We are becoming increasingly bombarded with ‘ideas’. But are there other ways of knowing that could enable us to experience the world more richly? Writer and philosopher Robert Rowland Smith investigates.
From TED talks to panel debates, we are becoming increasingly bombarded with ideas. But it’s not as if we don’t want them. When it comes to ideas, we seek them out. We believe they are the source of innovation and inspiration. We seek out people with ideas, and when we have ideas of our own, we feel good.
But ideas are not the be-all and end-all. The trouble with ideas is that they keep us in our heads. As such, they can cut us off from other forms of experience, forms that are non-cognitive. They fill our minds with abstractions. Ideas are not real. Nor do they feed the soul. What possible use does the soul have for ideas?
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Matthew Lieberman is Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences.
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I think one answer to the above is that ideas are needed for artisans. Usually a songwriter has the idea and the singer brings this to life. But a songwriter like myself cannot perform that well on the stage. A singer is sometimes asked to be a songwriter. So there is a pressured divide. Other than the arts, the ideas that one has can move people to positive or negative societal response. I think this event allowed me to channel my ideas to the creative industries like movie making and keeping the best ideas to myself.