Isaac Asimov's Views on Creativity

by Elias Gagas '01SEAS


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How do people get new ideas?  An unpublished Isaac Asimov essay uncovers the secrets behind the process of creativity…

Asimov went to Columbia's School of General Studies (1939) and received a PhD at Columbia (1948).

 

Isaac Asimov needs no introduction for most of us… The author of the Three Laws of Robotics and numerous book, stories and essays speaks again to us 22 years after his death, through a recently uncovered essay and discusses the process of Creative thinking.

Here is one of the insights he offers, within the work that he undertook as part of of a DARPA funded project, handled by Allied Research Associates in Boston, an MIT spinoff company.

“Probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren’t paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues. To feel guilty because one has not earned one’s salary because one has not had a great idea is the surest way, it seems to me, of making it certain that no great idea will come in the next time either.”

You can read the entire essay here.

I have to admit that one of my personal favorite Asimov books is the thoroughly enjoyable “Chronology of Science & Discovery“. Give it and try and find yourself witnessing human progress and evolution across the centuries, seeing creativity applied in tandem with the social environment of each era!!!


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