The Creative Brain . . .

Over the years mariner has noticed a preference, even a celebration of the human brain’s dexterity and inventiveness. Mariner first noticed this bias in scientists. Remember Carl Sagan? He was famous for saying “billions and billions of stars, galaxies”, etc. Outer space was tantamount to Heaven itself. More recently, Neil de Grasse Tyson had an astronomy series where he blatantly described the wonderful phenomenon of physics, science and the creative mind. Any number of science specials on television tout the glorious, unburdened reality and the never ending benefits to humankind by the creative three dimensional world.

The other day mariner watched a special on Netflix called ‘The Creative Brain’ hosted by David Eagleman. He spoke of the special tool of the human brain, the Prefrontal Cortex, which allows humans to combine old knowledge and experience with new ones to create the art, tools, machines, technology, and abstract reasoning. Every example was a contribution to business, a three dimensional, arts and crafts creation.

Mariner reacts to the glorification of ‘things’ and ‘processes’ by asking a probing question: Who is in charge of these new things? His traditional example is Alfred Nobel; he invented dynamite in 1867. A premature publication of his obituary led him to establish the Nobel prizes in retribution. The obituary stated, Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”) and went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.) This motivated him to dedicate his estate to the Nobel Prizes in 1900.[1]

Of course Alfred did not mandate the killing of people faster than ever before. The question is who was in charge of Alfred’s scientific achievement?

The man credited with first having split the atom was Ernest Rutherford, who achieved the feat in 1917. Did he authorize the death of 280,000 Japanese in August, 1945? Who was in charge of this scientific achievement at that time?

Today, computer cloud technology receives similar praise as a wonderful invention. Who is in charge of this achievement? Business entrepreneurs and the military. Without his permission, the man on the street is creating billionaires by letting them steal his profile without remuneration.

The real point to this post is this: What good are all these advancements and business opportunities if the other part of the brain, the hypothalamus, hippocampus and amygdala are not capable of handling emotional judgment and ethics regarding the use of three dimensional inventions for human good? Perhaps a bit of wonderment should recognize human advancement in maturity and compassion, should it ever occur.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Detail by Wikipedia

1 thought on “The Creative Brain . . .

  1. I think about this often! When I see a bad car accident, I wonder if the estate of car inventors should have to pay the hospital bill. Or if the gun salesmen should also go to jail when someone gets murdered. Are we responsible for our ideas even if they’re misinterpreted? (An extreme example: when Charles Manson thought a Beatles song was telling him to start a race war.) Or is invention a phenomenon of evolution, which exists beyond our imposed value system? If other animals invented things we deemed harmful, we’d probably think THEY deserved to be punished. Ultimately, I do think most creativity springs from a well-meaning place, and our list of helpful inventions is probably longer than our list of harmful ones…

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