Creative Combination of Representations

Paul Thagard

in Psychology of Science

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199753628
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950027 | DOI:
Creative Combination of Representations

Show Summary Details


This chapter describes two studies that help evaluate the combinatorial conjecture that all creativity results from combinations of mental representations. The first study examines 100 examples of great scientific discoveries, and the second looks at 100 examples of great technological inventions. Both studies confirm rather than refute the combinatorial conjecture, but also provide important information concerning the role of visual and other kinds of representations and the extent to which discoveries and inventions were accidental, analogical, and observational or theoretical. The nontriviality of the combinatorial conjecture is shown by discussing views about radical embodiment that are incompatible with it.

Keywords: combinatorial conjecture; creativity; scientific discoveries; technological inventions; visual representations; radical embodiment; mental representations

Chapter.  7261 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.