9780199338887 e-book 9780199338870 (hardback)
"Why do "aha moments" strike us suddenly? Why do they so often come to us when we are focused on something completely unrelated? And when great ideas "come to" us, where do they come from? In Aha!: The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World, philosopher William B. Irvine explores these epiphanies, from the minor insights that strike us all daily, to the major realizations that alter the course of history. Focusing on aha moments as they take place in five different domains--religion, morality, science, math, and art--Irvine provides case studies that shed light on the different ways epiphanies happen in the different domains, and on their differing social impact. Along the way, he describes some of the great aha moments in history, from ancient times to the present day. We like to think that our greatest thoughts are the product of our conscious mind. Irvine demonstrates, though, that it is our unconscious mind that is the source of our most significant insights, and that the role the conscious mind plays in eliciting these insights is to try, unsuccessfully, to solve certain problems. Only if the conscious mind is willing to do this--and thereby experience considerable frustration--is the unconscious mind likely to reward it with a breakthrough insight--that the conscious mind will then take credit for. Irvine explores not only the neuroscience of aha moments but also their personal and social ramifications. How does a person respond to having a breakthrough insight that goes against a dominant paradigm? And how does the world respond when she shares that insight? He shows that in many cases, what is most remarkable about those who have had the great insights of human history is not their but their courage and perseverance in fighting for the world to accept them"-- Provided by publisher.
Electronic reproduction. Palo Alto, Calif. : ebrary, 2014. Available via World Wide Web. Access may be limited to ebrary affiliated libraries.
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Formatted Contents Note
Machine generated contents note: Introduction Part I: Religion Chapter 1: Seeing the Light Chapter 2: Vision or Hallucination? Chapter 3: Other People's Visions Part 2: The Aha Moment in Morality Chapter 4: The Two Kinds of Moral Epiphany Chapter 5: Moral Feelings Chapter 6: The Problem with Moral Reformers Part 3: The Aha Moment in Science Chapter 7: The Joy of Discovery Chapter 8: Gaining Insights Chapter 9: Dealing with Rejection Part 4: The Aha Moment in Mathematics Chapter 10: Moments of Pure Insight Chapter 11: The Magic of Incubation Chapter 12: The After-Math Part 5: The Aha Moment in the Arts Chapter 13: Lots of Little Ahas Chapter 14: On Managing One's Muse Chapter 15: But Is It Art? Conclusion.
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Print version: Irvine, William Braxton. Aha! : the moments of insight that shape our world. Oxford : Oxford University Press,