scientist make his discoveries? How does a poet find his metaphors? And for that matter, how does a chimpanzee get at a banana? Arthur Koestler said it is done through the Eureka process.
The act of creation, according to Koestler, is not defined in terms of its results, its products or works. It is defined, rather, as a certain way in which the mind functions, a particular manner whereby two seemingly unrelated patterns of behavior are brought together. Nor is this “bisociation,” as Koestler called it, the exclusive property of the “creative” artist: scientists and artists arrive at their discoveries in the same way- through the Eureka process. In exploring the very nature of creativity, Koestler produced one worthwhile by-product. He constructed a bridge between what at the time C.P. Snow had termed the “two cultures” of the scientists and the humanists.
Koestler’s Act of Creation grew out of two earlier Koestler works, The Sleepwalkers and Insisight and Outlook…
( see link at end)…In Koestler’s view, laughter is provoked by the collision of two matrices and, particularly, when the self-assertive aggressive-defensive emotions are involved. These emotions tend to beget bodily activity since “due to their
greater inertia and persistence” cannot keep up with the swift bisociative act
“Laughter is a luxury reﬂex which could arise only in a creature whose reason has gained a degree of autonomy from the urges of emotion, and enables him to perceive his own emotions as redundant
– to realise that he has been fooled.” (pp. 96). As an example consider the following joke cited by Koestler:
“Chamfort tells a story of a Marquis at the court of Lousis XIV who, on entering his wife’s boudoir and ﬁnding her in the arms of a Bishop, walked calmly to the window and went through the motions of blessing the people in the street. ‘What are you doing?’ cried the anguished wife. ‘Monseigneur is performing my functions,’ replied the Marquis, ‘so I am performing his.”’ (pp. 96). He argues that in this anecdote the context of adultery is suddenly bisociated with that of “the division of labour, the quid pro quo”. In terms of creativity, “the crucial point about the Marquis’ behaviour is that it is both…
unexpected and perfectly logical – but of a logic of usually applied to this type of situation.” Koestler proceeds to present a catalogue of different varieties of humour illustrating the bisociation involved in each of these. He considers, for example: puns; impersonation; parody; caricature; satire; paradox; displacement; and nonsense. Finally, Koestler notes that humour varies in its sophistication denoted by the degree to which the self-assertive tendencies are involved. This variety is reﬂected in the development, in both individual and cultures, from primitive and infantile forms of humour to mature varieties. Read More:http://webprojects.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/marcusp/notes/koestler.pdf
…”One day, while getting into his bath, Archimedes watched absently-mindedly the familiar sight of the water-level rising from one smudge on the basin to the next as a result of the immersion of his body, and it occurred to him in a flash that the volume of water displaced was equal to the volume of the immersed parts of his body–which therefore could simply be measured by the pint. He had melted his body down, as it were, without hammering it, and he could do the same with the crown… “Neither to Archimedes nor to anybody else before him had it ever occurred to connect the sensuous and trivial occupation of taking a bath with the scholarly pursuit of the measurement of solids. No doubt he had observed many times that the level of the water rose whenever he got into it; but this fact, and the distance between the two levels, was totally irrelevant to him–until it suddenly became bisociated with his problem. At that instant he realized that the amount of rise of the water- level was a simple measure of the volume of his own complicated body…” (Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation, Dell Publishing Co., New York, 1964, pp. 105-106)
The sequel to the discovery is well known. Archimedes immediately shot out of the bath tub, not bothering to dress, and ran through the tohouting “Eureka! Eureka!,” (“I have found it! I have found it!”)
And hence this kind of creative discovery is sometimes referred to as the “Eureka” experience. Koestler defines this as an act of bisociation, meaning that something happening on one level–the problem of how to determine the volume of gold in the crown, for instance–is cut across, or connects up with, something happening on another level–the observation of the rising water-level. In the connection, the bisociation, is some new insight or discovery gained. Koestler says that the creative act always operates on more than one plane, the bisociation of more than one level of understanding.
Of course, that’s oversimplifying things, and certainly oversimplifying Koestler’s whole thesis, which is rooted in the complex workings of the entire biological organism. The subject of creativity is vast and complicated; many hypotheses, much conjecture, idea after idea… derives from the most profound of our mysteries… crucial to our survival…Read More:http://courses.drew.edu/MUS-1-001/texts/creativity.html